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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.

What You Need To Know About FMCSA Compliance Review Trends

When it comes to pre-trip inspections, it is now far easier for a safety auditor to see when a driver is not properly doing their job. Why? Consider that the FMCSA has now changed the process for completing a compliance review.

The revamped compliance review – which has been in place for some time – expands the interviews the FMCSA completes with specific members of the organization. Still, this doesn’t mean there has been a major overhaul in how the FMCSA completes a compliance review.

For some time now, the FMCSA has been moving away from full reviews and closer to focused reviews. Still, new trends are emerging as the FMCSA slightly shifts its focus.

CSA Scores or Complaints?

If you look at historical trends, the FMCSA has generally put complaints below CSA scores on their list of review priorities. Up until now, a BASIC alert was the primary factor for whether the FMCSA decided to complete a compliance review. Now, that is changing.

The main reason for the shift is in two areas. One is the truck driver coercion rule and another is how easy it has become for a complaint to be filed, which has dramatically increased the volume of complaints flooding into the office.

Many complaints are now treated as though some form of coercion has taken place, even if little to no evidence of coercion is found. This is leading to carriers who have no BASIC score alerts undergoing a focused review.

Hours of Service

Despite a move away from paper logs and toward electronic logging, hours of service violations still abound. This is especially the case where false logs are concerned.

Therefore, it is so important for fleets to ensure that the time being reported is cross referenced with the truck driver’s log. And this must go beyond a simple accounting for the date.

Whether the fleet looks at fuel reports, tolls or reimbursements receipts, there are several ways to cross-reference what is being reported.

Medical Card Changes

With the “grace” period ending, it is more important than ever that a motor carrier verify a physician’s license utilizing a national registry or running a CDLIS report.

Should you run a report from an arbitrary fleet system or utilize the CDLIS report? To avoid a potential focused review, it is very important to utilize a CDLIS report.

Consider that on your own internal report, you may not have all the necessary information at hand. The fact is, you don’t want to risk it, so why not run the report that you know will ensure you have all the boxes checked?

Managing Your DVIR Process

It is now easier than ever for an inspector to make a case against a truck driver who doesn’t have a proper vehicle inspection report on hand. The new rule now requires that a DVIR must be filled out when a defect has occurred, which makes it easier for an inspector to make a case for a focused audit.

This essentially means inspectors can use a roadside inspection with a maintenance issue listed and corroborate that issue with a DVIR that correspond with the date listed. It’s also important to pay close attention to breakdown reports, repair orders and maintenance records. If these show obvious problems that the truck driver should have been aware of – but weren’t listed – you could find yourself on the receiving end of a review.

Finally, it’s important to ensure your operators are not operating with a suspended or invalid CDL. While this may seem like a very basic requirement, it is resulting in even more violations than ever. Ensure an internal process is set up to monitor each of your truck drivers’ CDL statuses.

The Secret Tips to Running a Trucking Business

Running a business of your own is basically part of the American dream. There’s nothing more exciting than the thought of being your own boss and being able to make a lot of money. You’d like to run your own business, but you aren’t sure what kind you’d like own. You don’t want to sell things to other people, and you don’t want to go into the food or service industry. You’ve considered turn-key operations where the money makes itself, but you think you’d want something that’s more hands on.

If you want to try something different, running a trucking business could be the new venture you’re looking for.

A profitable industry

It’s been known that the ability to drive a fleet vehicle is a coveted job skill. Being able to drive a big rig can make you money, but owning a company that sends out the rigs is even more profitable.

If you’re looking for something that’s profitable, the trucking industry could be what you need.

It’s estimated that the industry itself generates around $650 billion in revenue every year, and that number is only expected to grow.

There are over 11 million registered large trucks in the country, so you won’t have an issue finding the equipment you need to get started.

There’s money to be made in the industry, but only if you’re a good fit for the job.

What to consider before running a trucking business

Trucking is a growing and popular industry, but that doesn’t mean that just anyone can succeed in it.

Almost any budding entrepreneur thinks that they would be perfect for it, but a lot goes into being able to manage a fleet.

Aside from having a good business sense you need to have management skills, the ability to problem solve, and the ability to analyze data.

You’re going to be wearing a lot of hats when you’re running your business, and you need to be prepared to handle the workload.

If you want your business to be successful, there are a few things you need to do.

Estimate your costs accurately 

Starting a trucking business isn’t as simple as buying a few fleet vehicles and getting some drivers.

Running a trucking business costs a lot of money that goes beyond the price of the trucks and the employee’s salaries.

Maintenance can cost a significant amount of money.  Trucks need to be examined frequently to make sure that they’re running well.

Some companies take maintenance so seriously that they’ll have a mechanic look at each truck when it comes back from a delivery.

There’s also the cost of employee benefits and insurance. Both vehicles and employees need to be insured for a variety of things.

On top of this, there’s rental costs for your lot and business, and other costs are bound to pop up along the way.

Talk to a financial adviser so you can determine what you’ll need money wise to start your business.

