The truck driving industry plays an important role in the economy. Truck drivers deliver raw materials to different manufacturing industries. These companies then produce and export finished products to various distributors through truckers. It’s a continuous cycle that ensures businesses, and the economy at large stay afloat. Truck drivers are basically the middlemen between companies, retailers, and customers.
If you’re looking for a new job, a job in the truck driving industry is worth considering. This industry has been moving the economy and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. There are several reasons why people decide to pursue this profession. For some, it’s a tangible skill that puts them in demand and in control of their career. For others, it’s a chance to get out of the office and enjoy the outdoors. Others find it an easy way to get out of unemployment/underemployment considering no college degree is required.
Whatever your reason, you must weigh the pros and cons before making a decision. When choosing a job, ensure it provides not just income but also satisfaction and growth opportunities that you wouldn’t find elsewhere with your qualifications. Well, truck driving provides just that and much more.
Here’s a look at the advantages and disadvantages of working in this industry so you can make an informed decision:
10 Pros of Being a Truck Driver
1 Great pay
A new driver in the trucking industry earns an average of $35,000 a year, which is a very good paycheck for a blue-collar job. This figure only increases as you gain more experience. Your salary will also depend on the route you drive, the load you haul, and the length of travel. Generally, long-haul drivers get paid more. Companies also give sign-up bonuses, as well as bonuses for distance traveled, certain loads carried, great safety records, and longevity.
2 Easy to qualify
Many people don’t have the desire or finances to go to college. Luckily, the trucking industry is open to everyone –locals and expats alike. No college education or prior experience is needed. All you’ll need is to have a CDL license, which takes less than 3 months. Expats will, however, need to provide proof of citizenship or lawful permanent residency to get this license. So, in just 10 weeks or so, you’ll be trained, licensed and on your way to a stable job with great pay.
3 An opportunity to travel
As a truck driver, you’ll get a fair share of picturesque sights as you deliver cargo from one point to the next. While the types of views will depend on the route taken, it’s safe to say that truck drivers get to see landmarks, skylines, attractions, mountain ranges, and huge forests, just to name a few. For long-haul drivers, expect to explore new cities, discover small and beautiful towns, sight-see, and experience how differently people live from state to state.
With truck driving, you have the opportunity to travel and not get stuck in a cubicle all day. While you’re required to follow hours of service, no boss is watching your every move. You get to decide what hours you drive and take a break when you want to, so long as you deliver the goods on time and as per legal requirements. If you hate punching the clock, sitting behind a desk, dealing with office politics, and attending long meetings, then trucking might be for you.
Truck drivers are allowed to choose what type of hauls they want to drive –whether local, long-distance or cross-region. And, although long-haul trips require commitment, many companies strive to ensure work-life balance for their drivers by providing flexible work schedules. For instance, some truckers work continuously for two weeks a month and have time off the other two weeks. Alternatively, you can work as a team.
6 Truckers are in demand
The trucking industry is experiencing a massive shortage of truck drivers. Some of the factors contributing to this shortage include an aging driver population and increases in freight volumes as companies like Amazon and Walmart ship more goods across the country. Plus, people don’t want this job because of their rough lifestyle. Therefore, if you decide to become a truck driver, many employment opportunities await you.
7 Opportunities to grow
Getting your CDL to become a truck driver is simply the beginning. You’ll have more options after a couple of years on the road. With the shortage of truck drivers, there’s plenty of room for promotions and growth. Experienced truckers haul different types of loads, including flatbed trucks, tanker trucks, auto haulers, hoppers, or bull haulers, which can earn them more money. You can also become a trainer/instructor once you get plenty of experience, or build your own trucking company if you have entrepreneurial skills.
8 Job security
Many people are in constant fear of losing their jobs in today’s unstable economy. As you decide what career path to take, you need to ensure it’s in a booming, stable industry. Truck drivers enjoy unprecedented job security due to the existing shortage, which is even set to increase in the next decade. Also, truck drivers are needed in virtually all industries. In fact, small towns rely on them to keep their economies afloat. Job security only increases when you are a safe and reliable driver.
