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How Do I Become a Toll Collector?

Toll collectors take payment for drivers who want passage on certain roads.
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  • Originally Written By: J. Leach
  • Revised By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 08 September 2014
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The process for becoming a toll collector can vary based on location, but in general you’ll need a basic high school education, proof of work eligibility, and a clean criminal record. Things like interpersonal skills and conflict resolution ability can be helpful, but aren’t usually required. The primary duties of anyone in this sort of job are to staff tollbooths and terminals, make change, and report violators. Most of these sorts of jobs are handled by government agencies and local municipalities, which means that you may qualify for certain civil service benefits and job protections. You may also find that you’re eligible for promotion to supervisor after a few years of good performance, and time on the job may also qualify you for seniority when it comes to choosing locations and shift times.

Qualifying Requirements

Toll collectors are usually considered to be basic laborers, and you don’t normally need any special skills or training on order to be hired. You will have to meet a few basic qualifications, though. For instance, in most cases you’ll need to be at least 18 years old to become a toll collector, though the minimum age may be higher in certain jurisdictions. You’ll also typically need either a high school education or its equivalent, like a General Educational Development (GED) certificate. In most cases you also need to be a citizen of the country in which you wish to work or else hold a valid government-issued work permit.

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You might also have to pass a civil service examination. These examinations tend to vary by city, state, province, or municipality, and their main goal is usually to assess candidate’s general qualifications for the job at hand. Depending on location you might also need to be eligible to be bonded. To be bonded in this context means that the employer is able to take out insurance against any loss of property and money that you might cause, whether intentionally or not. Employees who are bonded cannot typically have a criminal background, so in these instances, a prior record may be a disqualifying factor.

Application Basics

Provided you meet all of these requirements, the next thing you’ll have to do is to submit a formal application. There is a lot of variance when it comes to this specific process. In most cases, postings and open positions are listed on city, county, and municipality job boards, many of which are online. Postings usually indicate how exactly you’ll need to apply, as well as any specific things you’ll need to include in your packet. It’s usually possible to submit your materials entirely online, though hard-copy mailings might also be required.

After the application has been submitted and any required civil service testing is done, some employers may require more pre-screening exams. In the U.S. state of New Jersey, for example, applicants must pass two such tests. Most of these screenings test an applicant's basic math and English language skills. Some may be more advanced and include complicated math and word problems designed to test an applicant's ability to handle money.

Many employers also want to interview potential candidates. The interview will give you a chance to meet some of the people you might be working with, and also usually provides an opportunity to set out your preferences when it comes to where exactly you’ll be working as well as your preferred hours. Most toll collectors work on shifts of several hours, though in most cases tollbooths are open all day and all night, so not everyone works “standard” hours.

Primary Duties

This type of work typically involves collecting fees, or tolls, from people who make use of a toll road, bridge, tunnel, or ferry system. These fees are often used to pay for the construction and maintenance of infrastructure like roads. The job normally requires the employee to spend hours in a booth — often called a tollbooth — taking money from people and making change, if necessary. Toll collectors may also be responsible for keeping their area free of debris, stalled vehicles, snow, and anything else that may impede the flow of traffic.

Some toll collectors might also work tabulating and patrolling “digital” tolls, which is to say tolls paid electronically by special tags people can purchase to keep in their cars. These sorts of toll collectors usually work in offices near toll plazas, and monitor the cars passing through. They may be responsible for doing things like identifying license plate numbers of toll violators and writing citation letters for people who went through “express” lanes without a special tag, or with a tag that did not have an adequate balance to pay the toll.

Advancement Potential

When people first become a toll collector, they usually start out at a rather menial level. In most cases there is a possibility of advancement, though. With time and good performance, you may be able to get enough seniority to pick and choose your own hours and locations, and you may even be promoted to manager or supervisor, positions that typically carry more responsibility and higher pay.

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