Recycling and Reclamation Workers

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About the Job

Prepare and sort materials or products for recycling. Identify and remove hazardous substances. Dismantle components of products such as appliances.

It is also Called

  • Yard Assistant
  • White Goods Appliance Tech
  • Waste Management Recycling Technician
  • Transfer Station Operator
  • Transfer Operator
  • Sorter
  • Sort Line Worker
  • Sort Line
  • Shredding Specialist
  • Scrap Metal Processing Worker
View All

What They Do

  • Remove copper from circuit boards.
  • Operate automated refuse or manual recycling collection vehicles.
  • Collect recyclable materials from curbside for delivery to designated facilities.
  • Cut discarded products, such as appliances and automobiles, into small pieces using saws, blow torches, or other hand or power tools.
  • Operate processing equipment, such as fiber-sorters and grinders, to sort, crush, or grind recyclable materials.
  • Dismantle wrecked vehicles by removing parts and labeling and sorting parts into containers.
  • Record logs of recycled materials or waste chemicals removed from products.
  • Clean materials, such as metals, according to recycling requirements.
  • Operate balers to compress recyclable materials into bundles or bales.
  • Deposit recoverable materials into chutes or place materials on conveyor belts.


People who work in this occupation generally have the interest code: RC.

This means people who work in this occupation generally have Realistic interests, but also prefer Conventional environments.

Work Values

People who work in this occupation generally prize Support, but also value Working Conditions and Relationships in their jobs.

Things They Need to Know

  • Production and Processing - Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
  • Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  • Public Safety and Security - Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Things They Need to Be Able to Do

  • Operation and Control - Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Quality Control Analysis - Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Education Required

These occupations usually require a high school diploma.


In 2017, the average annual wage in Pennsylvania was $35,940 with most people making between $20,740 and $58,410


avg. annual growth

During 2014, this occupation employed approximately 3,690 people in Pennsylvania. It is projected that there will be 4,080 employed in 2024.

This occupation will have about 39 openings due to growth and about 81 replacement openings for approximately 120 total annual openings.

Pennsylvania Department of Education