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Is trucking worth it anymore?

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Brett Aquila's Comment
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I've written a new article entitled Is Trucking Worth It Anymore? where I discuss my opinion on today's trucking industry and whether or not a career in trucking is worth doing any longer.

Every one of us has a different personality. We live under different circumstances and have different life goals. Some people want adventure and travel, others want a quiet life at home with family and friends. There are a ton of jobs to choose from, but in the end trucking isn't the answer for most people.

If you're an experienced driver, what advice would you give people considering a career in trucking?

If you're considering a career in trucking or you haven't begun just yet, what are the major factors in making your decision?

This is such a tough decision for so many people. I'd love to hear what it came down to for you and how you feel about the industry today.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Old School's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!
Because driving a truck is all of that, and more, multiplied by any number of random X factors that are guaranteed to drive you straight to the nearest asylum faster than you can say "Thorazine" if any of those things are going to be any kind of an issue for you.

Fatsquatch, sometimes I love the way you put things - that was good - you gave me a good chuckle with that one.

Brett, I found the article both interesting and relevant. It seems to me that trucking wages are on the increase, but there is still a long ways to go in my opinion. You and I both agree that a driver with some gumption in him/her can get out there and make this career work. One of the biggest problems I see in the industry is the lack of understanding among drivers of what it takes to make a go out of this crazy job while still keeping your sanity. So often we see people in our forum wanting to know who has the best CPM , while also wanting to know who has the most home time. The folks who are making the best money are the ones who are making the most sacrifices. There is no way around that issue, at least not that I have seen.

I love the career for most of the same reasons that you do. My youngest daughter, who just turned eighteen will be riding with me in July for a few weeks. I have been formulating a plan to document the trip, much like I did the other trips with my other two daughters, but this time I am going to put an emphasis on illustrating two things about the way I run my truck. Those two things will be: how you do this so that you can make some good solid money, and how you do this so that you can enjoy your life out here on the road. My CPM pay is almost double what I started out at just two years ago - that is an incredible increase, and I consider myself very fortunate to be in that situation. I doubt that happens for most of us, but it could just be that I started out at an incredibly low rate of pay. The point of bringing that up is to point out to new drivers that there is opportunity out here, but the onus is on the driver, not the trucking company, to do what it takes to get yourself to a level of performance where you are worth a rewarding paycheck to your employer. You may have to switch companies, and or divisions, a few times to get where you want to be, but it will ultimately be your record that puts you into the pay scale that you deserve. There is no short-cut to get to the top. It takes a willingness to do whatever it takes. That sounds easy when you say it, but the reality of what we face out here daily can sidetrack you so quickly that you will soon be sitting around the lunch counter at the truck stop joining in with the other malcontents who are never going to realize the elusive rewards they are longing for.

I really have found myself in a lucrative position as far as truck driving jobs go. I'm making good money, I have a wonderful relationship with my dispatcher. I often get to call my own shots as far as which runs I want to do - it's incredible really. But, while that may sound great to many folks, I have paid a price to be in this position. The unrelenting daily sacrifices that go along with the career are a reality that must be faced by the driver and by the people he loves. I have a neighbor who is appalled at how little I am home. He told me that he cared for his family too much to ever do what I do. I don't think he meant it as a jab at me, but it sure felt like one when he said it. Fortunately for me, my children are grown, and I have the most wonderfully supportive wife a man could ever ask for.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

Is it worth it to me?

Well, I certainly would do other things but only under a few conditions. I'm not much of a fan of spending a good chunk of my life in a classroom when I already did 12 years going through school. All my life I wanted to be a Zoologist and have done years of research on it. When I started college I had that as my goal. But the fact is, that job doesn't pay very well and requires me to move to Australia because that's where all the real zoo's and wildlife is. Also, I'm a big cheapo, I can't see myself accumulating massive debt just for a degree with no guarantee of landing a job in that field.

In my late teens, I started my own woodworking business specializing in planter boxes. The money was good but it was seasonal. I had a long line of projects in the Spring but in the winter I struggled to find customers. I used Craigslist, Social Media, and Lowe's. Yep, I did a lot of projects in secret for people who stopped by Lowe's and couldn't do it themselves. I had my employee discount so my cost was significantly lower which made for good profits. Honestly, if money wasn't a concern I would choose that over trucking. I enjoyed it very much and I will eventually continue it as side-work when I go local.

