Recycling Coordinators


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Recycling coordinators need a variety of skills, so taking a variety of classes in high school is a good start. Classes in business, economics, and civics are a good idea to help build an understanding of the public sector in which most recycling coordinators work. Knowledge of how local governments and markets for recycled materials function is something you will need to know later, and civics and economics courses provide this framework. English and speech classes are vital to developing good oral and written communication skills that you use to spread the word about the importance of recycling. Mathematics and science will prove useful in setting recycling goals and understanding how recycling helps the environment.

Postsecondary Training

Until recently, people with widely varying backgrounds and experience were becoming recycling coordinators. Enthusiasm, an understanding of recycling issues, and business acumen were more important than any specific degree or professional background. This is still true to some extent, as colleges generally don't offer degrees in recycling coordination. Instead, a bachelor's degree in environmental studies, environmental resources management, environmental education, or a related area and strong communication skills are desirable. Some schools offer minors in integrated waste management. Classes may include public policy, source reduction, transformation technology (composting/waste energy) and landfills.

Other Education or Training

The National Recycling Coalition offers continuing education (CE) opportunities via webinars and at its annual conference. Past webinars included “Understanding Domestic and Global Recycling Commodity Markets,” “Sustainability Efforts in the Healthcare Industry: Focus on Plastics Recycling,” and “Biodegradable Plastic Resins: Debunking the Myths.” The National Waste & Recycling Association also provides CE classes and workshops. Contact these organizations for more information. 

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

There are no certification or licensing requirements for recycling coordinators.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Experience as an intern, volunteer, or part-time employee at a recycling program is recommended for obtaining an entry-level position, but more experience will be needed to advance to higher level work.

Useful personal skills include good communication and people skills for interacting with staff, contractors, government officials, and the public. Leadership, persuasiveness, and creativity (the ability to think of new ways to use collected materials, for example) also are important.