Worst Paying Cities and States for Truck Drivers

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When it comes to finding a place to call home, truck drivers want to live where the action is, trucking action. Being close to the place where you park your rig after a long haul over the road is ideal. You also want to live in or near a city or state where plenty of loads are hauled to and from, such as Chicago, IL — or bask in the sunshine of truck driving jobs in California. What you don’t want to do is live in a city or state where truck driving is at its lowest. Here are some of the worst places to live as a truck driver interested in making the big bucks.

Cities to Avoid as a Trucker

Let’s start with cities. Detroit, MI pays truckers 3 percent lower than the national average but, considering the bankrupt economic situation, Detroit is on the skids. Plus you have to worry about finding somewhere safe to live and park your rig when you are home. Detroit isn’t exactly a thriving metropolis, so being a trucker here isn’t the best situation. However, if you are a native of Detroit you have come to understand how the city operates and are aware of the downfalls. Plus, if Motor City makes a come back this would be a great place to set up shop as an owner operator or trucking company startup. But surprisingly Detroit isn’t the worst city for truckers.

In Columbus, OH truckers make 4 percent below the national average. This is a strange scene since Columbus is the largest city in Ohio; you would think that would make it a great place to live as a truck driver. Furthermore, in 2013 Columbus earned an A by Forbes as a top city for US business, as well as the designation as one of the nation’s Best Places for Businesses and Careers. Columbus wasn’t as drastically affected by the recession, either, thanks to the wide diversification of the city’s job market. So why are Columbus trucking jobs paying less than Detroit trucking jobs? That’s a great question that begs an answer given the booming economic situation here.

Now for the lowest paying city for truck driving jobs in the US. Phoenix, AZ trucking jobs rake in 5 percent less than the rest of the states. This is on par with the lowest paying states in the US as discussed later in this article. As with Columbus, Phoenix is the largest city in the state, and it has a strong economy. Why trucking jobs pay lower here than in any other city is truly baffling. Here are some of the other close matches for lowest paying states:

  • Los Angeles, CA is 3 percent lower
  • Charlotte, NC trucking jobs earn 2 percent less
  • Salt Lake City, UT and Dallas, TX truck drivers earn 1 percent less

For Los Angeles to be a low paying city for truck drivers is problematic considering the amount of traffic that goes through LA on account of the trucking industry. However, living in LA may present some challenges, such as a lack of truck parking. This may be part of the reason why truckers make less, as a reflection of the lack of truckers who actually live in and work out of Los Angeles, CA. If you do find yourself living in these cities, don’t pack the moving truck just yet. Consider driving for trucking companies in nearby cities or towns where you can rank higher in salary expectations. Also, be aware of the lower salaries in your city, such as those truckers living in Phoenix, so you can bargain appropriately with trucking companies as you look for better paying trucking jobs. While you may think you are making a lower salary than you should, chances are most of the companies in your area are paying the same, so there’s little chance of requesting a raise.

States Paying the Least to Truck Drivers

Now let’s look at the bigger picture, of those states that are paying truck drivers the least of all. Here’s a list to start:

  • Truckers in Hawaii earn the lowest at $40,000
  • Alaska truckers make $42,000 a year
  • Truck drivers in Wisconsin earn an average of $44,000 a year
  • In Idaho and Nebraska truckers make $45,000
  • Truck drivers living in Arizona and Colorado earn $46,000 a year
  • Truckers in Washington State, New Mexico, South Dakota and Pennsylvania make $47,000 a year
  • The median average salary for truck drivers in Nevada, Utah, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina and North Carolina is $48,000

If you live in Hawaii you are automatically limited in the number of trucking jobs you can take. Furthermore, the best paying trucking jobs for OTR truckers aren’t going to apply to your situation. Life on an island will equate to lower annual salaries as a trucker. As for Alaska, the rough terrain, short driving season and low population levels account for the reasons why truckers make less money in this northern territory. If you are interested in making some serious cash while living in Alaska, check out ice road trucking. You have the opportunity to work only a few months a year while bringing in some plump pocket change, in the tune of a top salary for truck drivers. Check back with the lowest paying cities, and you’ll see that the only city on match with the lowest paying states is Phoenix. Ohio, Michigan and California are not on this list of poor paying states, which should give you some hope if you are looking for trucking jobs in Los Angeles, Columbus or Detroit. For those in Phoenix, however, Arizona is a state notorious for paying truckers in the lower range, so consider this your wake up call if you live or are planning to move to that state.

