Am I Crazy To Quit $58k Per Year Job To Become A Trucker?

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Ricky C.'s Comment
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I’m 51 and have a decent 5 day work week making $26 per hour. It’s mostly a desk job with some on the floor supervising. I’m getting fed up with the stress and politics. If this company went out of business I don’t think I could easily get the same job for the same pay. I am seriously considering getting into the trucking industry. I’m single and my kid is grown, nothing to tie me down. I’m ok with not being home most of the time. I feel like trucking would give me better job security and the flexibility to move anywhere in the country. Hopefully I could also make a lot more money eventually. How much of a pay cut would I be taking at first? Could I eventually earn $80k or more per year?

Splitter's Comment
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I’m 51 and have a decent 5 day work week making $26 per hour. It’s mostly a desk job with some on the floor supervising. I’m getting fed up with the stress and politics. If this company went out of business I don’t think I could easily get the same job for the same pay. I am seriously considering getting into the trucking industry. I’m single and my kid is grown, nothing to tie me down. I’m ok with not being home most of the time. I feel like trucking would give me better job security and the flexibility to move anywhere in the country. Hopefully I could also make a lot more money eventually. How much of a pay cut would I be taking at first? Could I eventually earn $80k or more per year?

The first thing you might consider doing is reading Brett's book: Becoming A Truck Driver and some CDL Training Diaries to see if you have a clear picture of what you'll be facing in this field. If after reading those things & some soul searching, you feel your up to the task? Then go for it. Trucking isn't for everyone but it takes a certain mental capacity to deal with the days that test your patience & perseverance.

I'm not saying there aren't good days. Heck, there's spectacular days out here where you'll see amazing landscapes, meet incredible, genuine good people & make some serious bank too. Just want you to jump in with your eyes wide open & know that the grass will always be green, wherever go, if you fertilize it, water it & care for it.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Old School's Comment
member avatar

Hello Ricky C, and welcome to our forum!

That's a great question because truck drivers don't have salaries. Everything about this job is performance based. That means low performers earn less than higher producing individuals. Most rookie drivers will not earn 58K during their first year. It's possible, but unlikely. Typically a new driver who is doing well will earn about 45,000 dollars, and possibly a little more.

After four or five years you can earn close to 80 thousand, but it requires long hours. Most of us work around seventy hours each week - we don't typically work a five day week. Once you've got some experience you can try different types of trucking jobs. Most of us enjoy the OTR (over the road) lifestyle, and therefore work that way. Some of us prefer routine and do line-haul work which pays well but has the same routes each week. There are all types of trucking jobs out here, and many if them will pay better than 58K. You just have to find your niche.

Here's an article that might help you understand how best to increase what you earn as a truck driver...

Show Me The Money

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.

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.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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I'll add a little different twist to what was said so far. The biggest difference between your current job and trucking is that trucking is a lifestyle and a grand adventure. OTR trucking pretty much becomes your life. Your job and your lifestyle are all about travelling, living in the truck, and moving constantly. You normally won't know where you're heading more than a day or so in advance, if that.

You're also going to be dealing with an endless stream of challenges in a very dynamic environment. Traffic, weather, breakdowns, terrain, and assignments change constantly. You're going to be pushed outside of your comfort zone on a daily basis into challenging and oftentimes stressful circumstances.

So you're talking about going from one extreme to the other. Your job is probably very routine, tedious, and predictable with a relatively mellow 40 hr week. Trucking is a fast paced, dynamic, stressful job that's going to mean a lot of unpredictable 18 hour days and an nonstop adventure that basically becomes your life.

Your situation will be liking stepping out of a library and into a carnival. Unfortunately not everyone wants their life to be like a carnival. It can be overwhelming. Here is another great article to consider: What It Takes To Be A Top Tier Driver.

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.

Bobcat_Bob's Comment
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It depends on whether or not you want adventure or money. OTR is definitely what you should look into if you want adventure every day will be different, every backing situation different, every truck stop different. You may not seen the same place twice.

If your looking to make money I'd suggest looking into Linehaul which is what I run, unfortunately there is not much adventure as you spend all your time going from one terminal to another. It is the same routine day after day the same routes day after day. The advantage is the pay last year was my first full year and I made 75k. With linehaul you should be able to easily beat what you are making now and possibly even come close to doubling the drivers on our longest runs are in the 120k plus range.

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.

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.

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.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

Splitter's Comment
member avatar

0375522001555421825.jpg

The top slide is your day at your present job. The bottom slide is your day as a trucker! rofl-3.gifrofl-1.gif But if you have it in you? You'll love every minute of it.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
It depends on whether or not you want adventure or money

So you can either make money with LTL or have adventure with OTR? You're clearly implying you won't make good money with OTR when we have tons of OTR drivers here making exactly what you're making.

I know you realize that, but you have to be careful how you word things. I think it would have been better to say, "Do you want a very boring and predictable job, or do you want a dynamic environment and an adventure?" The pay will be very close with both options.

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.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Splitter, that's actually an outstanding representation of the situation. Kudos - I like that.

smile.gif

Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

Splitter, that diagram is a real keeper Proves that a picture can be worth a thousand words!thank-you.gif

Rob D.'s Comment
member avatar
The top slide is your day at your present job. The bottom slide is your day as a trucker!

For me there the bottom slide also represents my current job. The difference between my current job and trucking involves the percentage that you can reach the goal. My current job is competitive in the same way that professional sports is competitive. 50% win percentage in baseball is good; the all-time record is 76%. Over .300 batting average is great; over .400 for a season puts in you in the record books. Yet management and the fans expect a "winning team" and home runs or on base at every at bat.

There are many in this forum who have 100% on time performance. I would rather work hard and reach my goal 100% of the time than spend hours in the batting cage so that I can strike out 2 out of 3 times.

As far as if you are crazy to take a pay cut. While my profile says "considering a career" that will most likely change to "preparing for school" in August and I will most likely start CDL school next spring. My long term plan involves saving enough money offset my reduced income for my rookie year of trucking. To give you an idea of the pay cut I would take, I hope to make as much money in my rookie year as the taxes I paid last year.

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.
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