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Career in the NYC Sanitation: A Comprehensive Guide

Career in the NYC Sanitation: A Comprehensive Guide

Despite being considered the fifth most dangerous career in the US by CNBC, sanitation jobs are still always in hot demand. The New York City Department of Sanitation, DSNY for short, is a prime example of this.

Although the department only hires around 500 new employees each year, approximately 96,000 people applied for sanitation worker jobs in NYC.

Just to give you an idea, Harvard University has an acceptance rate of 5.8%, whereas DSNY’s acceptance rate is less than one-half of a percent. In other words, it’s easier to get into Harvard than it is to become a sanitation worker in NYC.

According to recent estimates, there are more than 58,000 sanitation workers in the US. While the average age is 48, it’s surprising that more than 20% of sanitation workers in the US are women.

Salary Benefits: Why People Want the Sanitation Jobs So Badly

You may be wondering what’s all the fuss is about: Why do people want to work in a department responsible for collecting trash in NYC?

There are several reasons, and most of them have to do with good money. We’re talking excellent salaries, overtime benefits, night shift differentials, and much more.

The Starting Salary

Although the starting salary is admittedly low at around $37,000 but factoring in overtime, you can earn $50,000 on average in your first year. In short, when it comes to sanitation jobs, you shouldn’t just go by the basic salary as there are many overtime opportunities.

Overtime Opportunities

The great thing about a job with the DSNY is that there are many overtime opportunities. Since sanitation workers also have to operate the thousands of snowplows of the city, workers can work 12-hour shifts and earn a lot of overtime.

NYC Sanitation worker on dutyHarsher winters mean more overtime which can translate to workers who make $75,000 annually making as much as $95,000 a year, according to the DSNY Commissioner.


Sanitation workers can earn their first raise after half a year on the job. After this initial raise, workers get yearly raises. After five and a half years of service, the workers can reach the base salary of $77,000.

Longevity Pay

The workers can also enjoy the longevity pay that they receive after completing 5, 10, 15, and 20 years of service, respectively. Although these rates change with time, there’s no denying that the longevity pay benefits for DSNY workers are pretty lucrative.

Six-Figure Pay

Once you reach the higher levels, you can even earn a six-figure base pay in the DSNY. Furthermore, there are several other financial incentives that employees are offered, such as night shift differential, that allow DSNY workers to make more money.

NYC Sanitation Worker: What Are the Duties

Now that we’ve gone over all the financial incentives and lucrative pay, you may be wondering what exactly are the duties of a DSNY worker. It’s worth mentioning that this job is not for everyone due to the challenging work, odd timings, and the nature of the job.

Essentially, sanitation workers have a multitude of responsibilities. These include street cleaning, snow removal, waste disposal, and recycling, among other duties.

Sanitation workers can start working as early as 3:30 am. However, their shift typically begins at 6 am and ends at 2 pm. Workers are assigned to specific areas and follow the route map, collecting waste, sweeping the streets, and making log entries.

Sanitation worker on duty in NYCDuring the winter season, sanitation workers also operate snowplows to remove the snow. However, they also have to deal with hazardous materials, and there are safety hazards attached to the job.

Nevertheless, the department ensures that all employees undergo proper training sessions before being sent out onto the field. However, it’s also worth mentioning that sanitation workers have to work even in harsh weather conditions.

Once they have collected the waste, they have to take it to landfills or dumpsters at the end of their shift. They also receive training in operating heavy machinery and the care and maintenance of their trucks to ensure smooth operation at all times.

However, according to Shari Pardini, the sanitation job is more than just collecting trash. She is the highest-ranking uniformed female employee in the history of DSNY and a four-star chief with the title of Director of Operations Management Division.

Pardini says that there are many facets at DSNY, and it’s not just about collecting waste. The department needs people with different skill sets, and there’s a lot that goes on to ensure that the city is clean and running smoothly.

NYC Sanitation Worker: What the Requirements Are to Qualify

We’ve already discussed how tough it is to get a job with the NYC Sanitation department, but that shouldn’t dissuade you from applying! Take Pardini’s story, for example. She only applied to encourage her fiancé to apply as well, and now she’s making six figures and calling the shots!

So, if you’re interested in applying for the sanitation worker position, here are all the basic requirements:

Age Requirements

The DSNY follows the rule set by Section 54 of the New York Civil service Law when it comes to age requirements. According to this rule, the candidate should be at least 17-and-a-half years of age by the end of the application period.

However, the appointment is only possible once you turn 21. Candidates who are younger than this age at the time of appointment will not be considered for the position and will have to go through the application process again.

Education Requirements

The minimum education requirements are of a four-year high school qualification or the educational equivalent approved by the state’s DoE. For those educated outside of the US, candidates will need their education evaluated to determine the equivalence.

While the education requirements aren’t too demanding, it’s important to ensure that all your educational documents are in order.

Commercial Driver License

Candidates also need a Class A or B commercial driving license in New York State. This license needs to be maintained throughout your employment with the Sanitation department. It’s also worth mentioning that DSNY only hires candidates that are residents of NYC, Westchester, or Nassau counties.

NYPD vehicle parked near garbage bagsStart Your NYC Sanitation Worker Journey with Civil Service Success

In conclusion, working as an NYC Sanitation worker can be a highly rewarding career path, and you can make good money and earn promotions to move up the ladder.

If you’re interested in a career as an NYC sanitation worker, the first thing you have to do is clear the civil service exam in NYC. At Civil Service Success, we help you prepare for the NYC Sanitation Worker exam with our preparatory courses available through NYS.

We also offer other courses covering the NYS Court Officer exam or the Suffolk County Police exam. Contact now to learn more about how we can help you prepare for the exams and the interviews.

By |2021-07-10T19:32:11+00:00June 29th, 2021|Blog|0 Comments

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