Truck Driver Jobs
Truck Drivers run the economy of the world. Whether transporting eggs from one end of the county to the other, or shipping fresh citrus from farms of California to Urban Parkways of New York, truckers are one of the most vital components of the modern market. So what exactly does a trucker do?
At the lowest level are the light truck operators. They may not even require a commercial drivers license. If the truck has only one trailer and weighs under 26,000 pounds, a commercial drivers license is not required to run the vehicle. The drivers that operate these trucks will most likely be making short, local trips, delivering goods to nearby cities and returning back to the home base the same day. Few overnighters are required, thus light truckers spend a majority of their evenings at home. Light truckers generally work for 50 hours a week.
At the other end of the spectrum are the tractor-trailer drivers. These are the trucker’s that operate rigs with two or three trailers hitched to the back. They drive the gasoline tankers, the car transporters, and any other tractor-trailer that weighs over 26,000 pounds. In order to operate these vehicles, a Class A commercial drivers license will be required.
Truckers in big rigs spend much of their time on the road, driving cross country and spending many consecutive nights away from home. Working weeks can be up to 70 hours, and may include multiple weeks on the road. Occasionally, companies will do what is called “sleeper runs.” Sleeper runs involve two drivers. The truck is traveling at all times, stopping only to load, unload, and fuel-up, each person alternating who drives.
The US Department of Transportation regulates the amount of time a truck driver can work. A trucker can spend no more than 11 hours driving and 3 hours performing other duties, such as loading and unloading, in each 24 hour period. A 10 hour break is mandatory. No more than 60 hours can be worked in a 7 day period, or 70 hours in an 8 day period without 34 hours of consecutive time off.
A truck driver is either paid by mile traveled or by the hour. Thus, most drivers push the amount of time they are driving to the legal limits.
Truck drivers most often start by operating the smaller trucks that make one day, local deliveries. As the driver begins to gain experience, he or she can advance in the industry, moving on to heavier and more specialized machinery. The peak of the pyramid occurs when a trucker is given the opportunity to operate a tractor-trailer. Tractor-trailer operators spend the most time on the road and are paid more lucratively than the less prestigious positions. The median salary for freight shippers in 2015 was $19.58 per hour.
Some drivers, after logging numerous miles with a large company, go into business for themselves. These entrepreneurs buy their own tractor-trailers and begin their own trucking routes. Some are successful with the business, others are not. It depends on the drivers marketing skills and ability to properly handle and conserve money.
Truck drivers are kept on tight schedules. Most trucks are now equipped with global positioning systems, so dispatchers and customers know where a truck is at all times. It is a customer service issue. Dispatchers don’t want to pay for the times a driver isn’t on the road, and customers do not want to wait for late deliveries.
The career outlook for trucking is fairly favorable. As more companies require delivered goods, and as seasoned veterans begin to retire, new drivers will be needed to fill the opening positions. A job in trucking will continue to be a safe career as long as the economy continues to go strong.