I asked the question of why become a trucker to a group of people on social media. I received a total of 46 votes on only four possible options to vote on. The number one reason “Why to become a trucker?” from this poll is:
Most people that decide to go into truck driving, do so because it was a life long dream to do so since childhood. This option received 21 of the 46 possible votes. That’s 45.65% of the votes!
Some people choose for various other things. People I’ve met along the way, while trucking has reasons that are so strange you may not believe it. Believe it or not, you won’t’ know unless you continue reading below.
How Much Are Truck Drivers Paid?
Many people want to become a trucker because they think truck drivers make a whole heck of a lot of money. This is both true and false at the same time because some do, and some do not.
Where this becomes false is when we’re talking about a brand-new trucker that just started truck driving by them self for the first time having completed all training requirements, as well in some cases if they are a local truck driver. I am not here to say that every local driver makes less than others.
I’m only saying that some make less than others. Like everything, pay is also a variable from niche to a niche within the trucking industry. The more dangerous the job, the more likely you will be paid more.
Or maybe not as dangerous, but the more involved the trucking niche. By involved I mean, what it takes to get the job done. Something like oversize can be dangerous, and it involves additional people to move the freight down the road.
It involves more than just a truck driver. I have seen it involve a truck driver, with a secondary truck driver pushing the first truck driver all while there were several hired escorts and state troopers assisting in the escorting of the over-sized semi-truck and trailer.
Along with all of this extra assistance, there is a boat load of paperwork and permits that must be filled out and filed to be processed in order to make all of this come together as a smooth operation.
The pay of today is not like how it was when I started driving a semi-truck. When I started, I was making pennies on the dollar compared to the payment company truck drivers receive today. In today’s era of time, a new rookie trucker can start out anywhere between $0.25 to $0.30 per mile as an Over the Road (OTR) company truck driver.
Based on these numbers, over a course of an average week of traveling 500 miles a day, (Average of most hauls that is doable.) over the course of let’s say 5 days, being 2,500 miles for the week, that pay will gross in the range of $625 to $750 for the week. Keep in mind this is gross, not net.
Also, keep in mind that the above equations are based on paid miles. Paid miles tend to vary about 10% from actual miles driven. At some point, the variable of 10% is more like 12%. Normally, a truck driver has driven more miles than what the truck driver will be paid for.
It’s all part of the game.
The average local company truck driver tends to make about $14.00 to $24.00 per hour with a work week consisting of up to 60 hours a week without being paid for overtime. This also is dependent based on experience.
Regional company truck drivers are paid somewhat like how OTR company drivers are paid. The difference here at times is the limited miles driven. When they drive more or drive fewer miles, it is reflected in the gross pay to the truck driver.
So, as we can see, there is money to be made if anyone chooses to become a truck driver. It’s like any career or profession, the more time you put into being a truck driver as long as you maintain a safe and clean history of trucking, you could find yourself making better money.
With obtained experience, you will find doors that will open for being able to transition into different niches of trucking. Take me for example:
- I went from regular OTR company truck driver hauling a dry box trailer, which is where most truckers start. It’s really the simplest and easiest at the same time with the least involvement from the truck drivers viewpoint unless you’re the owner of the trailer, at this point, it becomes a different ball game.
- To be a Regional company truck driver, then
- To become an OTR lease owner-operator, then
- To learn how to be an OTR company car hauler truck driver, then
- To an OTR owner operator car hauler truck driver, then
- Back to being an OTR company car hauler truck driver, then
- To be an OTR company truck driver hauling inter-modal shipping containers.
The abilities to not only improve your income but also change up what exactly you want to do within trucking is in a way unlimited.
Kids Dream Of Being A Truck Driver.
When I was a child and my grandma would come to pick me up from upstate New York and take me back to Indiana for the entire summer. Along the way, I would stick my arm out of the window and I would get truckers to honk the air horn for me.
Never would I have dreamed of becoming a truck driver. Though for others, this dream is very real. This is more than just a dream or a goal for some individuals, many are bound and determined to become a truck driver.
