2 garbage collector putting all the trash at the truck


Let's discuss what the average garbage man salary is, but before that, let’s look at what a garbage man does.

Garbage men are often thought of as the bottom of the pile when it comes to day jobs, and that’s simply because they drive around collecting all of our trash. What many don’t realize is that it takes quite a lot to be a garbage man physically and mentally. Just take a moment to imagine what our world would be like without waste management… Pretty gross, right?

What Is A Garbage Man?

These men and women deal with many of the things that the rest of us would rather forget about, and the job is full of ​potential hazards​. Besides dealing with road hazards, people’s trash tends to be filled with many dangerous items such as broken glass and hazardous materials; and then there are the illegal dumps and angry customers that they must deal with regularly.

This is a full-time job for the person who decides to take it up. Waste collection happens daily and no matter the weather.

2 Garbage man collecting garbage and put it on the truck

Image by netkids from Pixabay

A garbage man, also known as a garbage collector or sanitation worker, is a maintenance worker. They collect garbage and other waste along designated routes within a municipality. Generally, the garbage collector drives the track and removes waste materials from commercial, industrial and residential areas.

They then take that garbage that has been collected and compacted and take it to a designated deposit site. Once at the facility, the garbage man will sort through and remove anything that is recyclable, and the rest is incinerated.

From there, the garbage is moved into designated landfills where it is deposited and covered in dirt. In some cases, the garbage needs to be transported to other locations and must be transported by river barges or large semi-trucks.

In 2009, garbage men collected around 243 million tons of trash, equaling out to 4.3 pounds of trash per person, per day.

The average garbage man salary comes out to $35,200. However, there are a variety of different factors that can play into this figure. Some of those factors include education, skillsets, location, health, and experience.

Garbage Man Salary Factors & Influences

As mentioned earlier, in order to become a garbage man, it is important to keep in mind what it really takes to be one. Before contacting a waste management facility for a job, you’ll want to consider the following.


Toy Garbage man and trash can

Image by jacqueline macou from Pixabay

While most garbage collectors don’t need to have a formal college education, it is recommended that the individual have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED.

Besides onsite training, if a garbage man plans to drive the truck, they will need to have and CDL license, more specifically, a CDL Class A or B license. This allows the driver to operate any vehicle with a combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more.


As mentioned before, one key item that is required to be a garbage man is having a Class A or B CDL license. While this allows users to drive and operate any vehicle with a combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more, there may be additional endorsements needed by each individual.

Some endorsements that may be needed to drive and operate a garbage truck include:

  • H Endorsement – Required for vehicles containing hazardous materials
  • X Endorsement – Combination endorsement for HAZMAT and tank vehicles

The best way to know what endorsement you need is to contact your state as different states may require different endorsements.


Truck full of garbages

While the average garbage man salary is around $35,200, acquiring experience in the industry can mean a higher salary.

A mid-career garbage collector with experience of five to ten years in the industry can earn closer to $36,000, and a collector with ten to twenty years of experience can reportedly expect to earn an average of $47,000.

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash

Overall Health

While not exactly a written requirement in most areas, in order to be a successful garbage collector, a person needs to be of good health, with a lot of strength. Lifting garbage requires both upper and lower strength, and believe it or not, driving those large trucks requires some strength too.

Garbage collectors also need to be able to deal with anything that the universe throws at them mentally. From bad weather, nasty trash, angry customers and bad traffic, a garbage man needs to be able to keep their cool, be a people person and be able to think quick on their feet to avoid a variety of issues.

Garbage Man Salary by States

Inside a Person's pocket is a sum of US money

Image by Alexsander-777 from Pixabay

Of all the factors that play into a garbage man salary, one of the biggest is their location, especially in which city the route is in. Below are the top five states that pay their garbage collectors the most:



New York








Rhode Island

$44, 670

When broken down by best-paying cities for garbage collectors, California claimed the top two spots, and the fifth, with New York and Washington filling in the gaps.



Oakland, California


Santa Cruz, California


New York City, New York


Mount Vernon, Washington


Salinas, California


Garbage Man Types of Salaries

3 Garbage man collecting some garbage and put it on the truck

Image by netkids from Pixabay

Recycle Truck Driver $56,800

Environmental Sanitation Engineer $29,033

History of Waste Management

Organized waste management first appeared in London in the late 18th century. The creation of the Nuisance Removal and Disease Prevention Act took place in 1846 and was the beginning of the ever-evolving process of waste management in London.

In 1875, the Public Health Act gave local authorities the ability to purchase, repair or create sewers, to control water-supplies, regulate cellars and lodging-houses and to establish by-laws for controlling new streets and building in England.

In 1874, the first incinerator was built in Nottingham, and soon after, similar municipal systems of waste disposal began appearing throughout Europe and by 1895, first appeared in the United States in New York City.

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency regulates all waste material under the 1976 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). This includes provisions on the disposal of solid and hazardous waste, along with garbage and sludge from wastewater, water supply treatment plants and other discarded materials from industrial operations.

In the United States, the top five waste management companies include:

Waste Management Companies

Waste Management Inc.

Republic Services Inc.

Clean Harbors

Stericycle Inc.

Progressive Waste Solutions LTD.

Garbage Man Outlook – Conclusion

Employment of garbage men, garbage and recycle collectors, and their respective truck drivers are expected to grow by 13% from 2016 to 2026, which is faster than the average for all hand laborers and material movers.

Because the population is always expanding, and with today’s mentality that if something breaks, you simply replace it, garbage creation is only expected to continue increasing. Products simply are not built to last anymore. Where cellphone used to last 3-5 years no problem, current phones are becoming outdated within a year of purchase.

So what happens with those phones? Sure, some cases they are reused, but in many cases, they are taken apart for pieces and recycled. Some are even simply thrown in the trash.

With that being said, as trash and recyclables continue to increase, the need for solid waste collectors is only expected to grow.

This entry was posted in Garbage Man, Service on by .

About Diane Turner

Career as a CNA By Diane Turner Nursing aids are responsible for providing basic medical care and assisting those in long-term health care facilities with their daily activities. This might include helping patients bathe or use the bathroom, turn or reposition patients that are bedridden. They may also help transfer those […]