Could You Go All The Way As A Trucker?

    Posted by Ben Davidson about 11 months ago
    For those who love to drive, the thoughts of driving for a living cross the mind often. Not everyone can be a car reviewer, but there are plenty of options out there and several of them bring with them the chance to make a good living. Delivery is one of the most crucial jobs relying on drivers today, and out of all the delivery jobs, we’re going to take a focus on truck driving. What does it really entail, can you take the pressures of the job and, perhaps most importantly, what does it offer?


    The demand is there
    There is some uncertainty about the future of truck driving, with the demand expected by some to pull back as delivery methods diversify. However, there’s one that’s certain. As of right now, we’re not reaching the demand for truck drivers. In fact, we’re in need of more. The average age of truck drivers is rising while there are fewer “new blood” recruits joining the ranks. Many of the major delivery companies are hiring drivers while small businesses in growing areas continue to need independent delivery companies and solo owner-drivers to carry out their business needs. 46 percent of delivery companies participating in the market cite a skills shortage, with some truck manufacturers such as Volvo gearing up to establish academies to train and provide a career entry route for younger drivers.
     
    Know your role
    The need for training is certainly there, too. There are regulations against driving large trucks before the age of 25, but drivers can start the necessary education before that. Before taking lessons, it’s worth noting the kinds of vehicles you may be interested in driving as part of the career. With heavy vehicles, there are different levels of license that give you the adequate training and qualifications to drive different vehicles. Light Rigid vehicles, including small trucks capable of carrying no more than 8 tonnes, require a class C license, a knowledge test, eyesight test, and passing a practical driving test. However, other classes, such as the Multi Combination vehicle, including road trains, require licenses for other heavy vehicles first. The higher the class, the more specialised your knowledge will be but the more vehicles you will be legally allowed to drive.
     
    Driving blind?
    Safety is also a huge concern with truckers, with the risks of driving trucks being significantly higher than in other road vehicles. There are car manufacturers such as Volvo improving the technology to increase driver awareness of blindsides and to limit the possibility of a collision. However, the onus is always on the driver, not their tech. Training to acquire a license is just the beginning of learning to drive safely in a truck and there are supplementary safety lessons that a driver should take advantage of. The vehicle is bigger, harder to control, and with larger blindsides than any on the road. The dangers of the job should not be underestimated, but they can be actively battled.


     
    Schedules and flexibility
    The odd schedules of driving a truck are both a blessing and a curse. Deliveries have to be made across all distances at all times, which could mean all-night driving for a lot of truckers. Over an eight-day period, the average trucker drivers over 70 hours, so working the schedule in with family life, as suggested by Landair, is a must. However, with the range of employers and working arrangements, it also allows for a lot of flexibility in finding the schedule that fits you. You won’t necessarily have to do the 9-5 that many modern workers are finding cumbersome.
     
    You’ll go everywhere
    Another benefit that many truckers can appreciate is that the job really can take you the distance, geographically speaking. There are few jobs where travel is so integral. While you might be spending a lot of time on empty, repetitive road, you will also see some corners of the country you’ve never been able to. The stops and the people you meet on the way can make up one of the perks of the job, as well. With companies like OTR creating first-class facilities in their stops for truckers, there are places growing to accommodate truckers as well, providing things like showers and communal areas with their stores. If seeing sights is part of the whole appeal of driving for a living to you, then you might have more luck in truck driving than most other careers.
     
    Driving fatigue is real
    In case the point wasn’t made clear, you will be driving a huge amount as a trucker. To put 70 hours in eight days into perspective, the average full-time professional truck driver drives five hundred miles a day. As those 70 hours aren’t always distributed evenly, it can mean more than 12 hours’ driving in a single day. There are some experts claiming that driving fatigue levels can be combatted by requiring fewer than 10 hours’ driving a day. However, the threat is still there. Beyond testing your endurance, it can lead to an improved susceptibility to the dangers of drowsy driving or to losing your focus on the road. If you get into this line of work, you have to be prepared for the long haul.


    Drivers of the future?
    As mentioned above, there are some concerns about the long-term of the truck driving industry. While there’s currently a shortage and thus plenty of work to go to new drivers, there are the concerns that eventually drivers might be working in an outdated and shrinking industry. These concerns are due to the right of things like drone delivery and driverless vehicles making human drivers unnecessary. For now, however, these worries are small and start showing any signs of worrying growth like manufacturing did with automation. In general, we’re seeing a lack of job security in all markets as a result of shifting employment trends, against which trucking stands as something of a bulwark.. As it stands, if you get your heavy vehicle license, regardless of level, there’s work out there.
     
    How high can you go?
    When talking about the benefits of the job, most people are concerned with one thing above all else: how much they can expect to take away from it. For a job that requires specialized training, personal investment, and long hours spent on the job, many would expect a paycheque to match and the average employee truck driver has little to complain about. It depends on your location, of course, but_ Payscale names a starting hourly rate of $20.14 - $29.43 with overtime as high as $45. That makes it significantly higher paying than the average entry-level job. For certain roles, the job can get all the more lucrative, too. For instance, driving truck on a mine site nets an average annual salary around $100,000.
     
    Life is full of little bonuses
    On top of your standard pay, it’s worth noting that many employers also offer their drivers certain incentives to help them drive better, as well. For instances, there are financial rewards in many places for driving for so long with an impeccable safety record. There are further rewards for those who can save more fuel on their trips by driving more efficiently, too. With the current skills shortage, trucking is a competitive field for employers and that means that improved benefits such as life insurance packages, retirement contributions, and things like paying for necessary eye exams are all commonplace. Of course, if you’re driving independently, you won’t have access to these benefits but if you do it well enough, you should make more than enough to afford them.


    Taking ownership
    There are a lot of different roles in trucking beyond simply working for the many employers out there. You might want to drive independently as a sole trader or to start up your own delivery team. To that end, there are plenty of fine suppliers such as Truck Dealers Australia that can help you acquire a high-quality vehicle at a lower price. To many drivers, owning their own truck can provide an extra level of job security, as well. Many employers are willing to let drivers use their own vehicles, which means that so long as you have the vehicle and take care of it, there are ways to make money from it.
     
    Going it alone
    Working on your own as an independent truck driver, or as an ‘owner-operator’ is a tempting choice for many drivers. Depending on the market and which employers you’re competing with, you could make a lot more by taking on more work for a lot more of the compensation. However, the market is currently being hit by new regulations affecting the rates that independent owner-operators are able to charge. Specifically, they have to charge at or above a minimum rate, that many self-employed drivers are claiming are putting them out of business because it’s stopping them from staying competitive with larger companies, to which the rules don’t apply. It’s uncertain how long these rules will stick for, or if they’re here for the long haul, so going independent needs to be carefully thought out.
     
    There’s no denying that truck driving is a hard job and with an uncertain future, but it’s clear that the demand is still there, still with plenty of room for new drivers, and still lucrative.

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