How Much Can You Earn Annually Hauling Scrap Metal?
Have you ever worked 12 hours outside in the hot sun and went home with $28? People who haul scrap metal have. As someone who has worked around a lot of scrap metal, aka run-down cars, I can tell you a bit about how much you’ll make hauling to the scrapyard. In a pinch, you can sell your aluminum wheels for about $150. Now, if you have several cars with aluminum wheels, that can multiply pretty quickly, especially if you need the money. If you are wondering “how much can you earn annually hauling scrap metal,” the answer is it depends on how much time you want to put into it.
How Scrapping Metal for Money Works
Essentially how hauling scrap metal works is you drive around to different businesses and ask them if you can have their garbage. In my tenure working in the automotive business, I met tons of these people.
They always show up in a pick-up truck that looks like it has spent more time on its roof than its wheels. If they’re really moving some weight, to use that phrase literally, they are probably pulling a trailer that looks like they made it out of their spoils.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure some people do all right in the independent scrap selling business but I assure you they’re few and far between. To put this into perspective, a shop I worked at for several years would keep all the scrap metal we accumulated from working on cars in the back of the shop.
Every day we changed intake manifolds, water pumps, and loads of other parts that were made of high-quality aluminum. When the pile got so large that we couldn’t manage it anymore we would load up the shop car or someone’s truck and take it to the scrap metal place down the road.
We would give the recycling people hundreds of pounds of aluminum, and steel but mostly high-quality aluminum and they would give us maybe $100. We would then go to the grocery store and buy hamburgers and steaks etc. and grill out at the shop.
That’s it, after months of a professional, seven-bay, European automotive shop adding to the scrap pile every day, all we got out of it was a good lunch for five people.
Hauling Scrap Metal as a Hustle
All of that being said, some people do make a fair amount of money when they use hauling scrap metal as a side hustle. With some effort on your part, you could make between $100 and $500 per month. You can check your local mechanic, Craigslist, manufacturers, other local businesses, or even dumpster dive to find metal. Then you drive it to your nearest recycling facility. They’ll pay you based on the weight of the metal you bring in. Again, you’ll have to put in some work to find the metal. So, you should determine whether it is worth the time you would have to put into it.
Making a Living Selling Scrap Metal
Now, it is possible to make a living selling scrap metal, but you will be hired by a company as a CDL truck driver. You won’t be collecting scraps and hauling them in your pickup. Instead, you will be driving a dump truck to the recycling facility and being paid by an employer. CDL driving jobs like this can earn you an average of $71K per year, which isn’t too shabby. That isn’t how most scrappers are earning though.
Life is hard, but so is making a living selling scrap metal. While some of the salary figures above may seem attractive, you would have to have to be a licensed truck driver to truly earn a living hauling scrap metal.
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Drew Blankenship is a former Porsche technician and lifelong automotive enthusiast. Recently, he began writing for several websites and is enjoying the career change. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and their dog Enzo.
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