Snowplow jobs can be a great additional source of income during the winter months. Though you might think that snowplows are highly technical machinery that requires a lot of training, licensing, and insurance to operate, that’s not actually true—many successful snowplow operators start up on small budgets, using good sense and ethics to build their businesses up.
If you’re looking to make a little extra cash during the winter, starting up a snowplow business on the side can give you some extra money as well as job flexibility, expertise, and a dedicated client base to build your business on in the future.
Interested in becoming a snowplow driver? This guide will walk you through some of the basics, including how to start a snowplow business, a snowplow driver job description, and how to find snowplow jobs when you’re just starting out.
What is a Snow Plow Driver?
You might think that “snowplow driver” is a self-explanatory job—you drive a snowplow. But a snowplow driver’s job description is more than being a person who drives a snowplow. It’s also a person who may pre-treat parking lots for snow and ice, provide de-icing services, and remove snow entirely. If you’re running a snowplow business on your own, you’re also an advertiser, marketer, operations manager, and more. Even if your business only operates a few months out of the year, that’s a lot of work, with only some of it involving driving the plow.
A snowplow driver may be an employee of a snow removal company or may operate as an independent contractor. A snow removal contractor will typically be employed on a contracted basis by businesses, homeowners associations, and government organizations to remove snow on their property. These contracts come in a variety of forms, including long-term service over years or one-off services for a single snowfall event.
What services a snowplow driver offers is up to them. Some use large plows and provide overall snow and ice treatment, while others use smaller plows attached to personal trucks just to plow small lots or some combination of both. One benefit of owning a snow removal business is that it’s easy to scale up—you can start with one plow mounted on a truck and move up to more trucks, employees, advanced equipment, and a wider array of services.
Is Being a Snowplow Driver a Good Job?
One of the major questions people have about professional snow removal as a career is whether it’s a stable, lucrative business. That depends on a lot of factors, including where your business is located, your typical annual snowfall, and how many other snow removal services are active in your area.
Despite a lot of variables, snow removal can be quite a lucrative business. Your window of service may be small, but when business is booming, it’s really booming. You can easily find yourself with dozens of contracts in a short period, earning you thousands of dollars with just one snowfall. Ongoing storms and ice accumulation can lead to weeks of work, giving you plenty to do without needing to advertise or replenish your merchandise—aside from salt and other de-icers—like a traditional storefront or similar business would need to do.
Rather than having to bait the hook, cast the line, and wait for business to nibble, snow removal contractors more or less have businesses leap into their arms. When snow begins to fall, businesses and HOAs need reliable plow services quickly to serve their clients. Booking in advance is the best option for businesses preparing for winter snow, but last-minute contracts can be lucrative and lead to long-term business partnerships for contractors.
Another major question many people have about snow removal jobs is what plow operators do when there’s no snow to be plowed. Many snowplow drivers offer other services during the warmer seasons, such as landscaping or construction, to supplement their income. Others may have entirely different careers, with snow removal being a short-term business they pick up when needed rather than a dedicated source of income. If you’re thinking of getting into snow removal as a job, it’s a good idea to have some alternative income streams for other times of the year.
How To Become a Snowplow Driver and Snow Contractor
The biggest investment you’ll need to make in becoming a snow removal contractor is in your equipment. We’ll cover some different options for trucks and plows in a later post, but for right now, you can look into plows that fit a truck you already own or find a new truck to suit plowing. You’ll want something with plenty of weight, that’s plow-compatible, with adequate suspension for a plow, and four-wheel drive. Some trucks can even be purchased new with a plow package, ensuring that your truck will be a good fit for moving snow.
We recommend a Ford F250 or similar 3/4 ton truck, but you can plow small amounts of snow with smaller, lighter vehicles. However, if you want to scale up your business and ensure you can get high-paying contracts, opting for something larger with more power will make it easier to do so.
Plowing snow is only one part of the winter services process. If you really want your business to thrive, consider offering services like de-icing as well. For this, you’ll need additional de-icing products, such as liquid salt brine, rock salt, and similar. Consider having different options for different customers—some may want only environmentally friendly and pet-safe de-icing, while others may be more concerned about getting the job done quickly with the least cost. Do some research into different types of products so that you can answer your customer’s needs, no matter what they are.
Naturally, you’ll need a driver’s license for your snow removal business. Depending on where you work and how large your vehicle is, you may need a DOT medical card or commercial driving license. Snowplowing itself does not require a unique license in most places—interstate operation, vehicle weight, and whether you’re servicing commercial, city, or residential property determine if you need additional licensing—but always be sure to check your local regulations.
You should also have a business license. Without a license, when tax season comes around you may find yourself owing lots of money in taxes, fees, and licensing. Business licenses are not typically expensive (forming an LLC or similar organization may cost more) and are a legitimate work expense, so be sure to get one ahead of time.
You will also need vehicle insurance to protect your vehicle, as well as commercial auto insurance. You may also want to get seasonal snow plow insurance, which can provide additional coverage for injury, damage, and other potential problems caused by plowing. Not only do these forms of insurance protect you, but they also give your clients confidence in your services. Starting a plowing company is quite simple—demonstrating that you care about your ethics and coverage is taking a step many may ignore.
And finally, you need good business sense. Look into the basics of starting a business before the winter season—you want to be prepared with the right licensing, connections, and contracts before you need them. Thankfully, there are lots of resources out there to get you ready ahead of time. Print up some business cards and hand them out before the first flake falls so people know who you are. You might even benefit from spending a little on advertising through Google or your local newspaper to spread awareness. Getting your name out there before it’s actually snowing can help you snap up customers ahead of time, and can even get you some long-term projects that will bring money in throughout the year rather than just during the winter.
Looking to build up your contracts? Sign on as a Transblue subcontractor—when snow begins to fall, we’ll match you up with businesses and neighborhoods in your area without you needing to spend money on advertising and promotion. Contact us today!
Melissa Brinks is part of Transblue’s marketing team. She enjoys relaxing outside with her dog and an ice-cold can of Cran-Raspberry La Croix.