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So for me, its worth it. I don't have to spend a good chunk of my life in a classroom all the while accumulating a massive amount of debt. I make pretty good money in trucking though I think it should be higher. I do it because its the best thing out there for me and it the job security is always there unless I make a huge mistake. It takes care of me and my family. What I really don't like about trucking is the risks. I mean, just take that Walmart driver for example. He made one mistake and it cost him his life. Mistakes can get you time in prison, mistakes can cost you thousands in tickets, mistakes can just ruin your life. We as humans are prone to mistakes though. I'm not saying its okay to rear end someone because you didn't want to go to sleep or because you were in a rush. What I am saying is that its not okay to fine me 400$ because my tandems were too far back for your state or fine me 1,200$ because I accidentally took a wrong turn and ended up on a non-truck route. Luckily I never got a ticket for anything like this yet. No job can be perfect.

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Seppo's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

If you're considering a career in trucking or you haven't begun just yet, what are the major factors in making your decision?

First, thank you Brett and the others who maintain this website. I'm giving serious consideration to a career and it's been an invaluable source of information as I research my options and try to decide whether or not I want to take the leap.

I've always wished for a career that would just let me drive. I find some of the times I'm happiest are long days when I'm out behind the wheel with nothing but music and my thoughts and open road ahead of me. I get a huge feeling of accomplishment at the end of a long day when I find myself in a completely different part of the country. It seems the biggest concern most folks on this website who are considering the lifestyle have is getting home for home time. I have no wife/fiancee/girlfriend and no children. My parents and a few friends are in my city of residence, but aside from that the rest of my family and good friends are scattered across the country. I'm certain I'll have to get back every once in a while to attend to business and whatnot, but beyond that I don't imagine myself racing home every two weeks for home time. As a matter of fact, the allure of the job would be to live a bit of a nomadic existence - go hard for three, four, five weeks at a time, then rent a hotel or find a campground and throw up a tent wherever I end up, maybe rent a car and explore. Figure I won't have to keep a residence if I can live like this, which will save money on home/rent payments.

I've been wondering if this would work in my favor if I decide to make a go of trucking. I've had some questions regarding drops yards versus transportation terminals. Are you expected to live near a terminal location? Do you have to end your runs at a terminal location before you take time off? Or can I kind of just end up wherever when I decide to take my days off? Is this more beneficial for my dispatcher and company, if they don't have to worry about getting me to a specific home location? I know certain companies will only hire from certain states - is this a legal thing? Or is that based mainly on the difficulty of getting people home? Because as far as I'm concerned, I can make my home base absolutely anywhere.

Also as Jeremy mentioned above and I believe Brett touched on in his book, I like the idea of being able to take a month or more off if I so choose. I think Brett said with a bigger company it's as easy as going in, turning in your truck, and them saying "OK, let us know when you want to come back." Not looking to just be lazy and take huge stretches of time off, but I like the prospect of working hard for a while and being able to take a month every year or so to catch up with loved ones and maintain my sanity. Figure with minimal monthly bills and no family to support I can save up enough while I'm working that money won't be a huge concern. Wondering if this type of setup works in the eyes of some of the vets here? I have to imagine if you do this with a major company you're not technically an employee while you're gone, so you wouldn't receive insurance and other benefits while you're not on the road. Is it better to work for smaller companies if you want to run your career in such a manner?

Another random question I don't think I've seen addressed in these forums is Canada. In looking at the reviews of all the available companies, one of the factors always listed is whether or not a company runs up there. Is there a major concern with going into Canada? Or is it just the issue of having a valid passport and naturally being further away from home when home time comes around? I like the idea of going north of the border, more places to explore...should I have any concerns with it?

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Mistelle's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

I've written a new article entitled Is Trucking Worth It Anymore? where I discuss my opinion on today's trucking industry and whether or not a career in trucking is worth doing any longer.

Every one of us has a different personality. We live under different circumstances and have different life goals. Some people want adventure and travel, others want a quiet life at home with family and friends. There are a ton of jobs to choose from, but in the end trucking isn't the answer for most people.

If you're an experienced driver, what advice would you give people considering a career in trucking?

If you're considering a career in trucking or you haven't begun just yet, what are the major factors in making your decision?

