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hauling livestock

If you are a truck driver looking for a new haul, think about carrying livestock. This is a specialty niche for people with a lot of patience who don’t mind the good, the bad, and the smelly of working with live animals. If you have experience on a farm or ranch and are considering trucking, hauling livestock could be a great fit. Hauling livestock has many similarities to other types of trucking, but there are also some big differences based on the type of freight. So, before you get started, here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Types of Livestock Drivers Haul

When many people think of hauling livestock, there’s a good chance that they think of cows or chickens. Cattle do make up the largest part of the livestock transportation industry, but livestock haulers can carry anything that is live freight. Some common loads are pigs, goats, sheep, and even bees. Some livestock haulers train to carry high-value livestock such as show horses. Drivers are working closely with the animals. So, it’s common to see drivers with experience on a ranch or who have spent plenty of time in the livestock industry.

Animal care is a huge part of transporting livestock, and drivers take their jobs very seriously. Patience and attention to detail are huge for livestock haulers. As anyone who works with animals knows, getting frustrated with them rarely makes things go faster. It will only stress the livestock. Livestock drivers also need to be patient behind the wheel and drive defensively. Harsh stops or turns can easily injure or stress livestock. Regulations for carrying livestock vary somewhat by state. So, drivers must be detail-oriented to ensure compliance for every load. 

2. A Whole New World of “Touch Freight” and Cleanup

Hauling livestock is unlike any other type of freight for a lot of reasons. One of the big ones? Well, let’s just say that sanitation is incredibly important, and cleaning out a livestock trailer is a little different than cleaning out your trailer after a dry van or reefer load. Drivers must completely sanitize trailers after every load or they could infect the livestock in their next load. 

Dustin Nesbitt hauling livestock

Dustin, livestock hauler for Nesbitt Transportation

We talked to Dustin, a cattle hauler and co-owner of Nesbitt Transportation, and asked him if he had any advice for drivers considering hauling livestock. He shared this:

“Someone who is going into hauling cattle needs to be patient. It’s not like driving freight. You need to give yourself extra time around other vehicles because it actually takes longer to stop because it’s a live load. Also need to be patient with the animals and have your head on a swivelalways protect yourself. Cattle’s attitudes can change in a split second and go from cooperating to they want to kill you so always keep your eyes on the animals when loading and unloading.” 

Agfax adds several additional tips for transporting cattle. According to their website, a thorough pre-trip inspection is even more important for livestock haulers. Delays for maintenance or repairs can cause extra stress on the animals, especially if there are heat or chill concerns. Agfax also recommends that drivers master livestock sorting. Within any type of livestock haul, drivers should transport similar animals together. For example, large cows should be transported with other large cows, not cows that are small or weak.

3. Livestock Truck Drivers Earn More

loading livestock

While livestock haulers often have to meet specific requirements beyond a typical CDL driver, they are also well compensated for their work. Livestock haulers are typically considered specialty hauler, so pay is increased. That said, these drivers earn higher pay for good reason!

Livestock haulers must maintain additional certifications that show their understanding of the risks of hauling live animals. In addition, owner operators will need to purchase specific equipment. The type of trailer that drivers need depends on the type of animals and the distance of the haul. No matter the exact specialty, that equipment is not cheap.

In addition to the cost of equipment, livestock hauling takes time and doesn’t allow for shortcuts. For example, biosecurity is ultimately the truck driver’s responsibility, and each buyer or seller may have their own protocols. Sanitation includes disinfecting the trailer but also guarding against cross-contamination from the driver. Livestock haulers must maintain sanitary practices when moving between locations or loading and unloading livestock so they don’t transmit infection. This might seem like too much hassle for some drivers, but for livestock haulers, it’s all part of a day’s work.

cattle hauler

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garbage truck driver

Garbage truck driver jobs can be a great fit for new drivers and experienced drivers alike. These jobs are typically local, so drivers get regular home time. They’re also great for drivers who like to stay on the move throughout their day. Garbage truck jobs often require some physical labor. As with many trucking jobs, it can be easy to find a garbage truck driving job, but hard to find a good one. Here’s what you need to know to find the best garbage truck driver jobs.

1. Know the Lingo

  • Residential: Residential garbage truck drivers are the ones you see in your neighborhood if you live in an urban area. These drivers are responsible for picking up cans from individual residences. 
  • Commercial: These drivers are the opposite of Residential garbage truck drivers. Commercial drivers pick up waste from businesses or apartment complexes. 

2. A Day in the Life

Garbage truck driver jobs can be quite different from other CDL jobs. Most of these positions are local, so drivers will stay within a relatively close radius. Typically, drivers are home nightly. That said, hours are not always consistent, so a garbage truck driver may find that their schedule does change at times. Another important thing to decide before you take a new job is what level of touch you prefer. Most garbage truck driver jobs call for a high level of touch, and there is usually manual labor required. If you like to be active, this job will keep you moving!

trashguyninja

Kevin, Garbage Truck Driver for EZ Pack

We talked to Kevin, a garbage truck driver for EZ Pack, and asked him if he had any suggestions for other drivers looking for a garbage truck driver job. He shared his perspective with Drive My Way.

“Well I guess everyone is always looking for a good driver with a clean CDL. So if you have those key ingredients you’re bound for success anywhere. Good perks and benefits if you find the right place, they’re out there, if you’re willing to work for it,” shared Kevin.

Commercial garbage truck drivers usually work in urban environments, so if city driving isn’t for you, think twice about this job! Similarly, many garbage truck driver jobs are for residential positions. That means that drivers need to be comfortable maneuvering in tight streets. In addition, because there are a lot of jobs in residential areas, some drivers may have a higher level of interpersonal engagement than in other local positions. 

