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A key part of our driving jobs section is to look at everyday jobs, that we all take for granted, we all expect our rubbish to be collected once a week, hence the need for this type of work is endless.

Our key findings for working as a refuse collection driver

1. While normal refuse collectors do not require any qualifications, if you want to be a truck driver then you will need a large goods vehicle (LGV) licence.

2. To get an LGV licence, you need to be over 18, hold a normal car licence and then pass both a practical and a theory test.

3. By law, you’ll also be required to hold a Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) alongside your LGV licence.

4. Some local councils or private firms may offer to pay for you to become a qualified driver, especially if you are already a refuse collector.

5. Refuse collection truck drivers tend to work between 35 and 40 hours a week, with overtime hours often available. Early starts are often compulsory.

6. Alongside driving, you may be expected to help with refuse collection as well as having to deal with members of the public.

7. Refuse collection drivers can earn from £19,000 a year, with those moving into senior positions likely to earn £25,000 a year plus.

What Do Refuse Collection Drivers Do?

Refuse collection is a team game. So, though you may be keen on the idea of driving a truck every day of your working life, the chances are you’ll have to chip in with the collection of waste and recycling material from homes and offices.

In fact, the work can be relatively demanding and varied, with key responsibilities including:

  • Driving the truck in a safe manner, often through tight residential areas or city centre streets.
  • Moving wheelie bins, recycling bins and boxes and placing their content into the lorry
  • Sorting through recyclable materials at the kerbside.
  • Recording the amount of waste collected on a daily and weekly basis.
  • Helping with the unloading of waste at the appropriate facility.

Refuse collection truck drivers tend to work between 35 and 40 hours a week, with overtime hours often available. Depending on where you work, you may be required to start early.

Qualifications and Training

While normal refuse collectors do not require any fixed qualifications or training, if you want to be a truck driver then, by law, you will need to hold a large goods vehicle (LGV) licence.

More specifically, you’ll be required to hold a Category C LGV licence, which gives you legal permission to drive a vehicle of 7.5 tonnes or more on UK roads.

Getting the licence is relatively straightforward, particularly if you already hold a standard driving licence, though it will require specialist training and for you to pass both a theory and a practical test.

By law, you’ll also be required to hold a Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) alongside your LGV licence. For more information on becoming a qualified LGV driver, read this guide working as a HGV driver (LGV).

If you already work for a local authority, consider asking their HR department if they will pay for you to train as a driver and gain your LGV licence.

Even if you don’t already work for a local council, you may still be able to break into this line of work through an Apprenticeship. To find out more about Apprenticeships and the opportunities that may be open to you, check out the official Apprenticeships website.

Once you’ve started work as a driver, you may be able to boost your salary and your career prospects by undertaking further training.

The following all offer a range of courses for professionals which, while not compulsory, may aid your professional development:

  • The Driving Standards Agency (DSA),
  • The Freight Transport Association
  • The Road Haulage Association

Skills and Personal Attributes

Alongside the relevant driving licence and qualifications, employers will also want to see evidence of supplementary skills, as well as an aptitude that will allow you to work in a public-facing role.

For example, employers may want to see any or all of the following:

  • A good working knowledge of truck maintenance.
  • Excellent communication skills and a polite manner with members of the public.
  • The ability to work well as part of a team.
  • A demonstrable appreciation of health and safety considerations.
  • A reasonable level of personal fitness and the ability to cope with early starts.

Pay and Benefits

According to the National Careers Service, refuse collection drivers can earn £19,000 a year plus, with those moving into senior positions likely to earn £25,000 a year or more. It may be possible to top this up with overtime shifts.

Other benefits include being able to work in part of a team while performing a vital public service, as well as being able to gain a good working knowledge of truck driving and health and safety issues – both things that may serve you well if you choose to change jobs.

Finding Work

Most refuse collection drivers either work for private waste management companies under contract to a local council or directly for the council itself.

For private sector employment, you should do a search with us or other online jobs boards as well as your local press websites and publications, also some of the sector’s biggest employers themselves. It’s worth noting that Veolia Environmental Services for example, is always recruiting drivers for hourly-paid or permanent positions, see their latest vacancies: Here.

For public sector opportunities, check your local council website for job openings or visit the Local Government jobs site where council vacancies can be found.

Further Information

IF you have a HGV licence then there are lots of driving options available to you. Our job guides has a wide selection of other driving jobs including Taxi driver, Driving Instructor, Bus Driver, or Delivery van driver, should you not have or fancy getting your HGV driving licence.

Please remember that your local jobcentre can tell you all about your options and if they can help you in terms of whatever work you are looking for, UK Jobs Guide has all the UK job centres listed on our site.

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