Where Can New Drivers Turn For Hope In This Economy?

by Brett Aquila

Truck driving is looked upon as the last great hope for many Americans who have either lost their jobs, or are afraid they're about to. Some families have had to send the second parent to work because of cutbacks in pay, cutbacks in hours, or settling for a lesser job by the first parent. Although there have been a few glimmers of hope in recent economic news, including an increase in mortgage applications, an increase in retail sales, some positive cash flows and even profits by some of the larger banks, more clarity from the President about his stimulus package, and a rise in the stock market over the past week, so far nothing has turned positive for the trucking industry, and other than seasonal increases coming into the spring, likely won't for some time.

At TruckingTruth, we hear from students and experienced drivers alike who are either in school, recently graduated from school, or are currently looking for work, and the message has been the same across the board - finding work in the trucking industry is much, much tougher than it used to be. And it will remain so for quite some time. But you'll notice I didn't say "impossible", I said "tougher". Although it is taking recent truck driving school graduates longer to find work, they are finding work. And although experienced drivers are having more trouble finding work, they too are finding it. So the question is, where? And if you're considering becoming a truck driver right now, is this the right time, and where should I start? Let's take a look at these issues.

Who Is Hiring Right Now In The Trucking Industry?

The number one sector that remains steady in the trucking industry is food transport - lead by the refrigerated carriers as you might expect. No matter how tough the economy gets, people still need to eat. They may opt for less expensive foods and generic brands, but almost nobody is actually eating less food because the economy has slowed. So the refrigerated carriers are the ones that have been doing the most hiring in recent months.

Also, the larger trucking companies are the ones that are the best financed and the most flexible, so their chances of survival in tough times is better than they would be for a smaller company. So if you're considering the financial strength of a company before applying to them for work, larger trucking companies are generally more stable than smaller ones.

Where Should New Drivers Look To Begin Their Career?

Many people don't have the luxury of waiting a few months to a year for the economy to turn around before starting a new career, so they have to do something now. If I were going to get into the trucking industry today, where would I go to school, and where would I look for work? Well, we already mentioned that the refrigerated carriers are doing the best of any in the trucking industry right now, so that's where I'd begin. But there's also the question of attending an independent school versus a school that's run by a trucking company. Which would be best? Right now I'd say go with a school run by a trucking company.

If you get your CDL training from a trucking company, you are pretty much guaranteed a job upon completion of the training and obtaining your CDL. At the same time, you don't have to put more than about $150 up front to attend the school. Once you graduate from their school, you can begin making payments on the schooling which will be deducted from your payroll checks. So the risk financially is much less if you attend a trucking company school in this environment.

Some Trucking Companies Where Students Are Finding Work

I normally do not mention trucking companies specifically by name because TruckingTruth is dedicated to helping people understand the trucking industry and make the best decisions for themselves about where to go to school and who to work for. But these are desperate times, so I'm going to give you some trucking companies that fit the criteria I've mentioned previously, and that have been actively hiring the past few months. These are refrigerated carriers that have their own truck driving schools:

Central Refrigerated

Prime Trucking

C.R. England Transport

Stevens Transport

Those four companies are all large refrigerated carriers that run their own schools and have been actively hiring the past few months. The dry van and flabed carriers have been cutting back quite a bit in recent months and many are on hiring freezes right now.

Look, at TruckingTruth we pride ourselves on telling it like it is, and the bottom line is that it's very, very tough out there for everyone right now. If you're in a good job that's stable and you believe you'll be fine where you're at for the time being, then stay right where you're at - the trucking industry will always be here - you'll get your chance. But if you're in a situation where you have to do something right now, then those four companies are the first four I would go to if I were looking for work today. Recommending specific companies is not normally what we do here at TruckingTruth, but just like you, when times get desperate we do what we have to do - and what we have to do right now is help people who need it the most in any way we can. We wish you all the best!


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.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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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