Who Is A Waste Management Professional? Duties, Jobs, and Responsibilities

Do you have any idea how much trash you throw? Have you ever wondered what happens to the trash you throw and what could possibly happen if what happens to it, does not happen?

The private waste business Waste Management reports, “In a lifetime the average American will throw away 600 times the amount of his or her adult weight in garbage. For example, a 150-pound adult will leave a trash legacy of 90,000 pounds.”

What happens to your trash is the business of waste management professionals.

This article would outline what waste management is, who a waste management professional is, his jobs and responsibilities, and his pay. Keep reading.

What is Waste Management?

Waste management has to do with the processes and actions required to manage waste from its inception to its final disposal.

The process of waste management is the collection, transport, treatment, and disposal of waste, together with monitoring and regulation of the waste management process and waste-related laws, technologies, economic mechanisms.

Waste management deals with all types of waste, including industrial, biological, household, municipal, organic, biomedical, radioactive wastes

Who is a Waste Management Professional?

According to career education site AllAboutCareers.com, “Waste management officers oversee and coordinate waste disposal, refuse collection and recycling activities in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner”.

They are the ones who have specific knowledge about what should be explicitly done to your waste to ensure it is properly disposed of.

Waste management professionals’ role was explicitly set out by the EPA’s “Resource Conservation Challenge” that launched in the early 2000s.

This includes a targeted goal of recycling 35 percent of the roughly 300 million pounds of municipal solid waste (e.g., paper, glass, plastic, rubber, wood) generated annually by individuals and organizations.

Since the 2000’s, these waste professionals have been on the rise as the best recyclers.

What Does a Waste Management Professional Do?

The process of waste management is not an easy one. This has made the duties of waste management professionals quite a lot. The duties of waste management professionals include-

  • investigate and following up claims of the illegal dumping of waste and working with other waste regulation enforcement staff
  • identify and target areas with fly tipping or black bag problems, working to find solutions to eliminate them
  • Waste management professionals are in charge of the process of transportation, storage, and disposal of different kinds of hazardous waste.
  • in charge of the development of contaminated and/or hazardous waste disposal procedures. They ensure that it is not just about the removal of the materials, but to ensure that it is removed in the safest and most efficient possible way.
  • are in charge of the supervision of the transportation of waste to ensure that it takes place efficiently without contaminating air, land or water
  • collate statistics and compile reports often to strict deadlines.
  • monitor the quality and performance of waste services, including contract management of external providers.
  • ensures that in the process of waste disposal and management, it strictly complied the rules of the federal and local statutes with to avoid complications in the future.
  • have the responsibility of developing storage protocols for hazardous materials. They ensure that when hazardous materials need to remain on-site to be kept safe and effectively monitored, then it is done with utmost care.
  • are in charge of developing programs for recycling to ensure every type of waste is effectively recycled.
  • are in charge of managing waste facilities. The supervision and coordination of waste, the ensuring of proper disposal of waste, ensuring rules are kept and duly followed, ensuring that the plants and disposal equipment’s are worked and run efficiently are all managed by the waste management professionals.
  • The management of staff is also largely overseen by the waste management professionals. They are the ones who ensure that the staff are performing their duties adequately.
  • provides outreach and marketing. Waste professionals don’t merely work with residential and industrial byproducts. They also communicate what their companies and/or governmental departments are doing. This is particularly important when dealing with matters of public health and legal compliance.
  • whilst monitoring the staff and ensuring the plant is up and working, is also in charge of all accounting and budgetary milestones. Every type of waste management has to meet the fiscal measures that have been set aside to remain sustainable. It is their duty to ensure that all waste management activities conform to the stipulated fiscal metrics.
  • consult with residents, community groups, councilors, housing associations and traders’ associations about waste management issues, identify their requirements and provide appropriate solutions
  • develop research projects and contribute to the activities of national groups concerned with waste disposal.

How Much Does a Waste Management Professional Earn?

Dealing with other people’s waste might seem like a lot to you. Especially where you’ve seen yours, and you sure dislike the look of it. A septic truck once got popular because it had “It smells like money to me!” plastered on it.

I don’t think they’re a lot of waste management professionals who do the job cause it’s their dream career. It is mostly because of the incentive attached.

Waste management professionals tend to early substantial salaries. Salary.com says that the median salary for a waste management manager is $109,037 as of November 25, 2020, and Statista reports that the projected solid waste management industry revenue will be $530 billion by 2025.

Entrepreneurs are also starting their own businesses to serve various segments in supporting the waste management industry. Starting salaries now range between $22,000 and $25,000.

With several years’ experience and at the senior level, you could earn $28,000 to $45,000. As a waste management professional, you could early almost $45,000 or more.

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Waste Management Professional Working Hours

If you are a waste management professional, it means you have put in a lot of years and you are probably top tier. Top tier means more responsibility, but since you call shots now, you could have more flexible working hours.

Waste management professionals working hours are usually 9 am to 5 pm. It is also possible to work through Mondays to Sundays. You can, however, take the weekend off.

In some plants, they base the work on rotations or shifts. You could work for 5 days a week and take the other days off, in no definite manner. Career breaks, part-time work, and job-shares are all possible within local government.

What to Expect in Working as a Waste Management Professional?