This is such a tough decisions for so many people. I'd love to hear what it came down to for you and how you feel about the industry today.

I On this particular subject I have to say something. For me, I have done lots of things, I have been at the top in auto collision. Some of my work was featured on the cover of Luxury Auto magazine for some carbon fiber I did on a lamborghini gallardo. I've worked as head pastry chef in a four star kitchen. I am a published author. So far in my life my absolute favorite thing was sitting behind that big steering wheel. I cannot begin to describe the feeling I get when behind that wheel and controlling that truck precisely how I want to. To know that I have every inch of that beast purring how I want it to is an amazing feeling. The feeling of accomplishment I got whenever I delivered a load on time. Didn't matter how many times I delivered on time, each one was a victory. I could go on and on. This job was hard, insanely hard. It was challenging but that made each success so much sweeter.

So, is this career still worth it? For me it was. It was almost two years ago that I started my path to become a trucker. My road has ended. If I had known two years ago how it would end, would I have done it still? Yes. Because for some of those people out there, it isn't going to be the money that makes it worth it. It's going to be the ride.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Jessica A-M's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!
All my life I wanted to be a Zoologist and have done years of research on it. When I started college I had that as my goal. But the fact is, that job doesn't pay very well and requires me to move to Australia because that's where all the real zoo's and wildlife is. Also, I'm a big cheapo, I can't see myself accumulating massive debt just for a degree with no guarantee of landing a job in that field.

Ha! You could be the male version of me.

I /knew/ without a doubt that I was going to be a Zoologist! I was! For the longest time, that's what I was going to do, until my senior year of high school. Then I had to be an adult, I didn't get scholarships, my grades weren't good enough, I wasn't good enough for a university and couldn't imagine being so far into debt for a job that I'd probably have to murder someone to get an opening for. I had to move out at 18 and get an apartment and a job.

So, I went to a community college in the area to be a pharmacy technician, and I worked full-time. And, because of work, I couldn't make it through school because someone had to pay the bills versus making it on time for tests. Then I tried to go to an online school (DeVry) for web design, and got ripped off. Then I tried to go to school to be an Accountant (University of Phoenix online) and got ripped off. Then I went to cosmetology school and found out I am /really/ bad at that stuff. So, I got my security license and I've been working graveyard shift for the same company for three years. I like my job, I never dread going to it, the people I work with are nice.

The reason why I'm even considering being a trucker is because there is nothing else I'd consider going to school for again and I'm stuck. I work for an average paycheck, only get 5 days of vacation time a year, and no benefits through my company. I've looked at trucking on and off for a couple of years, toying with the idea and then dropping it or forgetting about it. Truth is, even at one of the low pay ranges in trucking, I'd be making almost double my yearly salary now. I'd get to travel which I've never been able to afford to do. I don't have a family of my own besides my mother and brother in a different city. I enjoy being alone with myself, home time will never be an issue because I don't have a need to go to a home. And, when my parents are unable to take care of themselves, I might actually be able to afford to take care of them as well as giving my brother a chance at whatever he dreams of doing where my parents can't afford to. So, for me at least, getting a career in trucking would change everything for me and let me do things I'd never dreamed I'd be able to. And, that, is what everyone dreams of being able to do at their job.

6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

Thanks for the article Brett.

I'm coming up on a year with my company. Back when I was still researching trucking (which I actually did for like 2 years before I pulled the trigger), I eventually stumbled across linehaul trucking. I knew right away that linehaul was what I wanted to do, before I even went to trucking school. However, at that time I only thought that OTR was an option for a rookie fresh out of trucking school - I was wrong. Turns out that location trumps experience, and I happen to live in a trucking mecca.

Linehaul trucking is sometimes done by some of the truckload companies, and oddly enough TMC calls some of their trucking gigs 'linehaul.' But typically, when one talks about linehaul, they're referring to the world of LTL (less than truckload), not truckload. And it's the LTL companies that pay very well. Drivers are pulling doubles , and typically have their hazmat , doubles / triples, and tank endorsements. Until recently, most LTL gigs, whether linehaul or P&D (pickup and delivery), were reserved for truckers with years of experience. These are coveted jobs because they pay very well, and the driver gets home every day, or at least a few times a week, and usually has a set schedule. Nowadays, if you're in the right location, a student driver can get on with an LTL company and land a gig as a P&D or linehaul driver. I did.

