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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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How to Find the Best Trucking Jobs for YouFinding a new trucking job usually isn’t too tough for a good driver. But finding the perfect fit trucking jobs for any driver can take a little bit more effort. There’s plenty of job boards, and social media postings out there for drivers to sift through. As well as the seemingly endless emails and phone calls truck drivers get daily. It can turn into information overload, with no real path to the right answer. With all of the information out there, here’s 4 ways to find the best trucking jobs for you.

1. Know what you want

“Job prospects are projected to be very good for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers with the proper training and a clean driving record.” —Bureau of Labor Statistics

If you’ve just started looking into being a driver, or if you’ve been trucking for 20+ years, you need to know what type of job is the best trucking job for you right now. As time passes, things change, and your personal and professional needs change too. A new driver might be all about logging miles and making money. A more seasoned driver might be needing a change to be closer to home most of the time. In any case, be sure to keep a log of all the things that must be a part of your next job. As well as all of the things that you’d never want to do again.

Once you’ve got that list of preferences dialed-in, be sure to be clear in your conversations, or in your electronic profiles, of exactly what you want. And then don’t settle for less than that!

2. Do your homework

Truckers subscribe to various podcasts, video channels and social media outlets that provide content about all things in a truckers life. Use these channels to help you research your next job. Find out who pays well and who doesn’t. Listen to other drivers when they talk about benefits and how well they’re treated by their company. Follow the blogs and newsletter that give you data about retention and longevity with a company. The right opportunity is there for you to find the best trucking jobs for your next move.

3. Pay attention at truck stops

A quick stop and a stroll through the parking lot at a truck stop can be an opportunity to learn a lot. Talking with other drivers, checking out carriers’ equipment, and otherwise being immersed in “what’s out there”, can be a great way to find the next place you want to work. Or conversely, the places you should avoid.

Old equipment that needs a lot of work or listening to drivers complain about their working conditions give you all you need to know about where the wrong jobs might be. Take note, and be sure to avoid their calls and emails.

4. Create a profile with Drive My Way

One great way to do make sure you don’t miss a great match is to keep your profile and preference current on DriveMyWay.com. Once logged in, you can keep your changing preferences about types of driving, how much time away from home and other personal preferences up-to-date. So when a perfect fit job gets listed, you can be the first to know. If you haven’t yet filled out a profile, you can get started here. It’s fast and is a great first step to changing the way you look for your next trucking gig.

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Earlier this year, Debbie Tucker was a stay-at-home mom with 13 children. Today, she’s an on-the-road mom working with her husband, William, who has been a truck driver for 42 years.

The Lexington Herald-Leader recently shared Debbie’s story. As the article explains, the Georgetown, Ky., couple married in 1990, bringing together William’s seven children with Debbie’s five. They later adopted their 13th child, now 6-year old Ava.

In late February, Debbie tells the Herald-Leader she was inspired by all of her children to get back to work. “There are so many things we want for the kids, that we want for ourselves,” she says. They want to provide their children with enough money to pay for a wedding and land one day.

Two months into the job, Debbie says she was able to settle in easier than most. She and William share the same truck, working joint hauls. Combining trips allows the two to travel longer distances in less time, which increases their income.

Each partner drives 11 hours daily, while the other sleeps. For two hours a day, they have quality time to spend when neither is working. Although that might not appear be much, “two hours a day is more than we had,” Debbie tells the newspaper.

The lifestyle change is one that Debbie says she must become adjusted to. Being that the truck is both their workplace and home, a lack of personal space can be frustrating. Debbie mentions that her biggest transition has been learning patience while enjoying her time on the road.

Debbie explains that truck driving has become second nature: “I still cannot parallel park a car, but I can put a 53-foot trailer in a spot like God himself put it there.”

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