Posts

commercial truck driving
Are you considering making the career switch to commercial truck driving? A CDL job is not just about the work for drivers who take pride in their profession. Driving is a lifestyle. It’s a commitment. It’s about feeling you belong and you’re valued. You decide if commercial truck driving is right for you. We’ll help you find the job that fits your skills, lifestyle, and personal preferences.

1. What Is It?

Commercial truck driving is any job where you are driving a commercial truck. While most people think of the 53’ semi-trucks that you see on the highway, commercial driving also includes school buses, garbage trucks, straight trucks, and more. Typically, commercial driving means hauling goods or people (in the case of passenger vehicles) from Point A to Point B. There are tons of different commercial driving jobs, and your day-to-day depends on your specialty and run type. 

2. Types of Jobs

Type of Run

The first distinction in trucking jobs is the type of run. Your type of run determines how far you typically drive from home and how many nights you spend on the road. Local drivers are usually home daily and stay in a relatively close geographic range. These drivers tend to spend more time on surface streets and do regular deliveries to customers. Over the Road or OTR drivers are the other end of the scale. These drivers are often on the road for several weeks at a time and may run loads from coast to coast and anywhere in between.

Regional drivers fall in between local and OTR drivers. They are usually home several times a week but also spend some nights on the road. Their geographic range might include several states in close proximity to their company’s home terminal. Last but not least, are dedicated trucking jobs. Dedicated drivers have a set route and deliver to the same customers on a consistent schedule. 

Type of Haul

cattle haulerThe second classification of commercial drivers is in type of haul. Depending on the type of goods you haul, you need a different type of truck. Many rookie drivers start with dry van or refrigerated (reefer) trucks because they are a good way to get experience without too many extra details to worry about. These are the 53’ box-shaped semi-trucks that are so common. Dry vans haul non-perishable goods, and reefer trucks carry loads that are temperature sensitive.

Tanker trucks haul liquid or dry bulk goods such as milk, sugar, or sand. Drivers need a Tanker endorsement to drive this type of truck, and there is an additional endorsement if you want to haul hazardous materials like chemicals or gasoline. Flatbed trucks haul a wide range of loads on trailers that are completely flat. Flatbed drivers often have to secure their loads with tarps and require some physical labor. There are also several types of specialty freight such as auto hauling, intermodal trucking, and livestock transport, but many of these jobs require a few years of experience. 

Type of Driver

two men in a truckThe final big decision to make is what kind of driver you want to be. As you can probably guess from the name, company drivers work exclusively for one company. Company drivers can work solo or in a team of two people. Starting as a company driver can be a good way to learn the ropes of a job without also having to run a business. It is also a good way to build your reputation as a good driver. 

Some drivers work as company drivers for their entire careers. Others choose to work for themselves. If you want to make your own decisions about when you are home, where you run, and what you haul, become an owner operator. These drivers run under their own authority, and they own their own equipment and negotiate for loads. Owner operators must be confident running a business as well as meeting all regulatory requirements.

Lease purchase drivers work with a company and put money down to start paying for their own truck. Lease purchase drivers work for one company, and at the end of the lease, these drivers will own their trucks. Programs that offer lease purchase are a good way for some drivers to work toward becoming an owner operator. 

3. Job Outlook

The job outlook for commercial truck driving is quite strong. There is a high demand for quality drivers, and there is a shortage of drivers available. Many companies are willing to hire new drivers, and drivers with a few years of experience and a clean record will be able to choose from top jobs that are a good fit for their skills and lifestyle.

One of the most important questions when you change jobs is the pay. Commercial driving can be quite well-paid. It all depends on your type of job. Typically OTR positions pull a higher wage than regional or local jobs, and NTI, the National Transportation Institute, anticipates that wages for all three will rise over the next 36 months. 

NTI anticipates that wages will rise for OTR, regional, and local jobs over the next 36 months.

Drivers can be paid in a variety of ways, so it’s important to look at total compensation when you compare job offers. To start, there are many types of truck driver pay. Some companies pay drivers by the mile, others by the hour, some by the load, and still others will pay with a salary. In addition to your base pay, company drivers frequently earn bonuses and have benefits included. These can add a significant amount of money to your bank account! Even beyond pay, consider things like home time as part of your compensation. If two companies pay the same wages but one gets you home more often, that might be a better fit for you, even though the money is the same. The bottom line is, look for a company that meets your needs and fits your lifestyle preferences.

