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
- Flammable or hazardous materials
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.
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.
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
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.