This is important because you’ll need to…

Get a good loan 

 

When you’re discussing your budget with your financial adviser, make sure to talk about the loan amount they think is best for you.

Since you’re getting a loan, it’s also important to make sure that you look like a great potential investment to your lender.

Take some time to bring up your credit score before you apply.  Also, consider asking someone with stellar credit to co-sign your loan if you’re worried about your score.

Consider subcontracting truck drivers 

Now that you’ve spent some time considering finances, you may be wondering how you can afford to pay your employees.

If you want to save money on operating costs and still have good drivers, you may want to consider using subcontracted truck drivers.

These truck drivers are hired per contract for specific jobs, they’ll only work when you need them to.

This can be the ideal set up for people that are interested in running a trucking business but want to start their company with less capital.

Data and software are your best friends

When people think about running a trucking business they usually don’t think about software.  But the right kind of software and data collection methods can ensure that you’re running your business in the best way possible.

The right kind of software can make managing finances a breeze.  You’ll have one place where you can keep all of your paid and outstanding invoices, employee payment information, account balances, and more.

Collecting data from trips is equally important.

Find out how often drivers are stopping to fill up, and how much fuel costs them in each state.  See which routes are the most efficient and which ones seem to take more time.

Having all of this data on hand could help you find more efficient routes for your drivers or could help save you money on fuel.

Perform maintenance frequently 

Remember how we mentioned that some companies will perform routine maintenance on every truck after it gets back from a delivery?

That may seem like too much, but it helps ensure that all fleet vehicles are in top running shape.

When you’re running a trucking business, it’s important to keep in mind how much wear and tear can occur on a running big rig.

Some of these truck drivers are running their vehicles non-stop for hours at a time while they travel across the country. Even trucking businesses that stay local can put some serious miles on their rigs.

If certain issues go unnoticed for too long, your rigs can get seriously damaged.

A loose belt or low oil may go unnoticed in a regular car for a few weeks or even months depending on how much it’s driven. All it takes is one long trip for damage to become apparent in a big rig.

Aside from having professionals routinely handle truck upkeep, it can be helpful to train your truck drivers in simple maintenance. Their dashboard can only tell them so much about the state of their vehicle.

Always put safety first 

Overall, it’s important to make sure that your trucking company and your drivers are compliant with all safety standards set by the American Trucking Association and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association.

There are rules about hauling certain kinds of materials, equipment usage, and nearly every aspect of trucking you can think of.

The trucking industry on average produces 5,360 fatalities and 142,000 injuries each year. When you’re running a trucking business safety should be your number one priority above all else.

Highway and driver safety clearly is a priority. Your truck drivers need to observe safe driving practices when they’re on the road. Drivers that constantly take shortcuts, speed, or drive aggressively shouldn’t be a part of your company.

Driver safety is only a small part of the issue. There are other hazards associated with trucking people can forget about.

Unsafe loading and unloading practices have the potential to harm employees or damage products. Drivers should also be thoroughly trained on hauling hazardous materials if you choose to go into that industry niche.

Find good clients 

The key to running a trucking business is to have a lot of clients you can rely on.

Some owners lull themselves into a state of false security once they land their first big contract. But it’s important to remember that the 6 or 7 figure contract you have today may not be there tomorrow.

Even if you have an excellent client you think will be with you for decades, you still need a solid business development plan to ensure that you’re bringing in new work.

If you can’t devote yourself to finding new clients you need to hire someone that can handle sales. Look for someone that specializes in the trucking industry and may already have some connections.

Bring on good talent 

Running a trucking business will be hard if your drivers have a reputation for being late or rude to clients.

Your truckers are going to represent your business on each trip, and you want to make sure you hire people that are up for the task.

There’s nothing wrong with hiring people that are new to the industry, but you may want a seasoned vet or two on your team in the beginning.

They’ll know the ins and outs of the industry, and they could even serve as a mentor for newer drivers.

Don’t risk bringing on someone with a bad driving history. They may have their CDL, but you should look into their personal background.

If they have speeding tickets, road rage incidents, or any charges involving drugs or alcohol, they probably won’t be good for your business.

Wrapping up

As you can see, running a trucking business requires a lot of work. You’ll need a good mix of reliable employees, the right equipment, and a mind for business if you want to succeed.

Do any seasoned trucking business owners have advice for people new to the industry? Tell us about it in our comments section!

If you have questions about trucking services, contact us so we can answer them.

 

An Update On Trucking And Military Truck Drivers

There’s been a lot of movement lately where military truck drivers are concerned. It appears the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is setting out to clarify and seek comment on several new proposals related to military truck drivers transitioning into the civilian trucking industry.

First up, the FMCSA is looking to launch an interstate pilot program designed for military-trained truck drivers who happen to be under 21 years of age. Proposed in mid-August, the FAST Act-stipulated program would clear the way for truckers under 21 to operate their vehicles across state lines provided they have prior experience operating large vehicles in the military.

Under-21 Pilot Program for Military Truck Drivers

The current rule only allows for under-21 CDL holders to drive intrastate. Now open for public comment, the agency wants to know what you think about this proposed change. Of course, there are other details to consider.

