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Septic Tank Servicer and Sewer Pipe Cleaner  What They Do

Just the Facts


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

This career is part of the Architecture and Construction cluster Maintenance/Operations pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Drives trucks to transport crews, materials, and equipment.
  • Communicates with supervisors and other workers, using equipment such as wireless phones, pagers, or radio telephones.
  • Prepares and keeps records of actions taken, including maintenance and repair work.
  • Operates sewer cleaning equipment, including power rodders, high-velocity water jets, sewer flushers, bucket machines, wayne balls, and vac-alls.
  • Ensures that repaired sewer line joints are tightly sealed before backfilling begins.
  • Withdraws cables from pipes and examines them for evidence of mud, roots, grease, and other deposits indicating broken or clogged sewer lines.
  • Installs rotary knives on flexible cables mounted on machine reels, according to the diameters of pipes to be cleaned.
  • Measures excavation sites, using plumbers' snakes, tapelines, or lengths of cutting heads within sewers, and marks areas for digging.
  • Locates problems, using specially designed equipment, and marks where digging must occur to reach damaged tanks or pipes.
  • Cleans and repairs septic tanks, sewer lines, or related structures such as manholes, culverts, and catch basins.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 20 lbs., sometimes up to 50 lbs. You might do a lot of lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling.
  • Work in this occupation involves bending or twisting your body more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Requires getting into awkward positions
  • Exposed to disease and infections more than once a month through work such as patient care, laboratory work, and sanitation control
  • Lighting is either extremely bright or inadequate
  • Conditions are very hot (above 90 F) or very cold (under 32 F)
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to hazardous equipment such as saws, machinery, or vehicular traffic more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation involves kneeling, crouching, stooping, and/or crawling more than one-third of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Whole body vibrations, such as when operating a jackhammer
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time
  • Work at heights above 8 feet more than once a month on structures such as ladders, poles, scaffolding, and catwalks

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Picking out a particular sound in the presence of other sounds
  • Identifying color and seeing differences in color, including shades and brightness
  • Moving the arms, legs and torso together when the whole body is in motion
  • Judging how far away an object is, or which of several objects is closer or farther away
  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Detecting sounds and hearing the differences between sounds of different pitch and loudness
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person
  • Lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying objects

Work Hours and Travel

  • Irregular hours

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Drain Cleaner --
  • Maintenance Worker --
  • Public Works Technician --
  • Septic Cleaner --
  • Septic Pump Truck Driver --
  • Service Technician --
  • Sewer and Drain Cleaner --
  • Sewer and Drain Technician --
  • Utility Worker --