4. How to Get Started

Once you decide that commercial truck driving is the career for you, the first step is to get your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). To be a professional truck driver, you need to be at least 18 years old. To drive interstate or hazmat routes, you must be at least 21. You will need a CDL A or CDL B. A CDL A license is the most universal because it also allows you to drive most CDL B and CDL C jobs. That said, it takes less time and money to earn a CDL B. Learn more about each license type and decide what is best for you. You will also need to consider whether to get any CDL endorsements for specialized loads such as hazmat or tanker. Once you have figured out what type of program you need, find a certified driving school where you can get started.

After you have your CDL, you are nearly ready to hit the road with your first job! As part of your CDL training, you will have completed your DOT physical fitness test.  Before you can officially hit the road, you will need to register with the FMCSA Clearinghouse. This database tracks positive drug and alcohol tests to identify unqualified drivers. As of January 2020, all drivers must be registered with the Clearinghouse for future employment. After that, the only thing left is to find your first job!

While the job search can be overwhelming, we’re here to help. Drive My Way partners with companies that are ready to hire new drivers and experienced pros alike! We’ll help you find a job that matches your skills and lifestyle preferences.

truck driver at loading dock

Find a CDL Truck Driving Job

Drive My Way matches you with a CDL job based on your personal preferences and qualifications.

Create a Free Profile

“With freight demand climbing and rates on the move, trucker pay should rise in the coming months”, says Gordon Klemp, a driver pay analyst and president of the National Transportation Institute. Klemp shared his prediction in a conference call with investors in early November.  Stifel, an investment firm, hosted the call and distributed a recap of Klemp’s remarks.

If carriers secure rate increases in contracts with shippers, they pass some gains on to drivers, Klemp told investors.

He didn’t forecast any percentage-based increases in driver pay. Instead, he noted that driver pay increases with freight rates. Not all of the gains in per-mile rates will translate to drivers’ paychecks, but “driver pay is moving up alongside the freight increases,” notes the conference call recap distributed by Stifel.

Though carriers consistently increased driver pay in recent years, driver wages climbed only 6.3 percent on average over the last decade. “For-hire drivers lost effective purchasing power over the past 10 years and adjusted lifestyles accordingly,” says Stifel’s report.  Looking even farther back, driver wages are in effect just half of what they were in 1979, before deregulation, said Klemp.

Klemp also noted that carriers face an uphill battle in recruiting younger drivers to the industry.

These drivers “disinclined to enter” trucking, “as they are often concerned with work-life balance”.  Nearly 60 percent of the current driver workforce is older than 45. That’s a good bit higher than 1994, Klemp noted, when just 45 percent of drivers were 45 years or older.  “However, with freight demand strengthening and the driver shortage becoming acute, the stage is set for drivers to realize driver pay increases over the foreseeable future,” says Stifel’s report.

find-cdl-truck-driver-jobs

Want to find a job you love?

Drive My Way matches drivers with jobs based on their qualifications and lifestyle preferences.

Find Better Today

Amarillo College Trucking School One college student from Wyoming isn’t letting his deafness hinder his dream of having a CDL trucking job. Robert Stein of the Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News highlighted James Hanson’s inspirational story, telling how Hanson has been deaf since age 3.

That didn’t stop Hanson, now 26, from entering a career that many people might think is off-limits to those who are deaf, writes Stein. Hanson recently became the fourth completely deaf student to graduate from the Amarillo College Truck Driving Academy since 2014, which college officials  said is gaining a reputation for its ability to meet the unique needs of others like him.

“I’ve always had an interest in driving,” Hanson conveyed through his interpreter, Autumn McClanahan.

“My dad, in the past, he was a truck driver, so he supported that.”

“It makes me so happy to be graduating,” Hanson added as he celebrated along with classmates at a cookout at Amarillo College’s East Campus.

The Wyoming native’s path to Amarillo College began with Wyoming’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, the story states. Because of his hearing impairment, Hanson needed a waiver from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to skip the hearing examination required for a CDL driver job.

James Hanson 2

Finding a school that could accommodate Hanson wasn’t easy.

There wasn’t a school in Wyoming that could accommodate him. That’s how Hanson ended up in Amarillo, Texas. Case worker Carey Gill told the Amarillo Globe-News she spent months searching before learning of Amarillo College’s trucking program for the deaf.

