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:

  • Communicates with supervisors and other workers, using equipment such as wireless phones, pagers, or radio telephones.
  • Drives trucks to transport crews, materials, and equipment.
  • Inspects manholes to locate sewer line stoppages.
  • Operates sewer cleaning equipment, including power rodders, high-velocity water jets, sewer flushers, bucket machines, wayne balls, and vac-alls.
  • Prepares and keeps records of actions taken, including maintenance and repair work.
  • Cleans and repairs septic tanks, sewer lines, or related structures such as manholes, culverts, and catch basins.
  • Measures excavation sites, using plumbers' snakes, tapelines, or lengths of cutting heads within sewers, and marks areas for digging.
  • Services, adjusts, and makes minor repairs to equipment, machines, and attachments.
  • Locates problems, using specially designed equipment, and marks where digging must occur to reach damaged tanks or pipes.
  • Digs out sewer lines manually, using shovels.

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
  • 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 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

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Picking out a particular sound in the presence of other sounds
  • Judging how far away an object is, or which of several objects is closer or farther away
  • Bending, stretching, twisting, or reaching
  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Detecting sounds and hearing the differences between sounds of different pitch and loudness
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying objects
  • Using abdominal and lower back muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring

Work Hours and Travel

  • Irregular hours

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Drain Cleaner --
  • Drain Technician --
  • Laborer --
  • Maintenance Worker --
  • Public Works Technician --
  • Septic Cleaner --
  • Septic Pump Truck Driver --
  • Septic Tank Service Technician --
  • Service Technician --
  • Sewer Bricklayer --