They’ve seen the semi-trucks and trailers, they’ve played the license plate game where you attempt to remember as many trucker license plate states as possible, and they’ve already looked 25 years into the future as themselves being a truck driver.
Through all the real-life stuff, what they see is that big shiny rig, what they hear is that loud train air horn, and what they remember are all the smiles and honks they received along the way.
They see their toys larger than life, hear some that are extremely loud at times, and still remember all the smiles. What more could a kid ask for? These are the little moments that lead you to makes your dreams come true.
For some kids, it’s a dream for some different reasons. Like one of my buddies that I have lost contact with. His CB Handle is Gator Hator and he’s from The Bikini State. For him, in the summertime, it was really the only time he was able to spend with his dad.
During my summer vacation from school and staying with my grandparents. I would drive my grandpa’s tractor in the field. At times I would even tag along with him while he trucked across the highway.
Though my outlook on trucking was a little different than my buddies outlook as a child.
He would ride with his dad on his dad’s trucking trips, he would tell me. It was the best of times he ever remembered. He would always tell everyone that he was going to grow up and be a Truck Driver just like his daddy.
Which, he did. Not only did he accomplish this. He also accomplished the ability to purchase a Kenworth W 900 and have it painted candy apple red. Then he customized it to help him haul overweight and oversize loads.
Last I heard my buddy was hauling generators and windmills as a side job. Last time I spoke to him was over 9 years ago.
So, if anyone sees Gator Hator, let him know Chicken Clucker says, “How ya do’n buddy”. I doubt he’s driving a different semi-truck. Since he always said he’d rather rebuild what he has then buy something that may not work.
Some may have this dream, but their life takes them down accounting, being an attorney, or just something different. At some point in time, this childhood dream is rekindled. They reminisce about all the things listed in the above.
Then at some point in time. They decide to give up the office job and chase their childhood dream.
Trucking Across The Open Road.
For some, becoming a truck driver is a dream. For others, it is an idea for having a peaceful mindset. Some think of this as tranquility to some degree. While others, just feel they are ready for a bit of peace and quiet.
Though semi-trucks are not all that quite while standing outside of them. While inside of a semi-truck, they are pretty quiet so long as the CB Radio volume isn’t cranked all the way up.
Some just want to see more of America, the countryside, mountains, and everything in between. While others want to use the ability to just see and hopefully experience different things. Different cultures, towns, and cities.
I know during my first year and some time in trucking. I see places I would have never seen in my life if it was not for trucking. I would park the semi truck and trailer at a safe and secure location, and I would arrange a taxi cab to pick me up.
I would go to a club and later have a taxi bring me back. Life at first was a bit more than exciting at times. Back then, I was 21 maybe 22, single and ready to live life to the fullest extent.
Some see this as an opportunity to make their life an adventure. To be able to get out, away from the small town life, or big city life. A way to kick back and just enjoy the moments that come along the way.
In a way, to new truck drivers, this embeds an idea of freedom among themselves. Brings forth an idea of independence and to feel self-efficient in a way.
Do truck Drivers Recieve Any Benefits?
Depending on if your a truck driver that is employed by a trucking company. Also known as a Company Driver. Or if you own your semi truck, then you are referred to as an Owner Operator, or an O/O. As an O/O it at times can be difficult to maintain all the types of insurances that are offered to Company Drivers.
As a Company Driver, having the following types of benefits is somewhat common:
- Life Insurance
- 401k Retirement Plan
This isn’t everything that some trucking companies offer to their Company Drivers. Some companies offer additional pay for Paid Holidays, earned Vacation Days and Paid Sick Days. Also known as Paid Time Off (PTO).
Additionally, a Company Driver at times can also receive referral bonuses for referring other truck drivers to drive for the company they are driving for. But this isn’t the end to how they acquire bonuses. There are trucking companies that also pay:
- Performance Bonus
- Safety Bonus
- Mileage Bonus
On top of this, as a company driver, you don’t pay for fuel, you don’t have to worry about making a truck payment when you go home. Your only purpose is to operate and drive the semi truck and trailer in a safe and timely manner.
