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Looking at the Best Truck Driving Jobs

Driving a truck is an exciting job that can make you a lot of money if you do it right. Here are the best truck driving jobs that are fun and well paying.

The truck driving industry can provide many lucrative opportunities, depending on your experience and the hauls you can take.

It’s also an industry with a substantial shortage of employees. In fact, in 2014, the American Truckers Association reported that the industry had 48,000 truck driving jobs that needed to be filled.

This is expected to hit 175,000 as truck drivers begin retiring and the demand for deliveries and shipping booms.

Not only is this an industry crying out for employees, but it’s also highly paid. Compensation has been increasing by 8% to 12% each year over the past few years. Compare that to wages for most industries which have barely moved recently.

However, some truck driving jobs are better than others, so we’ve researched some of the best.

The Truck Driving Jobs You Should Consider

While there are many truck driving jobs available, some have better pay and conditions than others. Here are the jobs to look out for:

Dry Van Haulers

This is the most common truck driving job if you’re an entry-level driver, and it will allow you to gain some experience in the industry. You’ll usually be driving a truck with a 53-foot trailer, and will handle:

  • Non-perishable food items
  • Retail goods
  • Medicine
  • Furniture
  • Flammable or hazardous materials
  • Chemicals

You may work for a huge, nationwide company, a smaller regional company, or a local business.

When working as a dry van hauler, you’ll back your truck up, wait for it to get loaded, and then drive on to your next destination. If your load isn’t ready, you’ll have to wait which can impact your schedule for the rest of the day. Often, there will be lumpers who will do the loading for you, although you may also need to help load and unload occasionally.

Driving a dry van hauler does mean that you don’t need to tarp and strap each load, which saves time and manual labor. Since the only shipments you’ll be hauling will fit within your dry van, you won’t need any special permits and can move easily from Point A to Point B.

Specialized dry van haulers go through Double/Triple trailer training so they can get an endorsement on their CDL. You’ll need to know how to assemble and hookup the units, and where the heaviest trailer should be placed. You’ll also need to be knowledgeable about stability and handling characteristics. This includes oscillatory sway, braking, sensory feedback and more.

You’ll also be tested on potential problems when it comes to traffic operations. In order to qualify for double trailer training, you’ll need to have six months of experience driving vehicles weighing more than 26,001 pounds.

If you want to drive triple trailers, you’ll need six months of driving a semitrailer or twin trailer before you can start training.

Tanker Hauls

Truck drivers willing to take tanker haul jobs will make more money than the average truck driver. This is because this is a more dangerous load compared to dry van hauls or flatbed loads. Liquids aren’t stable and will slosh around while you’re driving.

For this reason, you’ll need to get your CDL if you’re interested in tanker truck driving jobs. The CDL endorsement allows you to haul liquids and it’s a good investment for any truck driver.

The type of liquids you haul can vary from dairy products and water to chemicals, gas, and other hazardous materials.

If you get a hazmat endorsement, you can take hazardous materials like gas or chemical waste. Since these are more dangerous to drive with and require special skills, you can earn anywhere from $54,000 to $120,000.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rolled out new regulations in 2014. The FMSCA was concerned about commercial drivers carrying gaseous or liquid freight without having the proper training.

The new requirements require drivers to have a tanker endorsement on their CDL. As of March 2017, all states are now enforcing this regulation. You can take the Tanker Endorsement Knowledge Test at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and there are practice tests available online.

Ice Road Trucking

You may have learned about these types of truck driving jobs on the show “Ice Road Truckers” which is on the History channel. The show is based in Alaska and gives viewers a glimpse of the lives of several tough ice road truckers.

This is a job that pays well, with plenty of downtime. The ice road trucking season is only for a few months each year, while truckers earn between 75k and $120k each year.

It’s not all fun and games, and you can expect to work north of the Arctic Circle. That means temperatures which get as low as -40ºF, extremely hazardous conditions, white outs, and frequent storms.

The trucks need to be in excellent condition, and able to withstand rough terrain. The frigid conditions speed up the wear and tear on the trucks, as the temperatures can cause steel to snap.

Fractures in the ice, accidents, and white-outs can affect how fast you can travel. While this is a great way to make a lot of money, there’s often no phone reception and you’ll have to be extremely focussed while driving.

If you’ve got what it takes, you could have a very lucrative career, with months of the year where you only have to work if you want to.

You’ll need to take a CDL test which will determine whether you can do the job. You need to get at least 80% to pass and can take a practice test online before you take the real test.

You may want to drive similar routes (only safer) with a copilot to help you get used to the terrain so you can ease into the environment as you get started.

