It’s a common misconception that truck driving is not a legitimate career because it doesn’t require skills or training. However, drivers in this industry are required to carry a special license and go through extensive training.
If this is a career choice you are considering, it’s important to understand that it’s a worthwhile field to consider. Those who become licensed and work hard can find truck driving opportunities all over the country.
The Demand of Truck Drivers
With the economy growing and businesses needing to transport goods all over the world, truck drivers are more in demand than ever before.
While many drivers are required to drive cross-country, with the increased demand seen today, that’s not always necessary. There are many freight companies that only need local drivers to transport goods around a limited distance.
All in all, these professionals are helping to run a $700 billion industry that is continuing to expand nationwide.
Important Facts About the Truck Driving Industry
- There are around 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States alone (according to American Trucking Association).
- In the next 10 years, the trucking industry is projected to grow over 20%.
- Most commercial truck drivers will drive nearly 105,000 miles in one year.
- Each commercial truck uses around 20,500 gallons of fuel every year. As a result, the trucking industry as a whole accounts for nearly 13% of all fuel used in the United States.
- Annually the trucking industry logs nearly 433 billion miles; this could circle the world 17 million times.
- Out of all truck drivers in the United States, 1 out of 9 is independent.
- The top trucking companies include: Fedex Freight, Con-Way Freight, YRC Freight, UPS Freight, and Old Dominion Freight Line.
Types of Truck Driving Jobs
While most people are familiar with truck drivers who go on long-hauls for weeks at a time, those aren’t the only types of jobs available in this industry. This is part of the reason why this industry is so lucrative, as drivers are able to find a wide range of opportunities that fit their preferences and experience. The different types of jobs include:
Local & Regional Drivers
For individuals who do not want to drive long lengths, regional or local driving is one of the best options. This will allow you to stay in your immediate city or very close to it. However, if you are a regional driver, you may go all around the state instead. This is normally an option that individuals select when they need to stay near home for their family.
Freight is meant for oversized, hazardous, and liquid goods that are not transported through dry freight. Drivers must be able to handle large items that may be a bit difficult to work with.
Small Shipment Freight Driving
Otherwise known as “LTL Freight”, this means transporting truckloads that aren’t packed full like most normally are. Due to the fact that these truckloads, most drivers are expected to unload their trucks and may only drive short distances with several stops.
Flat Bed Truck Driving
Different from trailers, flat bed trucks have to be tied down so they are secured while on the road. It’s common for drivers of flat bed trucks to transport goods that are oversized or shaped oddly because they cannot be transported inside of a traditional trailer.
One of the most difficult types of driving out there, tanker trucks require drivers to have special knowledge of how to handle the liquids that they are transporting, especially if there was an emergency. This is because they are normally transporting non-hazardous or hazardous liquids that could be dangerous to handle.
Refrigerated Freight Driving
For goods that need to be kept at a specific temperature, refrigerated trucks are necessary. Drivers who operate these types of vehicles will normally carry food, body products, medical goods, or other refrigeration-necessary items. This often comes with more responsibility, as the driver must regularly check on the goods to make sure they are kept at the proper temperature throughout the journey. They may also have time-sensitive requirements for certain items.
Dry Van Driving
This is what most drivers get their start operating. It’s a vehicle with a single trailer that is packed with non-perishable items and dry goods. The driver is normally not required to unload this type of truck, making it a great choice for those who are just starting out.
Salary of Truck Drivers
According to the Labor Department, the annual salary for a truck driver is $40,000. However, because professionals in this field are in high demand, they can make up to $75,000 by working for a private fleet. Salary can also depend on location, experience, type of truck driven, and type of goods carried.
How to Obtain a CDL
A commercial driver’s license, otherwise known as a “CDL”, is necessary for drivers who wish to operate commercial vehicles. To obtain this, driver’s have to take a written and driving test. However, the requirements for this license can vary in each state, as some may require additional training through an independent CDL course. Fortunately once the appropriate tests have been passed, the driver will be able to use their new license to work in this industry. It’s important to keep in mind that additional training may be necessary with different trucking companies, so a CDL may not be the only requirement.
Geoff is a freelance writer with 20+ years of experience in 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.