Lowest Paying Haul Types

While your geographic location has some bearing on how much you can anticipate earning a year as a truck driver, you can improve your situation by choosing hauls that pay more. In line with the topic of this article, here are the haul types that pay the least:

  • Boat haulers make $34,000 a year
  • Vocational truck drivers earn $35,000 annually
  • Dry van trucking jobs bring in $44,000 a year
  • Reefer trucking jobs offer a little more at $46,000 per year

If you are interested in boosting your income, while living in a low paying city and/or state, avoid the trifecta of taking these haul types. Instead look for the better paying trucking jobs, such as tanker loads, oversize loads, car haulers, and team driving jobs. These are going to help you balance out the low median salary you might be earning as a trucker.

More Ways to Increase Your Salary

Besides packing up and moving to a state like Mississippi, Wyoming or New York where truckers make the best salaries in the nation, there are things you can do as a trucker to improve your job salary. Start by looking at your credentials. What are your endorsements, and if you don’t have any, why not? Getting a CDL endorsement for tanker loads and hazardous materials hauls will grant you an immediate boost in your paycheck. These types of trucking jobs are exclusive to those with endorsements, which means you are specialized in your field. Specialization means more money.

If you have been hauling the same type of loads for months, or years, it’s time to find some variety, particularly if you are strictly a dry van hauler. We know that dry van trucking jobs are the easiest as you don’t have to worry with tarping and strapping. However, you are losing money because of your desire to drop and hook on every haul. Look for trucking jobs that force you to get out and move a little, and your paycheck will thank you for it. Also, having more varied experiences as a trucker places you at the top of the list when it comes to taking off the wall loads.

Trucking jobs that require a trucker with a proven ability to think on your feet will come your way, helping you find those hauls that are worth more money. Team driving jobs are another way to boost your basic income. Since the wheels on a team’s truck are almost always moving, you are going to make more money. You have less time spent with layovers and in between hauls, meaning you will work more but your wallet will get fatter because of it.

If you have struggled with being alone while on the road, being on a team has the added benefit of giving you a permanent work partner. You’ll need to learn to live with someone again, which might be difficult at first, but as your paychecks grow you’ll get over any discomfort. The key thing to take away from this is that even if you live in a city or state that has a low pay scale for truckers, there are ways to make the most of your income.

Ways Trucking Companies Can Really Attract New Drivers

woman-truck-driverThe trucking industry is in need of new drivers. Between the baby boomers going into retirement  by the millions and a boom in the economy, the trucking industry is reaching an all-time demand for truck drivers willing to take on OTR trucking jobs. Fleets are trying everything from doubling and tripling trailers to offering substantial sign-on bonuses, but it isn’t enough. The next time you are in a conversation with a trucking employer, and they ask what it would take to find new drivers, here are some ideas to get you started.

DOT and FMSCA Working for Truckers

The DOT and FMSCA are focused on regulating the trucking industry, which is their position. But what if they used their position to help attract new truck drivers? Alongside driver safety information on their website, they could be invested in potential truckers through training and education. If you go to the DOT website and search for “new truck driver information” you come up short. Similar searches yield no helpful results. Yet the DOT is the federal backbone and only consistent enforcer of regulations in the trucking industry. While truck driving schools vary in instruction from school to school, the DOT’s regulations remain consistent no matter who or where you are driving. For people interested in looking for information on becoming a trucker, the DOT should be the starting point for credible and reliable information.

Connect via Education

While truck drivers must be 21 to take over the road trucking jobs, they can start trucking in-state when they are 18 in most states. Yet those that choose to go to college or get a different career are steered away from the trucking industry, which is part of the reason we are experiencing the current gap in drivers. Trucking companies, fleet owners and owner operators need to connect with young people while they are still in high school. By teaming up for job fairs and career days, those in the trucking world can shine a light on what it takes to become a trucker, and hopefully draw the interest of potential future drivers. If kids aren’t given the chance to consider trucking as a viable career, then they are less likely to make truck driving a viable option once they graduate high school.