Dump Truck Driving

Dump Truck Drivers transport garbage, building materials, and more. You’ll need a Class B Commercial Driver’s License if you’re towing trailers which are less than 10,000 lbs. If you’re driving tractor trailer dump trucks, you’ll need to get a Class A CDL which will allow you to tow trailers which weigh more than 10,000 lbs.

While many truck driving jobs in small local companies will pay well, driving in the mining industry is hugely lucrative. Driving in coal mines is only for people who are extremely patient, as loading the coal needs to be done very carefully to ensure the mine isn’t disrupted which could cause a collapse.

Another option is hauling between different locations and unloading and loading materials on construction sites

OTR Truck Driver

Over the road truck drivers take jobs that involve long-haul driving. They travel from coast to coast over the interstate and need to be at least 21 years old.

These truck driving jobs are highly paid due to:

  • The amount of travel
  • The hours
  • The different road laws in each state
  • Tighter delivery schedules

OTR truck drivers are expected to keep up to date with new laws going into effect, policy changes within the industry, and the different laws in each area.

Walmart is a popular employer for OTR truck drivers and pays approximately $71,500 before bonuses.

Owner Operator

This means that you’ll own your own business. This can sometimes be stressful as you’re responsible for all expenses, filing the businesses taxes, and dealing with clients. But being your own boss can also be hugely rewarding.

By working as an owner operator, you may eventually choose to purchase another truck or two and hire some employees to work for you. If you think that you may one day get tired of always being on the road and would like to prepare for the future, working as an owner operator is a good option.

Independent truck drivers can make up to $200,000 annually. This will depend on:

  • The number of miles you drive
  • The type of deliveries you complete
  • Your customer satisfaction ratings
  • Your ability to market your business

Instructor

This is one of the best truck driving jobs for people who like to teach. You may find that you no longer want to be away from home as often as most truck drivers usually are. In this case, working for a trucking school can allow you to use your skills while staying in one location.

You won’t have to deal with dangerous roads, long hours, or time away from home. Instead, you’ll be working with students and passing on your experience and wisdom.

While these jobs typically won’t be as high-paying as some of the others on this list, you can definitely find jobs with excellent benefits and a comfortable salary. If you get your class A CDL, you’ll have a better chance of getting a job as an instructor.

As you can see, there is a range of fun, well-paying truck driving jobs available. This is a career that will allow you to travel and see the United States while earning a great income and potentially starting your own business.

Are you thinking about driving a truck? Which truck driving jobs appeal to you the most? Leave a comment below.

Self-Driving Trucks Still Have A Long Way To Go

Although many in the trucking manufacturing industry say that self-driving trucks will be a reality waiting just around the proverbial corner, it looks like the vehicles still have a far way to go before we see full implementation on our nation’s roads.

The fact is, legislation that would make it easier to adopt autonomous driving technology on commercial motor vehicles has yet to gain any traction on Capitol Hill. Will this change as the future gets closer?

Although the House passed a bipartisan voice vote to help speed the development of self-driving cars, the legislation, called the Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research in Vehicle Evolution (SELF DRIVE) Act, says nothing of commercial motor vehicles.

As written in the legislation verbiage, the Act would assist in the rollout of fully self-driving cars using federal pre-emption of state authority. This basically means that car manufacturers would be exempted from safety standards that are not applicable to self-driving technology. The legislation would also permit the deployment of up to 100,000 self-driving cars annually over the next few years.

Some think that commercial vehicles were cut out of the bill as a nod to labor unions who see self-driving vehicles as a threat to jobs. In fact, the Teamsters Union lobbied very hard to ensure commercial motor vehicles were left out of the bill.

According to a statement from the union, “It is vital that Congress ensure that any new technology is used to make transportation safer and more effective, not used to put workers at risk on the job or destroy livelihoods.”

Movements in the Senate

Even more telling is that the Senate has yet to take up any bill or undertaken any debate surrounding self-driving vehicles of any kind, whether passenger vehicle or commercial motor vehicle. Still, that doesn’t mean they don’t intend to.

Senator John Thune (R-SD), who is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation is aiming to hold a hearing, titled “Transportation Innovation: Automated Trucks and our Nation’s Highways.” The hearing aims to consider the benefits of self-driving technology and why commercial motor vehicles have been left out of self-driving legislation thus far.

The committee notes state that the hearing is intended to “examine the benefits of automated truck safety technology as well as the potential impacts on jobs and the economy.”

It was also outlined that excluding commercial motor vehicles has been an ongoing topic of discussion in bipartisan efforts to draft self-driving vehicle legislation.

