Whether it’s food, clothing, medical supplies, or almost anything else, chances are it was delivered by a semi-truck driver. Considered to be the lifeblood of the nation’s roads, truck drivers are an important part of the world’s economy. In today’s world, truck drivers are in higher demand than ever due to older drivers retiring, the high demand for goods, and other factors. In addition to the demand for truck drivers growing, laws surrounding the amount of hours drivers are allowed to drive at a time have also made the life of a truck driver more doable and enjoyable. Additionally, there have been improvements in the way that semi-trucks are built so that driving for long hours is more comfortable. Combining this with a decent salary, a stipend as well as the opportunity to travel across the country, more people are interested in becoming truck drivers. If you’re considering becoming a truck driver, here are the facts concerning income, training, and responsibilities.
To become a semi-truck driver, you often need a high school diploma and can expect to attend a program at either a local community college or a truck driving school. Training has changed over the years to include details about what to do when you get to a rest stop and common courtesies to other truck drivers so the information you get in training is typically more than just how to drive the truck and make minor repairs. Class A CDL driver training is something you can pay for on your own, or in some cases, the company you apply for will pay for the training. Once you have the proper licensing, you will likely be able to get a driving position at most any company. However, even with your licensing, there may be additional training provided by your employer to ensure that you can handle their cargo and the way that they want their customers to be addressed and treated. Since the demand for drivers is so high, many employers have started their own training programs. Along with learning how to drive the truck, you will learn about federal laws and regulations concerning truck driving. Expect your training program to last 90-180 days, upon which time you will need to pass the test to gain your CDL.
Truck Driver Responsibilities
Once you become a professional semi-truck driver, you will have many responsibilities in your job. Your primary responsibility will be to deliver your cargo to its destination in a timely and safe manner. If you are a long-haul driver, you will be driving thousands of miles each trip, meaning you will be away from home for days at a time. Other responsibilities include inspecting your truck, trailer, and cargo, maintaining a log of your working hours, and staying in touch with your dispatcher to report any problems. If your truck breaks down, it is often your responsibility to check the engine and make repairs yourself. Otherwise, you can go through your company to get a tow to a nearby shop that specializes in semi-trucks. Sometimes, you will be provided special training to repair minor issues that may come along your road trip. In addition to transporting cargo, you will likely need to work with a point of contact at both the pick-up and drop-off locations. That way you can get the time of delivery recorded and signed for as well as track the time that it takes to load and unload the merchandise. Many trucking companies charge businesses based on the hours that their truck is in the loading and unloading bay so this is an important part of a truck driver’s job. Once everything has been loaded or unloaded, the time in the bay is typically recorded and signed for by both the driver and the manager that is in charge of moving things in and out of the truck. Truck drivers typically don’t touch the merchandise that is on their trucks. While things are being loaded or unloaded, the driver typically inspects the engine, and the cab area and makes sure everything is ready to move the truck to the next destination.
As a semi-truck driver, you may be looking at several companies for the open positions that may be available. On average, you can expect to earn $50,000 in the first year of this career. The more experience you have, the more money or bonuses you are likely to make, though this number doesn’t typically go over $70-80,000 per year. However, the longer your typical hauls are, the more money you usually get. Additionally, if there are overnight trips, you will likely have a stipend for food and drink along the way. If you do like some drivers and choose to become an owner-operator and be your own boss, you may be able to earn more. If you work for a trucking company, you may earn more if you gain additional endorsements, such as HAZMAT which would allow you to transport hazardous materials.
Most long-haul drivers have runs of as long as eight days, meaning you can expect to work nights, weekends, and even holidays to meet deadlines. A physically-demanding job, it also allows you to see many parts of the country you may otherwise have never visited.
If you like the freedom of being on the open road and traveling around the nation, becoming a semi-truck driver will give you this and much more.