Build Relationships by Networking

Trucking company owners interested in hiring new truckers must consider the possibilities available through social networking. In today’s world this includes social media networking on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and the like. In order to attract the largest pool of possible truck drivers, companies and owners have to branch out with their networks. Long gone are the days when truck stop bulletin boards were the go-see when it comes to finding new trucking jobs. At the same rate, person to person networking continues to pull its weight. If you are looking for new drivers, or people to train to be a truck driver, then get the word out. Chances are someone knows someone else who could be a good fit for driving a big rig. You never know if you don’t ask.

Become a Community Leader

For trucking company owners and owner operators who want to grow their business, it’s time to give back to the community. Join an organization that you feel passionately about, such as the Lions Club or Kiwanis Club. Some clubs, like the Lions, require you to get an invitation, so you’ll need to mix and mingle with the locals to find a member willing to invite you. You can join a library book club or invest your time on local politics.

Typically these groups all meet once a month, and you don’t always have to attend to be part of the club if your trucking job keeps you away. However, the more you can invest in a community group, such as by signing up to lead activities or group meetings, the better. Your goal should be to become an active member and community leader. This will help you in a number of ways.

First, your reputation as a trustworthy and upright character will precede you. Secondly, it will teach you the personal joy of being part of a social group, which will help make you a better, more well-rounded boss. Finally, it will put you in a new position where potential truck drivers will be able to meet you where they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.

Be a Mentor

Along the same lines as being a community leader, mentorships are a positive way to connect with future truckers. If you have someone in mind who is interested in being a truck driver take the time to serve as their mentor. You know the ropes as you’ve been there, so give the other person your insight into the trucking business, as well as advice on getting a CDL, going to truck driving school and finding a trucking job. Your mentorship could be exactly what that person needs to push through the process of becoming a truck driver. Furthermore, if they decide to drive for your company you’ve already developed a relationship with that driver. Loyalty to you as a mentor will follow in most situations.

Recognize Workers’ Personal Lives

If you want to keep truckers happy you have to acknowledge that they are more than just truck drivers. They are brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, and friends. It’s nothing to hire new drivers if you can’t keep them employed. That means to remember your truckers during the holidays by offering them the chance to take a few days off to spend time with their loved ones. It means to be considerate when a truck driver is experiencing family issues or personal problems, understanding that drivers aren’t robots and they are often under a great amount of stress. Act human and remember your drivers are humans, too. Offer part-time positions and flexibility on hauls for drivers who are going through rough times whenever you can do so. In the end, your company will gain by having a reputation of being a fair and decent employer.

Change the Trucking Schedule

A main issue for potential truckers is the entire truck driver lifestyle. They are not OK with being gone for weeks at a time, living in their rig, and eating out every meal — this is a primary issue when attracting millennials to trucking. The thing is, all truck drivers don’t have to do this. While OTR trucking jobs are the best paying and most sought after, they aren’t the only jobs out there. Regional trucking jobs and LTL trucking jobs offer truckers the opportunity to drive home every night or so, allowing them to have a family and a life outside of trucking. As you speak with potential truck drivers let them know about the variety of trucking jobs available to them to help attract a greater number.

Pay Methods for Truckers

The days when truckers were paid by paper check are over. Now you can offer direct deposit for drivers who use debit cards for nearly instant access to their money. If you aren’t offering direct deposit you are behind in the times. This is a must for trucking employers who want to get new drivers to join their fleets. While you are at it, make sure to offer a retirement option, such as a 401k plan. Health savings accounts are another popular benefit that the best paying trucking companies are offering. If you want to run with the big dogs you should figure out a way to offer something of the sort.

Trucker Parking

A big problem for truck drivers is finding somewhere safe and reasonable to park. There simply are not enough parking areas for truck drivers at the present time. For trucking companies that are serious about attracting new truck drivers, this is the ideal place to start. If companies began operating truck parking areas it would strike a happy note with truck drivers everywhere. They could provide free parking for their company drivers, while charging outsiders a fee to help cover the costs of maintaining the parking areas. Having a set-up similar to a rest area along with a fenced surrounding would be all a trucker could need while pulling over for a rest or night’s sleep.