When I was researching trucking, what appealed to me about linehaul was the pay, the hometime, and the routine. I like routine, and one of the best things about linehaul is going to the same places, over and over again. Plus, you don't deal with customers, but rather co-workers at terminals. You don't handle freight, unless your company asks you to take on the role of a dockworker. My company doesn't do this. I never handle freight. It's drop and hook , from terminal to terminal, finish your shift and go home.

I'm on track to make 70k my first year. I get paid .57 cpm and am on a schedule run. I'm home every day, with two days off, and i start at the same time every day - and go to the same places. The only catch is that I'm currently on night shift, but I'm coming up on enough seniority to land a daylight schedule very soon. With an average length of haul schedule from my terminal (530 miles), a driver can make close to 80k a year, gross. Some make 100k. P&D drivers are usually around 50-60k.

I say all this not to gloat, but to paint the picture of MY perfect trucking job. Trucking for me is a job, although it has also become something of a lifestyle. I take pride in my company, enjoy the family of drivers at my terminal, get along very well with my dispatchers, and I spend enough hours of the day working to better enjoy what I do! I work an average of 12-14 hours a day, but for me that's worth it. I'm home every day, and I have two days off a week to spend time with my family. I work hard so my wife doesn't have to. That's worth it for me. I don't live out of truck stops or have to use shower shoes. When I did have to lay over during my longer runs, my company put me up in a hotel. I don't stay out like that anymore. I can make a great living as a truck driver - better than any OTR gig - and yet I also get to enjoy my life with my wife and children, rather than being an absentee provider.

I was prepared to go OTR, I'm glad I didn't have to. For me, linehaul IS trucking. If I couldn't run linehaul, I'd probably look into being a yard jockey, run P&D, haul fuel, or become an electrician.

If trucking was only OTR, I wouldn't have been able to sustain that long-term. Not with a young family. Besides, even if I didn't have young children, I want to spend as much time with my wife as possible - life is too short. Trucks are cool, but time with my wife and children is more important to me. I work long hours, but I don't know of many jobs that are 9-5 gigs where you're making 70k plus a year.

Is trucking worth it? Yep, if it's linehaul or local. Linehaul pays the most out of local gigs. If sometime happened to my linehaul gig, I'd start looking into becoming an electrician. The trades are great jobs to have - my BA degree and higher education didn't do me many favors in the job market. My 2 cents.

If anybody wants to learn more about LTL trucking or the job of a linehaul driver, I made a blog a while back.

LTL Trucking: My Linehaul Job

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

P&D:

Pickup & Delivery

Local drivers that stay around their area, usually within 100 mile radius of a terminal, picking up and delivering loads.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers for instance will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

Linehaul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

Fatsquatch 's Comment
member avatar
If you're an experienced driver, what advice would you give people considering a career in trucking?

Here's what I would say to someone on the fence about trying this career path:

Can you deal with being an absentee resident of your own home? Can you handle being away from your family, friends (with or without benefits), and most of your possessions for weeks at a time? Are you comfortable with long hours of solitude with nobody but the flies that snuck into your truck when you opened the door to talk to? Can you handle an utterly unpredictable schedule, where you might have to be up at 8 am one day and 2 am the next? Can you cope with the unique simultaneous stress of being bored out of your mind yet also stressed to the point of chewing through your steering wheel waiting for shippers and/or receivers to get their asses in gear? Are you capable of making adjustments to plans on the fly? Can you handle all the bureaucratic BS thrown at you by DOT regulations?

Can you do all of those things, and still cope with the pressure of operating a house on wheels for up to 11 hours a day, every day, at all hours of the day, in every type of weather imaginable, under a deadline, with everyone else on the highway looking at you as an adversary to be conquered, and do it safely?

If you answered "no" to even one part of one of those things, you'd be better off pursuing a different career. Because driving a truck is all of that, and more, multiplied by any number of random X factors that are guaranteed to drive you straight to the nearest asylum faster than you can say "Thorazine" if any of those things are going to be any kind of an issue for you.

