Job Expectations and Salaries for Truck Drivers

Job Expectations and Salaries for Truck Drivers

The truck driver is a familiar sight on America's highways. Whether driving a big rig on long over-the-road hauls that span several states or doing local deliveries in their own home town; the truck driver is here to stay. Almost everything manufactured or produced is loaded into the back of a truck at some point, resulting in truck driving as a solid career choice.

There are several types of truck driving jobs to choose from, each one with its own advantages. Personality types and family obligations should be taken into consideration when deciding which one may be right for an individual.

Local Driver

The local driver is generally home every evening and is employed at an hourly rate. This type of driver works for various businesses and only drives a short distance. They may deliver materials such as products to construction sites, or vegetables and fruits from farms to the local cannery or packing house.

Short-Haul Driver

The short-haul driver will usually drive a 100-mile radius or less from their location. They may make one drop or multiple deliveries and are sometimes required to load and unload their own vehicles. Many short haul truck drivers have specific delivery routes and may be responsible for customer service type duties and sales responsibilities. In addition to the delivery of goods, these drivers may be expected to introduce products to new clients, handle complaints, collect payments, and often set up and arrange product displays. These route sales drivers are generally rewarded with a commission program in addition to their salary.

Over-the-Road Driver/Long-Haul Driver

Over-the-road drivers could be responsible for delivering to the 48 contiguous states, or to a specific geographic location, such as the Great Lakes area. These heavy truck and tractor-trailer drivers operate vehicles with a capacity of 26 thousand pounds.

Long-distance drivers spend many hours behind the wheel of their truck. They generally work the maximum number of hours allowed by federal regulations, and are often away from home for several days or weeks at a time. The amount of time spent away from family should be a major factor when deciding whether to choose this type of trucking. A driver engaged in long hauls faces loneliness, boredom, and fatigue, making this type of work clearly not for everyone.

Job security in truck driving is high. Even with the stress of today's economy, there is still enough production to cause a shortage of drivers. The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics predicts employment opportunities to increase at the rate of eight percent over the next five years, with over 250,000 new jobs being created.

Income of hourly-paid drivers varies greatly according to the employer. It is generally expected that a driver will earn considerably less during their first year. The average for entry-level drivers is anywhere from $15-$20 per hour.

Long-haul drivers and independent contractors are paid by the mile, or sometimes by a percentage of the load's worth. The long-haul driver usually enjoys a higher income level than the local delivery driver, although both types of drivers are paid well compared to national income averages.

Truck drivers are required to earn a CDL license from an accredited truck driving school. Students are trained in specific laws and compliance regulations which will prepare them for testing. They also learn all the tricky details of maneuvering a large vehicle through different traffic and loading situations. Overall, a career as a CDL truck driver is a secure choice with a promising future.