Pay Truckers More Money

Finally, if all else fails, pay truck drivers more money. At the moment a trucker can start out making more than most 4-year degree holders. However, there is a very small rate of increase for truckers with 10 and even 20 years of experience over the road. Furthermore, the median pay range for truck drivers is $38,200 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They should get paid more than that, and not just in benefits packages. While benefits packages are great for attracting and retaining truck drivers, a larger salary would make being on the road for weeks more appealing. Truck drivers are the mainstay of the American and global economies. If you want more people to become truckers place a larger financial value on their work.

How Truck Drivers are Becoming More Eco-Friendly

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Have you noticed the major trend that you hear everywhere you go, of going green? Sure you have, with the sales of organic bananas, eco-safe bathroom cleaner, and all-natural everything. That’s right, going green doesn’t involve Kermit the Frog, getting food poisoning, or being a Green Bay fan. Commercially, you may have hauled a load of organic spinach from California or cases of organic tofu from ports after they are exported from Japan. Going green, the concept of becoming more conscious of protecting the environment, is a big business. As it spreads to the mainstream, some of your fellow truck drivers are likely to be interested in getting on the green bus. It might be an interest to eat things not sprayed with pesticides or grown with GMOs. It could be a respect for the air we breathe by not smoking cigarettes or leaving the truck idling. It may be as little as understanding what your customers are talking about when they say they are a green business. Furthermore, if you are curious as to how you can become a green truck driver here’s a starting point.

Benefits of Being a Green Trucker

In addition to the personal reasons truckers have for going green, there are work perks. For example, if you are driving your rig in an eco-friendly fashion you are more likely to get trucking jobs for companies that follow this ethos. Those companies selling eco-conscious products, organic produce, sustainable meats and electric cars have an image to uphold. This involves everything from manufacturing to packaging to logistics. What good is an earth friendly toy collection if it is being transported by trucking fleets that do not have any consideration for being eco conscious? This reflects back on the business in a negative light. If you have went green as an independent hauler you can look for companies that want truckers like you hauling their goods, placing you in a specialized niche that will keep your truck rolling.

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Get Eco-friendly with Fuel for Big Trucks

One of the biggest reasons why truck drivers aren’t considered eco-friendly is because of the amount of fuel they use in hauling goods. Whether they are taking reefer trucking loads, dry van loads or tanker jobs, a trucker uses a lot of fuel and gives off its share of diesel emissions. The two issues here are the use of fossil fuels aka diesel that truckers use, as well as the pollution trucks give off when burning this fuel. In order to go green as a trucker you have to start with your fuel use. While you can’t drive a tractor-trailer without using some fuel, there are ways you can go green:

  • Reduce or eliminate idling, which burns fuel and gives off diesel pollution aka black soot.
  • Use alternative fuels, such as CNG, hydrogen, electricity or propane; if you are a company truck driver suggest these options to your manager in the context of making the company more eco-conscious.
  • Cut out unnecessary miles by figuring out your route ahead of time so you don’t waste fuel; plan your day so you are taking the shortest route possible.

Chances are you are already doing some of these things. For example, you always want to choose the shortest route in order to get your delivery made promptly. As a company driver your route might be predetermined for you, helping you reduce any occurrence of wasted fuel. Also, many trucking companies offer fuel bonuses for drivers with the best fuel economy. For truckers with California trucking jobs you already know the laws regarding no idling in certain places, such as ports.

Caring for Your Tractor-Trailer

As a professional commercial trucker you understand the need and requirements of maintaining and repairing your tractor-trailer. One more reason why you should take care of your rig is to ensure it performs in a more eco-friendly manner. Regular maintenance will help you reduce problems, such as oil leaks or ill-inflated tires that affect the amount of fuel used. You will be able to prevent major issues by nipping them in the bud. Along these same lines is upgrades to your tractor-trailer. If you are driving a truck that is older than seven years, chances are your rig isn’t up to par for emissions control.

You can upgrade your truck using exhaust control devices, such as SCRs, DPFs, CCVs and DOCs. Engine upgrade kits and engine repowers are another option for older model rigs. Thankfully most of the best paying trucking companies, like Swift Transportation, Werner Trucking and JB Hunt, provide truckers with newer model equipment. This solves the problem of costs due to frequent repairs, while improving fuel economy and ensuring trucks are fitted with the proper emissions controls.

