Trucking Careers: Risks and Rewards

Trucking Careers: Risks and Rewards

Truckers are some of the most sought after blue-collar workers. The trucking industry is amid a driver shortage, just when the demand for transportation services has risen due to online sales. Trucking wages are rising as companies compete to hire new drivers and retain their old ones.

Automation

The fear of being replaced by automated trucks have discouraged potential drivers from starting trucking careers. The media often points to truck drivers as one of the most at risk when it comes to automation. However, industry experts, as well as the developers of the automation technology themselves, are quick to deny the dour predictions. Like planes with autopilots, Automated trucks still need to rely on a human driver as they perform only the most basic of tasks. Automated vehicles in the testing phase have encountered problems or met accidents 25 percent of the time, a statistic that is unacceptable to any trucking company. Automation will most likely assist and not replace human drivers. The focus on automation research involves more efficient fuel consumption (while in cruise control) and self-diagnostic systems for easier maintenance and repair. When these systems are in place, developers believe it would increase the demand for truck drivers.

Higher Demand — Higher Wages

Fewer drivers lead to higher demand, and higher demand leads to higher wages. Trucking companies are launching massive recruitment drives, sponsoring students in driving schools, and turning to staffing companies to fill their ranks. However, the shrinking pool of drivers has left most companies understaffed. The majority of truck drivers are getting close to retirement age, with the average age at 55 or older. New drivers straight out of trucking school can expect starting wages of $50,000 or more, with additional signing bonuses to boot. Expect earnings to reach six figures or higher within the next five years through diligent work, excellent performance, clean safety records, and good results from your annual physical exams. Veteran drivers earn an average of $80,000 before bonuses and benefits, and companies are doing their best to retain them through retention bonuses and other incentives lest they turn to rival companies or go independent through staffing companies.

Few Requirements — Big Payouts

A trucking career doesn't require four years of education. It doesn't even need a year of study or training. Getting a commercial driver's license (CDL) only takes 2-3 months, costing around $7,000. If you can find a trucking school affiliated with a company, they might even sponsor your training and give even give you an allowance. Of course, you'll need to be over 21 to be able to cross state lines and take the high-paying long haul jobs, but there is currently a bipartisan bill proposing lowering the age to 18. Under the proposal, drivers under 21 can train as apprentices needing to complete 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of supervised driving time.

Trucking offers an excellent opportunity for new drivers to earn big money without needless and expensive schooling. Armed with a CDL, proper training, and the right contacts, truck drivers can expect to cross that 6-figure salary line in just 5-10 years.

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