“This is too good to be true,” Gill recalled thinking at the time. But six weeks and 240 hours of training later, Hanson graduated with a certificate and a license to drive a big rig.

“It was a very smooth process and very life changing for him,” Gill said.

Upon arriving at Amarillo College, Hanson matched with an American Sign Language interpreter from the college’s division of Disability Services. Overall, she stuck with him through the whole process. She shared the truck cab while he practiced with his learners permit or took his drivers test.

Now, the Amarillo College truck driving program receives more inquiries from deaf students nationwide, said Amarillo College Truck Driving Academy Director Jerry Terry. And, Hanson works towards a promising truck driving career.

Read the rest of the Amarillo Globe-News story here. All photos by the Amarillo Globe-News.

Like this story? Like Drive My Way on Facebook here and receive more of our content in your newsfeed!

find-cdl-truck-driver-jobs

Want to find a job you love?

Drive My Way matches drivers with jobs based on their qualifications and lifestyle preferences.

Find Better Today

CDL trucking jobsOne veteran driver in Dalton, GA, is setting new drivers up to get CDL trucking jobs and keep them: through CDL trucking school.

John Smith, founder and instructor at Big Rig Driving Academy, a new CDL truck driving school, has worked in the trucking industry for 20 years.

In a story in Transport Topics magazine, he says he feels well prepared to start a CDL training school

However, Smith’s Big Rig Driving Academy is taking a different approach to training drivers for CDL trucking jobs.

Training geared toward driver retention

In its story, Transport Topics writes:

Overall, Smith now knows all about big trucks — about driving them, inspecting them and filling them with drivers. Two decades in various roles in fleet safety and recruiting, he feels, has prepared him well to start a CDL trucking school and equip new commercial drivers with the information they need to not only get jobs, but also keep them.

Smith’s school is unlike many other driver training programs

Prior to acceptance into the program, students sit down with Smith and talk not only about the program, but their interest in a career in trucking. Smith said throughout his career at corporate trucking companies he has seen many new drivers go through training and go out on the road, only to throw in the towel and quit before hitting the six-month mark.

“There’s a better way to get people ready,” Smith said, “and the industry needs that.”

Currently, the trucking industry faces a major shortage of around 35,000 to 40,000 drivers, and the gap is projected to widen over the next six years, according to American Trucking Associations. The industry has struggled to bring new, young workers into driving, even as veteran drivers leave.

Today, the average age of American truck drivers is 49

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said greater competition for workers. CDL school costs are two factors leading to the shortage.

Plus, driver turnover at large fleets remains very high, with many large companies replacing up to 95% of their drivers every year.

Smith sees all these issues and believes commercial driving schools can do more on the front end to better vet recruits and better prepare the ones who choose a career in driving. His vision for Big Rig Driving Academy means establishing a reputation as a leader in driver education.

“If the Ivy League had CDL trucking schools, we would probably be in it,” he said. “We’re the elite, I think, CDL school around here.”

The first round of classes at the school starts this month. For more on Smith’s vision, read the rest of the Transport Topics story here.

Like this story? Get more news from Drive My Way in your newsfeed by liking us on Facebook here.

find-cdl-truck-driver-jobs

Want to find a job you love?

Drive My Way matches drivers with jobs based on their qualifications and lifestyle preferences.

Find Better Today

In today’s world, it’s important for employers to make the right hire. But which qualities should trucking companies hiring look for in a candidate?

Career website HR Bartender says the best employees share certain qualities that set them apart from the pack. The next time you interview a candidate for one of your CDL trucking jobs, see if they exhibit any of these exceptional traits, demonstrating a high-performing trucker.

1.They have their own system.

Whether it’s a morning routine, a mindfulness ritual or a journal, high-performing employees have their own way of staying grounded and organized. It helps them stay focused on what’s important so they can perform.

2. They listen to others–for feedback, suggestions and proven strategies.

High-performing employees take in information. It could be feedback on their performance or a tip from a speaker during a conference.

3. They hold themselves accountable.

Always focused on quality, high-performing employees keep their word. If, for whatever reason, they cannot deliver, they renegotiate the deliverable. People who work with high performers know exactly what to expect.

4. They are focused on the positive.

This isn’t to say that everything around them is always positive. But when given a choice between celebration or cynicism, they find a way to look on the bright side. This outlook helps high-performing employees stay engaged with their work.

5. They will accept a challenge and often don’t need to be told to do things.

High-performing employees are willing to take on tough tasks. They are ready to solve problems. Many times, they are the employees bringing you the problem and the solution.