Green Trucking Jobs

If you are serious about driving for the green industry, check out the trucking jobs that best fit this category:

  • Businesses that manufacturer and/or distribute eco-conscious, organic or environmentally sustainable products
  • Recycling center equipment hauling jobs
  • Solar panel production companies and vendors
  • Manufacturers and retailers of household appliances that are energy efficient
  • Commercial and industrial construction materials for projects categorized as BCA Green Mark or LEED certification from the US Green Building Council
  • Tanker jobs hauling biofuel or alternative fuels

As for certain haul types that are green, LTL trucking jobs haul less than truckloads from multiple companies at once. This is perfect for reducing fuel use, while giving businesses the benefits of tractor-trailer logistics. Finding trucking jobs that are considered green is a much easier task than it was 20 years ago. As more companies move toward an energy efficient, eco-conscious mindset it is a smart idea to at least understand what all of this eco stuff is all about. Whether you are hauling goods for a green company or customer, or interested in becoming a green driver full time, now you at least have the information you need to be professional and aware of the idea of eco-friendly trucking jobs.

Make the Most of Your Time: Back Hauls

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Whether you work for a carrier or for yourself, empty miles means lower pay or even empty pockets in trucking jobs. So instead of hauling an empty trailer home, find back hauls or re-loads. A back haul is a load for another distributor going in the same direction as your home base or to another pickup. A re-load is a load from the same company you just hauled for.

Many carriers and drivers offer to take re-loads and back hauls for less than their going rate per mile since they were going to be empty anyway. This is a win-win for the distributor and the carrier or independent driver, and depending on what you’re willing to accept, could open the doors to additional contracts with certain distributors.

Drivers and carriers could even pick up more than one back haul or re-load. For example, if a home base is in Seattle and the original load is going to Miami; and a distributor in Miami needs a load delivered to Charlotte, a driver could pick up the back haul in Miami and deliver it to Charlotte; and could then pick up another back haul to Seattle or any destination in between.

Even if the destination isn’t all the way to the home base, the trailer is not empty for most of the trip and the carrier or independent trucker is earning more money for a trip that would have cost in fuel and on-the-road living expenses.

Think Outside the Box

To increase the possibility of a back haul, a carrier or driver could sign up for a service such as Ghostruck. This mobile app links those who need their things moved with truckers and carriers who may have an empty load or a partial load. The app finds a driver or carrier willing to pick up the items the person is moving to take it to the same city or area the truck is already traveling to. That way, the driver gets paid for a full load instead of a partial load, or gets paid for a back haul.

If you are an independent driver or a small carrier with a few distributors you could also use several available apps to find additional back hauls – and these just may lead to large contracts with distributors.

Stop Deadheading: Make the Most of Your Time

Whether you are a large carrier or a small independent trucker, use your down time to find distributors who often have back hauls available. Keep a log with these companies’ names and numbers so that you can give them a call while you are on the road. You may have a partial back haul that was unexpected, but if you have the ability to call another distributor, you may get another back haul for the rest of the trip.

Create relationships with additional distributors so that they are more willing to give you extra and unexpected hauls. These relationships could have the distributor calling your carrier to see if any trucks are going along the route for the distributor’s load.

Things to Watch Out For

If you’re new to the industry, whether you’re an independent or a small carrier, be sure that you know the cost of running your truck when figuring back hauls. For example, if you normally charge $2.30 per mile and your truck costs $1.10 per mile to operate, you could take a back haul for the $1.10 per mile so that you’re not costing yourself for driving back to headquarters; but you don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot by hauling a load that is less than what it costs for operating costs unless you absolutely cannot find anything else. Don’t forget to figure in your meals, insurance for the truck, gas and anything else that costs you while you are on the road.

Other things to watch out for are distributors who require special handling or require you to unload or help unload the truck. You’ll definitely want to be sure your pay is enough to cover the extra labor.

