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How to Become a Highway Cleaner


Highway cleaners ensure highways, streets and their surrounding environment is clean and appealing. They collect litter and regularly clean pathways in major cities, run ways in airports and municipal roads. If you have an interest in environmental conservation and possess superior practical skills, this could be the job for you.

What do Highway Cleaners do?

The main duty of highway cleaners is to ensure pavements, streets and other public places are conducive for public use. This typically involves the following tasks:

  • Erasing graffiti, posters and other drawings left by the public
  • Using chewing gum removal machines to remove chewing gum from pavements and footpaths
  • Setting up cones to divert road users away from the cleaning activities
  • Inspecting and clearing tunnels and drainage systems
  • Inspecting and cleaning work tools and equipment at the end of each work day

Work Environment

Although highway cleaners work between 37 to 40 hours a week, their day often begins earlier than 7am. During sporting events and public rallies, they may be needed to work overtime and on weekends.

Rain, hot sun and strong winds are some of the harsh weather conditions highway cleaners can be exposed to while at work. Aspiring cleaners should also be prepared for energy draining tasks, since the job entails a lot of walking and lifting.

Highway cleaners wear protective clothing such as overalls, gloves and reflective jackets that make them easily visible to motorists.


Salaries for highway cleaners vary by city size. Large cities with busy roads pay more than smaller cities with not so busy roads:

City size

Annual pay

Small cities

Around £12,000

Large cities

Around £16,000

Source: National Careers Service

Entry Requirements

Basically, you do not need any formal qualifications to become a highway cleaner. Many employers prefer individuals in good physical condition and with a valid large goods vehicle license.

If you want to obtain a relevant qualification before looking for a job, you can do so by completing a cleaning and environmental support services apprenticeship.

Important Skills and Abilities

To deliver your services effectively as a highway cleaner, focus on developing the following competencies:

  • Time management, teamwork and interpersonal skills
  • A reasonable level of physical fitness to handle cleaning machinery and tools
  • An awareness of occupation safety and health issues
  • The determination to overcome obstacles such as bad weather

Training and Development

Upon getting employed, you will receive detailed training covering areas such as:

  • Health and safety
  • Identifying and using cleaning equipment and materials

As you progress, you can complete the following qualifications;

  • Level 1 Certificate in Cleaning and Support Service Skills
  • Level 2 Certificate in Cleaning and Support Service Skills
  • Level 3 Diploma in Cleaning Supervision Skills

The British Institute of Cleaning Science offers a Cleaning Professionals Skills Suite which you can complete to gain skills in:

  • Graffiti removal
  • Gully and drain cleaning
  • Pressure washing

Job Opportunities

You will be able to find employment opportunities in:

  • Local authorities
  • Private cleaning companies

With vast job experience, you could be awarded supervisory or managerial responsibilities.

For job opportunities and general reading, visit:

  • LGjobs
  • The Building Futures Group

If you are put off by sights of littered highways, you now have all the information you need to become a highway cleaner and play your part in cleaning that mess up.

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