Is Truck Driving a Good Career For My Future?

 

Are There Always Jobs in the Trucking Business?

Over the Road Trucking is Always in Demand.

Due to a trucker shortage in the industry, over-the-road truck drivers are in high demand. As a result, trucking companies have been willing to raise wages and pay truck drivers more to keep them.

Trucking companies are in need of OTR drivers.

There are several reasons that drivers leave the industry: long hours on the road; being away from home; or the mental and physical strain of steering heavy freight at high speeds around the nations’ highways and byways. OTR isn’t an easy job.

 

The fact that truck drivers are always in demand means that those with a Class A CDL will be able to find work, even during tough economic times.

With a constant flow of new consumer technology, possession of smart devices, and the growth of online sales, the future of the trucking business is strong.

Local Jobs May Not Always Have Availability.

Even though many local jobs require only a Class B or Class C license, these jobs are more difficult to find. Many competitive job seekers want a position that’s easier, close to home, and requires less hours on the road.

Trucking companies typically want drivers with 2-3 years of long-haul/OTR experience before they consider you for a local trucking job. 

Truck Driver Job Growth Rates

Trucks handle most of the nations’ freight, nearly 80% of the total volume, equaling over $600 billion. The US Department of Labor projects that employment of delivery truck drivers and driver/sales workers is projected to grow by 4% between now and 2024.

Truck driver employment is projected to go up.

The Dept of Labor also shows that the employment of heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers should grow by 5% during the same time. This is a great indicator that the future demand of the trucking industry is strong.

The e-Commerce Economy

Another factor in the demand for truck drivers is the widespread and rapid expansion of e-commerce transactions.

As Americans buy and sell more products online, they become increasingly reliant on shipments made to their door. No longer do Americans expect to buy everything at their local brick-and-mortar stores.

Drivers are needed to keep the supply chain moving. E-commerce means more truckers in demand. 

Related Jobs in the Trucking Industry

There is not much upward mobility in the traditional sense in the trucking business, but there is plenty of lateral movement, allowing a driver with a Class A CDL tons of options. Experienced drivers may find themselves interested in the following related fields:

  • Recruiter
  • Supervisor
  • Truck Driver Training Instructor
  • Dispatcher
  • Mechanic
  • Courier
  • Bus/Taxi/Chauffeur
  • Future opportunities taking off in the technological sector. (i.e. Apps and systems that optimize truck driving routes or improve fuel economy)

These opportunities start with the truck drivers. Especially with a trucker shortage, America counts on the continued demand of the trucking business to deliver their groceries as well as their e-commerce purchases. 

Is There a Future in the Trucking Industry?

The path to becoming a truck driver is relatively fast compared to other professions. You don’t need a college degree, and in just 3-6 weeks, you can get on the road. But new drivers still want to know if there’s a future in the trucking industry. Our research shows that there is.

Wages

Over the long-term, truck drivers’ wages had been decreasing. Recent years, however, show a reversal.  Because of the shortage, the trucking business has been giving its drivers larger raises when compared to other jobs.

From 2015 to October 2016, truckers’ wages increased an average of 7.8%, considerably more than the overall wage growth of 2.8%, according to CNN.

C.R. England in January of 2016 raised wages by 12.4%. Swift saw an 18% increase in salaries and benefits in 2015 compared to the previous year, not only due to its drivers logging more miles, but also “driver wage hikes”. While wage increases can fluctuate and should not be taken for granted, the shortage of truck drivers is helping to keep them coming.

As the driver shortage is expected to escalate to almost 175,000 drivers needed by 2024, the wage increases may very well continue until the shortage is met or an alternative solution is found, such as automated trucks.

Automation

In dealing with the shortage, automated trucks are a pervasive hot topic, especially given the recent advances in driverless passenger cars made by Google, Uber, Tesla, Apple, and even Samsung.

Self-driving vehicles are a topic of discussion.

Daimler, Embark, and Otto have also been making their own advances in self-driving trucks.

While many consider automated trucks hostile to the traditional driver, truck drivers have nothing to fear for the future because even automated trucks will require someone to sit in the driver’s seat for a long time to come.

Autonomous trucks have trouble with sharp turns, overtaking slower vehicles, changing lanes, taking exits, parking, dealing with new road, working around construction, or navigating the traffic in cities. 

While market-researchers expect to see autonomous trucks by 2025, truck drivers entering the market shouldn’t worry about their jobs. The current level of available automation on trucks is best compared to the autopilot on commercial aircraft.

Airplanes still need pilots, and trucks will too.  

Regulations

Regulations and restrictions placed on drivers continue to be some of the industry’s biggest issues, most notably the Hours of Service restriction. Drivers want to push for more miles and more money, and they stress out over service hour regulations. Unfortunately, safety sometimes takes a backseat.

There has been ongoing debate over the HOS rule, and the first revision came in 2013 when the 34-hour weekly restart was redefined. Electronic logbooks and apps are becoming more popular and there are fewer opportunities to falsify logs.

If drivers make less money with less hours, the responsibility will fall on trucking companies to raise wages to compensate their drivers and improve their route planning with better schedules. In the meanwhile, the Hours of Service rules aren’t going anywhere, and drivers must adapt to these regulations, like any other obstacle faced while on the road.

The Future

The future of the trucking industry is like many other careers. There are future technological innovations that threaten to upend how business is done, and there are disputed safety regulations. Overall, the outlook is positive. Wages have been going up, and even automated trucks will require their own “pilots.” Due to the trucking shortage, the jobs are out there.

Should I Be a Truck Driver?

The average salary of a trucker is the first detail to catch the eye of job hunters. For only weeks of training, truck driving provides a good income, but you must be prepared to work long hours to get the miles you want for the highest wages. 

Truck driving is great for people that love a challenge.

Most of all, your personality dictates whether or not you should become a truck driver. This is truer for trucking than other professions.

We’ve created an entire section HERE to find out if you will be successful as a driver.

If living on the road and traveling the country alone sounds like an adventure, then becoming a truck driver might be the best path for you.

Tackling new challenges every day can be a very rewarding experience for problem solvers and can-do personality types.

On the other hand, if you’re claustrophobic and need constant human companionship, then trucking will likely be too isolating for your needs. 

The best way to find out what it’s like to live the life of a truck driver is to actually talk to the drivers themselves. Head out to a truck stop and ask some truckers for a few moments of their time. Buy coffee and donuts for a few drivers to sit down with you and discuss their experiences. Five dollars to learn all about your future career may be the best you’ve ever spent.

After you’ve decided that both the pay and your personality are a good fit, then your next step is to get a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)!

Check out our full guide on “How to Become a Truck Driver.”

 

 

About The Authors
Contributor: Luke Nold (Experienced truck driver for 5+ years and published writer for Fleet Magazine), Martina Szabo (Writer, traveled OTR, and helped Schneider redesign their training yard).

Expert Review: William Mason (Current CDL Instructor and former truck driver with 20+ years of experience), Luke Nold (Experienced truck driver for 5+ years and published writer for Fleet Magazine).

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