As a waste management professional, your site work would now be selected. You could mostly be limited to the office so that you can be able to effectively oversee all your functions. In working as a waste management professional,

  • They would require you to visit contractors and facilities.
  • You should expect to be absent from home at night and overseas work are uncommon because there may occasionally be a need to attend meetings or contribute to a project abroad.
  • The dress code is smart for the office and practical for work on site.
  • You should expect to travel may be more common if you work for a private international company.
  • The ratio of male to female employees in the role is roughly equal.

Qualifications Needed to Become a Waste Management Professional

Most people move into this career line after working in the construction, haulage or quarrying industries or by specializing from a wider environmental role within a large organization.

Most of the time, a degree is not really needed, a degree in waste management would suffice as the right qualification for a waste management job.

If you do not have a degree in waste management, a degree in any of the following can also suffice-

  • A degree in biological or biochemical sciences
  • A degree in chemical and physical sciences
  • HND in a waste management
  • A degree in civil, structural or mechanical engineering
  • A degree in earth sciences
  • HND in environmental protection
  • A degree in environmental science
  • A degree in geography and/or geology.
  • HND in environmental management.
  • PgDip in waste management or environmental engineering

Job Outlook of a Waste Management Professional

If you are highly trained in this field, have a degree and all that, you don’t need to worry about having to go into the streets to pack people’s wastes.

You would mostly end up doing all the roles of a waste management professional or easily end up in managerial or consulting positions. The other roles you can have are-

  • Personnel manager
  • Industrial hazardous waste manager
  • Compost processing
  • Facilities management
  • Educational and outreach management
  • Sales manager

Waste management professionals have multifaceted opportunities and responsibilities, most of which has been listed above.

Skills Needed for a Waste Management Professional

  • Ability to communicate with, explain ideas to and motivate others. You wont go very far if you dont have the proper communication skills.
  • Analytical skills
  • Risk managementThis skill has to do with the process of identifying, assessing and controlling threats to an organizations capital and earnings. You simply can’t be caught blind-sided with an unexpected crisis while you’re deep into executing your project. After you identify risks, your job does no end; you also need to find ways to control the risks by weighing probability and cost.
  • Capacity to grasp and apply legislation
  • Strong organizational skills. Your job as a waste management professional would be filled with things which involve your using intellect. Your strong organizational skills is a plus.
  • Interest in and understanding of environmental and sustainability policies
  • Decision-making skills
  • Ability to oversee and manage processes and people.
  • Leadership skillsLeadership skills is a core skill which you must possess as a waste management professional. You must have this skill in other to motivate and inspire teams. You must have other leadership skills like negotiating, communicating, listening, influencing skills and team building. To successfully use this skill, you must be goal driven, have a clear vision and be very practical.

Knowledge Needed to be a Good Waste Management Professional

  • Waste transport legislation- Regulations and legislation concerning the safe transportation of hazardous and non-hazardous waste materials, products, and appliances.
  • Waste and scrap products- The offered waste and scrap products, their functionalities, properties and legal and regulatory requirements.
  • Business management principles- Principles governing business management methods such as strategy planning, methods of efficient production, people and resources coordination.
  • Waste management- The methods, materials and regulations used to collect, transport, treat and dispose of waste. This includes recycling and monitoring of waste disposal.
  • Health, safety and hygiene legislation- The set of health, safety and hygiene standards and items of legislation applicable in a specific sector.

Training and Progression of a Waste Management Professional

While most employers provide hands-on training and development schemes, the completion of other professional training courses and obtaining membership with professional bodies, such as the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), are recommended.

This will serve you nicely in two ways: not only will it help you to develop specific expertise in the area, but it will also build up your network by allowing you to liaise with other professionals.

The Waste Management Industry Training and Advisory Board (WAMITAB) also offers courses that lead to relevant vocational qualifications.

As your career progresses, you might move into a team leader position or eventually become the director of waste management in your region.

Many waste management officers who work in the public sector also choose to move out of their local area and find employment with private waste management companies.

This public-to-private sector transition may enable you to boost your earning potential and progress up the career ladder more quickly. 

READ ALSO: Construction Superintendent Salary In 2023: How Much Does Construction Superintendent Make?

Importance of Waste Management Professionals

Words cannot even begin to explain the importance of waste management professionals in the society. Without them, there would probably be tons of toxic materials that don’t get properly disposed of or recycled.

These would end up having adverse effects on our everyday lives. Waste management professionals help with-

  • Keeping water decontaminated
  • Keeping air decontaminated
  • Ensuring that pests are kept at bay
  • Keeping the soil decontaminated
  • Ensuring that the wildlife stay safe
  • Keeping the environment safe for living

Imagine a life where there was no one to sort through your waste.


The EPA’s statistics saying that every person produces 4.9 pounds of refuse every day, which translates into 292.4 million tons annually. Of that, only 69 million tons get recycled and 25 million tons gets composted. A desire to protect the environment is a driving force behind why some choose to become waste management professionals.

Finally, waste management professionals have jobs that benefit humanity as a whole. Unmanaged trash is a health risk for more than just the environment. It also hurts people, and it can do so for generation after generation. By applying best practices, waste management professionals can help people all around the world.


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