Getting a trucking job can be very appealing for many reasons. There is flexibility, the possibility to see all 48 contiguous states, and a great paycheck! However, before you dive on in, take some times to consider all the factor that come with getting a driving job.
Dedicate time to learning
If you’re getting into the industry for the first time, attending a driving school is the best first step. There are many driving schools out there but make sure you find a school that will help with job placement. Once you finish school, you will need to know what to do with your new knowledge.
Get your CDL
To get your Commercial Driver’s License involves a road skills test and written test. There are also endorsements you can get along with your CDL like “Doubles/Triples” or “Hazmat.” The more endorsements the more lucrative the pay. When just out of school and getting your first driving job training isn’t “required.” However, if you are just getting into this field, going to a truck driving school is the best option. Many companies view a truck driving school as applicable experience in the field.
Salary starting out
You can expect to make about $30,000 a year on the low end when working with heavier fleet trucks. Depending on the employer you can get up to about $40,000 with either a Class A or B license.
Salary for experienced drivers
After a few years you can demand higher pay, especially with a safe and reliable track record. Many companies will pay about $55,000 a year for those driving over 5 years. You can also earn steady raises if you find a position with a good company. You don’t have to always be looking for the next best thing. Staying with a good company will also often include benefits like medical, dental, vision, and retirement plans on top of regular pay raises.
Highest paying jobs
Over the road drivers make the best money. Walmart is one of the highest paying, averaging $71,500 a year before bonuses. OTR drivers are paid more for the hours involved and driving over several states. Specialty drivers and long haul drivers are right up there with OTR drivers. Specialty drivers work with hazardous chemicals, gas transport, oversized loads, and specialty products.
Pros of a career in truck driving
- Higher starting pay rates
- finding a job quickly
- some companies will hire right out of school
Cons of a career in truck driving
- long hours (12 hours on the road a day)
- extended time means more vulnerability to injury and illness
- it’s dangerous even for the experienced
- maintaining a tight schedule
OTR vs. Local driving
Most companies require at least 1 year of driving experience over the road before they will hire you for local work. Local jobs required tight maneuvers in a big truck, this creates a greater risk of damaging the truck or getting into an accident. For example, backing a big truck into a tight loading dock across a busy street, traffic gets held up both ways, you need to be experienced in maneuvering the big truck for better efficiency and safety. Accidents WILL happen. When your job is on the road you are far more likely to be involved in an accident than any other profession. Starting out over the road for some experience is a good idea than going straight to local work. Get the new job jitters out of the way and gain some confidence before transitioning into local work.
There is a lot to consider when looking to start a career in the truck driving industry. For many that like to stay moving or do not have obligations to keep them in one place love driving. Some are lured in with the great pay. Whatever it may be, a career in the truck driving industry is a great idea, these jobs are not going away anytime soon.
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