3. How are Dump Truck Jobs Different?

If you are taking a job as a dump truck driver early in your CDL career, there are a few things to consider. This type of job can be a great way to get started in trucking, BUT you should know that not all employers consider this type of work good experience for other CDL jobs. Also, if you find yourself thinking that garbage truck driver jobs are an easy way to get started in trucking, that’s not necessarily the case! These trucks have a higher center of gravity than many other types of trucks, so it takes skill and experience to avoid incidents. Dump trucks are often considered more dangerous than other types of CDL work.

4. How To Become A Garbage Truck Driver

Once you’ve decided that this is the job for you, there are a few things you’ll need to get started. First, get your CDL A or B license. Some companies will accept either, and deciding between the two licenses will depend a lot on your plans for the future. If you want to drive dry van, tanker, reefer, or other similar jobs, a CDL A is more flexible. Some employers also value mechanical experience. While it may not be the main part of your job, a driver who can fix machines can be valuable. 

If you want to drive dry van, tanker, reefer, or other similar jobs, a CDL A is more flexible.

In addition to the technical requirements, there are some personal attributes that are helpful for garbage truck driver jobs. Often, driving a garbage truck requires a high level of physical fitness, so it’s helpful to be in good physical condition so you don’t strain or injure yourself. Also, it’s important that you like to be outside and are willing to work in different weather conditions. When you’re ready to make your next job change, check out Drive My Way to find companies hiring near you who are a good fit for your lifestyle and job preferences.

5. What Questions Should I Ask Employers?

truck driver holding steering wheelAny time you prepare for a CDL job change, there are a few important questions to ask. These questions will help you find the best garbage truck driver jobs for you at a reliable company. Before you even talk to the company, do your research on compensation, hours, and benefits.

If a company meets your needs, get in touch. Otherwise, stay away and move on to the next company. If possible, ask to speak with a current company driver to get their perspective. 

For garbage truck jobs, ask a recruiter about your route. Then, find out whether you will be working with a partner or solo. Equipment also plays a particularly big role for garbage truck drivers. Older truck models may not have the same grabbing hooks and may require more manual labor than newer models. Similarly, what level of touch can you expect? As you finish your conversation, make sure to ask about opportunities for advancement. You may not be looking for a career move right now, but you may be looking for a promotion in the future.

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truck driver with doubles and triples endorsement
If you have a few years of experience under your belt and are looking for new job opportunities, consider doubles and triples. Hauling doubles or triples means you’re pulling two or three trailers with the same tractor. As you’ve probably already guessed, a doubles and triples endorsement is the certification drivers need to pull that type of load. A doubles and triples endorsement is a great next step for dry van drivers who want to take their license to the next level and be able to get more loads.

Preparing for the Endorsement 

If you’ve decided that a doubles and triples endorsement is the next step for you, there are a few things you should know. First, prepare for the written test. A few key elements you can expect to see are coupling and uncoupling trailers, inspecting the truck and trailers, using air brakes, and driving in poor conditions with multiple trailers. Many of the topics are the same across the country, but each state gives its own exam. That means that your states’s CDL manual is one of the best places to start studying. Often, some questions on the endorsement test are very similar to situations in the CDL manual. Also, there are plenty of study guides and free practice tests online, so it’s a good idea to try a few before your official test date.

A few key elements you can expect to see are coupling and uncoupling trailers, inspecting the truck and trailers, using air brakes, and driving in poor conditions with multiple trailers.

Second, make sure to find time to practice. In some states, before drivers can solo drive a triple, they must show supervised practice time. Even though there’s no written test for the endorsement, pulling three trailers is no joke. So, if you decide this is the type of freight for you, make sure to practice until you feel confident.

Getting Your Doubles and Triples Endorsement

Once you’ve passed the written test and practiced your driving skills, all that’s left is a little paperwork. Drivers will pay a licensing fee for the doubles and triples endorsement. For a closer look into the daily life of a doubles driver, we talked to Kevin who hauls doubles for CRST. He shared this about his experience:

Doubles Driver Kevin from CRST

Kevin, Doubles Driver

“To be honest it’s great driving doubles/triples. The only downfall is you can not back up and there are never any parking [spots] for us at the truck stops. Other than that it’s great.”

Some requirements for testing and the doubles and triples endorsement are federally regulated. But, there are some requirements such as trailer size that do vary by state. Make sure you check for any regulations specific to your state. 

Skills to Know

While you prepare for your written test for a doubles and triples endorsement, there are a few practical driving skills to master as well.

Coupling & Uncoupling

truck couplingWhen connecting two or more trailers, the heavier trailer goes closer to your tractor, and a converter dolly is essential. This dolly has a fifth wheel mounted on one or two axis and it acts as a coupling tool for the second and third trailer. You’ll also need to know how to properly attach the air valves. Before you get a doubles and triples endorsement, make sure you understand both the theory and the technique for coupling and uncoupling!

Pulling

truck pulling doublesAt the most basic level, you’re still pulling a trailer with a tractor, but doubles/triples might feel a little different. Space is one obvious difference. If you’re hauling doubles or triples, everything from lane changes to parking will need more space. The extra weight also means that drivers need more stopping distance to safely stop moving. 

Inspecting

truck inspectionJust like any other trucking job, doubles and triples drivers need to perform a pre-trip inspection. In addition to all the regular inspection points, doubles and triples drivers must check the connections between trailers particularly carefully. This includes checking that your air brakes are functioning properly. Make sure you have any tools you might need in your truck. 