If, on the other hand, none of that sounds like a problem, give it a shot. For the right kind of person, with the right kind of personality, this can be a very rewarding and exciting career, and something you might actually love.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Donald M.'s Comment
member avatar

I've written a new article entitled Is Trucking Worth It Anymore? where I discuss my opinion on today's trucking industry and whether or not a career in trucking is worth doing any longer.

If you're considering a career in trucking or you haven't begun just yet, what are the major factors in making your decision?

Probably some of the greatest unknowns for me is pay. Driving something big for long miles is something I have little fear of, and following a lot of regulations is something I'm equally unafraid of. (And yes, I generally have 3 or 4 cameras at any given point in time in my current job focused on watching me, and that's boring too.)

But the concept of trying to believe a recruiter, unconnected to the company; try to give me a warm and fuzzy about pay is a bit unnerving.

Fortunately for me; I'm not compelled to make a decision yet; as I'm still gainfully employed; but trucking will be the next career path for me when this one ends. I look forward to getting behind the wheel again and letting the miles fly by. (Was a P&D driver many years ago.)

P&D:

Pickup & Delivery

Local drivers that stay around their area, usually within 100 mile radius of a terminal, picking up and delivering loads.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers for instance will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Old School's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!
Because driving a truck is all of that, and more, multiplied by any number of random X factors that are guaranteed to drive you straight to the nearest asylum faster than you can say "Thorazine" if any of those things are going to be any kind of an issue for you.

Fatsquatch, sometimes I love the way you put things - that was good - you gave me a good chuckle with that one.

Brett, I found the article both interesting and relevant. It seems to me that trucking wages are on the increase, but there is still a long ways to go in my opinion. You and I both agree that a driver with some gumption in him/her can get out there and make this career work. One of the biggest problems I see in the industry is the lack of understanding among drivers of what it takes to make a go out of this crazy job while still keeping your sanity. So often we see people in our forum wanting to know who has the best CPM , while also wanting to know who has the most home time. The folks who are making the best money are the ones who are making the most sacrifices. There is no way around that issue, at least not that I have seen.

I love the career for most of the same reasons that you do. My youngest daughter, who just turned eighteen will be riding with me in July for a few weeks. I have been formulating a plan to document the trip, much like I did the other trips with my other two daughters, but this time I am going to put an emphasis on illustrating two things about the way I run my truck. Those two things will be: how you do this so that you can make some good solid money, and how you do this so that you can enjoy your life out here on the road. My CPM pay is almost double what I started out at just two years ago - that is an incredible increase, and I consider myself very fortunate to be in that situation. I doubt that happens for most of us, but it could just be that I started out at an incredibly low rate of pay. The point of bringing that up is to point out to new drivers that there is opportunity out here, but the onus is on the driver, not the trucking company, to do what it takes to get yourself to a level of performance where you are worth a rewarding paycheck to your employer. You may have to switch companies, and or divisions, a few times to get where you want to be, but it will ultimately be your record that puts you into the pay scale that you deserve. There is no short-cut to get to the top. It takes a willingness to do whatever it takes. That sounds easy when you say it, but the reality of what we face out here daily can sidetrack you so quickly that you will soon be sitting around the lunch counter at the truck stop joining in with the other malcontents who are never going to realize the elusive rewards they are longing for.

I really have found myself in a lucrative position as far as truck driving jobs go. I'm making good money, I have a wonderful relationship with my dispatcher. I often get to call my own shots as far as which runs I want to do - it's incredible really. But, while that may sound great to many folks, I have paid a price to be in this position. The unrelenting daily sacrifices that go along with the career are a reality that must be faced by the driver and by the people he loves. I have a neighbor who is appalled at how little I am home. He told me that he cared for his family too much to ever do what I do. I don't think he meant it as a jab at me, but it sure felt like one when he said it. Fortunately for me, my children are grown, and I have the most wonderfully supportive wife a man could ever ask for.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Fatsquatch 's Comment
member avatar
Fatsquatch, sometimes I love the way you put things - that was good - you gave me a good chuckle with that one.

It's just a little thing I do. smile.gif Seriously though, I try to inject a little humor into just about any situation. Maintaining a sense of humor is almost an absolute must in this industry. Otherwise you end up like some of these guys you see snarling and stomping around throw g attitude to all points of the compass. All that kind of nonsense is going to get you is a lot of resistance from whoever you're throwing the tude at, and an extra 50 points on your blood pressure.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Hudsonhawk's Comment
member avatar

I want to join this industry because I'm tired of the 9 to 5. No matter what job I've had I've always been a self starter and I work laps around coworkers. Nonetheless I still get passed up for raises because I'm a introvert who prefers to put his nose to the grindstone and work over socializing.

