There’s good news for all the prospective new truck drivers out there: you can afford to be choosy in this industry right now, as there is a well-documented shortage of truck drivers. This means you should take your time in finding the right trucking job for you. There’s no need to rush to accept the first job offer you get. Sit down and reflect on what your ideal trucking job looks like, write down your requirements and use that list to help you find a job you’ll be happy with. Here are some of the important things to consider:
The Size of the Company Matters
When looking at a list of trucking companies, you’ll see that there are some with thousands of drivers on the road. The disadvantage to these large companies is that you may wind up feeling like a simple cog in a complex machine. Your employee ID number is more important than your name when you speak to a dispatcher. That’s not to say that you need to be best friends with your boss, but when your boss knows your name, he or she is more likely to know about the quality of your work as well, which can lead to a pay raise or other benefits.
Experienced truck drivers know the feeling of being seen as a “number and not an asset.” If you’d like the value and importance of your work to be appreciated, look for a job with medium- to small-sized companies.
Look at the Company’s Equipment
If you want a good indication of how a company treats its drivers, take a look at how the equipment is maintained. If the company doesn’t bother to maintain or clean its equipment, how will the drivers be treated? Drivers are just as much of an asset as the vehicles themselves, and the drivers’ safety is paramount. Plus, if the company doesn’t provide you with quality, well-running vehicles, you’re more likely to wind up on the side of the road with the hood up, trying to figure the problem out yourself and stressing about deadlines. It’s not worth it. Only give serious consideration to trucking companies that are serious about servicing all machines and equipment.
Areas Where the Carrier Is Established
Maybe you want to travel across the country from coast-to-coast. Maybe you want to serve a big metropolitan city. Maybe you can’t stand being in the city, never mind driving a huge truck in one. Make sure you’ll be driving in an area that appeals to you and/or is close to home. It will help you stay positive about going to work each day if you know you’ll enjoy your surroundings.
Home Time Offered
Think about how much time you want to spend on the road, sleeping in the back of your cab or in a hotel room versus spending time at home. If you have a family, this becomes very important. Typically there are three arrangements for truck drivers: home daily, home on the weekends or home for one week after three weeks on the road.
Also, keep in mind that your situation might change. You might get worn out from spending three weeks away from home each month, or maybe you want to be home every day for your kids during the school year and shift to a different schedule in the summer. Think about your personal habits and the demands of your personal life. If so, it’s important to find a trucking company that would provide opportunities for a flexible schedule.
Type of Freight Being Hauled
If hauling chemicals makes you nervous, don’t apply for a job with a company that specializes in hauling chemicals! Think about what you’d be interested in hauling: flatbed trucks, refrigerated trucks, tankers or dry vans, to name a few. You could also put your CDL to good use by driving large tour vans, in which case your “cargo” would be people. You could drive a car transport truck, drive expensive racehorses from track to track or drive livestock trucks. As you research opportunities or talk with other drivers, you’ll come across types of freight that you never even considered before. If one really stands out as an appealing choice, look for companies that specialize in hauling that cargo.
Last but not least is the pay rate offered by each company. This is one of the few elements that carriers can use to be competitive with each other when looking for new recruits. (The other common factors that carriers use to attract drivers are the amount of home time and the amount of miles available or guaranteed.) Have a realistic idea of what you’re worth as a driver, and don’t settle for anything less. Pay attention to the benefits offered as well, like health or dental plans, etc. Driving for a living means spending a lot of time sitting, which doesn’t make it the healthiest profession.
Of course, all other things being equal, being able to choose a trucking company that offers excellent salaries and benefits is the Holy Grail. Just remember that you have the advantage as a skilled, professional and safe driver in today’s market.
photo source: all-trucking-jobs.com