If you’ve ever considered becoming a truck driver, there’s never been a better time to make the career move. In our growing economy, employment of heavy equipment and tractor-trailer truck drivers is projected to grow 6 percent from now until 2026. The economy depends on truck drivers to transport freight and keep supply chains moving; as the demand for goods increases, more truck drivers are needed. We have answered some FAQ to give other motorists and those interested in driving, an idea of what goes into the trucking industry and what is required of drivers.
HOW DO I BECOME A TRUCK DRIVER?
To become a commercial truck driver, you’ll need to get a commercial driver’s license through your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Before you can pass the required exam, you’ll probably need to enroll in a truck driving school, which typically takes about 7 weeks. Depending on whether you want a Class A or Class B license, the cost can range from $3,000 to $7,000. Generally, the more time you have to spend training to earn your chosen license, the more you should plan to spend on tuition. You may even qualify for financial aid to help with the cost of truck driving school.
HOW MUCH DO TRUCK DRIVERS EARN?
Some drivers are paid by the hour, while others are paid by the mile. The average driver earns about $45,000 per year, but drivers who are paid by the mile may earn more than hourly drivers, drawing in between $0.27 and $0.40 per mile for approximately 2,000 miles each week.
Drivers can be paid a variety of ways, the most common is to be paid by the hour, by the mile or by a percentage of the load. The average driver earns about $45,000 per year but depending on how they are paid, some drivers may earn more than others. Another key factor that can go into a driver’s pay is whether they use a company truck or if they own and operate their own. Which routes drivers are open to driving can also play a large role in their yearly income.
HOW LONG DO THEY DRIVE?
Truckers are limited to a total of 11 hours of drive time during each 14-hour period, and they’re required to have 10 or more consecutive hours off between each 14-hour period. The 14-hour window begins when any kind of work starts, even if it’s not actually driving.
HOW DO THEY STAY AWAKE?
Most truck drivers find that the responsibilities of managing and driving a large truck are more than enough to keep them engaged behind the wheel. That, combined with mandatory limitations on drive time, mean most truckers have no trouble remaining alert while driving. Some drivers also invest in satellite radio, audiobooks or podcasts to listen to on the road to keep them engaged.
WHERE DO TRUCK DRIVERS SLEEP?
Most over-the-road (OTR) semi-trucks have a twin size bed that pulls down from the wall of the cab, so drivers can sleep wherever they can park. Of course, just like a car, a truck can’t run all night during sleep hours. So when it’s too warm or too cold to sleep comfortably without heat or air conditioning, many truckers will stay at a motel to avoid losing any sleep.
Most over-the-road (OTR) drivers have sleeper trucks that have a twin sized bed in the back of the cab, so drivers can sleep wherever they can park. Some trucks even have generators, microwaves, mini-fridges and televisions to help drivers be more comfortable. Some companies also will give drivers a daily stipend they can choose to use on food or a hotel room if they wish.
ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF TRUCKING JOBS?
Yes, there are several different options depending on how you want to drive and who you want to work for. First, you can choose between being a solo or a team OTR driver. Team drivers can log more miles because the truck never stops moving (your partner drives while you rest and vice versa), and they split the pay, which can average up to $100,000-$150,000 per year.
Next, you can choose to be a dedicated driver — who drives for a single company and typically spend more time at home — or work as a truck driver trainer once you’ve had a chance to gain some experience. Trainers can earn more than a typical driver, bringing home as much as $60,000 to $80,000 per year.
Finally, if you like the idea of working for yourself, you can become an owner-operator. As the name implies, this option means you own the truck you drive, which puts the responsibility for insurance and maintenance entirely on you.
Truck driving continues to be a growing career opportunity, and it requires a relatively small investment of time and money to get started. If the freedom of the open road is calling you, maybe it’s time to answer. Visit J & M Tank to learn more about job opportunities and apply online.
J & M Tank is a family owned trucking company that has been in business since 1948. We have terminals located in Alabama, Georgia, and Texas.