At the end of the day, many drivers say that pulling doubles or triples feels a bit different than a single trailer, but drivers get used to it quickly. If you’re looking to open up your options, a doubles and triples endorsement can be a great choice.

doubles and triples endorsement

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roll off truck driver

Even if you’re not a roll off truck driver, there’s a good chance you’ve seen these trucks hard at work. Roll off truck drivers typically handle equipment like dumpsters and usually work local or regional routes. If you think this might be the job for you, keep reading to find out what a day in the life of a roll off truck driver is like. 

Getting to Know the Equipment

Roll Off trucking jobs have a few special requirements. The first is tarping. Like many flatbed jobs, a lot of roll off jobs require tarping, and the amount of physical labor will depend on the company. Some trucks have automatic tarping systems, so the amount of physical work is relatively low. Others require manual tarping. 

Roll off drivers will also usually use a hook or cable system to lift and lower their haul. When loading, you might feel your front wheels lift off the ground. It can be unnerving at first, but it’s actually pretty common. Front wheel lift is not a sign of problems, it just means that your weight distribution is shifted toward the back of your truck. After a few loads, you’ll barely notice the lift. 

Pay and Hours

roll off truck driver at yardMost companies that are looking for a roll off truck driver are hiring for local or regional jobs right now. That can bring a lot of benefits in terms of schedule and home time. Like many other local jobs, it does mean that the pay is lower than a typical OTR position. Pay for a roll off truck driver will vary a little based on where you are geographically, your experience, and your company.

Job demand for roll off trucking is expected to grow 5% between 2018 and 2028, so a career as a roll off truck driver has good job security. 

As a roll off truck driver, your schedule will likely include long shifts. Many drivers work 10-12 hour shifts and often start early in the morning. Because a lot of roll off drivers are paid hourly, overtime pay can add a big bonus to your paycheck. Some companies look for drivers for only Monday through Friday shifts and others require evenings and/or weekends. If you want a specific schedule, make sure you ask the recruiter what the company has to offer.

Job Requirements

For a roll off truck driver position, you will need a CDL license. But, whether you need a CDL A or CDL B license depends on the job. Many companies prefer that drivers have at least a few years of CDL driving experience before taking a roll off position. That said, some places will hire new drivers. You’ll just need to look a little harder. 

Good driving and a patient personality are very important for roll off truck drivers.

Because roll off truckers frequently spend a lot of time in cities, traffic can play a big role in your day. Good driving and a patient personality are key. There are also likely to be frequent obstacles or distractions on the road or when making deliveries or pickups. These can be safety hazards for drivers who aren’t paying attention, so roll off drivers need to be particularly alert to their surroundings. 

A Day on the Job

roll off truck in the citySo what a day in life actually look like? To start, roll off drivers, like all CDL drivers, do a pre-trip inspection. Often, drivers will have multiple sites for drop off and pick up. A dispatcher will be sharing route information throughout the day either on a CB or an iPad. Drivers who haul dumpsters will typically make trips to some type of waste or disposal site to unload throughout the day.

Roll off truck drivers get to see a lot of different places and meet a lot of different people on the job. Depending on the company and the position, there may be some direct customer interaction. That could include employees at a disposal site or homeowners at private houses if you’re delivering a temporary dumpster to a residential address. A typical day ends with returning to the yard and a post-trip inspection.

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loading dock etiquette

Loading dock etiquette might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the skills that truck drivers need. Depending on your haul range and load type, you may spend more or less time at loading docks. But, whether you love them or hate them, loading docks are a part of trucker life. Here are 5 tips on loading dock etiquette that will help get you in and out as smoothly as possible. 

1. Communicate Well

Good communication is part of the foundation for every relationship. On the job, that includes the time you spend at the loading dock. While most drivers know more or less what to expect at the loading dock, always lean on the side of more communication. Don’t assume everyone is on the same page. So, what happens when you run into some dock workers who are taking their sweet time to load or unload your truck? 

Unfortunately, there’s a natural tension between hourly dockworkers and drivers who are required to complete a certain number of loads.

If loading or unloading starts to get really slow, make a note to share that with your boss. Let them handle the conversation with the shipper.

Different docks have different policies, so it’s important to have communication in both directions. As a driver, let them know what you need and if you run into delays. On the other hand, be open to what the dock workers are saying if they have specific instructions. Even if it sounds unnecessary or weird to you, dock workers might have specific regulations to follow. 

2. Be Prepared

If you’re going to a place that you’ve been before, you may know the route and any tips or tricks that will help you navigate the loading dock. If you’re going to a new location, try to find out some information before you go. Talk to other drivers at your companythey might have valuable information to share. They might warn you about potential issues or give a good review of their experience. On the same note, share your expertise with other drivers if they ask!

For familiar and unfamiliar locations, make sure you have your paperwork ready before you arrive. Just like it’s a pain to wait on a disorganized shipper, you can make everyone’s lives a little smoother by having everything together before you arrive.

3. Stay Sharp

trucking backing into loading dock

Loading docks have a lot going on, especially compared to the time solo on the road. There are often a lot of people and vehicles of all sizes moving around. Unsurprisingly, that can make a loading dock a hotspot for workplace accidents. Distracted workers are more likely to have or cause accidents, so drivers have to stay sharp to avoid the chaos around them.

Also, pay close attention to the loading dock rules. Since they may be different between shippers, don’t assume you already know what they want. You might not love the rules at some locations, but at the end of the day, griping about them won’t change anything. It just slows things down and it won’t make your day any brighter.

