Refuse collector

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

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

Hours

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.

Environment

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.

Travel

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

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Working as part of a team
  • Helping customers
  • Being physically fit
  • Paying attention to detail

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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.

Qualifications

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.