Garbage Collector Job Descriptions, Average Salary, Interview Questions

What Does a Garbage Collector Do?

Garbage collectors, also known as sanitation workers or waste management workers, collect, transport, and dispose of waste and recyclable materials from residential, commercial, and industrial areas. Their job involves picking up and transporting waste to disposal sites, landfills, or recycling centers using large vehicles, such as garbage trucks.

In addition to collecting trash, garbage collectors also maintain and clean their vehicles and equipment. In order to ensure the waste is handled and disposed of safely for the environment and the public, strict safety protocols and regulations must be followed. Cleanliness and hygiene are essential to public health and safety, and garbage collectors and other sanitation workers play a critical role in maintaining the society we live in.

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National Average Salary

Garbage collector salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site

The average U.S. salary for a Garbage Collector is:


Garbage Collector Job Descriptions

The first step when hiring a great garbage collector is a well-crafted job description. Below are real-world examples to help give you the best chance of success on your recruiting journey.

Example 1


  • Riding on the back of garbage collection truck collecting solid waste on a designated route.
  • Directing driver when pulling out in traffic and backing up, and directing incoming vehicles to dumping area at solid waste disposal facilities.
  • Knowledge of standardized work routines used for manual tasks and operation of collection vehicles in solid waste operations.
  • Checking operating and safety conditions of vehicles, performing minor servicing, and reporting needed repairs or servicing.
  • Assisting driver with various tasks during waste runs.
  • Be able to lift 100+lbs many times throughout the day.
  • Be able to work in all weather conditions.

Job requirements

  • Must be 18 or older Ability to lift 50lbs or more continuously during route.
  • Able to work in inclement weather.
  • Physically demanding work.
  • Deep knowledge of work routines and procedures in collecting solid waste materials for disposal, reuse, and recycling.
  • Ability to carry, reach, bend, push, pull, and climb during route.

Example 2

ABC Company is hiring for a Part Time Apartment Trash Collector (Service Valet) to work during the evening hours in your local area. This is a great paying, part time job that is a great way to earn extra money or supplement income while working another job. You’ll enjoy working outdoors, on your own, in a stress-free environment and get a workout while you do this job. We are an essential business that continues to grow, and our associates benefit from reliable hours, consistent pay, and promotional advancement opportunities.

We offer an immediate start date and provide hands on, paid training. No experience is necessary.


  • Collect trash and recycling bags door to door within a local apartment community and take these items to the trash compactor or dumpster on the property site (no large or bulk items and no offsite driving and/or dumping)
  • Typically work 5 nights a week from Sunday through Thursday. Enjoy weekends off!
  • Work 2-3 hours per night, start time is either 7:00pm or 8:00pm and you are done between 10:00 pm – 11:00 pm (some positions may have earlier start/end times and Sundays may require more hours)
  • Part time hours working 10-15+ hours per week


  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Ability to work indoors or outdoors in changing weather conditions
  • Ability to lift and transport up to 50 lbs.
  • A smart phone with data plan to access our mobile app
  • An open bed pickup truck or vehicle with trailer is preferred
  • A valid driver’s license is preferred
  • Current auto insurance in your name for your vehicle, or listed as a driver on policy is preferred

Example 3

Position summary:

This position is responsible for heavy manual work in the collection and disposal of solid waste.

Essential duties and responsibilities: 

  • Handles, carries and empties receptacles and bags containing solid waste.
  • Handles and carries yard trash such as limbs and leaves.
  • Deposits waste into a collection vehicle.
  • Operates compaction mechanism of the vehicle.
  • Rides on a platform on the collection vehicle between stops, frequently stepping off and on the step
  • Operates one or more of the following occasionally on an assigned basis:
    • Pick-up trucks, some with automated lift gate
    • Lawn maintenance equipment
  • Collect litter manually on a daily basis using hands and hand operated tools, in numerous city owned parks and along city road right of ways. This includes any type of litter or debris that is found in these areas, including but not limited to cigarette butts and tires. The dumping of garbage from heavy duty plastic or light metal garbage cans located in these areas may also be required. Litter will be placed in plastic bags and disposed of into city owned trash dumpsters.
  • Occasionally, work may include the pick-up and proper disposal of dead animals.
  • The work will be performed regardless of weather conditions, which at times may be adverse, except in extreme cases.
  • Protective safety vest will be provided by the City.
  • Walking for prolonged periods of time over rough terrain is also performed.

Knowledge, skills, and abilities:

  • Ability to read, understand and implement instructions
  • Ability to perform heavy manual labor

Education and experience:

  • Graduation from high school or possession of a GED certificate; and any equivalent combination of education, training and experience that would reasonably be expected to provide the job-related competencies noted above.

Sample Interview Questions

  • How do you stay fit in order to perform physical activities that are required in the workplace?
  • Can you tell me about your experience handling and disposing of different wastes and recyclables?
  • When collecting waste in a residential or commercial setting, what are your priorities?
  • In handling waste and recycling materials, what safety protocols and regulations do you follow?
  • Have you ever worked in a team to complete a challenging waste collection or disposal project?
  • Are you able to maintain a clean work area and equipment?
  • When faced with unexpected events, such as a change in the waste collection route, how do you respond?
  • Have you ever encountered a difficult customer or resident while collecting waste or recycling?
  • Share an effective method you have used to stay up to date with road and weather conditions.

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