So the big question these days for most visitors to our site is, "Will I find a job in trucking in today's economy?" The answer right now is a resounding "yes," but how long will that last? Let's take a look at a couple of factors that will influence hiring in the trucking industry in the coming months.
The economy right now is still in decline, no matter how optimistically people would like to talk about it on TV. I keep hearing things like, "It's getting worse at a slower rate" and, "we expect to start seeing some improvement in the second half of 2009" - but nobody would dare interpret the numbers as actually improving. The most recent job loss numbers show that companies outside of trucking are still shedding jobs, and within the trucking industry there are still furloughs and layoffs in the offices, with some temporary hiring freezes at a small percentage of trucking companies.
Overall, truck driving jobs are readily available right now, but we won't go back to the incredibly high demand that there normally is for drivers until the economy actually begins to grow again in a meaningful way, which doesn't appear ready to happen in the next six months - like, GDP above 2.5% growth. For now, the economy itself is not ready to grow fast enough to produce a high demand for truck driving jobs through the end of 2009, and 2010 is still too far off to predict, considering the circumstances we're in.
The trucking industry itself has busy and slow seasons each year based on factors outside of the economy. From January through April, trucking is always slow. Not only is there little or no produce to ship at that time of year, but it's wintertime, which means less economic activity; and Christmas just passed, which means the gift-giving season is over with. So there is very little economic activity from Jan-April, resulting in a slow season for trucking even in a strong economy.
From May-August, trucking picks up quite a bit, and the demand for truck drivers picks up along with it. Not only are we heavily into produce (vegetables) season by that point, but summertime brings an increase in economic activity, including vacations, cookouts, carnivals, festivals, and all the great stuff that comes along with summertime. There is a solid demand for drivers throughout the late spring and summer months.
From September-late November, trucking is at its peak. With the holidays coming, back to school sales on, and everybody gearing up for the upcoming winter with home improvement projects, fall is the busiest time for trucking. Experienced drivers know that when the freight is available, you run it because there will be times when there is very little freight and your yearly earnings will average out well if you run hard when the runnin' is good. And trucking companies feel the same way - you have to get the freight when it's there, so trucking companies make sure they have a full fleet at all times during the fall months.
Right now is a great time to get into trucking. Even with the average CDL training period of six weeks, there is a lot of time to get into trucking and to get hired during the busy season. I would say it's going to get tougher finding work after mid-November, so between now and late September is a great time to begin your CDL training and get out there on the highway. Come October, it's going to be tougher beginning your career in trucking in 2009, and although you could do it, you would likely be better off beginning your CDL training around March of 2010.
So for those of you wondering, "Is now the best time to get into trucking?" - If you're not working or you are unsure of the stability of your job, now would be a very good time to get into trucking, even with the poor economy. If things are going well for you right now, but you're considering a career in trucking, I would maybe stay with what you're doing and keep an eye on the economy, with the idea of taking another look at becoming a truck driver in the spring of 2010 and seeing where the economy stands at that time.