Refuse collector

Facilities and property services

Career outlook for refuse collector

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would take rubbish away from people’s home and businesses to keep the environment pleasant, clean and healthy.

As a loader, you’d pick up waste for disposal or recycling. You would work as part of a small team, collecting refuse from a different local area each day of the week.

You would:

  • Move bags, wheelie bins and recycling bins and boxes
  • Use a lifting mechanism to tip the waste from bins into the lorry
  • Throw plastic bags into the back of the lorry
  • Crush the waste
  • Sort recyclable materials at the kerbside
  • Guide the driver safely around the streets
  • Report any problems with waste collections
  • Help to unload the waste at designated facilities
  • Record the amount of waste collected

With experience, you might drive the collection lorry and supervise the team of loaders.

As a driver, you would check the lorry before you set out for routine maintenance. As you drive you’d need to stop often to keep in time with the loaders.

It’s a large vehicle so you’d need to be aware of other vehicles or people in the road and steer the lorry safely.

You’d also make sure people are clear of the lorry before the rubbish is crushed. Then you’d drive it to a transfer station, landfill site or recycling depot for weighing and unloading.

You need to work cleanly and quickly and be aware of health and safety rules.

Working conditions


Typical working hours would be between 6.30am or 7am and 3.30pm, Monday to Friday. You may sometimes need to work on public holidays, and weekend overtime may be available.


You would work outdoors in all weather conditions. The work is active and involves lifting heavy bags and bins. You may also need to dispose of substances such as chemicals or clinical waste from hospitals. You would be provided with safety clothing including reflective jackets and heavy duty gloves.


If you are a driver you will need a large goods vehicle licence.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Positive attitude
  • Reliable
  • Time management
  • Attention to detail
  • Cooperating
  • Problem solving

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


There are no set qualifications to enter this job but qualifications at SCQF level 4/5 may be of value.

You will also need

A LGV licence (Large Goods Vehicle) may be required. 

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that show physical fitness, understanding of health and safety and recycling skills.  

Work-based qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Sustainable Resource Operations (SVQ level 2/3) can be achieved once you are in work.