Remaining Data Results Of My Poll
As stated earlier, I ran a poll on a social media group. There were 46 respondents where 21 of them stated childhood dream. In a way, I think maybe my poll options were not the greatest. Though here are the results.
Childhood Dream 45.65% (21 votes)
Thought To Give It A Try 28.26% (13 votes)
Tired Of The Office 9a – 5p 23.91% (11 votes)
Too Awesome To Do Anything Else 2.17% (1 vote)
There is a fraction of a percent missing to make a full 100%. However, this study with 99.99% goes to prove that childhood dreams, and living the American Dream are more important than many other things. The next time I run this poll, I’ll provide better options to a larger audience and repost below here sometime in the future.
Are Truck Drivers In Demand?
In current times, right now the truck driver shortage is approximately around 60,000. It is estimated that by the year 2020 this number will more than double.
Some say that the turnover rate for trucking is approximately 90%. With such a high turn over rate, and trucking companies not able to maintain a consistent workforce. This shows that for every person the become interested in truck driving, almost another truck driver decides to exit trucking.
Why do truck drivers quit trucking? I wrote a detailed article on this very topic not that long ago that you can read by clicking here. From feeling unappreciated to overworked and everything in between. There are a lot of reasons why truck drivers quit trucking.
When at times there are more workers exiting an industry and fewer workers entering the exact same industry. This is when shortages create a demand. Being that trucking is highly in demand. Another great reason to become a truck driver is that it’s easy to find employment.
Is It Easy To Become A Truck Driver?
Becoming a truck driver is pretty simple for the most part. In some states, you can start as young as 18 years old. At this age, this would allow you to be a truck driver within your state. You would not be able to leave your state till after you turned 21 years of age.
So if you meet the age requirements for what you would like to do. Next, you have to make sure you have a decent driving record. Followed by finding a few documents like a birth certificate and social security card. Along with your current regular driver’s license.
You will have to study for the Permit Testing. While studying, you will have to take a Department of Transportation (DOT) Medical Exam. This will include a physical exam and a drug and alcohol screening.
Then take the test for the Commercial Driver License (CDL) Permit. After that, find a truck driving school to teach you how to drive and operate a semi-truck.
Once you’ve learned what was needed to be learned. You can go take the regular exam and tests for your CDL Class A. Make sure you take all of your documents that you have obtained thus far with you.
After passing the tests. Now you’re ready for job placement. Since there’s a driver shortage, finding a job is pretty easy. When you join up with a company, you as a rookie truck driver will most likely be placed with a “Professional Company Trainer” from the trucking company you choose to go with.
After some time out on the road with the trainer, you will be given a company driving test. After that, you have yourself a job. Sometimes this entire process can take a small handful of weeks. Other times this entire process could take up to a few months.
Though as a helpful bit of insight, the more time you can spend with a trainer that has more than 5 years of experience, the more knowledge you’ll obtain.
Conclusion: Why Become A Truck Driver
Through all these various whys to become a truck driver. Keep in mind, every person has the right to make their own choices. If you do become a truck driver, make sure it’s for all of the right reasons.
Becoming one just for the sake of the money, that alone isn’t going to be enough. Myself, as a late teen, I enjoyed driving, driving on cruise nights, going for road trips. So, therefore trucking has worked for me.
At the same time, we must keep in mind, truck driving is a lifestyle. Really it is, because of the amount of time you spend away from home. The amount of time you are basically living out of a semi-truck. We must take all of these things into account.
If you are thinking about becoming a truck driver, your welcome to read additional articles I have written here. That will help you understand so many different aspects of the trucking industry.
Also, these articles will help educate yourself to have a better understanding of the many different aspects of truck driving. From the beginning easy stuff. To some of the dangers of truck driving and beyond. Like this article I wrote; is truck driving dangerous?
Also, so you can gain a better understanding of what a day as a trucker may be like. By reading this article I wrote as well called; A normally scheduled day as a truck driver.
Never go into anything blind, know some things about it first. So at least in some manner, you can weigh your own individual options.
Till then, I wish you the best and be safe.