The $100,000 job: Garbage workers
by Patrick Gillespie @CNNMoney
February 25, 2016: 8:29 AM ET
And yet, they love their job. Part of the reason is they get paid well for their hard work.
"Your trash is my money," Molina, 32, says with a baby-faced grin.
Molina made $112,000 last year as a garbage truck driver and Sankar made $100,000 as a helper, riding on the back of the truck. Their wages have grown in eight of the last nine years, according to their bosses, brothers David and Jerry Antonacci, owners of Crown Container, a waste management company.
Molina dropped out of high school in the 10th grade and he's worked at Crown for 10 years. He says his starting salary was about $80,000. Sankar too dropped out of school before migrating to the U.S. from Guyana 20 years ago.
Not everyone makes six figures, but most trash workers are doing better than high school dropouts and even graduates.
Nationwide, the annual salary for a garbage truck driver is $40,000, according to the Labor Department. Across all professions, high school dropouts earn about $24,000, while high school graduates make $30,000 annually, according to the U.S. Education Department.
Molina and Sankar are aware that they outearn many people with a college degree.
Guys who go to college might not make the kind of money "(I make) on the back of a garbage truck, picking up trash," says Sankar.
Not only do they earn a good salary, their wages are growing faster than the average too. Nationwide, wages for trash workers have grown 18%, which is a lot faster than the 14% average for all workers since the recession ended in June 2009.