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Truck Driving Career Seen As Strong For Next Decade

by Brett Aquila

With blue collar jobs in America having been on the decline in recent decades, and the recent economic downturn taking another huge bite out of the available jobs for the working men and women across our country, many people are now on the hunt for not only a new job, but possibly an entirely new career. Truck driving has always been a popular choice as a second, or even third or fourth career, but now more people than ever are considering becoming a truck driver as their first career. While others are considering it as a last resort when all else fails. Where is truck driving going as a career over the next decade? The news appears to be good.

A Recent Story By NPR

National Public Radio recently did a story entitled "Where The Jobs Will Be This Decade" and although truck driving did not make it into their top ten list, it certainly did get honorable mention in a key category:

"Finally, over the next decade, the best-paying, fastest-growing job that also requires little training is truck driving. According to the BLS, the folks driving the big tractor-trailer rigs earn about $37,000 a year on average."

Now keep in mind that salary figure includes all truck drivers and all levels of experience. An experienced over the road truck driver will certainly make far more than $37k per year if they are willing to put in the effort and are known to be safe, reliable drivers. A figure of around $50k - $60k is quite reasonable for these experienced drivers.

A Great Career For Little Time And Money Invested

The average cost of training to get your CDL is probably somewhere around $2500, and can be significantly less depending on the training you choose. The average amount of time it takes to complete the schooling and have your CDL is somewhere around 250 hours of training time. Your first year on the road in trucking you can expect to make somewhere around $30k if your attitude is great, you listen and learn, you're a safe and reliable driver, and you're willing to work hard. You can expect somewhere around $40k-$45k your second year, and anywhere from $45k-$60k your third year and beyond. Again, results will vary wildly depending upon the quality of driver you are, the quality of person you are, and how hard you're willing to work.

When you compare the amount of time and money invested into training versus the amount of money you can make, it's very difficult to find any career in the United States that can compare with truck driving. Trucking has been an economic lifesaver for many, many thousands of families across this country during these hard times, no question about it.

All Goods Must Be Shipped

Many people wonder what the fate of truck driving as a career will be with the trend in recent decades of fewer and fewer goods being produced here in the United States. Well, whether we make a product here in the United States or import it from overseas, the product still has to be brought to the homes and markets from coast to coast. So even though the amount of goods being manufactured here in the US may be on the decline, the shipping of those goods by truck remains strong and will continue to be so.

What Effect Will High Fuel Prices Have?

Higher fuel prices in recent years have brought about a resurgence in the railroad industry. Shipping goods by rail is far less expensive than by truck, but it's a much slower, more cumbersome process. However, the higher the fuel prices go, the more enticing it is for companies to use the rails.

Even when goods are shipped by rail there will still likely be a significant role played by trucks. Although there are warehouses and manufacturers capable of shipping goods from doorstep to doorstep by rail only, most places require the goods to be picked up by truck and taken to the rail yard where they are then transported by train to the rail yard closest to the final destination. At that point another truck will pick up the goods at that rail yard and deliver them to their final destination.

And even in cases where trucks are not needed to transport goods between factories and warehouses, they are still needed to transport final products to most stores, markets, and homes across the country. So as you can see, trucks aren't going to disappear anytime soon.

Will The Demand For Drivers Be Back On The Rise?

This recent economic downturn has brought a large influx of new drivers into the trucking industry and driver demand and driver turnover are at their lowest level in many, many years. However, the difficulty of the job and lifestyle, along with the demands placed on truck drivers, has either remained high or gotten even higher at the same time, and the fact of the matter is there are a lot of new truck drivers that really aren't cut out for the job and really don't want to be there.

Once the economy picks up again the demand for drivers in the industry will go back to what it was before. The wages and benefits will increase, the sign-on bonuses will return, trucking companies that closed their schools will open them back up again, and most importantly the influx of new drivers that really didn't want to be truck drivers in the first place will leave the industry once again for other jobs.

A Strong Outlook Overall

Truck driving has always been a great career for those of us who were cut out for the lifestyle. If you're not the right person for the job, you're really not going to like it much and you're not going to last long. But if you feel like truck driving might be the right career for you, the outlook for the industry looks to be very solid for many years to come.

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.

Over The Road:

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.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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.

by Brett Aquila

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TruckingTruth was founded by Brett Aquila (that's me!), a 15 year truck driving veteran, in January 2007. After 15 years on the road I wanted to help people understand the trucking industry and everything that came with the career and lifestyle of an over the road trucker. We'll help you make the right choices and prepare for a great start to your trucking career.

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