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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.

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) 
  • 2016 NOC: Public works maintenance equipment operators and related workers (7522);  Public works and maintenance labourers (7621) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Public Works Maintenance Equipment Operators
2006 NOC : 7422

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Public Works and Maintenance Labourers
2006 NOC : 7621

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

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
  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg

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.

Traits & Skills
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.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Public works maintenance equipment operators and related workers
NOC code: 7522

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 15 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Dec 02, 2021 and May 24, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Check, lubricate, refuel and clean equipment
Report any malfunctions to supervisor
Operate various vehicles and equipment
Personal Suitability: Excellent oral communication
Personal Suitability: Flexibility
Screening questions: Are you currently legally able to work in Canada?
Screening questions: Do you have the above-indicated required certifications?
Personal Suitability: Team player
Personal Suitability: Excellent written communication
Long term benefits: Group insurance benefits
Public works and maintenance labourers
NOC code: 7621

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 17 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Dec 02, 2021 and May 24, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Personal Suitability: Team player
Operate various equipment and machinery
Personal Suitability: Dependability
Assist in routine maintenance and repair of equipment
Screening questions: Are you currently legally able to work in Canada?
Personal Suitability: Excellent oral communication
Screening questions: Do you currently reside in proximity to the advertised location?
Personal Suitability: Judgement
Personal Suitability: Flexibility
Equipment and Machinery Experience: Power mowers
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Minimum Education Varies

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.

For a list of driving schools in Alberta, please go to the Alberta Transportation website.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

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 7522: Public works maintenance equipment operators and related workers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.7% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 58 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

In Alberta, the 7621: Public works and maintenance labourers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.7% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 58 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Public works maintenance equipment operators and related workers

2016 NOC : 7522
Average Wage
$28.00
Per Hour
Average Salary
$54,602.00
Per Year
Average Hours
38.7
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
11.4
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 7522 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


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 $33.91 $25.19 $27.00
Overall $18.00 $37.30 $28.00 $27.55
Top $20.00 $44.08 $31.01 $31.00

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

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

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

63%
63%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

16%
16%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

4%
4%

Vacancy Rate

3%

Public works and maintenance labourers

2016 NOC : 7621
Average Wage
$26.04
Per Hour
Average Salary
$48,494.00
Per Year
Average Hours
38.2
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
11
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 7621 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


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 $31.10 $24.23 $25.71
Overall $17.27 $33.04 $26.04 $25.71
Top $18.00 $34.85 $27.60 $29.71

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information
Public Administration
ALL INDUSTRIES

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

64%
64%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

10%
10%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

8%
8%

Vacancy Rate

4%
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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