Hardest Job in Montana? MDT Snowplow Drivers Get My Vote

Hardest Job in Montana? MDT Snowplow Drivers Get My Vote

The reasons Montana snow plow drivers have one of the toughest jobs in the state are very long. Not only does it take a special kind of person to do this job well, there are other factors this year that make it even more difficult.

People love to complain about road conditions in Montana. It’s like we’re entitled to perfectly plowed, melted and sanded roads even in the worst weather conditions. Startling comments in online groups not only highlight the problems, but also that Montana can’t seem to FIX the problems related to freeway snow removal.

The ad doesn’t really do the job justice. It’s incredibly demanding work with unpredictable schedules. This is just a small excerpt from the job description of an MDT snowplough driver:

MDT is looking for a driver with experience operating heavy equipment for winter road maintenance. This includes clearing snow, cleaning the right of way, installing crash barriers, repairing fences, signs and lights, regulating traffic and making brine.

40 hours per week depending on the weather and the needs of the section. Scheduled shifts are from 4:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Must be available for emergency weather conditions and able to work weekends and holidays if required.

The season usually starts in mid-November and ends in March, depending on the weather.

Must be able to work in extreme weather conditions and remain focused and seated for long periods of time. Must be able to engage in moderate physical activity lifting, carrying and/or operating the tools and equipment.

To put it bluntly, the plow drivers who work for the state work their ass off. I’m lucky enough to call a few of them friends, even though I don’t see them often in the winter. If you know any of the drivers, you know how demanding their job is. Crazy hours, dangerous work, totally dependent on the weather and on Mother Nature’s call.

You’ve seen the complaints online – lots of grumbling with few solutions. Would higher wages for drivers attract more applicants? It’s certainly possible, but there’s more to it than that. Montana is a huge state with thousands of miles of highway that needs to be cleared. Being a plow operator near a major city is logistically very different than being based in Liberty, Sheridan, Mineral, or Carter counties.

“But instead of blaming plow drivers, maybe write to the governor and ask why they can’t pay a decent wage in those places where the cost of living is high.” “If you want safe roads for all in MT, write to your government officials and ask “The reason there is such a shortage across the state is wages and the cost of living across the state. It’s a good job in most eastern parts, but when someone retires or goes for higher wages, you can’t afford a house or even find one.” “Might be a good idea to vote for people who care Government employees worry, especially the ones with boots on the ground.” “Nobody wants to work for a reasonable wage anymore, they all want to earn 40 an hour and do nothing.” (I very much doubt that, but you’ll always see these people commenting . ..) “We have already taken out 8 plows and winter has only just begun. We just can’t afford this outrageous growth.” I’ve actually added some serious lighting to the plows recently. They’re much more visible now, hopefully that keeps them from getting hit so often.

So what are viable solutions to the driver shortage? Besides better pay, what incentives could be offered? The housing shortage across Montana is affecting everyone, including state employees. Would housing benefit work? Paid education? What would you suggest?

APPEARANCE: The Most Extreme Temperatures in Each State’s HistoryStacker consulted 2021 data from NOAA’s State Climate Extremes Committee (SCEC) to illustrate the hottest and coldest temperatures on record in each state. Each slide also shows the highest-ever 24-hour rainfall record and the highest-ever 24-hour snowfall.

Read on to find out individual state records in alphabetical order.

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