Recycling and Reclamation Workers


Employment Prospects


Recycling and reclamation workers are employed by plants that recycle and reclaim materials and products. They work at warehouses, recycling centers, and for salvaging yards. The Department of Labor (DOL) reported there were approximately 244,700 recycling and reclamation workers working in the United States in 2018.

Starting Out

Many people get started in recycling work through part-time and entry-level positions. They receive on-the-job training that can last for several months. Ask your school's career services office for help with finding job openings at recycling facilities. Search for jobs on Web sites such as Glassdoor, Indeed, SimplyHired, as well as federal, state, and local government Web sites.

Advancement Prospects

Recycling and reclamation workers with a bachelor's degree and several years of experience may advance to become recycling coordinators. They may become supervisors and managers, hiring and overseeing the work of recycling sorters, equipment operators, and other workers. Those that work for small, local facilities may move up to larger recycling plants. They may move into state-level jobs or they may become recycling and waste management consultants for private businesses. They may get certification to enhance their skills and job prospects. Some may move on to other fields, working for small business administrations and nonprofit organizations or as government administrators.

Tips for Entry

Meet others working in the recycling field and find out about current issues and trends by attending events and conferences, such as the Resource Recycling Conference (

Learn more about recycling and reclamation by reading publications such as Recycling Today ( and Resource Recycling (

Get a part-time or summer job in a recycling facility to gain experience. Find job listings on the National Waste & Recycling Association's Web site,