Depending on the location of the toll, hundreds or even thousands of cars may pass by some toll booths every day. Some customers pay with cash and others use an EZ Pass system, or something similar, that electronically records the coming and going of a car and bills the registered owner. Toll booth operators are still in demand, even as the system of collecting tolls becomes more automated. It is not a luxurious job. You need to deal with traffic, noise, fumes and the occasional customer who puts up a fight or cannot pay. Work at a toll booth by developing good people skills and a tolerance for unpredictable weather conditions and diverse personalities.
Understand the job description. Toll collectors are responsible for collecting tolls, making change, providing entry tickets and answering questions that motorists may have.
Finish high school. Most toll booth operators are employed by the state or the city, and many government jobs require you to have a minimum of a high school diploma or a GED.
Gain experience that will make you valuable to the Port Authority or Department of Transportation as a toll collector. Work with money. Spend a few years in retail or other service industries, where you are required to collect money, make change and provide receipts. Work with the public. As a toll booth operator, you will deal with members of the public throughout your entire shift. Experience with the public will help you succeed when you work in a toll booth.
Learn how to use computers and communication devices such as two-way radios and walkie-talkies. Your computer knowledge does not need to be extensive, but you will probably be required to record transactions on a monitor or screen.
Practice being flexible. People will ask toll booth operators for directions or help while they are traveling. You might have to explain turnpike regulations or point out rest areas and exits. Remain friendly. Your job is to provide a public service, so be patient and accommodating when someone pauses at your toll booth to ask for help after they pay their toll.
Prepare for extreme weather. Most modern tollbooths are air conditioned in the summer and heated in the winter. However, you will still be exposed to the elements. Keep a jacket or sweater for cooler periods and a small fan for hot days.
Protect yourself. Wear rubber gloves to protect yourself from germs and dirt found on the money they collect. Get some earplugs to protect yourself from noise, especially if you work on a busy highway or turnpike. For toll workers on the George Washington Bridge, hearing loss is a major work hazard. Prepare to call for help immediately if you feel threatened. Toll workers have reported being the victims of robberies and being flashed at. Understand and follow procedures for what to do if you are threatened or someone commits a crime in your toll booth.
Expect to work in multiple shifts. You will need to work evenings, weekends, holidays and even overnights as a toll booth worker.
Evaluate your physical fitness. You will need to sit or stand for long periods of time. Check other physical requirements. Some toll booth operators will be required to lift or push a minimum amount of weight, since you may be required to help move stalled vehicles out of the lanes of traffic.
Look for advancement opportunities. Many toll collectors begin as trainees and advance to supervisory and leadership positions within their hiring agency.
Expect to earn a decent salary, especially if you work overtime. The median salary for a toll collector is $45,000. This usually includes full benefits, a pension and the opportunity for overtime, which is paid at time and a half.