Senator Thune went on to say, in introducing the legislation, that “self-driving technology for trucks and other large vehicles has emerged as a pivotal issue in Congress’ attempt to help usher in a new era of transportation. This hearing will offer all members of the Commerce Committee the opportunity to hear expert testimony on the future highway safety benefits of applying automated technology to trucks as well as perspectives on excluding trucks from legislation affecting small passenger vehicles.”

Scheduled to testify before the committee on the viability of autonomous commercial motor vehicles are Deborah Hersman, the National Safety Council President and CEO and former chair of the National Transportation Safety Board. Representing trucking interests at the hearing will be Chris Spears, President and CEO of the ATA.

The ATA has already outlined a position regarding this topic, as outlined by the association’s spokesperson Sean McNally, who was recently quoted as saying that the “ATA supports the development of this technology and we don’t think it makes sense to write legislation without it applying to all vehicles, and that includes commercial trucks which account for 33.8 million registered vehicles and 450 billion miles traveled annually.”

He went on to say that the ATA views “this legislation, and its soon-to-be introduced companion in the Senate, as a roadmap toward a future that includes more automated vehicles, and that map should provide direction for all highway users. It continues to be our belief that the technologies being developed today will assist, rather than supplant, drivers on the road.”

What’s the Deal with Autonomous Trucks?

When you consider the idea of an autonomous truck, it shouldn’t be hard to also imagine motorists being terrified of the idea of a “driverless” truck wreaking havoc on a highway. After all, a heavy duty commercial motor vehicle can be incredibly dangerous if something were to go wrong.

Where truckers are concerned, imagine if they were to hear that a fleet they work for was considering opting for a self-driving fleet. Could you imagine a greater motivation for the employees of that fleet to make a drive for union representation?

While it is likely that the average motorist will eventually embrace the idea of a self-driving car, minivan or pickup truck, there will likely be a steep learning curve. Even more, smart highway and roadway technology still has a long way to go before we see this become a reality.

Still, many truck drivers worry that once autonomous technology becomes roadworthy and compliant, they may end up out of a job. Fortunately, this may be a misplaced concerned, especially in the age of semi-autonomous commercial motor vehicles.

Many believe that the big push will be towards semi-autonomous vehicles before fully autonomous vehicles. As we have reported in the past, semi-autonomous trucks will likely still require an in-person truck driver to handle driving duties once the truck exits the highway and proceeds onto city streets.

Another consideration factoring into this debate is the ongoing truck driver shortage. It isn’t out of the question to ask if fleets will migrate towards autonomous technology as the truck driver employment squeeze continues to become more acute. If it isn’t looking like we will have enough human drivers to safely transport our goods across the nation, motor carriers may find this technology more appealing.

Growth in the (Semi) Autonomous Market

What is a given is that the global self-driving market is expected to balloon by 40% by 2027. This represents upwards of $126.8 billion by 2027. According to market research firm Infoholic, “The increasing investments from the automakers, the rising consumer demands, and technology advancements in the automotive industry have led to the increased demand for driverless vehicles.”

Their research paper went on to say that “in the current market scenario, self-driving is not just limited to cars but is also gaining popularity among public transport and trucks. Thus, most of the enterprise sectors including retail, manufacturing, transportation, and logistics will prefer autonomous vehicles for delivery purposes in the future.”

The report goes on to segment the market and analyze it by specific product, vehicle and operating type. It also parses the data out by operational region. Software, hardware and services are expected to dominate the autonomous and semi-autonomous markets for the foreseeable future.

According to the Infoholic report, “The software segment is mainly driven by the fully autonomous vehicles when compared to semi-autonomous vehicles. Hardware providers have new business opportunities due to different types of components that will be used in autonomous vehicles. Additionally, hardware market share is expected to drop in the coming years as the adoption rate of autonomous vehicles increases.”

If you look at the North American region as the leading theater for autonomous vehicle adoption, then look no further. According to Infoholic, North America is “an attractive destination for key stakeholders due to the availability of high-end infrastructure, rising investments from automakers, and government initiatives.”

The Asia Pacific region will also be vital to determining how this industry develops. China, India and Japan are all looking to lead the market in these technologies. Indeed, China has already stated the lofty goal of phasing out gasoline and diesel vehicles sometime in the near future.

India’s government has also expressed interest in supporting electric and autonomous vehicles. Partnerships and merger and acquisition strategies will play a big role in how much these technologies are adopted, not just in North America and China, but globally.

The Final Word

There are a lot of stakeholders that have plenty to consider when it comes to the autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicle discussion. From truck drivers who fear being left in the dust as robots take over to fleets who may seek to cut costs and increase efficiency by employing these technologies.

