Start a Career as a Professional Truck Driver; the Facts All Aspiring Truck Drivers Wishing to Cash in on $110K+ Annual Salaries Need to Know…
By Darrell DiZoglio, Certified Professional Résumé Writer & Career Coach at RighteousResumes.com Copyright Dec. 2022, all rights reserved.
I have served and interviewed hundreds of Truck Drivers as a Mortgage Banker/Broker and Certified Professional Résumé Writer for decades. Thus, I have seen their W-2 forms and all this info is coming directly from the source. The good news is that the career stability, employer loyalty, financial compensation (with bonuses) and excellent benefits package rumors are in fact accurate regardless of whether you became an over the road (OTR) Truck Driver or Route Truck Driver (often home nightly). What’s unusual about this career field is that you can reel in the big dough without a bachelors or master’s degree.
Further, employers are paying very healthy signing bonuses for new Truck Drivers. For new Truck Drivers some employers are paying for the entire cost of training you (themselves) and giving out a $2500 training completion bonus. For veteran professional Truck Drivers employers are offering $10K-$12K sign-on bonuses. Obviously, you will be an essential employee to your employers who depend on you to be reliable, timely and healthy enough to execute on deliveries.
If you will be just starting out as a Truck Driver, you can reroll in a professional Truck Driver Academy/School ($7K-$9K) or apply as a Trainee with an established trucking company like Stephens Transportation that trains brand new Truck Drivers. You will want to know how to drive a manual 10-speed (transmission) tractor trailer and an automatic tractor trailer because you will be assigned a truck by your employer. Either way, you will need to pass a physical, learn about defensive driving and the rules of the road for tractor trailers, how to back up a tractor trailer to a warehouse loading dock, pre-trip safety inspections, compliance, and the essentials of truck maintenance. Without experience, you will qualify for a commercial driver’s license class A in 6-8 weeks on average.
Yes, there is a steep learning curve in year one. Yes, you want to treat the Dispatchers with respect and try your absolute best to accommodate your employer's needs. The good news is that you can literally to from zero to hero as a Truck Driver in 12-18 months. After that there are several ways you can advance your skills, earnings and career as detailed below.
The many benefits of a career as a professional Truck Driver: Choose between an Over the Road assignments (driving cross country) or Local Route Deliveries (home nightly). There’s no need to rent an apartment when you are an OTR Truck Driver, so you can save a ton on rent and utilities annually. Then stay in a hotel on vacations. The combination of tremendous savings on monthly rent and utilities ($1800-$2200/month) and high-income, bonuses and great benefits gives you true financial freedom.
Get paid to workout daily – Build Muscles and stay fit on many local route assignments that (food, beer, wine & alcohol deliveries) require Truck Drivers to load and use hand trucks full of boxes to deliver products into their clients’ storage areas (liquor stores/restaurants/convenience stores).
You have incredible job security as an indispensable employee/licensed employee.
Earning an above average income, bonuses and benefits package means you can retire early, invest in the stock market, pay your children’s college tuition, or purchase rental income properties.
Paid vacations and tuition reimbursement programs.
See America the beautiful, breathe fresh air, and enjoy majestic scenery, mountains, glorious sunsets, and forests.
Modern Truck Stops offer clean restrooms, private showers, and a wide variety of ready to eat foods, snacks, and beverages. Stick with the health and nutritious choices though!
Freedom/Independence – There is no micromanager hovering over everything you do, it’s just you, your Co-Pilot/buddy, the open road, and a Dispatcher.
Better New Labor Laws – Truck Drivers are limited to 70-hours per week, 11 hours per day driving maximum, and 14 hours work per day maximum, highway speed is regulated/governed, and your electronic labor log ensures you do not wear yourself out. This prevents dangerous driving conditions due to exhaustion/falling asleep at the wheel. Most employers that hire OTR Truck Drivers have them drive in teams so one sleeps while the other drives. This results in a significant improvement in highway safety and far less accidents.
Earnings/Career Advancement – Added endorsements available include Tanker Truck, HAZMAT, Double Trailer, Triple Trailer etc. You can also be selected to train new Truck Drivers (extra pay), drive a Tanker Truck (often carries HAZMAT like ethanol, fuel, heating oil etc. $$$$) and you can become an Owner Operator by leasing/buying your own Tractor Trailer Truck. Owner Operators are in business for themselves but often stick with the same employer, so they make what a regular Truck Driver would plus the net profit from operations. After that you can always buy another tractor trailer truck and hire a few Truck Drivers to work for you. Cha ching! Alternatively, you could even earn a promotion into management at your current transportation company, become an Expeditor (an elite, veteran Truck Driver that solves all sorts of transportation challenges for various businesses or government $$$$$) or start your own trucking company ($$$$$).
