Have you considered jumping into the trucking space? Perhaps you are a seasoned veteran but wondering whether or not the current state of the trucking industry is worthwhile. There are a lot of people currently who are showing interest in the trucking industry. A vast majority of veterans are also questioning the direction trucking is moving towards.
According to the American Trucking Association (ATA) there is a shortage of 80,000+ truck drivers. This number excludes the actual number of job openings out there as well.
Is it a good time to be a trucker? Let’s break it down.
Are you a new truck driver?
There are a lot of new truck drivers who are showing strong interest to jump into the trucking space. As they say though, it’s never as simple as it seems but many newer truckers are having a tough time. Why? Most trucking companies require two years of experience before you are even considered to be a company driver. This is detrimental to new truck drivers who are simply looking to get hired on with the right trucking company.
A limited number of trucking companies will consider someone with less than a few years of driving experience as a driver. It is mainly due to liability and insurance purposes. If you are a new driver, take a moment and peruse our previous article on The California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) to give you some additional perspective and information.
What can a new truck driver do to expand and grow? Gaining experience and seasonality are two of the most important things that any reputable trucking company looks for in potential drivers. The unfortunate part of this for new truck drivers is that if you have a family to support, it might seem like an uphill battle for a couple of years. As we previously mentioned, there are trucking companies out there that have truck driving schools and would be willing to hire new drivers. It’s a big risk however for some bigger trucking companies, but it seems to be a viable approach to recruitment.
Are you a seasoned truck driver?
Experienced CDL drivers seem to always have the upper hand. Especially if you have been driving for five or more years or even own your own truck. This is where owner operators come into play. Seasoned drivers tend to be more knowledgeable and for many trucking companies one less headache to deal with. As if trucking in itself isn’t challenging enough, having to maneuver the logistics side of things on a daily basis.
Seasoned truck drivers can either be considered as company drivers or owner-operators. This is something that we at Sugar Creek Transportation offer as options for those looking to join our team. Regardless of whether you choose to be a company driver or owner-operators, having that truck driving experience will be tremendously advantageous to you.
These are a few things that experienced truck drivers are typically offered. Being trustworthy is key at any trucking company including Sugar Creek Transportation. Your pay is in part determined based on your driving experience. When it comes to equipment, especially as a company driver, you might be given a better truck to drive if you are someone who has many years of driving experience. Flexibility on routes is something that seasoned drivers typically have the opportunity to choose from. Not always but in most cases.
How do you become a truck driver?
There are six components that you must consider and comply with in order to become eligible for truck driving. Being able to check off these six things from your list will give you the best chance possible in becoming a truck driver.
Component #1: Valid Driver’s License
Before you can apply for your CDL, you must have a valid driver’s license. A driver’s license that is issued by the state that you currently reside in. In order to acquire a driver’s license, you will need to pass the driver’s license exam offered by the state that you currently reside in. Check with your local DMV office for the exam and necessary paperwork.
Component #2: Education Level
Most trucking companies prefer truck drivers to have at least a High School Diploma or GED. While this is not a requirement, many larger trucking companies have shown greater success with truck drivers who have a high school diploma or GED.
Component #3: Gaining Experience
Truck driver training programs may be found in community colleges, private truck driving schools, and trucking corporations. These programs will prepare you to take the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) test. It is important that you be familiar with the laws of your state’s BMV or DMV since some states have their own system for inspecting and accrediting programs.
Some driver education programs might extend for as long as a year. The price of attending a private school or community college program might vary anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000.
Students enrolled in truck driving programs at community colleges may be eligible for financial help from those institutions. It’s possible that certain schools may even let you get a degree in truck driving or the commercial freight sector in just a single year. This is not required in order to get your driver’s license, but if you are interested in going to college, it may be a good choice.
Programs sponsored by companies often run between four and six weeks and cost around $6,000. The majority of companies provide graduates who remain employed with the firm for a certain number of time with benefits such as discounts, financing alternatives, and occasionally even complete reimbursement.
Component #4: Earning Your CDL
A CDL is required for truck driving. There are three main classes of driver’s Licenses, but to get your CDLs you need a Class A. These classifications are determined by the size and weight of the vehicle. The CDL-A is the most adaptable license for those who drive heavy freight vehicles which use airlines and have double or triple axles.
In addition to that, your driver’s license could need an endorsement code. Endorsements are necessary for specialized vehicles like school buses and tankers since they tell you what kinds of cargo you are legally allowed to carry. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provides information on the various endorsement codes and classes. However, you should also get in touch with the BMV or DMV in your state.
In the BMV or DMV systems of many states, there will be a cost associated with your CDL application, test, and license. The licensing price, which may run anywhere from $20 to $120, is going to be the costliest of the fees.
Component #5: Job Placement
If you are just starting out your trucking career, you will need some help finding the right trucking company. In most cases a company that either offers a finishing school or allows new truckers to come onboard. There is a very limited number of trucking companies that still allow new truckers to join the team and gain experience. In order to find job placement assistance for your trucking journey, you will need to seek the help of organizations such as the American Trucking Association (ATA), Women In Trucking, or any others that offer onboarding opportunities.
Component #6: Complete Finishing Program
The vast majority of businesses mandate that freshly licensed staff participate in an internal training program. You will get familiar with the company’s vehicles, materials, and equipment during these training sessions. They are referred to as a Driver Finishing Program. The program itself might run anywhere between three and four weeks and include a period of time spent driving under supervision.
New truck drivers seeking to immerse themselves into the trucking industry will be inclined with lack of experience. Although there are several trucking companies out there currently who are willing to hire, train, and finish new truck drivers. The pay is not ideal by any means during this process although it is a great opportunity to gain the experience and knowledge necessary to grow. The current state of the trucking industry unfortunately does not favor newcomers. Although that does not completely omit the opportunity for new truck drivers to learn and grow.
As it stands, there are at least 80,000 truck driver job openings. Whether you are a new truck driver or a seasoned one, chances are there is a company out there looking for someone like you. Do not be discouraged by your lack of experience if you are seriously considering a CDL and an interest in becoming a truck driver.
Seasoned truck drivers are definitely in demand. We at Sugar Creek Transportation are always looking for experienced, friendly, and family-oriented drivers to join our team. We need your help!
Are you a truck driver looking for a company that will not treat you like a number? Do you want to be a part of a family instead of a company that treats you like a notch on the belt? We are always looking for self-motivated, driven, and energetic people to join our family.