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How much do snowplow operators make? Is snow plowing hard work?

The onset of cold weather this January necessitates the use of extra machinery to clear roads, making this the best season to work as an operator.

A car plows snow next to Iowa State Capitol, ahead of Iowa state caucus vote, in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S. January 15, 2024. REUTERS/Marco Bello

A job that can pay handsomely but comes at a physical cost is snowplowing. Now the US has entered the coldest snap of the year expect these guys are girls to be much busier than usual.

However, if there is no snow then there is no work; the unpredictability of Mother Nature means that for those who don’t have a full-time contract it can be feast or famine.

How much do snowplow operators make?

Snowplow operators make on average $23.77 per hour according to the online job site Indeed. Jobs can be found with private contractors or with state and municipal governments. The pay varies widely though depending on the location and employer.

However, a shortage of drivers available with a commercial drivers license means that over the past couple of years higher pay has been offered as well as signing bonuses. During the 2021-2022 snow season, Colorado was offering $2,000 bonuses and raised salaries to $40,000. Private operators in Massachusetts were offered anywhere between $90 to $135 an hour for government contracts. The National Coalition for Open Roads has called for starting salaries to be raised to attract more people to the ranks of snowplow drivers to remedy the ongoing shortage.

Because of the unpredictable nature of weather, snowplow operators may be able to finish cleaning up after a snowfall in a matter of hours, or days. The more snow on the ground, the more hours needed to remove it, potentially translating into overtime pay if paid by the hour. If a driver gets paid by the job, extended snowfalls can mean having to do the same job multiple times, resulting in multiple paydays.

Is snow plowing hard work?

The job of snow plowing can be draining, depending on the amount of snow and over what timeframe it falls. While snowplow operators that work for state or local governments are required to take breaks to get some rest, six hours at least in the case of drivers in Wisconsin, it can still mean a 20 hour shift. Those who work for a private company may be out removing snow days on end with hardly a moment’s rest.

It can also be dangerous. Should there be an accident, snowplow operators are out when Mother Nature is at its cruelest. The work takes a toll on the body as well, sitting in a tight space for hours on end and being constantly vigilant, meaning a sore body, strained eyes and mental fatigue.