4. Set Yourself Up for Success

If you are preparing to load or unload and find yourself in a tight position, don’t hesitate to speak up. Backing up is a critical skill for drivers, and you can’t do your job if there are obstacles in the way. If there isn’t enough room or if there are vehicles or debris in your path, ask for someone to move it. Dock workers might not be thrilled about the request, but it’s a lot less hassle than dealing with damaged property. 

When you set up to back into a loading dock, do what you need to do to back in safely and accurately. Smart-Trucking.com shares its three most important rules of backing:

  1. Get out and look multiple times
  2. Ask for parked cars or obstacles to be moved
  3. Refuse to back into an impossible situation

Over the years, you will spend time at countless loading docks. Do what you can to make your time there as short and painless as possible by setting yourself up for backing success.

5. Stay Calm & Patient

Delays happen. On your route, at the loading dock. They’re unavoidable. But when they happen, try not to get overly frustrated and avoid driver burnout.

truck driver at loading dock

When everything is taking too long or being poorly handled, calm and patient is probably the last thing you want to be. But it is important. In general, assume the best in people first. But, if there is a bigger problem or they are deliberately moving slowly, take action by reporting the incident. 

Remember, even with bad shippers, your goal is to get in and out as quickly as possible. So, try not to escalate confrontations. Avoid direct conflict, but make sure to let your company know about your experience. Save yourself and other drivers a bad experience down the road by saying something! But, let your boss deal with the communication.

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type of freight

When deciding what type of freight is best for you, there’s a lot to think about. As a driver, you’re probably looking for good pay, home time, and job availability. Seems simple, but there’s a lot that can go into that decision. Not all types of trucking are for everyone. Choose something that meets your needs and is a good fit for your lifestyle. Otherwise, you’re going to be looking for a new job all over again all too soon. When you think about the type of freight you want to haul, these are a few things to help make your decision.

Making the Right Decision

Your Lifestyle

One of the most important things to consider when you are trying to decide on a type of freight is your lifestyle. Choose a job that fits YOU. That includes pay. If a job doesn’t pay well enough to support you and your family, you probably won’t stay very long. Home time is another “must-have” for most drivers. Some drivers are die-hard OTR fans and like nothing better than weeks on the road. Other drivers need home time every night to tuck their kids into bed. 

There are jobs out there for every type of trucker, so decide what works best for you, and look for jobs that meet your bottom line expectations.

The final lifestyle question has to do with how you spend your time on the job. Do you want to be driving most of the time or have a variety of non-driving related tasks mixed in? There are jobs out there for every type of trucker, so decide what works best for you.

Company Type

Once you make some big decisions about lifestyle and narrow down your list, consider company type. Do you want to work for a large carrier or a small carrier? Small carriers are more likely to give you that “family feel,” but freight may be less consistent depending on their specialty. On the other hand, large companies usually have higher freight volumes, but you might not feel as personally connected to your team.

Along with company size, consider haul type. Would you prefer a company that always carries the same thing or do you like a little variety in your life? Similarly, do you want to always work with the same customers? Consider looking for a dedicated route. Also, there are some local routes where you can get to know your customers the same way. 

Experience and Endorsements

At the end of the day, there’s a job for every driver, but not every driver is a good fit for every job. Experience and endorsements are two big deciding factors. Some jobs typically go to drivers with more experience. For example, most drivers who haul over-dimensional loads have at least 10 years of experience under their belt. 

Endorsements can also make a big difference. Some jobs “require” specific endorsements while others “prefer” them. Endorsements verify your training in a specific area, but they are also a sign to the employer that you were willing to invest in yourself to take on new responsibilities. If you identify a type of freight that is a great fit for you, find out if you have the right endorsements. If not, consider whether it’s worth getting additional training right now. 

A few of the most common endorsements for CDL A and CDL B drivers are:

Types of Freight to Consider 

1. Dry Van

dry van truckMany truck drivers start out learning to drive Dry Van. Dry Van drivers usually carry dry goods and a wide variety of non-perishable freight in 53’ trailers. Many Dry Van positions are over the road or regional. Drivers who want to drive Dry Van will have a wide range of companies to choose from. With so many companies to choose from, read job descriptions carefully to make sure the job fits your pay and home time needs.

Endorsements: Many Dry Van positions do not require endorsements, but some specialized loads may require Hazmat or Doubles and Triples endorsements.

Lifestyle Fit: Hauling Dry Van is a popular choice for many drivers. It’s great for new drivers because there aren’t as many special considerations as for some other types of freight. Many experienced drivers stick with Dry Van for similar reasonsthere’s often lots of variety in the type of freight drivers haul and it has a refreshing level of simplicity.

2. Refrigerated Freight

refrigerated truck driverRefrigerated trucking, more commonly known as Reefer trucking, is particularly good for drivers who have some experience already and pride themselves on their close attention to detail. Reefer drivers most commonly haul food, which gives drivers a lot of job security. If you are a Refrigerated Freight owner operator and do have a hard time getting a load, you can also haul Dry Van freight in a Reefer truck. 

Endorsements: Most Reefer positions do not require endorsements. 

Lifestyle Fit: Reefer trucking is hard work but is also compensated well. Most people consider hauling refrigerated freight after they have a few years of experience and are looking to diversify. Most of these jobs are regional or OTR, and you will have a lot of companies to choose from. Reefer drivers tend to work odd hours and will find themselves regularly loading and driving during nighttime hours.

