Embarking on a career as a truck driver can be vastly different from just picking up a job to pay the bills. Professional CDL holders live a unique lifestyle that can be exhilarating for those that enjoy the freedom of the open road. But, given the relatively high attrition rates, a career as a trucker is clearly not for everyone. That said, it’s essential that hard-working people understand the pluses and minuses of trucking jobs. At Southwest Truck Driver Training, we’d like to share some of the common pros and cons of a career in trucking so that you can make an informed decision.
Truck Drivers Earn Good Salaries
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average salary of heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers was upwards of $43,680 annually and $21 hourly in 2018. Truck driver salaries outpaced non-college degree U.S. workers and even topped people who went to a two-year college and earned an associate degree.
Beyond the government data, industry resources indicate that CDL holders can now anticipate annual earnings as high a $55,000 during their first two years on the road. Many truckers are netting $66,000 with team drivers pulling down $71,000 and owner-operators leading the pack at approximately $270,000. Experience, skill level, and opportunity tend to be driving factors behind high-end trucker incomes.
Top Reasons Truck Drivers Opt-Out
It’s no secret that the attrition rate for truck drivers has been higher than expected in recent years. Industry experts at the American Trucking Associations (ATA), reported that driver turnover was up another 4 percent in large fleets in 2018. The rate of drivers leaving was on pace to top a high-water mark set in 2013. A percentage of those long-haul drivers may have been repositioning themselves into small and locally based fleets. Drivers typically point to the following reasons for why the leave a trucking career:
Up until the last few years, truck driver salaries had been relatively stagnant. That prompted drivers to take other career paths, including working at freight facilities in management positions. Fortunately, the booming economy and driver shortage have forced employers to raise wages as they compete for qualified drivers.
- Time at Home
This traditionally ranks as a primary reason over-the-road truckers change paths. Single people often enjoy the freedom of the open road. Growing families tend to cause drivers to reevaluate their priorities. Although time away from home can be problematic for truckers, veteran drivers are taking advantage of increased local and regional routes that are more in tune with the 9-to-5 lifestyle.
- Feel Underappreciated
It’s a fact that professional CDL holders are the lifeblood that delivers America’s goods and materials. It’s not uncommon in the trucking industry—like too many other occupations—for supervisors and customers to forget to thank you for your hard work.
A career as a truck driver can be the pathway to a good salary, health benefits, and early retirement if you manage your wealth wisely. Although some of the common reasons that drivers decide to leave long-haul driving can be overcome, it’s important to give them serious consideration. The last thing you want, professionally, is to shift gears and start over.
Truck Drivers Enjoy Unprecedented Job Security
If you look back at the U.S. economy 10, 20, or 30 years ago, it’s clear that the types of jobs everyday people worked have changed dramatically. Much of the country’s manufacturing base has been outsourced. The mining industry has downsized as things like coal have been replaced by natural gas in American power-generating plants. Automation has also revamped many sectors. Truck drivers have been relatively unaffected by change, and here’s why:
As the ATA reports, there has been an ongoing truck driver shortage for more than 15 years. Even during the low point of the last recession, freight companies struggled to find enough qualified drivers. Their challenge to fill good-paying positions have been recently exacerbated by two recent trends—the surging economy and government regulations cutting driver hours.
Conservative estimates anticipate that a driver shortage will top 160,000 in less than 10 years. In terms of starting a career in trucking, it appears there’s zero chance you will get laid off. Professional CDL holders are in high demand, and freight-hauling outfits are competing for truckers. Many are offering signing bonuses, improved benefits packages, as well as good salaries. Regardless of where goods and material originate, truck-driving American men and women are needed to get them to their destination.
At Southwest Truck Driver Training school, we recognize that there are all types of people, and not every career is your perfect fit. We hope you consider these pluses and minuses of trucking jobs carefully and thoughtfully. Feel free to contact us for more information about truck driver training.