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Career Profile: Septic Tank Servicers and Sewer Pipe Cleaners

Clean and repair septic tanks, sewer lines, or drains. May patch walls and partitions of tank, replace damaged drain tile, or repair breaks in underground piping.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 30,400 people employed as septic tank servicers and sewer pipe cleaners in the United States. The median annual salary is $41,100. Entry level employees earn approximately $27,530 per year and senior employees earn approximately $63,620 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Dig out sewer lines manually, using shovels.
  • Clean and disinfect domestic basements and other areas flooded by sewer stoppages.
  • Withdraw cables from pipes and examine them for evidence of mud, roots, grease, and other deposits indicating broken or clogged sewer lines.
  • Ensure that repaired sewer line joints are tightly sealed before backfilling begins.
  • Rotate cleaning rods manually, using turning pins.
  • Install rotary knives on flexible cables mounted on machine reels, according to the diameters of pipes to be cleaned.
  • Start machines to feed revolving cables or rods into openings, stopping machines and changing knives to conform to pipe sizes.
  • Update sewer maps and manhole charts.
  • Cover repaired pipes with dirt, and pack backfilled excavations, using air and gasoline tampers.
  • Cut damaged sections of pipe with cutters, remove broken sections from ditches, and replace pipe sections, using pipe sleeves.
  • Requisition or order tools and equipment.
  • Break asphalt and other pavement so that pipes can be accessed, using airhammers, picks, and shovels.
  • Tap mainline sewers to install sewer saddles.
  • Communicate with supervisors and other workers, using equipment such as wireless phones, pagers, or radio telephones.
  • Drive trucks to transport crews, materials, and equipment.
  • Inspect manholes to locate sewer line stoppages.
  • Operate sewer cleaning equipment, including power rodders, high-velocity water jets, sewer flushers, bucket machines, wayne balls, and vac-alls.
  • Prepare and keep records of actions taken, including maintenance and repair work.
  • Clean and repair septic tanks, sewer lines, or related structures such as manholes, culverts, and catch basins.
  • Measure excavation sites, using plumbers' snakes, tapelines, or lengths of cutting heads within sewers, and mark areas for digging.
  • Service, adjust, and make minor repairs to equipment, machines, and attachments.
  • Locate problems, using specially designed equipment, and mark where digging must occur to reach damaged tanks or pipes.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
30,400
Annual Openings:
4,200
Increase in Openings by 2030:
14%
Annual Salary Range:
$27,530 - $63,620
Education Requirements:
High school diploma