The role: The primary role of a mover is to transport the belongings of residential and commercial customers from point A to point B without causing any damages. Responsibilities also include wrapping, padding and securing those belongings in a moving truck.
Since movers are required to spend time in the customer's home or office, however, the job is as much about customer service as it is about heavy lifting, said Chuck Resnick, Canada's vice-president of operations and marketing for Two Men and a Truck, the largest moving franchise business in North America. "We like to say we're in the customer service business. Our goal is ultimately to exceed the customer's expectations; we just happen to be movers," he said.
Salary: Movers typically make between $12 and $13 an hour, or about $23,000 a year, while licensed drivers make $15 to $16 an hour, or $26,000. Movers are often given tips, which can help supplement their income. "On 50 to 60 per cent [of jobs], they actually get tips," Mr. Resnick said. "Pleasing the customer is important to anybody, and in their particular case, that can translate into monetary recognition."
Education: Each franchise and moving company has its own training standards, but there are currently no industry-wide educational, training or licensing requirements in Canada. Drivers, however, typically need to be at least 25 years old, with a valid G licence and a good driving record, for insurance purposes.
By the numbers: As of December, 2012, there were 1,797 registered moving companies in Canada, 763 of which are based in Ontario, according to the most recent statistics available from Industry Canada.
Job prospects: June, July and August provide the moving industry with about 30 to 40 per cent of its annual business, with June 30 being the most popular moving day in Canada.
During the peak season, moving companies often find themselves understaffed, Mr. Resnick said. However, job opportunities are plentiful year-round. That's because the students who typically help to fill the gap in the summer leave employers short-handed when they return to school in September.
"When this group decides to go back to school in the middle of August, we're often left with a void," he said, adding that high turnover rates also provide consistent job opportunities. "Hiring is a 365-day-a-year job. You can never find yourself flush with employees, because it's almost guaranteed that at a moment's notice, someone will move on to something else."
Challenges: Being a mover is all about heavy lifting, which can be gruelling, especially in the summer heat. But there are other challenges movers must be equipped to handle. For example, tight schedules must be kept, as even minor traffic delays or mechanical problems with the moving truck can cause a ripple effect.
Dealing with customers face-to-face can also provide its fair share of challenges. "Any time you have to deal with the public, any time you're in the customer's space – people can be very funny – and what satisfies one person may not satisfy another," Mr. Resnick said. "I think that's the biggest challenge."
Why they do it: Students looking for summer jobs often have different motivations than year-round employees, Mr. Resnick said.
"When we're the busiest, it's the college and university students that like to come to work for us and do a great job because for them, it's a workout," he said. "They like to stay buff and they like to earn money because they've got student loans to pay down."
Full-time staff members, however, are often motivated by the opportunity to advance through the organization.
"We bring people off the truck, and they become marketing managers, operations managers or assistant operations managers. There have been a number of people who started on a truck and today own a Two Man and a Truck franchise," Mr. Resnick saud. "The president of Two Men and a Truck International started out on the trucks."
Misconceptions: Without government-mandated background checks or licensing requirements, the industry is not without its bad apples, but not all moving companies are built the same.
While there have been many consumer complaints filed against certain moving companies in recent years, Mr. Resnick stresses that those operations aren't representative of the entire industry.
"It's an industry that people see based on some of the fly-by-nighters out there that have given the rest a bad name," he said.
Give us the Scoop: Are you a mover? Write a note in the comments area of this story or e-mail your comment to email@example.com and let us know what you would tell others who are interested in the profession.
Want to read more stories from our Salaries Series? Find more here.