Truck driving can be a high-paying job that doesn’t require an above-average education to get started. To drive a “big machine,” you only need a commercial driver’s license or CDL. The CDL comes in three classes with different endorsements and restrictions.
A Class A CDL is enough to start a career as a trucker. It allows a person to operate a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or more, provided the vehicle being towed is heavier than 10,000 pounds.
Almost every transportation company across the country offers many CDL A jobs all the time and HMD Trucking is among them. With a Class A CDL and the appropriate clearance, you can drive the following types of vehicles:
- Trucks and trailer combination.
- Tank vehicles.
- Livestock carriers.
Truck drivers generally start their careers with a high school diploma and no work experience. They must complete at least one month of on-the-job training. This training is a program that will prepare you to start your truck driving career.
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The workplace and the atmosphere
I don’t want to scare you, but if you have decided to start a career in trucking, you should be well aware that you will be working in an environment that is far from ideal.
- A large part of your life will be looking at the world through the windshield in a closed vehicle.
- Your normal work week will be more than 40 hours long.
- You will regularly have to work outdoors and be exposed to weather conditions.
- Constant stress under time pressure.
- Lack of sleep and excessive consumption of coffee.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sets the length of a truck driver’s workday. They are allowed to work 14 consecutive hours, of which they may drive up to 11 hours and do other work, such as loading, for the remainder of the day. Drivers must have at least 10 hours off and no more than 60 work hours in a seven-day workweek or 70 work hours in an eight-day workweek. Before starting another seven- or eight-day job, the driver must take a 34-hour break.
- Inspect vehicles.
- Observe safety precautions when operating a vehicle.
- Record operational or production data.
- Inspect cargo to ensure it is properly loaded or secured.
- Record maintenance or repair activities.
- In addition to their driving duties, independent drivers also perform business tasks, such as soliciting customers and performing administrative work.
Some drivers have a couple of routes on which they drive regularly, while other drivers use many different routes across the states. Also, some drivers have routes that include crossing the Mexico or Canada border.
Average wage and how to earn more
Your salary will depend on the type of your work
- Regional drivers work in a certain area of the country only. You can earn $1,200 a week and $60,000 a year respectively.
- Solo over-the-road (OTR) drivers haul in the continental U.S., sometimes crossing the Canadian and Mexican borders. You can bring home $1,400 a week in your first year of trucking and $70,000 a year.
- A driver team consists of two drivers and the range of their salary is $80,000 to $90,000 annually.
Your salary level is related to your skill and experience level
Regardless of your profession, every employer is more likely to hire a more qualified person. For example, a basic salary for a tanker truck driver ranges from $75,000 to $105,000.
Single OTR truck drivers earn about $70,000 at the beginning of their career. But with experience, they can get more difficult routes and earn up to $90,000.
More difficult routes pay more money. Truckers who work in difficult northern conditions on icy roads earn up to $250,000 in just 3-4 months. This high level of income is due to the fact that the routes they work on are very technically challenging. And 3-4 months of work requires much more effort and concentration.
Other specializations of drivers earning more money include, for example, HAZMAT carriers and oversized cargo drivers. Such haul types give you the possibility to earn significantly more than the average wage, because they involve increased risk and require at least 5 years of driving experience.
Try to find a reliable partner and work as a team. A team truck driver earns an average of $85,000 a year.
Many companies tend to hire team drivers because they can haul loads over long routes much faster than solo drivers. In addition, there are not many teams that are reliable and available for hire. The combination of high demand and low supply leads to higher pay for team drivers.
The most important aspect of teamwork is to find a partner you feel comfortable riding with.
You have to consider that you will be in the truck cab together for quite a long time. If you find a partner with whom you will enjoy working, it will have a positive effect on your work results and wages.
Become an owner-operator
Owner-operators operate their own truck. This type of work involves higher costs, because owner-operators cover all expenses themselves, such as maintenance, insurance, fuel and other expenses. But at the same time, owner-operators also earn significantly more than regular company drivers. Their average annual income is $140,000.
To build a successful career as an owner-operator, you need a clear transportation business plan. If you don’t have one, your expenses could exceed your income for the year.