6. They set short-term goals and stretch goals.

High-performing employees set goals for themselves in addition to the goals the company sets for them. They look for opportunities to exceed expectations.

7. They learn from their mistakes.

Speaking of accomplishments, high-performing employees don’t always achieve their goals. But they do use those moments to reflect and learn from the situation. They don’t view it as failure. It’s an opportunity (see Habit #4).

8. They know how to manage their time.

This ties into Habit #1. High-performing employees are able to perform at a high level because they understand their personal working style and know how to get things done. This includes saying “no” at times so they don’t disappoint.

9. They’re committed to their own personal development.

High performers are not complacent when it comes to new skills. They learn something every single day. They understand that learning takes place in small iterations.

10. They’re highly engaged and willing to commit to the organization.

Several of these habits point to an individual who is happily engaged with their work and the company around them. They perform at a high level because the organization is invested in their success.

Want more news stories from Drive My Way? Like our Facebook page here to get our stories in your newsfeed.

find-cdl-truck-driver-jobs

Want to find a job you love?

Drive My Way matches drivers with jobs based on their qualifications and lifestyle preferences.

Find Better Today

investopedia.comFew of us enter the workforce expecting to work forever – but it turns out some professions are more conducive to the long term than others. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College released a study on the topic this spring. Overall, the study found that some skills last until retirement age, and some don’t.

Investopedia.com wrote about the center’s findings, saying skills for some careers fade as we age.

The Center for Retirement Research studied white collar and blue collar jobs alike, and the human skill set diminished in both sectors. However, when it comes to careers with the best longevity, writing and math fared well, truck driving did not.

The researchers developed a “Susceptibility Index.” This “measures how likely the physical and cognitive abilities required by an occupation are to decline during the working years. On the high end of the list included airline pilots, jewelers, maids, and housekeepers. In addition, truck drivers, oral surgeons, kindergarten teachers, photographers, and licensed practical nurses made the list.

Some of these careers cut short due to physical limitations.

Those may include the loss of fine motor skills rather than an overall decease in mobility; jewelers and oral surgeons need steady hands and precise movements. Still others – such as truck drivers and airline pilots – may need a combination of long attention spans and the ability to sit still for many hours at a stretch.

Alternately, the study found, “crystallized” cognitive skills such as vocabulary tend to last well into a person’s 60s and 70s, meaning that oral and written comprehension and math skills can last throughout a career.

Find the best CDL trucking job for you. Register today. It’s free!

find-cdl-truck-driver-jobs

Want to find a job you love?

Drive My Way matches drivers with jobs based on their qualifications and lifestyle preferences.

Find Better Today

The very devices that distract drivers on the job could also make CDL driver jobs safer, said a panel of tech experts recently.

In an article for Fleet Owner, Cristina Commendatore reported on the Vision Zero Fleet Safety Forum, where a panel of technology pros explored how new technologies can eliminate vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

The panel featured Jon Coleman, fleet sustainability and technology manager at Ford Motor Co.

Michael Backman, vice president and general manager of U.S. operations at Mobileye; and others who are striving to make CDL driver jobs safer by creating new cutting-edge technology.

Backman’s company develops collision avoidance systems. Overall, he noted that every year in the U.S. around 33,000 people die in preventable crashes. Also, he added that 93% of all accidents occur due to human error. Overall, driver inattention being the primary cause.

Mobileye’s technology involves a vision sensor, a valuable asset to truckers.

According to Fleet Owner, it’s situated on the windshield and looks out at the road “in real-time, artificial vision.”

The system identifies potential threats, pedestrians, and unintentional lane departures. Also, it identifies speeding and tailgating, alerting the driver of risky events or behaviors.

Panelists touched on other tech breakthroughs, too.

Ben Englander of Rosco Vision Systems discussed the Shield+ system. It alerts drivers when pedestrians are present and highlights trouble spots along driving routes. In addition, it uses 360-degree cameras to give drivers full visibility.

“A lot of the issues that relate to safety have to do with congestion and people not knowing what the traffic is going to do,” [Ford’s] Coleman said. “Do we design vehicles for the occupants, operators, or the asset owner? How the vehicle integrates with the environment becomes very important.”

find-cdl-truck-driver-jobs

Want to find a job you love?

Drive My Way matches drivers with jobs based on their qualifications and lifestyle preferences.

Find Better Today