3. Flatbed

oversized flatbed loadFlatbed drivers are in high demand and, as a result, pay is typically more competitive than some other driving jobs. Unlike Dry Van or Reefer jobs, Flatbed jobs often require more physical work to safely secure the loads with tarps. Some flatbed drivers will have a Conestoga trailer with a sliding tarp system instead of a traditional flatbed trailer. That often makes loading, unloading, and securing much more convenient for the driver. 

Endorsements: Typically, Flatbed drivers do not need additional endorsements

Lifestyle Fit: Flatbed trucking is often considered one of the more challenging types of trucking jobs. If you don’t mind a little extra physical work and are up for an adventure, the higher pay and regular job demand make Flatbed a great choice for many drivers.

4. Tanker

tanker trucks getting filledDriving a Tanker truck can mean hauling either liquids or dry bulk. If you see a Tanker truck position available, it could be for anything from gasoline or water (liquids) to food or materials like sand (Dry bulk). Often, Tanker truck drivers have a few years of experience, and as the name says, you’ll need your Tanker endorsement. 

Endorsements: Tanker endorsement required. For some jobs, you will also need a Hazmat endorsement to haul hazardous materials. 

Lifestyle Fit: Tanker drivers earn a good wage and usually have strong benefits. In addition, many Tanker jobs are regional or local, so drivers are home frequently. Unlike Dry Van and Reefer, loading and unloading a Tanker can go quickly. You could be in and out in under 20 minutes! Drivers wear protective gear to reduce that risk during the loading and unloading process. 

5. Specialty Loads

If you want to haul a specific type of freight, chances are someone will pay you to do it. In addition to the more common haul types we mentioned earlier, there are many types of specialty loads out there. Here are just a few examples:

  • Over-Dimensional Loads: Anything bigger than typical dimensions. Usually, drivers need to have some flatbed experience first.
  • Autohauler: These drivers haul cars. It’s highly specialized and valuable freight, so drivers need a lot of skill and are paid well. 
  • Intermodal: Any freight that uses at least two types of transportation is intermodal freight (ex. Train and truck). Most drivers work close to a railroad or shipping hub.
  • Livestock: Frequently Livestock drivers usually haul chickens, pigs, horses, or cows. Drivers need a certification for the specific type of livestock they haul. It’s hard work, and drivers are compensated well for their extra efforts.

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Wide load truck

The exact dimensions of an over-dimensional load vary by state. In a nutshell, over-dimensional is exactly what it sounds like—any high, long, heavy, or wide load truck that is larger than typical dimensions. This usually includes trucks or loads taller than 13’6” (with some regional differences) and wider than 8’6”. Length regulations change by state. Because there are different regulations based on where you’re driving, it’s important to check every state along your route before you start. If you’re considering moving to over-dimensional loads for the next stage of your trucking career, here are some pros and cons to keep in mind. 

Pros

1. Pay and Job Security

Let’s start with the big questions. Is there any real pay benefit to hauling more challenging loads? Actually, yes. Wide load truck drivers and other over-dimensional load haulers are pretty well paid for the position. You will be required to carry special permits, but even with that added expense, the finances work out well in your favor for over-dimensional loads. In addition, you won’t be tied to a single piece of equipment. That significantly boosts job security. Being able to haul a variety of loads means you won’t drive with your truck or your pockets empty.

Vic R. Oversized Load Truck Driver

We talked to Vic, a truck driver who has hauled oversized loads for 14 years. 

Vic was previously doing container work but chose to transition to oversized loads for the pay increase. He now makes significantly more money and has variety in his work daily. Vic shared “There’s a lot more money in oversized loads. Every day is an adventure, and it’s never boring.”

Over-dimensional loads require a high level of responsibility and a bigger mental load, but there’s also usually less physical work. That said, don’t look for compensation as a good CPM. This type of run isn’t about the miles—there’s a lot of waiting involved. If you are not a patient driver and willing to wait for parking, room to fuel up, etc., this probably isn’t the job for you. Because miles aren’t the bottom line, typically pay will come as salary, percentage pay, or hourly wages

2. Show Your Skills

Hauling a wide load truck or other types of over-dimensional load is not usually a job for rookie drivers. There is a high level of skill required for this type of position because the cargo is often high value and oversized. Defensive driving is a must. As a result, many drivers have 10+ years of experience in other types of trucking. The vast majority of over-dimensional drivers have at least some flatbed trucking experience. Similarly, drivers with more endorsements are often hired more easily. Even if you don’t need endorsements for a particular load, endorsements have a lot of value. They show that you are able to work a variety of assignments and, importantly, that you are a hard worker who prioritizes their career. 

There are no hard and fast rules about years of experience or endorsements, but in general, more is better in this case. Hauling over-dimensional freight can be a great job for drivers who want to incorporate a lot of the skills and experience they have gained along the way. 

3. Pilot Cars

Pilot cars (also known as escorts) are commercial passenger vehicles that drive alongside an oversized vehicle. They are required to have visible signage on the front and rear of their cars, and you’ve probably seen them on the road before. In tricky situations or routes, they can be a big help.

If you’ve never driven with a pilot car before, you should know that they won’t necessarily join you for the whole trip. They may only accompany you through the most treacherous areas.

Escorts will either drive ahead of you as a scout or they will follow you to help ensure that other vehicles observe proper spacing. There are also specialized escorts called pole cars whose purpose is to check the height of any overhead obstacles to make sure that the truck and its load will be able to pass safely. Most escorts also carry safety equipment in case of a breakdown on the road.