Indeed, both unions and lawmakers have a lot to consider when putting legislation to the table governing self-driving technologies. Will industry lobbyists win out? Are technology companies up to the task of ensuring these advanced self-driving technologies are safe?

There is plenty of debate to go around. Right now, only time will tell if the industry will see any traction in the use of these technologies, whether now or moving forward, and there are plenty who are happy about that.

Entry-Level Driver Training Rule For New Truck Drivers

The Department of Transportation (DOT) released the final rule on the Entry-Level Driver Training rule. The rule essentially establishes a core curriculum that new truck drivers will be required to learn. They will also be required to go through 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training. Finally, the rule outlines a minimum level of qualification for instructors, tests, vehicles and more. All this information would be used to create a truck driving trainer registry.

While some argue this is an unnecessary measure, something like this has been in the works for a long time, and industry players from all sides have waded in on the matter. Let’s dig a little deeper.

The Details

The proposed rule is set to thoroughly outline how classroom and practical training should go.

New truck drivers would be required to learn:

  • The basics on driving the truck
  • Operating the controls
  • Reading the instruments
  • Pre- and post-trip inspections
  • How to safely back into a dock
  • Hours-of-service regulations

The training will also require a minimum of 10 hours driving on a range and either 10 hours on public roads or 10 trips at 50 minutes a piece, again, on public roads.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has estimated that the 10-year cost of the rule will ring in at just a little over $5.5 billion. This cost considers carrier, driver, trainer and state agency costs.

The Costs

Digging deeper into the estimated costs, it looks as though the bulk of the program costs will be carried by the truck drivers themselves. By 2020 these costs are estimated to ring in at around $27 million dollars. By 2029? Almost $30 million.

Still, the FMCSA defends these numbers by saying that the rules perceived benefits will outweigh the high price tag, though they do admit some of those benefits are indirect. As an example, they cite that better training will lead to safer, more efficient driving techniques. This will result in a reduction in fuel consumption and lower environmental costs.

They point to trained truck drivers saving the industry $75 million in fuel costs by 2020 and almost $180 million by 2029. Lower maintenance and repair costs could bring in almost $45 million by 2020 and more than double that by 2029. Indirect benefits could include less severe crashes.

Voices at the Table

Fortunately, the FMCSA underwent a thorough negotiation session with the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA). They also consulted major training school and trucking safety advocacy groups. Finally, they took public comment before submitting their text to the Office on Management and Budget.

The fact is, the DOT has been working on something like this for over 30 years. They began the process in 1985, as a part of the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

The question now is how the final rule will impact trucking’s bottom line. From the truck driver to the motor carrier and state level, what kind of impact will this have on trucking operations? With the final rule set to land any day now, you can bet we’ll be back here telling you all about it here at the QuickTSI blog.

Food Safety Rules Are Set to Change

New federal regulations will have a direct impact on how clean a refrigerated transport truck and trailer should be. While the final details are still up in the air, it’s looking like shippers will be responsible for deciding, whether or not they are ready to do so.

The Food and Drug Administration has been preparing a set of rules to comply with the 2014’s Food Safety Modernization Act. Different aspects of the rule will be phased in over the next 11 months.

The law was passed by congress after a series of incidents where contaminated food was sold in stores. One consumer became seriously ill and died, which prompted this new wave of regulation. Although the cause was traced back to the food processing plants, Congress threw transportation into the mix as well.

What Is The Rule?

Under the new rule, shippers will be responsible for writing the sanitary requirements necessary for vehicles carrying perishable products. Temperature settings must be worked out and maintained on the shipper’s side of things.

While temperature requirements are nothing new, cleanliness is. The FDA has decided that shippers should be communicating with truck operators on what they want and how to accomplish it.

The bulk of products included under this new rule includes meat, poultry, fresh produce and frozen foods. Bulk grains, juices and milk transported in tankers also made the list. If a product can be affected, contaminated, or adulterated through temperature variation, air or sunlight exposure, it’s on the list.

How Will it Affect Trucking

The law explains “transportation equipment” as trailers and railcars, pallets, bins, hoses and fittings. Any pumps or gaskets that are integral to the food handling system are also included.

While the upkeep of these systems is often governed by state regulations, the federal rules will require additional layer of recordkeeping for both shipper and motor carrier.

Truckers responsible for the cleaning are also required to record and document standard operating procedures. Truck driver training will be mandatory and what happened during the sessions must be logged.

