Do you...

  • enjoy working outside?

  • want to operate machinery?

  • like not having to decide what to wear each day?

If this sounds like you, then you can be a sanitation worker!

Oprah with a microphone excited with text saying

What is a sanitation worker?

A city street with a garbage truck filled with trash and two sanitation workers. Photo by zibik on Unsplash

A sanitation worker is a professional who collects garbage and hauls away waste for disposal in landfills.

How does this job contribute to society?

Sanitation workers keep our cities and communities clean by collecting trash from homes and businesses and transporting it to dumps or processing facilities.

A woman in a reflective vest saying

What are the duties of a sanitation worker?

A sanitation worker's main duties typically include:

  • Collecting garbage and recyclables from residential and commercial locations

  • Sorting through recycling materials to separate recyclable items from non-recyclable items

  • Transporting garbage and recyclables to a landfill, dump, or plant

  • Operating heavy machinery, including plows and street sweepers

  • Interacting with the public on occasion within the community

Three garbage bins: one compost, one waste, and one recycle. Photo by Nareeta Martin on Unsplash


What are some problems a sanitation worker might have to solve on the job? Select all that apply:

What qualifications do you need for this job?

Flaticon Icon Skills

  • Time management to stay on a schedule

  • Teamwork because you'll work with a partner or a small crew

  • Customer service when supporting customers within the community

  • Map reading and GPS navigation when following routes in neighborhoods or to trash sites

  • Good physical stamina to complete an 8-hour shift of physical activity

  • Proper lifting techniques to handle heavy material

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Age and Education

  • Be at least 18 or 21 years old, depending on the organization

  • High school diploma, or equivalent

Sanitation worker jumping on a trampoline and then throwing away trash into a garbage truck.

What training and licensing do you need?

Depending on where you live, you may need to pass the Civil Service exam. This consists of a written and physical exam.

The written exam, tests, for example, your problem-solving, language, and critical thinking skills. The physical exam assesses your ability to lift and throw heavy garbage bags into the truck.

You'll also need a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) to operate a garbage truck.

A person, running outdoors on pavement. Photo by Arek Adeoye on Unsplash

How much money can you make on the job?

  • In the United States, Sanitation workers make a median salary of $38,500 🦅

  • In Canada, Sanitation workers make a median salary of$36,225 🍁

A man, dressed in a suit, reclining on a chair saying

Here are the 5 best-paying states in the US:

  • New York

  • Washington

  • California

  • Oregon

  • District of Columbia

Here are the 5 best-paying provinces in Canada:

  • Alberta

  • Ontario

  • British Columbia

  • Saskatchewan

  • Newfoundland & Labrador

Is this the right job for you?

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You'll love this if you enjoy:

  • Working early and overnight hours as available

  • Working outside

  • Wearing a uniform

  • Managing your time and supporting the community

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You might not enjoy this job if:

  • Like working a typical 8 hr job during the day

  • Don't like working outdoors during all types of weather (heat, rain, and snow)

  • Don't like working with hazardous materials

Take Action

A sanitation worker sweeping trash from the sidewalk with a broom. Photo by Denisse Leon on Unsplash

Get ready for a career as a sanitation worker:


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