As part of the proposal, the FMCSA mandates that any under-21 truck drivers in the pilot program must be sponsored by a motor carrier. The same motor carrier must also have an over-21 truck driver with similar training and experience operating as part of a control group.

At the end of the three-year pilot, the FMCSA will then look at the safety records of both groups. If it appears that there are safety issues in the under-21 group, it might be determined that age does represent a critical safety factor.

Motor carriers participating in the pilot program must have an electronic logging device installed in all the vehicles used by either the pilot or the control group. The FMCSA is also considering requiring carriers to install onboard monitoring systems, but hasn’t finalized that yet.

CDL Waiver for Military Truck Drivers

The second dive into military truck drivers and transitioning into the civilian workforce surrounds the CDL test. Currently, states can waive the general knowledge test needed to obtain a CDL if the person taking the test has either current or former military experience.

On October 27, the FMCSA issued a two-year exemption to that rule. The exemption essentially allows military truck drivers to list their time operating a military vehicle as training credit. The FMCSA acknowledged the many hours of classroom and practical skills training military truck drivers undergo every day.

The new exemption still leaves the power in states’ hands, however. State driver licensing agencies will be able to choose whether to waive the knowledge test. States will also be given assistance in setting up programs to verify the eligibility of applicant participants.

There are also requirements surrounding who can apply for the extension:

  • Current or former military members
  • National Guard
  • Reservists
  • Have been regularly employed within a year of the application
  • Have received formal military training related to the duty being applied for

This rule is yet another rule designed to help military personnel ease into civilian life and get jobs within the trucking industry.

The FMCSA has also given military personnel who drove large commercial vehicles a full year to apply for a skills test waiver. This is an increase over the prior rules 90 days.

The new rule also allows states to accept applications from active-duty military members provided they are stationed in that state. States will also be allowed to administer a learner’s or CDL written and skills test, and then electronically transfer the results to either the applicant or the licensing board, if the state so wishes.

Overall, these changes represent positive moves from the FMCSA, designed to make it easier for the hard-working men and women of our nation’s armed forces to get secure, rewarding jobs with motor carriers and build their trucking careers. That certainly can never be a bad thing.

What Are Trucking Industry Employers Looking For?

You’ve heard plenty about the truck driver shortage. And yes, it is still ongoing. This means that there are jobs out there for anyone looking for a fun, sable and potentially lucrative career in trucking. But do you know what to look for?

As a professional truck driver, you would be the face of your company. This means that trucking companies are going to look for someone who fits with their company’s image when they are hiring. They also look for candidates who are qualified based on specific federal regulations and trucking company policies.

What Are the Regulations?

Specifically, Parts 383 and 391 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) specifically address truck driver qualification and disqualification.  According to section 391.11 of the FMCSRs, you must pass a physical exam, be in possession of a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) and be able to pass a road test.

The fleet that hires you will be required to maintain a driver qualification file on you. The regulations surrounding how the file is to be maintained, from drivers’ logs to drug and alcohol testing, can be found in section 391.51 of the FMCSRs.

Once you become a CDL holder, certain offenses can disqualify you from operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), whether they are committed in the CMV itself or in a passenger vehicle. They could include anything from reckless driving to drug and alcohol offenses.

What Are the Job Qualifications?

When a fleet recruiter is looking for a truck driver, they aren’t looking for just anyone. There is a certain amount of responsibility that comes with operating a Class 8 big rig.

When a recruiter is looking for someone, they generally look for the following:

  • A general knowledge of the types of vehicles used in the trucking industry;
  • A basic understanding of different vehicle systems and components;
  • A cursory understanding of the paperwork and regulatory requirements required in trucking;
  • The ability to safely operate a CMV;
  • A basic understanding of how to handle cargo, and;
  • A basic understanding of the techniques and skills associated with operating a CMV.

Though not as critical, but just as important, an employer is looking for someone who has a positive attitude and shows an active interest in the job. They want someone who is mature, enthusiastic and not quick to shoot from the hip. After all, safety is about more than just CSA scores.

What is the Company Policy?

All motor carriers operate under federal and state regulation, but they also have their own specific company policies that operators must follow. Some of these policies may vary from carrier to carrier, but always remember that you must operate your vehicle both safely and legally.

It is illegal for an employer to compel you to operate in such a way that would violate federal, state or local laws or regulations.

When considering what to look for in a trucking company policy, keep the following things in mind:

  • Work hours;
  • Pay;
  • Benefits;
  • Safety rules;
  • Inspection and maintenance requirements;
  • Road trip rules, and;
  • Customer relations.

Can I Advance?

There are always opportunities for advancement in the trucking industry. Experience plays a big part in the hiring process, but as you put in both time and a safe driving record, opportunities make themselves apparent.

Completing a full truck driver education program is the first step in reaching your truck driving career goals. Many an experienced truck driver will tell you their first job was in the yard and not in the cab. Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom as you work your way to the top.

Always be the first to put your best foot forward, show enthusiasm and strive to do a good job, and a career in trucking may be just what you’re looking for.

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