Garbage collectors, classified as refuse and recyclable material collectors by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, make $36,370 on average in a year. That's less than the average annual wage for both local government ($38,380) and state government ($44,650) workers overall.
However, there is considerable variation in how trash collectors get paid across the country. The BLS notes that trash collectors in the top 90 percent earn $58,790 on average, nearly three times as much as the bottom 10 percent. In some cases, salaries for garbage workers can even hit six figures.
With that in mind, CareerTrends, a career research site by Graphiq, used data from the BLS to find the 50 U.S. metro areas where trash collectors had the highest average salary in 2015 (the most recent year available).
The majority of the top 50 cities are located on the West Coast or the Northeast. California metro areas are especially dominant, occupying eight of the top 20 spots. Some metro areas, like New York-Newark-Jersey City, are located in multiple states, but CareerTrends listed each metro as part of the state where it is primarily based.
Note that one of the main reasons why salaries vary from place to place is due to differences in the cost of living. It's significantly more expensive to live in San Francisco, California -- one of the top-paying cities -- than Tulsa, Oklahoma, one of the lowest. The BLS salary figures are not adjusted for cost of living.