Sign up for the CDLLife Newsletter
Subscribe to our mailing list and get today's top trucking news delivered to your inbox.
“I make more money than someone who went to college,” says New York City garbage truck driver Tony Sankar.
Garbage Truck Workers Rake In $100,000 Each Year
Sankar and his co-worker Noel Molina have been working together as garbage collectors in New York City for the past ten years — and both of them bring in over $100,000 every year. Molina, who drives the garbage truck, earns $112,000 per year while Sankar, who rides on the back of the truck earns $100,000. The men earn more than most drivers in part because they are members of a union that helped them negotiate for higher salaries.
Both men dropped out of school before earning a high school diploma.
Employers Struggle to Find Qualified Applicants
Wages for garbage truck drivers have grown 18%, in part because employers have trouble finding qualified applicants who are willing to do the job. Employer David Antonacci reported that when he put out a listing for garbage truck drivers, he got 50 applications, but only four of those applicants held a CDL and all four also had penalties on their licenses. He wasn’t able to hire any of the applicants.
Workers Face Long Hours, Danger, And Gag-Worthy Items In Garbage
But Molina and Sankar definitely work hard for their money. They work the graveyard shift from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. lifting heavy bags of trash 55 to 60 hours a week. The job is dangerous — the pair have to communicate constantly to stay safe. And, yes, they’ve seen some pretty disgusting things, including dead cows and even once a human leg.
Molina is currently buying his first house while Sankar is able to support eight of his children on his salary.
The average U.S. garbage truck driver earns $40,000 per year.