Cons

1. Preplanning Is a Must

Preplanning is a standard part of any trucking job. But, many experienced drivers might not need to spend as much time preplanning as they once did. For a wide load truck or other over-dimensional loads, preplanning is not optional. You must know your route well before you set off. Are there any road obstacles to be aware of? When can you fuel? Will parking be readily available when you’re scheduled to stop? 

It’s also a good idea to find out whether your pilot car knows the route well. Some escorts run the same lanes over and other. Others are simply hired and may be driving your route for the first time. There can also be different requirements in different states or regions. Make sure you know the regulations of each place you will travel through.

2. Route Requirements

As an over-dimensional load driver, you will usually have a set route with a specific delivery window. That can be a bit of a challenge, especially in bad weather. In an oversized flatbed, a big storm could have a big impact on your intended delivery time. Unfortunately, responsibility for an on time delivery ultimately falls on the driver. That’s one reason why many oversized loads don’t move during the night

Responsibility for an on time delivery ultimately falls on the driver.

With that being said, there are some loads that can be hauled at night as long as there is proper lighting. Ultimately, that decision depends on the state you are driving in. For most places in the United States, anything under 10’ wide can run at night. On the flip side, superloads (the next size classification up) often haul only at night. Most of these giants require a police escort as well as pilot cars, and they prefer to run when the roads are emptiest.

Getting Started

There is no set way to become a wide load truck driver or to start hauling over-dimensional loads. Typically, employers look for flatbed experience, and drivers need to be comfortable tarping and strapping their load. There are some training programs through companies like ATS and Lonestar, but not all drivers start over-dimensional trucking through a formal program. Multi-axle trailers are one of the best ways to start moving toward the world of over-dimensional loads. 

There really is nothing like hauling over-dimensional loads, so do your research before you get started. It’s not for everyone, but for patient, experienced drivers who want to put their skills to the test, driving a wide load truck or hauling over-dimensional loads is very rewarding.

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refrigerated truck driver

Are you looking to expand your trucking experience? Being a refrigerated truck driver might be the perfect fit. It’s most commonly known as reefer trucking, and this haul type is particularly good for drivers who have some experience already and pride themselves on their close attention to detail. Reefer trucking is hard work but is also compensated well. Here are a few ways to decide whether being a refrigerated truck driver is for you. 

Job Security is a High Priority

Job security is one of those things that is hard to measure when you are job searching but helps us all sleep a little better at night. This year, job security has been top of mind for many Americans. As we saw in Spring 2020, many truck drivers were considered essential workers, but not all of them. One big benefit of being a refrigerated truck driver is that your job security is very good. Reefer trucks primarily carry fresh food. As a result, no matter what else happens, reefer trucks will be on the roads. 

Job security is very good for reefer drivers. Most refrigerated truck drivers haul fresh food, and that will always be essential.

Demand for reefer trucking is consistently moderate to high because of the goods hauled. On the other hand, because of the extra training requirements, the supply of drivers is comparatively low. If you are a refrigerated truck driver or want to become one, that means less job competition for you! Many (but not all) reefer drivers are owner-operators. If you are finding your own loads, reefer trucks are a more flexible choice. Even if you can’t get a refrigerated load, some dry van loads can also be hauled in a reefer truck. That helps reduce the possibility of an empty return trip where you’re not earning a paycheck.

You Want to Diversify Your Experience

Being a refrigerated truck driver isn’t a first step for most CDL holders. Running refrigerated loads can be challenging, but it’s also well-paid. Typically, people start considering reefer driving after at least a few years of other driving experience. To become a refrigerated truck driver, you will need some extra training. 

In addition to the technical skills you will learn, refrigerated truck drivers need to be excellent decision-makers and problem solvers. Because of the temperature control required for successful reefer runs, a breakdown can mean losing a load. So, drivers must have quick, sound judgment when they run into unexpected challenges on the road. Once you have a few years of experience under your belt, reefer driving is a great way to stand out as a skilled candidate for future jobs. 

Employers Consider You Punctual and Detail-Oriented

Being a refrigerated truck driver takes more than just good driving. Arriving on time for deliveries is extremely important. Often, a missed appointment isn’t just a question of a slight delay. It can mean a very long wait time (even up to more than a day!) before you can reschedule your delivery! With that in mind, punctuality is critical for anyone hauling a reefer trailer. 

Punctuality is critical for anyone hauling a reefer trailer. Schedules can be very tight and most loads have very specific requirements for temperature.

In a refrigerated truck, precision doesn’t stop at the schedule. Most loads have very specific requirements for temperature. To help manage this, drivers may be responsible for supervising the loading and position of freight in their trailer. Depending on the job, drivers may also be responsible for loading or unloading as well. Then, after you’re on the road, drivers must use consistent tracking to maintain a certain temperature in all parts of the trailer at all times.

9-5 Jobs Aren’t Your Style

Truck driving is more than a job. For many drivers, it’s a lifestyle. Each haul type has unique pros and cons, and refrigerated loads are no exception. These runs are a good fit for night owl drivers who love the quiet roads in the early morning hours. Reefer drivers tend to work odd hours and will find themselves regularly loading and driving during nighttime hours. 

Reefer jobs can be local, regional, or OTR. Many local drivers are home every night, but regional and OTR drivers will be spending nights in the cab. In a refrigerated truck, the cooling unit has to run 24/7, and that comes with a lot of noise. For light sleepers, earplugs may be a worthwhile investment.

It’s Time to Be Your Own Boss

Refrigerated trucking owner-operators are in high demand. It is also possible to be a refrigerated truck driver for a large carrier, but these positions are harder to come by.

