Is trucking worth it anymore?

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Car Washer Mac's Comment
member avatar

I am interested in trucking as a career because of my sense of adventure. A lot of young people like myself want to travel and see the country and the world. But is it better to see the world while you are young and able, or to work when you are young and invest your money, creating a foundation for yourself to be able to do amazing things in the future? Trucking would allow me to do both.

I also like the idea that I could take months off to go long distance hiking or traveling outside of the country, and I could come back and as long as I have a safe record, I could easily get a new job.

I love that you earn your money in trucking because I love to work hard. Over the past year I have been soaking up information on this job. So much so, that I know more about trucking than my major in school (Modern Language Studies). When I become knowledgeable about something it makes me love that thing even more.

Finally, I have a job in the industry. It's a crappy job, but I have a little bit of insight into what it's really like to work for these companies. I know firsthand the lies that recruiters in HR will tell to get people in the door. I know what it's like to stand up for myself and tell a supervisor "No" when he orders me to do something unsafe for the sake of meeting unrealistic productions standards (UPS).

So, I have the dream, most of the knowledge, the willingness to work hard, and some experience that I believe will help me be successful in trucking. Now all I have to do is hurry up and wait until I'm 21.

James M.'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!!!

hay bill check out swift they have a termial in saracuse ny i drove for them in till november of last year they have all kinds of runs dedcated , reaginal, otr . i enjoyed driving east cost reaginal i had to leave do to a family issue . but would go back i am working local driveing flat bed around the north east and some times the mid west. i still talk ot my trainer from swift we had a great time a talk all the time if i dont call him he calls me when hes in my area . he lives in detroit mi and i live in albany ny

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.

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.

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.

Ken N.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks Brett, 2 years since I was considering a career change to Driver. Your High Road and prep tests proved invaluable. Your cast of characters are entertaining and or informative. Home time was important but not a deal breaker. The best advice on pay was common sense. You can't start at top pay as an entry level employee. I was ? lucky enough to start out in city P&D for an overnight LTL carrier tugging a 53 box with a tandem axle tractor around the metro, backing into areas wouldn't pull a fishing boat into ... The biggest advantage to this gig is sleeping in your own bed, 60 hour work week 5 days a week means that is about all you do 5 days a week. .. I agree that it is not for everyone Driving I mean. If you have to be first to the stoplight, if you don't understand following distance , if 6 minutes to 60mph bugs you...then a person should stick to video games. .. I really enjoy bumping 15 to 20 docks a day, most customers are great, I work with some of the greatest people. In short.. I read reviews did my homework, was honest about expectations. .. it's a good job. The biggest challenge Is finding the right fit. . Thanks

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

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".

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

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.

JakeBreak's Comment
member avatar

I certainly hope its still worth it lol. Ive been trying to get in the drivers seat for the past 10 years, but life got in the way. Now i finally have my chance Im starting school on june 1st, and hope to be employed soon after the 4th of July.

Tom P.'s Comment
member avatar

Well I have done damn near everything else I was a steel worker forklift driver did HVAC logistics manager supervisor on a dock cook door to door sales retail sales did collections for some umm people lol. But this is something else my experience isn't like your guys at all I haven't seen the sunrise over the rockies or looked at some majestic desert. I drive in NYC n north jersey county roads in south Jersey the mountains of pa which is home to me. My treat is a run down the ocean hwy in MD or Delaware. This being left alone and earning what u can is love to me. Its just me n the truck my music n bumper to bumper traffic in Garfield cursing out some jack off for trying to take my spot at a dock. ( gotta be aggressive to survive everyday up here we all Italians n Ricans). I love it miss my kids but honestly the money allowing me to give them a better life

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Tom P.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks Brett, 2 years since I was considering a career change to Driver. Your High Road and prep tests proved invaluable. Your cast of characters are entertaining and or informative. Home time was important but not a deal breaker. The best advice on pay was common sense. You can't start at top pay as an entry level employee. I was ? lucky enough to start out in city P&D for an overnight LTL carrier tugging a 53 box with a tandem axle tractor around the metro, backing into areas wouldn't pull a fishing boat into ... The biggest advantage to this gig is sleeping in your own bed, 60 hour work week 5 days a week means that is about all you do 5 days a week. .. I agree that it is not for everyone Driving I mean. If you have to be first to the stoplight, if you don't understand following distance , if 6 minutes to 60mph bugs you...then a person should stick to video games. .. I really enjoy bumping 15 to 20 docks a day, most customers are great, I work with some of the greatest people. In short.. I read reviews did my homework, was honest about expectations. .. it's a good job. The biggest challenge Is finding the right fit. . Thanks

Love it right with ya my first week with my mentor I hit a bridge in Jersey city learning about tandem cheating. But I just stay in the truck save money on gas

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

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".

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

Jarod(Red)'s Comment
member avatar

I get why the question is asked, I can understand it. Trucking for me is very important in my life past and present and future. My dad drove for 40 years, it provided me with a roof over my head, food on table, clothes on my back, vacations that were awesome, and yeah my dad was gone all the time, missed some school functions and baseball games, but he chose to make a sacrifice for our family and I respect that and honor that. The industry is a lot different these days but the sacrifice remains the same. It takes a special person to do this job, and if it's in your blood you'll want to do it no matter what. What saddens me is we are losing a generation of what I call "The Greatest Generation of Truck Drivers", Truck drivers I grew up seeing and watching drive, The old school guys. All these great truck drivers are retiring and moving on and it sucks to see. And I just hope guys in my generation and guys in their 40's keep the tradition alive and keeps the old school spirit around. A lot of these truck drivers don't know what it means to be a "Truck Driver", and we need to make sure we keep the spirit of this job a live and carry it on to next generation. You can't bring back the old days of trucking, but I hope some of that passion and skill can be carried forward. I'm going to do my part, I have no choice, it's the way I was raised. And I hope more do the same. Nothing makes me happier when I see a guy my age(30's) out there doing it the right way and respecting the job and showing passion for it. And Brett Aquila your doing a great job and trying to show these young guys the right way, and it's awesome of you to take your time to help. I'm glad we have you to lead this next generation of drivers, you truly are a good role model for future drivers, including myself, and I thank you for that.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Attila's Comment
member avatar

Lots I love about trucking. Working with a team but not having to deal with human pecking orders (mostly). Driving semi's is just awsome. I'm a introvert, don't get me wrong, I am the life of a party but when that party is over I need days to recharge. In trucking with the isolation I am always recharged. I solve 90% of the problems I face out here alone and that is where I thrive. The trucking community/culture is great, it's like I have found my people. The nomadic ways of a trucker feels almost natural to me. Nothing like a good long haul on a lose schedule to make my month!

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