9 Benefits and perks
Trucking companies understand that truck driving is a demanding job; as such, they offer a wide variety of benefits to entice their employees. Some of the common benefits include medical covers, a free high-speed wireless network, retirement plans, life insurance, paid time off, dental insurance, and much more. Depending on the employer, truck drivers can also get paid vacation and holidays, free training, tuition reimbursement, as well as discounts to health-related programs such as gyms to ensure truckers maintain their health.
Truck driving is a unique type of occupation and that commonality sets truck drivers apart. Many of them describe their work as a lifestyle. The truth is no one will truly understand what you experience daily except for another trucker. Much like the military, truck drivers have special relationships with one another and getting help from other drivers is common.
10 Cons of Being a Truck Driver
Truck driving is usually a one-man job. And, although some people prefer their own company, having to spend hours upon hours alone in your truck can be lonely. In addition to lacking companionship in the truck, you may also have to eat alone. Meals are not only inconsistent but also usually available in unfavorable places. Communicating with your loved ones will come down to just phone calls. All this loneliness puts truckers at risk of suffering from depression.
2 The possibility of an unhealthy lifestyle
Staying healthy can be hard when you’re living on the road. You’ll spend many hours sitting while driving with the possibility of no movement. When boredom sets in, you’ll find yourself snacking more than those with an active job, which can turn into extra pounds pretty fast. Your options for food will also be limited to quick drive-thrus. Too much fast food and soft drinks lead to an unhealthy diet. All these make truck drivers at risk of becoming obese.
3 Physically demanding
Truckers stay seated for extended periods. Even with good posture, using ergonomic seat cushions, and stretching regularly (which are all important), non-stop driving can take a toll on the body. This puts truck drivers at risk of developing back pain, knee pain, shoulder pain, or even degenerative disc disease over time. With such a physically demanding job, a serious injury can mean the end of your career.
4 Irregular sleep patterns and weather
Irregular shifts are common when working as a truck driver. This means irregular sleep times for truck drivers, which can end up affecting their circadian rhythm and cause sleep deprivation. We all know how important quality sleep is to our overall health, but truckers need it more to ensure everyone’s safety on the road. As a truck driver, you’ll also be crossing states regularly. One day there’s warm weather and the next is freezing or you’re traveling through snow-packed roads. The constant change in environments and climates can affect some people.
Truck drivers often feel pressured to drive regardless of how tired they feel; after all, if you’re not driving, you’re not making any money. Driving and sitting for long hours can wear someone out. Uncomfortable mattresses, an unhealthy lifestyle, irregular sleep times, as well as noisy parking lots or sleeping in dangerous areas can affect the quality of sleep. In general, truck drivers don’t get enough rest, which can impact their driving abilities.
6 Long hours
Truck drivers work long hours, which will seem even longer when you’re on the road alone. If this sounds like hell for you, then this job might not be for you. You also need to be psychologically and physically prepared for all the sitting, driving, holding the steering wheel, and watching the road because that’s all you’ll be doing all day for 2-3 weeks at a time.
7 Truck drivers face death on the roads
Truck drivers are susceptible to road accidents at any moment. As stated earlier, most of them are usually fatigued and sleep-deprived, both of which can lead to accidents. Some truckers drive on poor road conditions such as ice roads where the vehicle can easily roll over if proper care isn’t taken. Some truckers transport hazardous freight, which can cause death if not handled properly. Accidents and fatalities are also rampant because some truckers break traffic rules trying to beat traffic and make deliveries on time.
Stress is inevitable when you’re a truck driver. Strict deadlines, city traffic, lazy shippers, delays, bad weather, lack of sleep, fatigue, bad directions, lack of social life, and having to live in small spaces are some of the causes of stress in the trucking industry.
9 Straining on relationships
It’s quite challenging for truckers to form meaningful relationships. They are usually away for weeks at a time, and hardly have enough time to catch up on what they missed. Very few partners can make this kind of sacrifice; in fact, most truckers end up being divorced after joining this occupation. Those with kids are barely part of their lives and kids end up growing without feeling their presence. The majority of truck drivers are forced to quit their jobs to save their relationships.
10 Repetitive work
Truck driving can become repetitive, especially for those doing local runs. Driving the same route, seeing the same scenery, and meeting the same people day in, day out can make for a boring routine. This, together with all the cons mentioned above, increases the risk of burnout.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.