If you are interested in becoming an owner-operator, being a refrigerated truck driver might be a perfect fit for you. 

As with any owner-operator position, confidence navigating hiring contracts is a must. Because the stakes for breakdowns or repairs can be a lost load, owner-operators need to understand their contract inside and out. A contract should clearly state who is responsible for the cost of repairs and maintenance. Once you understand the finances, logistics, and contracts of being an independent contractor, you’re ready to be your own boss!

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Local Truck Driving Jobs

So you’re looking at local truck driving jobs? Great choice. Local trucking is a good fit for many drivers. Remember, as with any job, there are pros and cons to local trucking jobs. Before you make the switch, get to know the benefits and drawbacks of local trucking, and decide whether it’s a good fit for you. 

The Pros 

family life 1. Home Time

Many drivers are drawn to local truck driving jobs because of the home time. It’s for a good reason. Local jobs typically get drivers home every night. If not every night, drivers can expect to be home almost every night. For drivers with a family, that’s hard to beat. 

2. Frequently Off on the Weekends

In addition to being home every night, many local drivers are off on the weekends. This does depend on your company and what you’re hauling, but many local drivers have weekends off.

Weekends off are much more likely in a local position than for OTR drivers.

Attending social gatherings or events on the weekends becomes much more possible with a local truck driving jobs. 

3. Health Benefits

In addition to more home time, local truck drivers pick up some serious health benefits. Local drivers tend to spend less time behind the wheel than regional or OTR drivers. As a result, local drivers are less exposed to the safety risks of being on the road for long periods of time. They are also usually more active. Because local drivers make more stops, there are more opportunities to move around throughout the day. 

4. A Set Routine

If you like to have a fixed schedule, local trucking is for you. Drivers generally have a set hourly schedule that they can count on. That’s great for planning things outside of work. It also gives you a little extra peace of mind to know when you’ll be home and when you need to leave. 

work life balance of Local Truck Driving Jobs5. Excellent Work/Life Balance

Work/life balance is a huge consideration for local drivers. Local truck driving jobs are hard work, but they also help drivers be present for the day to day relationships at home. Local drivers still have to find a balance with their loved ones, but the rewards can be great. If you value being physically present for life’s little moments, local truck driving jobs are for you. 

The Cons

There’s a lot to love about local truck driving jobs. At the end of the day though, they’re just not for everyone. There are a few downsides to consider when you are deciding whether to become a local driver. 

6. Lower Pay

On average, local truck driving jobs pay less than the average OTR position. According to Ziprecruiter, local drivers in the United States earn an average of $51,355. Consider your personal budget and whether the finances work for you in the short and long term. For many drivers, the lower wage is worth the extra work/life balance, but pay is an important consideration.

7. Positions are Competitive

Local truck driving jobs are often extremely competitive. Trucking companies can afford to be choosy because they have a lot of interested candidates.

A good position may require drivers to have some experience first. In addition, there will likely be lots of applicants, so you have to make a strong positive impression when you apply.

If you don’t get offered a position right away, keep getting more experience to help you stand out from other candidates. 

load unload Local Truck Driving Jobs8. Loading and Unloading

Some local truck driving jobs make frequent stops and require physical labor. This depends heavily on your company and type of haul. In some positions, drivers may need to load and/or unload their trucks. Think of it as a built-in weight lifting workout! This might be minor for some drivers, but if you are only interested in no-touch freight, read the job descriptions carefully.

9. Long Hours

The hours you work as a local driver depend heavily on your company. However, for many drivers, days last 10-14 hours. In addition, local drivers may start at any time of the day. For example, it’s not uncommon for a work shift to begin at 4:00 AM. The good news is, many companies offer overtime pay. Longer hours can help bring in a bigger paycheck. With such long days, some drivers find home time a challenge during the week. While local drivers are home every night, there may not be a lot of downtime between shifts. Some drivers feel like they finish work just in time to go home, eat dinner, sleep, and wake up to do it all again. 

Additional Factors

Some parts of local truck driving jobs aren’t exactly pros or cons. It all depends on your preferred work experience. Here are a few additional things to think about.

Are you a People Person?

Some local jobs require more customer interaction than regional or OTR positions. Others don’t ask drivers to interact with customers regularly. Also, local drivers tend to communicate very frequently with their coworkers and dispatchers. This can be a huge plus for some drivers and a downside for others. It’s really about personal preference. Decide for yourself whether you want more interaction with others. Then, seek out jobs that fit your preferences. 

CDL B licenseCity Driving

Like more regular communication, city driving isn’t necessarily a pro or a con. If you don’t mind spending more time in cities and towns, local driving is a good fit. If you strongly prefer to drive on highways as much as possible, consider whether the benefits of local truck driving jobs outweigh the downsides.

Choosing Your Company

You’ve heard it a million timesgood employees don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses. It’s true for local truck driving jobs too.

For any trucking job you’re considering, read the details carefully. When talking to recruiters, try to get a sense of the company culture.

Each fleet traits drivers differently. Look for a fleet that matches your professional qualifications and your personal lifestyle preferences.

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truck driver pay

Truck driver pay is one of the key elements that CDL drivers look for in a new job. Some of the most important factors for earning potential are years of experience, location, the number of miles driven, special qualifications such as endorsements, type of haul, and haul range. Not all jobs are equally compensated, but you should be able to know what to expect from your paycheck. Make sure you get all the details from your recruiter. Whether it’s for a new job or to get started in trucking, here are the types of compensation you may get offered. 

