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How to Train for Garbage Collector Jobs

Updated on January 28, 2012

Garbage collection is a decent job with steady work. However, there is no shortage of people applying for job openings. With certain preparation, however, it is easier to get accepted for work as a garbage collector.

Most garbage collectors get jobs with just a high school education. For the most part, what is needed for the job is a fair degree of strength and endurance because even routes that use a mechanical lifter to empty dumpsters will require some lifting.

However, because at least one member of each crew has to drive a truck, one way to improve your chances of getting a job is to get driver training. Most people already have a regular driver's license, but a Commercial Driver License is the norm for larger vehicles.

A garbage truck may or may not require a CDL license. It all depends on the size of the truck and the rules in the state where the truck is operated. Nonetheless, obtaining a CDL license is one of the best ways to improve your chances of getting a job in garbage collection. Even if it is not required, it will show that you have more skills than the average high school graduate who has no formal training.

Getting a CDL typically involves either going to a truck driving school or getting school bus training. Check with your local school board about training opportunities for school bus drivers. This will allow you to get training and test for a CDL. It costs money to attend a truck driving school. However, whether you attend a CDL school or get bus driver training, you will have additional job opportunities besides possible positions as a garbage collector.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 126,000 jobs for garbage collectors in May of 2010 (BLS uses the phrase "refuse and recyclable material collectors"). The two major employers for trash collection are waste collection companies and local governments. States with the largest populations also naturally tend to have the most jobs for waste collection. The top 5 states are California, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.


Bureau of Labor Statistics: Jobs and Salary for Trash Collectors

PTDI: Accredited Truck Driver CDL Schools


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