The Business of Roadkill Cleanup
By Eric Hammer
Believe it or not, there are people who are paid for doing
roadkill cleanup. In fact, they are paid quite well (considering
that it is mostly unskilled labor) for doing it. In essence,
you spend your day driving around in a truck and picking up the
carcasses of dead animals who were killed along the side of the
road. No, its no glamour job and it can be kind of depressing
and even smelly, but, as the saying goes, its a dirty job
by someones got to do it.
There are both government jobs in this business as well as
private jobs. Sometimes, the city or state will arrange for their
own roadkill cleanup crews who drive around in government vehicles
and who draw a government salary, usually a decent one, though
not necessarily a great one.
However, there is also the possibility of creating your own
company would then contract out with the city or state to provide
the same services that they would have had with a professional
service. Often, if you own the company, you can make more money
by getting a contract like this, but be aware that the business
can be competitive. You're likely not the first person to realize
that a stinky job can be a pretty well paid one. Therefore, you
will need to make your bid competitive and you will need to find
a way to make sure the city or state picks your company and not
another one for their needs.
(Flicker photo by Hunter Desportes)
How Much Can You Make?
The amount you can earn for doing roadkill cleanup varies
widely. Many people talk about getting just $15 an hour for doing
the job (then again, for what is basically an unskilled, if disgusting
job, the money isn't horrible). However, those running their
own companies which subcontract with the state or city can often
take in a decent living, sometimes running to the high five figures
and even low six figures. It really depends where you work, whether
you are working for someone else (who after all has to make a
living also) and how willing you are to go the distance for the
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
Aside from government jobs or contracts, it's also possible
to land additional work, especially if you run your own firm,
contracting with private individuals. Don't forget that animals
don't necessarily die in convenient places. Sometimes, a raccoon
will crawl into someones attic to spend its final days
and homeowners will pay good money for someone to come in, remove
it and get the smell dealt with as well.
One of the most important things that most roadkill cleanup
technicians mention that they need to have is human empathy.
Especially if you are cleaning up in someones home, you
could easily be cleaning up the family pet who got him or herself
stuck somewhere inaccessible where it died from starvation. However,
even when cleaning up by the side of the road, you often will
have to deal with people who are distressed over the experience
of having found a dead animal and who need comforting. Roadkill
removal professionals say the job is part therapist and part
clean up crew.
In general, if you can deal with the smell and the emotional
trauma, you may also want to consider working with companies
specialize in the removal of human remains. As horrible as it
may sound, the experience is not very different from removing
a dead animal from someones home. Sometimes, when a murder
occurs, special cleanup crews need to be brought in to clean
the site. Other times, if someone dies and isn't noticed for
a while, there can be all kinds of contaminants to clean up.
It's a disgusting job, but like roadkill cleanup, it's something
many people don't want to do and as such it's pretty well paid
work all things considered.
Qualifications / Requirements
You will typically need to go for a certain amount of training
in order to land a job working in roadkill cleanup. The training
can last from one month to several months and will typically
involve your learning how to stay safe while working along the
side of a busy highway, how to remove a carcass which may have
frozen to the ground in cold weather or partially decomposed
and how to sanitize for smells when working in or near someones
Start by looking for entry level work either with a private
contractor or with your local city or state roadkill cleanup
authority. You are unlikely to be able to start your own business
just because you walk in and say you are interested, but eventually,
you can work your way up to that if you take the time to learn
the ropes first.
- Some how-to advice.
- Questions and answers about dead animal cleanup.
- Blog post about roadkill removal.
- Job postings.