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

Mother Nature is unpredictable, for those who keep the streets clear of snow and ice that may mean putting in long hours but be rewarded generously, or not.

How much it pays to plow snow

Old man winter has been delivering quite the weather this year, with records being broken for coldest temperatures and heaviest snowfalls. The latter can complicate getting around even after the storm is long gone, getting all the white stuff off the roads is a vital task.

One that can pay handsomely but it comes at a physical cost spending long hours behind the wheel in treacherous conditions. 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 with the government it can be feast or famine.

You might also be interested in: What are experts’ recommendations for driving in snow in the USA

How much do snowplow operators make?

Snowplow operators make on average $23.13 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 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 which can translate 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, with long hours 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, 6 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.

Because drivers fail to heed the call to stay off the roads when they are snow covered, drivers clearing the streets have to be careful to avoid them. That’s why they mainly prefer to do their work during the night when there is a better chance that roads are devoid of traffic.

Despite the hard work, long hours and unpredictability though, the job can be very rewarding in seeing the fruits of a hard day’s labor.


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