Referral Bonuses – Truck Drivers are essential employees and there’s still a nationwide shortage of talent, so many/most employers offer employees a referral bonus for helping them hire new Truck Drivers. By the way, hiring a Certified Professional Résumé Writer like myself will give you a significant advantage when looking to enter the industry, secure employment or advance your career/earnings.
Music/Talk Radio/Education: You can listen to your favorite AM Talk Radio, Your Favorite Music, Christian Music Radio (KLOVE.com), YouTube channels, or educational audio books. You can learn another language via Rosetta Stone, local university, LinkedIn Learning and VTC.com have all sorts of software/technology/educational classes you can listen to while driving. There’s a world of entertainment, enlightenment, uplifting music, and opportunity out there. As a Truck Driver you can take full advantage.
The Trucking Community – There are all sorts of advantages to being part of the Truck Driver community similar to the military community. There’s candid online feedback about the best employers, YouTube videos that are very educational, special GPS truck driving apps that are very helpful, and the experts will help you with career advancement/higher earnings, dating apps for your smartphone, best strategies for taking college classes, as well as hunting and fishing advice for your days off.
Paid Detention (Excess Waiting Time) - Forced waiting time (detention) over two hours is paid at $25-$100/hour. This encourages employers/client warehouses and distribution centers to be as efficient as possible to avoid this expense being added to their invoice. Example a ten hour wait x $55/hour = $550 in detention time pay. Veteran Truck Drivers with regular deliveries/ clients working local delivery routes can minimize delays because they know the optimum times to deliver or avoid because they know their clients well (e.g., restaurants open for lunch do not want deliveries from noon to 2 p.m. local time because they are very busy with customers). At the end of the year your paid detention can really add up and it's a good opportunity to rest up.
The Talent Shortage Will Continue – This guarantees you will be paid above average wages long-term, have bonus opportunities and enjoy a comprehensive benefits package. You can go from being unemployed to gainfully employed instantly once you have a CDL and have training or experience driving a big rig.
Secret to Success: Many of my clients have told me the real secret to success in trucking is maintaining a relentless positive attitude and counting all your blessings every day. You can train your mind to see the good in every situation, solutions for every problem and the opportunity in every challenge. How can you be unsatisfied with a job that enables you to payoff a nice home/rental income home in 5-7 years vs. 30-35 years for most Americans?
Advancement to Owner Operator - After you have enough experience and confidence (3-5 years), you can purchase or lease a new Mac, Peterbilt or Volvo tractor trailer (tried and true brand names are still the best), work under a license holder's supervision, obtain commercial insurance, and operate your own 1-truck trucking business. This way you will be paying for routine expenses like maintenance, gas, and new tires but you will enjoy a significant increase in pay because the net profit from your Owner Operator trucking business will be all yours. Example: Long-Haul Trucking Drivers (team) can average $115K in annual earnings each with a better employer.
As Owner Operators the same team could earn $220K-$230K or more. In case you are wondering, when fuel costs increase again, Owner Operators add fuel surcharges to existing invoices to protect their profits. There is an abundance of business out there, so Owner Operators never have to worry about not having enough freight to transport. Additionally, Owner Operators can add trucks and Truck Drivers (employees) to increase their profits further. The more you investigate a career as a Truck Driver, the better it gets. Truck Drivers' pay will continue to increase to attract for professional drivers to trucking.
Disadvantages of being a Truck Driver: Being away from home most of the time except for days off (avoiding the high cost of rent & utilities is a major advantage if single), lack of exercise when driving cross country (you can do many floor exercises outdoors when resting at truck stops), being away from family/your own bed (you do have at least 4-5 days off per month), pay for first year Truck Drivers is lower, but they pay for your training, licensing exam, and commercial insurance (first year pay in any profession is lower than pay for experienced talent), bad weather, traffic jams/road construction (easily avoided with Truck Driver apps using GPS), you are paid for mileage vs. hourly pay rate (this is essential to incentivize good performance, smart choices, and safety/defensive driving after all you are likely driving $300K worth of equipment with freight), missing family/loved ones (we have video conferencing smartphone apps that will help with that).
The reality is you can take great pride in serving a vital role by delivering all sorts of products to wherever it is needed most. Without Truck Drivers, our nation’s economy would grind to a halt. This is why most Truck Drivers earn more than most college graduates do annually. The bottom line is a career as a Truck Driver will put financial stress and problems, lack of health, dental & vision insurance, lack of 401K plan contributions, employment insecurity, not enough retirement savings, and all sorts of debt problems in the rearview mirror. Having hundreds of thousands in your savings, gold and silver and retirement account sure does give people plenty of confidence.
Are you ready to say, YES to success? If so, visit with Darrell DiZoglio, Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW) & Career Coach at our sponsor RighteousResumes.com today because RighteousResumes.com delivers real results and your résumé is step one in your job search.
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