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Refuse Collector

Refuse collectors pick up non-recyclable waste materials from homes, apartment buildings and businesses along designated routes. They may be employed by municipalities or private waste management companies.

  • Avg. Salary $55,481.00
  • Avg. Wage $27.63
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 1,500
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Garbage Collector, Materials Handler, Sanitary Engineer, Swamper, Waste Handler

NOC & Interest Codes
The Refuse Collector is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Public Works Maintenance Equipment Operators
NOC code: 7422
OBJECTIVE

Interest in driving garbage trucks, street cleaning equipment such as street sweepers and other vehicles equipped with rotating brushes, snowploughs and plough blades; sewer maintenance equipment such as rodders and sewer jet cleaners; and trucks equipped with road-sanding and other similar apparatus

METHODICAL

Interest in comparing information to maintain streets and repair sewer systems, and to remove garbage and dump loads at designated areas

innovative

Interest in checking, lubricating, refuelling and cleaning equipment, and in reporting any malfunctions to supervisors

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Public Works and Maintenance Labourers
NOC code: 7621
METHODICAL

Interest in comparing to sweep debris and shovel snow from streets, building grounds and other areas; and in loading snow and debris into carts or trucks

objective

Interest in operating jackhammers and drills to break up pavement and power mowers and cutters to cut lawns and grass along roadsides; may operate mobile sidewalk-cleaning equipment

innovative

Interest in assisting with routine maintenance and repair of equipment; in assisting equipment operators to secure attachments to equipment and trucks, and in assisting skilled tradespersons such as carpenters, plumbers and mechanics

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Jun 16, 2017

Refuse collectors may work alone or in teams with other refuse collectors. In general, refuse collectors:

  • pick up, carry and empty garbage containers and debris into truck according to pre-determined schedules and designated routes
  • perform safety, daily mechanical maintenance and hydraulic checks of vehicles prior to and after operation, keeping the vehicle clean, sanitary and fuelled
  • ensure safe loading procedures and regulations are followed when driving the collection vehicle
  • unload collection vehicles at assigned disposal points
  • operate related equipment used in waste management and recycling operations
  • enforce Municipal Solid Waste Bylaw by reporting violations and infractions to the foreman
  • maintain daily collection records.

Refuse collectors may work alone in trucks equipped with hydraulic pickers, or may hop off and on trucks to empty waste bins or throw plastic garbage bags into the truck. In some cases, teams of two people may work together, switching between driving and collecting roles at regular intervals.

Working Conditions
Updated Jun 16, 2017

Refuse collectors work outdoors in all weather conditions with garbage that sometimes is unsanitary. They must observe safety precautions to avoid the spread of disease and avoid injuries associated with repeatedly lifting heavy objects, handling sharp materials and working in high traffic areas. Many municipalities request that citizens limit the weight of garbage in their containers; however, refuse collectors sometimes are required to lift items weighing over 20 kilograms.

Refuse collectors may start work early in the morning or work afternoon shifts. The length of their working day varies from one employer to another. Some private sector employees work ten hours a day, five days a week.

  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Jun 16, 2017

Refuse collectors need the following characteristics:

  • the strength and stamina required to be on their feet, repeatedly lift heavy objects and work at a steady pace for a full shift
  • the ability to read maps and find addresses quickly
  • the ability to get along with fellow workers, customers and members of the public.

They should enjoy physical labour, taking a methodical approach to their work and working outdoors in all weather conditions.

Educational Requirements
Updated Jun 16, 2017

There are no standard education requirements in this occupation. However, many employers require applicants for refuse collector positions to have a high school diploma or equivalent education, and pass a medical exam.

Refuse collectors who also drive trucks must have a Class 3 (or greater, depending on the type of truck) with airbrake (Q brake) endorsement. Some employers require applicants to have no more than two demerit points on their license and no convictions for dangerous driving or impaired driving. A minimum six months related experience operating single/double axle heavy equipment with Q brake endorsement up to a maximum capacity of 11 tones may be required. Experience manoeuvring large trucks in small spaces is a definite asset.

Refuse collectors are trained on the job. Some employers require employees who drive trucks to pass a defensive driving program every three years.

Supplementary training in recycling and waste management can be an asset.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Jun 16, 2017

Below-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Refuse collectors are employed by:

  • cities, towns and rural municipalities
  • waste management companies that contract their services to municipalities and businesses.

Refuse collectors who have a high school diploma may advance to supervisory positions or other positions within the organization.

In Alberta, refuse collectors are part of two larger 2011 National Occupational Classifications: 7422 Public works and maintenance equipment operators and National Occupational Classification 7621: Public works and maintenance labourers.

79% of people employed in the Public works maintenance equipment operators group work in the following industries:

78% of people employed in the Public works and maintenance labourers group work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 3,500 Albertans are employed in the Public works maintenance equipment operators occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0.6% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 21 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As refuse collectors form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for refuse collectors.

Over 2,900 Albertans are employed in the Public works maintenance labourers occupational group. This group is not expected to grow from 2016 to 2020.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Jun 16, 2017

Some refuse collectors employed in the private sector may receive a per-tonne rate in addition to their base salary.

Refuse collectors are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 7522: Public works maintenance equipment operators and related workers.

According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Public works maintenance equipment operators and related workers occupational group earned on average from $24.43 to $31.35 an hour. The overall average wage was $27.63 an hour. For more information, see the Public works maintenance equipment operators and related workers wage profile.

Related High School Subjects
  • Trades, Manufacturing and Transportation
    • Mechanics
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Driver Training

Updated Mar 20, 2014. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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