I'm a iraq veteran and am use to having a life on the move. There's no better feeling to me than seeing new sights and putting the road behind you in my opinion.

Don't really have much for a home life now and no wife and kids so I figure hitting the road would probably improve my life. I can get rid of the excess baggage I carry around everywhere and see something new.

Not to mention the trucking industry needs people right now. I figure I can work for a fee years, save some money, hang up my keys and go on a nice three month vacation in Bermuda or anywhere else for that matter and come back and get another job in short time.

It looks hard, but I'm hoping with enough dedication I can make it. I got to say thank you much for making this website. It's been a huge improvement over all the negative stuff on the Internet.

Bill G.'s Comment
member avatar

I wanted to say thank you as well to all you guys out there sharing your work history with us. I am presently looking to go to a local CDL school and get my Class A. I would really like an opportunity to ride with someone for a week and get a better idea of what life out there is like. I don't know anyone who drives so I have know one to ask. Does anyone know someone in the Buffalo NY area that would be willing to let me tag along with them for a week? Thanks!!!

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Bill G.'s Comment
member avatar

I'd also like some advice on good sites to read company reviews. I want to drive OTR but, who are some of the best companies to at least start with? I hear good stuff about Roel and Schneider but some advice would be great!

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Heavy C's Comment
member avatar

I'd also like some advice on good sites to read company reviews. I want to drive OTR but, who are some of the best companies to at least start with? I hear good stuff about Roel and Schneider but some advice would be great!

Problem with this industry is every company will have good and bad reviews. Doesn't matter what site you go to. A lot of sites will offer more negative comments than others. What you need to remember is most reviews put on the internet about anything are going to be negative. People don't usually go online to post that they are happy with something. No, what you need to do is concentrate on what you want from a company. Do you like more home time? Would you prefer a higher starting pay? Longer training period? Benefits like tuition reimbursement of 401k. What kind of freight do you wanna pull? Do you want options to go into tanker of flatbed? These are some of the things you want to consider. Any company can be a good company as long as you're willing to put in the leg work. If you rely on reviews on the internet than you might as well pick another profession because you're already in the wrong frame of mind. Good luck to you and don't forget to keep asking us questions.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

Is it worth it to me?

Well, I certainly would do other things but only under a few conditions. I'm not much of a fan of spending a good chunk of my life in a classroom when I already did 12 years going through school. All my life I wanted to be a Zoologist and have done years of research on it. When I started college I had that as my goal. But the fact is, that job doesn't pay very well and requires me to move to Australia because that's where all the real zoo's and wildlife is. Also, I'm a big cheapo, I can't see myself accumulating massive debt just for a degree with no guarantee of landing a job in that field.

In my late teens, I started my own woodworking business specializing in planter boxes. The money was good but it was seasonal. I had a long line of projects in the Spring but in the winter I struggled to find customers. I used Craigslist, Social Media, and Lowe's. Yep, I did a lot of projects in secret for people who stopped by Lowe's and couldn't do it themselves. I had my employee discount so my cost was significantly lower which made for good profits. Honestly, if money wasn't a concern I would choose that over trucking. I enjoyed it very much and I will eventually continue it as side-work when I go local.

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So for me, its worth it. I don't have to spend a good chunk of my life in a classroom all the while accumulating a massive amount of debt. I make pretty good money in trucking though I think it should be higher. I do it because its the best thing out there for me and it the job security is always there unless I make a huge mistake. It takes care of me and my family. What I really don't like about trucking is the risks. I mean, just take that Walmart driver for example. He made one mistake and it cost him his life. Mistakes can get you time in prison, mistakes can cost you thousands in tickets, mistakes can just ruin your life. We as humans are prone to mistakes though. I'm not saying its okay to rear end someone because you didn't want to go to sleep or because you were in a rush. What I am saying is that its not okay to fine me 400$ because my tandems were too far back for your state or fine me 1,200$ because I accidentally took a wrong turn and ended up on a non-truck route. Luckily I never got a ticket for anything like this yet. No job can be perfect.

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

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