They’re busy on our streets during winter and you hear the sounds of their trucks from inside our homes. Snow removal is a part of our daily lives, but do we really have an idea of what their job is? Overview on a trade that is little known but which can be very attractive to those who love physical work!
Manual work below zero, several centimetres of snow to be cleared and a thick layer of ice to break up: the snow removal trade is not always an easy one and you have to be in good physical shape for it.
Aside from the inconvenience posed by the weather, however, workers seldom know what is in store for them and get up each day with a fresh challenge. For those who hate grey cubicled offices and the traditional 9 to 5, it’s what they need to make them happy! “It’s not a question of just passing by and removing the snow. The services are very varied,” says Julie Laflamme, Human Resources Director for Sig-Nature, a commercial snow removal company in Laval. The tasks range from traditional shovelling services to spreading abrasives and include supervision and coordination of these activities.
The works goes on day and night, both in the residential and commercial or public domains, and both at a serene pace as well as under the pressure caused by unexpected snowfalls. Quite often the profession becomes a true passion. “Operating large machinery produces a certain dose of adrenalin. It’s a bit like a big toy! And the employee in his truck knows that he is doing work that is important for the population,” the director points out.
Considering snow removal
Of course, it’s not all roses. For several years, the field has had to deal with a shortage of labour caused by the instability of the climate and long shifts. “People work a lot on call”, Julie Laflamme says. “This creates pressure and everyone works very hard to be available.”
However, for those who want to make some cash for a season, the snow removal job can be a good avenue to consider. The Ministry of Transport, for example, offers its operators pay of $21 an hour for 38 hours per week. In addition, a team leader or foreman can earn an annual salary that ranges between $70,000 and $90,000, according to information from the Union des municipalités du Québec. “The employees who are hired are often day workers for shovelling and truckers with experience with heavy machinery,” Mrs. Laflamme says. “Our workforce is diversified to be able to offer all services.”
A high school diploma and a driver’s license of a relevant class, good physical condition and a bit of love for winter… that’s generally all you need to get started!