Because hefting heavy cans and bags into the back of a truck and dealing with garbage is undoubtedly an unpleasant job, it would stand to reason that the laws of supply and demand would require employers to pay premium wages to garbage collectors. That’s not the case, however, as dustmen and other sanitation workers generally earn low wages. With few education requirements and little training needed, garbage collection has few demands, and is frequently easy to fill in areas with large numbers of unskilled workers.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t track annual salary information for garbage collectors and recyclable material collectors, although its data reveals the median wage for all garbage collectors in the United States in May 2008 was £9.70. Workers who work full time with two weeks of vacation would earn £19,409 in a year. Simply Hired, which projects average pay based upon information in hiring announcements, places the average garbage collector pay at £27,950 as of Nov. 19, 2010.
Locations and Employers
All dustman jobs aren’t created equal, and compensation varies according to the geographic region in which a garbage collector works as well as the sort of organisation that employs him. Garbage collectors’ earnings are influenced by the cost of living in the area they work, so trash men may expect to earn more in expensive areas such at Northeastern cities: A trash collector in New York earns £24,050 a year, while one in Los Angeles only makes £19,500 a year, according to Indeed.com. Garbage collectors who are employed by a municipal waste disposal organisation rather than a commercial one also earn slightly higher, with wages ranging between £9.40 and £14.80 per hour, according to PayScale.
Although dustmen may only command working-class wages, many earn benefits to help supplement their earning power. The overwhelming majority of garbage collectors--79 per cent--enjoy some form of health care benefits, according to PayScale. A large portion, 59 per cent, have an employer-subsidised dental plan, while 45 per cent receive a vision package.
Landing a job as a garbage collector shouldn’t be difficult. The Occupational Outlook Handbook predicts a 19 per cent increase in employment in the field from 2008 to 2018, a net gain of 27,800 new jobs. It also notes that, like many fields that require little education and training, many workers leave the industry, opening up even more jobs along the way. PayScale’s survey of the garbage collection workforce also suggests rapid turnover in that labour market, revealing that only 47 per cent of dustmen have more than four years of experience in the field.