From Trucking’s Perspective

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) has already come out asking that the regulatory comment period that closed earlier this year be reopened. Their main concern lies in the increased training and record keeping requirements.

One such example is the provision that stipulates mandatory pre-cooling of a trailer before loading. The ATA questions how that rule will be enforced and who will enforce it. According to Warren Hoeman, senior vice president of the ATA, there will be “additional costs with no quantifiable benefits.”

He goes on to state that “the FDA does not require temperature thresholds for products. They require the carrier to follow those thresholds put forth by the shipper… the FDA does not provide guidelines or require cleaning your trailer a certain way.”

The main thrust of this rulemaking lies in the shipper’s guidelines explaining how and when to clean the equipment. A visual inspection should follow, then documentation.

What This Means for the Future

Even now, the Food Safety Modernization Act is evolving. It will be important for private fleets to tap into their quality assurance talent in the quest to find out how these new FSMA compliance requirements will affect them and their customers.

For-hire carriers should touch bases with their food facility customers in order to properly understand how they intend to be in compliance with the new regulations. There will be new checks all along the line, so shippers, carriers and receivers will all need to communicate how they intend to handle what’s coming.

This may come in the form of fleet managers approaching shippers to offer guidance if they seem slow to adopt procedures that comply with regulations. After all, new safety and compliance rules seem to hit by the week. Fleets want to make sure they aren’t on the receiving end of a country’s ire because one of their customers failed a food safety requirement that led to contamination.

Trucking Braces for New Environmental Protection Agency Regulations

As the administration continues to focus on efforts to combat climate change, President Obama has added emission rules for big-rigs to the agenda.

Some time ago, the president gave the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the go-ahead to develop new rules designed to improve fuel efficiency and lower carbon emissions for heavy-duty trucks. Now the industry is looking to see whether smaller fleets can meet the standard without going out of business.

The New York Times has come out saying they already know what the proposed rule will be, although it has not yet been published to the agency’s register. According to their report an official notice could come any day now. Although the exact number may not yet be known, let’s take a look at the signals we’ve been getting from the agency to date.

New Governmental Regulations

Although many at first assumed these regulations governed only the truck and the engine, the EPA has also added emission regulations for trailers, fairings and rolling resistance. According to one administration official, the unveiling will be a “big rule” that contains so many different components, it easily could be broken down into separate regulations by themselves.

While there is much anticipation of this new rule, it won’t actually go into effect for another four years. In 2011, the EPA outlined rules for vehicle model years 2014 – 2018. This new rule will govern vehicle model years “post-2018,” likely through 2027.

The government has reported that these changes will reduce petroleum consumption by more than 530 million barrels of oil and reduce carbon emissions by 270 million metric tons.

Current long-haul truck fuel economy averages are in the neighborhood of 5.5 to 6 miles per gallon (mpg). The 2011 rule pegged the standard to a 20 percent savings. The final number for later years is set to have heavy-duty commercial trucks increase their fuel economy by as much as 40 percent through 2027, when compared to 2010 levels.

These new heavy-duty truck rules are in addition to a bevy of hotly contested emissions rules the government is instituting for power plants, dubbed the Clean Power Plan. The president is using emissions reductions as a key final part to his second-term legacy-building efforts.

From Trucking’s Perspective

Fleets have been moving to greater efficiency for some time now. One truck from the 1970s belched out more carbon emissions than 67 of today’s trucks running at full throttle. While more can always be done, trucking wants to make sure jobs and commerce aren’t threatened by regulation.

As Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA) Representative Scott Grenerth pointed out, there are two main concerns that industry has regarding the rule. “The cost of the truck, and reliability of the truck – that’s the bottom line,” he stated.

After traveling to Washington, D.C. last month to meet with the White House budget office, Grenerth came away saying reliability and downtime for truck repairs were the focus. They also discussed a cost-benefit rule and how to mesh emissions goals with fuel economy standards.

Glen Kedzie, environmental counsel for the American Truck Associations (ATA), while saying he has no idea what the eventual rule will be, conceded that the EPA has done an extreme amount of outreach to win over industry insiders. In his own words it has been “a lot more than I have ever seen on a rule.”

Even so, Kedzie is not without reservation. These regulations are broad in their scope and carry major implications for the trucking industry.

“A truck is a mobile office,” he went on to say. “It’s a cog to keep this economy moving along. The EPA is dealing with this economic aspect here. They have to be careful not to make the standards cost prohibitive.”

Observers are suggesting that the EPA will take a bit longer than The New York Times posited to issue the new truck standards. As the trucking industry holds its breath, only time will tell what the final rule will be. When it hits, you can be sure we’ll report on it.

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