Will You Be King of the Hill or Stuck in the Pits?
Dump truck driving is an option for commercial drivers who want a change of pace. If you are a trucker with a current CDL, this might be an alternative to driving over-the-road (OTR). So let’s take a look at the pros and cons of dump-truck driving jobs.
- Will You Be King of the Hill or Stuck in the Pits?
- The Pros of Dump Truck Driving Jobs
- The Cons of Dump Truck Jobs
Like all driving jobs, dump trucks might be great for some people and not for others. If you are tired of long weeks away from home and the hassles of time lost waiting to load or unload at congested depots, it is worth looking at driving a dump truck instead.
The Pros of Dump Truck Driving Jobs
Local Work Opportunities
Start a job and stay put. Activities like removing dirt, gravel, sand, or rock from construction sites need big trucks to do the work. So you are very likely to find employment as a dump truck driver in your local community with heavy equipment operators and construction contractors.
Of course, if you live in a remote rural area where jobs are scarce, you may have to relocate, but once you find a region that is developing, you will easily stay put. Alternatively, out in the country, there may be dump truck driving work in nearby mining operations.
Regular Work Hours
Working local means clocking in regularly each morning and going home every night at the same time. One of the drawbacks of the trucking business is the time spent out on the road, away from home, family, and friends. It’s a significant part of why there’s a driver shortage. As long as you have a CDL and the interest, there are regular hours available that keep you close to home.
A Stable Way to Get Paid
The way that employers pay dump truck drivers is more conventional than the long haul trucking business. The usual pay method for dump truck driver jobs is by the hour. OTR trucking is notorious for pay by the mile. The problem with this is that any time spent sitting at the depot, waiting to load or unload, is unpaid time, even when it counts against your allowed time behind the wheel.
If you can find a union job, you will have much higher earning potential. When you join the Teamsters Union, you can look forward to steady work and excellent benefits, often making more than $30 per hour.
Make Career Connections
If you want to find a way to get involved in the local construction business, your CDL is a foot in the door. Driving the earthmovers and diggers that load dump trucks are high-paying jobs. In states that require a CDL for heavy equipment operators, your Class-A or Class-B license will open up well-paid jobs in construction companies.
These outfits may offer to fund your certification on the heavy equipment in their fleets. The general rule is that the more skills you have, the better the opportunities that will come to you.
The Cons of Dump Truck Jobs
The Routine Can Be Lonely and Repetitive
Driving over the road can mean long days or weeks away from home. While you can have more regular hours as a dump truck driver, it can still be lonely. It can also be repetitive too. You don’t have the advantage of seeing the country out on the road.
In this kind of driving, it is more likely that you will make trips along one route, as many times as you can do in a day. You get in line and wait, pick up a load, drive to the dumpsite, return to the dig and wait again. Your only human contact during your shift might be hand signals from a site boss directing traffic.
Job Schedule Uncertainties
The jobs can dry up during different seasons of the year depending on your region. If you live in a northern state or a Canadian province, you can expect to lose time during the harshest winter months.
Also, the construction business has cycles that reflect the state of the economy. Sometimes, the work slows down because of a recession, and at other times contractors can’t finish projects fast enough to keep up with demand. As a driver, you depend on the construction market, and when the projects dry up, you’re likely to be out of a job until the economy picks up again.
Dealing with the Weather
If you want to drive dump trucks, it will help if you love the outdoors, because you will be out on work sites in all kinds of weather. Some dump trucks are very basic, designed to be rugged, and lacking in comfort features like A/C or heating. If you have to get out on site, you could find yourself in extreme heat, mud, or freezing rain, and this could go on for months at a time.
If you don’t like cold or hot weather, dust, and mud, then perhaps it’s not for you. If you enjoy being in the outdoors throughout the year, without a supervisor looking over your shoulder, then dump truck driving might be a great choice.
Another Choice for Truck Drivers
Like all professional truck driving jobs, this kind of driving is not for everyone. However, if you can deal with it by listening to audiobooks or music and be satisfied by a day’s work before you return home to your family every night, it can be a great way to spend your truck driving career.
The great thing about having your Class-A CDL is that, if dump truck driving jobs dry up, you can shift over to another type of trucking for a while. The transportation industry is still short of qualified drivers, and it means that, with a CDL in your wallet, you always have career options down the road.
Keep Looking Down the Road
It is up to you to decide what the perfect combination of work conditions will be. If you are ready for a change and want to to get off the OTR merry-go-round then keep an open mind about dump truck driving jobs.
You have to look ahead in the trucking business and keep your eyes on the horizon. Whether you decide to keep driving dump trucks or move on to other trucking jobs when they come up, it’s all good. If it is right for you, dump truck driving could be an excellent next step for your trucking career.
Geoff is a freelance writer with 20+ years of experience driving trucks and buses, dispatching, supervising, and training commercial driving teams. His expertise is writing topics on the transportation and trucking industry, and information technology trends.