“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.