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Updated

Refuse Collector

Refuse collectors pick up non-recyclable waste materials from homes, apartment buildings, and businesses. They work along specified routes. They often work for municipalities or private waste management companies.

  • Avg. Salary $41,566.00
  • Avg. Wage $23.70
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 3,200
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

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

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Public Works Maintenance Equipment Operators (7422);  Public Works and Maintenance Labourers (7621) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Public Works Maintenance Equipment Operators (H612);  Public Works and Maintenance Labourers (H831) 
  • 2011 NOC: Public works maintenance equipment operators and related workers (7522);  Public works and maintenance labourers (7621) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

23%
23%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Refuse Collector is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Public Works Maintenance Equipment Operators
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
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 Mar 31, 2018

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

  • empty garbage containers and debris into trucks according to defined schedules and routes
  • perform safety checks, daily mechanical maintenance, and hydraulic checks of vehicles before and after operation, keeping the vehicle clean and fuelled
  • follow safe loading procedures and driving regulations
  • unload collection vehicles at assigned disposal points
  • operate related waste management and recycling operations equipment
  • report any violations and infractions of municipal solid waste bylaws (to the foreman)
  • maintain daily collection records.

Refuse collectors may work in trucks equipped with hydraulic pickers (automated collection arms). Or they may hop off and on trucks to empty bins or throw garbage bags into the truck. In some cases, 2 people may work together, taking turns driving and collecting.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Refuse collectors work in all weather conditions. The garbage can be dirty and smelly. They must follow safety precautions to avoid the spread of disease.

They must also avoid injuries. These may be related to repetitive movements, handling sharp materials, and working in high-traffic areas. Automated collection is becoming the norm. However, refuse collectors may have to lift items weighing more than 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 10 hours a day, 5 days a week.

  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Refuse collectors need to possess:

  • strength and stamina to do repetitive work, lift heavy objects, and work at a steady pace for a full shift
  • the ability to sit for long periods of time
  • depth perception and hand-eye coordination
  • the ability to read maps and find addresses quickly
  • the ability to get along with others (co-workers and the public).

They should enjoy:

  • taking a step-by-step approach to their work
  • navigating congested roadways
  • driving in all weather conditions.
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

There are no standard education requirements for this position. However, many employers require applicants to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Some also expect applicants to pass a medical exam.

Refuse collectors who also drive trucks must have a Class 3 (or greater, depending on the type of truck) license. They should also have an airbrake (Q brake) endorsement. Some employers require applicants to have no more than 2 demerit points on their license. Some will not consider applicants with dangerous or impaired driving convictions. They may require at least 6 months’ related experience. This should be in operating:

  • single/double-axle heavy equipment
  • equipment that requires Q brake endorsement
  • equipment with a maximum capacity of 11 tonnes.

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 3 years.

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


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

AB RoadSafe Safety and Driver Training

Cameron Driver Education Ltd. - Edmonton West

Capilano Truck Driver Training Institute - Edmonton

Capilano Truck Driver Training Institute - Red Deer

Connections Career & Safety Services Ltd.

I Train U Truck R.V. Driver Education Ltd.

Indo Canadian Driver Training School Inc

Northeast Transport Training Ltd.

Professional Truck Driving School Ltd

Start - Rite Driver Education Ltd.

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

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Refuse collectors work for:

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

With a high school diploma, refuse collectors may become supervisors or advance to other positions within the company.

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 [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation.

In Alberta, the H612: Public Works Maintenance Equipment Operators occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0.6% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 21 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

In Alberta, the H831: Public Works and Maintenance Labourers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 0 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2018

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

Public works maintenance equipment operators and related workers

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $16.00 $34.22 $22.88 $22.00
Overall $24.45 $36.56 $28.13 $25.12
Top $26.35 $43.62 $33.47 $34.41

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Business, Building and Other Support Services
Public Administration
ALL INDUSTRIES
Construction

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

48%
48%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

23%
23%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

5%
5%

Vacancy Rate

2%
Public works and maintenance labourers

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $31.46 $20.89 $19.33
Overall $18.45 $34.85 $23.70 $21.87
Top $20.52 $34.85 $27.06 $27.98

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Business, Building and Other Support Services
Public Administration
ALL INDUSTRIES

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

61%
61%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

3%
3%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

3%
3%

Vacancy Rate

1%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Driver Training

Updated Mar 31, 2018. 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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