Base Pay

For company drivers, there are four main types of base pay. Some drivers may receive additional compensation in the form of bonuses or specialty pay. That said, the bulk of your income will come from one of these types of base pay.

1. Hourly

Hourly pay is likely familiar to many drivers because it’s common in many industries. In trucking, pay per hour is frequently used by intrastate delivery companies with relatively small driving ranges. Drivers who are paid hourly can often expect work with frequent stops, loading and unloading, and regular customer interaction. Many hourly positions offer overtime hours which can add a big bonus to your paycheck if you’re willing to take on extra hours.

2. Pay Per Mile

This is one of the most common types of pay across the trucking industry. Pay per mile, often called CPM (cents per mile), pays drivers for the miles they run. Within mileage pay, there are several ways to calculate truck driver pay.

  • Practical Mileage. This is the number of miles based on the most efficient path between the address at your starting location and the address at your destination. It’s often calculated with an ELD. Think of it as similar to how Google or Apple Maps calculate a driving route. 
  • Household Goods (HHG) miles. HHG miles are also called zip code miles. Companies calculate routes based on the shortest distance between the post office zip code in the origin city and the post office zip code in the destination city. 
  • Hub Mileage, also called Actual Miles. This type of truck driver pay uses the mileage change on the odometer. It accounts for all hours of service miles including changes in routes or stops. 
  • Sliding Scales Pay. Often this type of pay is used by companies who want to give short-haul drivers a chance to earn a higher income. For example, short hauls (1-500 miles) may pay $0.55 CPM while routes of 500+ miles might earn $0.50 CPM.

In addition to CPM, a job description that pays based on miles should include the number of miles per week that drivers can expect. For example, a job description might offer $0.53 CPM and an average of 2500 weekly miles. A higher CPM is usually good news, but it’s important to read the fine print. Your total pay depends on the number of miles traveled, so look for jobs with a high CPM and enough miles to earn the paycheck you want.

3. Salary

Salaried trucking jobs offer income consistency. For drivers who receive a salary, income is not dependent on the specific miles or hours worked. Instead, a flat rate is set at the start of the job contract and drivers will consistently earn that amount. Often, salaried drivers receive pay weekly.

4. Pay Per Load

Pay Per Load is the least common type of base pay. Most jobs that offer pay per load are in the agriculture, oil and gas industries, or are local delivery jobs.

Drivers earn a flat rate of pay for each load they deliver. In this type of pay, drivers earn more when they deliver more loads regardless of hours or miles.

Additional Truck Driver Pay

Per Diem

In a nutshell, per diem is money given for any place you stay overnight, meals, and other incidental expenses. Per diem is a form of reimbursement, but the biggest benefits come during tax season. Companies may offer per diems by day, per mile, or even as a percentage. If you are a company driver, per diem wages are not considered taxable income. 

For example, if you are paid $0.60 CPM and $0.45CPM is your base income and $0.15CPM is per diem, 25% of your income is not taxable. 

As of 2018, even though company drivers can no longer claim $63 per day as an expense on their taxes, they can claim the standard deduction. A higher per diem wage doesn’t change your annual income, but it does mean that you will pay less in taxes. Owner operators are still able to use per diem and deduct it as an expense on their taxes.

Detention and Layover Pay

When drivers are stopped for long periods of time, some companies will offer compensation. Drivers get detention pay when they are held up at a shipper or receiver for an extended amount of time. Layover pay may be given to drivers who have to wait between loads. Detention and layover pay are particularly important for drivers who are paid by the mile. In addition, some companies offer breakdown pay when incidents happen on the road and drivers cannot log miles.

Stop Pay

Stop pay is typically offered to drivers who will make multiple stops on their run. In general, stop pay does not include the initial or final destination. Like detention and layover pay, stop pay compensates for the time that drivers are not adding miles to their logbooks. More deliveries mean more time stopped and fewer miles. Stop pay helps make up the difference. 

Special Incentive Pay

Drivers can earn special incentive pay for loads that are more difficult because of location, border crossings, hazardous materials, or other non-typical duties. For example, tarp pay is not uncommon for flatbed drivers. Truck drivers who haul refrigerated loads may get a higher cent per mile rate. Similarly, there may be additional compensation for over-dimensional loads or routes in NY and NJ. Endorsements such as HazMat, Tanker, Doubles/Triples, or TWIC cards also frequently help drivers earn higher pay or bonuses.  

Bonuses

While base pay makes up the majority of a driver’s income, many people receive additional pay through bonuses. All companies choose their bonus structures a little differently. Some of the most common bonuses are for fuel, safety, and inspections. Many companies also offer hiring bonuses for signing on to their job or referral bonuses for bringing in new drivers. Performance and on-time delivery bonuses are also frequently used to incentivize drivers. 

Team Driver Pay

Like solo company drivers, team drivers most commonly receive pay based on mileage. For teams, the per-mile rate is a bit higher than for a solo driver, but team drivers share the rate.

The rate for each driver may be lower than for a solo company driver, but each person’s annual income is often higher because teams can drive significantly more miles.

Typically, team drivers split the mileage pay evenly. In some situations, each driver has a different per-mile rate. This may be based on experience or other similar factors. Team drivers may also qualify for bonuses if they reach certain mileage targets. 

Owner Operator Pay

Percentage pay is one of the most common types of income for owner operators. Typically, owner operators negotiate a percentage of the linehaul (gross revenue of the load minus the fuel surcharge). A load with a higher gross revenue means a better payout for the driver. Both independent owner-operators and lease to own operators can also expect to be paid all or almost all of the fuel surcharge. 

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