Increasing Your Bottom Line

When you are able to pick up re-loads or back hauls, you’ll not only be more productive, but you’ll increase your bottom line. An increased bottom line, whether you work for trucking companies or you are an independent, gets you to your goal a lot quicker. An employee may be further on his or her way to becoming a carrier and an independent could be well on his or her way to that second truck, the repair shop or even additional drivers and more trucks.

Keep all of this in mind when determining what you’ll accept for back haul, re-load or using a service such as Ghostruck; especially whether the load increases your bottom line, keeps you even or may cost you because of problems associated with the distributor or the load itself.

General Freight Loads Score at the Top of Popularity for Truckers

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2012 the trucking industry featured 1.7 million jobs. That is growing by 11 percent through 2022, which equates to 187,000 new jobs for a total of nearly 1.9 million trucking jobs. Combine that with the staggering portion of CDL jobs that are left unfilled due to retiring baby boomers and a lack of capable drivers to fill their seats. All in all, the trucking industry is in need of drivers. But what exactly are these truckers most likely to do? General freight loads make up the majority of the marketplace. Find out what general freight loads consist of so you can gear your trucking career to this load type.

General Freight Loads in General

In the world of heavy and tractor-trailer truckers, there are three types of industries:

  • General freight trucking jobs
  • Specialized freight trucking jobs
  • Merchant wholesalers of nondurable goods

In terms of popularity, 34 percent of all trucking jobs are classified as general freight. Thirteen percent make up specialized freight, leaving eight percent to encompass merchant wholesalers of nondurable goods. As such, when you are searching for consistent trucking jobs, place your bets on general freight. The majority of trucking companies including CR England, Conway Freight, and CRST Trucking keep their company drivers rolling regularly with general freight. Specialized freight occurs on an infrequent basis, and while it may pay more per load, the learning curve for each specialized freight job costs drivers in time.

General Freight Trucking Jobs

As the name suggests, general freight is a haul type that covers a lot of areas. Depending on your delivery area, your trucking company and the current customer demands, your general freight types will vary. Some common types of general freight include:

  • Paper products, i.e. office paper reams, banking receipts, newspaper reams, toilet paper, napkins, etc.
  • Restaurant supplies, i.e. frozen foods, fresh produce, shelf stable ingredients, etc.
  • Anything that can fit on a pallet and ship accordingly
  • Boxed goods ready to ship via dry van loads
  • Manufactured products, such as partially assembled items that are going to an assembly plant
  • Stock for retail stores, grocery stores, super markets and bulk goods stores

Some truck drivers consider general freight to be regular loads from routine customers. For example, you might have a customer you haul for who consistently ships pallets of books, magazines and newspapers to recycling companies. Other regular customers might be in the food business, such as all natural food co-ops that ship fresh and frozen foods to community-based customers in rural areas on a weekly basis. You are routinely driving for a specific company, hauling standard freight, without much variation in the load types. While all load types vary among consignors and customers, you do have the chance to get used to a route and customer when handling general freight.

The key thing to note about general freight is that there is nothing out of the ordinary that you will have to deal with when handling a trucking job. For example, you will consistently deliver goods that are not hazardous, can be loaded in dry van trailers, and are not oversized. Your load is considered vanilla in the world of specialized loads that are spicy and sometimes off putting. For the most part, trucking companies stick with generalized freight in order to keep things on a schedule with truck driving routes and deliveries. Having to deal with specialized loads only adds to the time spent with dispatchers, consigners and local DMV agents. Furthermore, when you have specialized loads, you might have to purchase special tools or equipment in order to handle that single job. This takes time and money out of the bottom line, and has to be considered in terms of ROI.

Moving Away from General Freight

While having a regular load that is easy to handle, such as drop and hook trucking jobs or dry van loads that don’t require getting your hands dirty, there’s something to say about this type of work. You can easily get stuck in a rut. When you have specialized or oversized loads you get a chance to branch out with your haul types and skills. You are forced to go on different routes, work with new customers, and deal with different types of loads.

This is a good thing.

As a truck driver, as with any occupation, you should challenge yourself on a regular basis. The more often you feel confident enough to take the one-off specialized freight you should go for it. In addition to helping out your company by taking loads that most truck drivers want to pass by, you are helping yourself. Some drivers are completely over the idea of taking anything out their ordinary haul or commodities types. If you want to excel and push away from the pack at your trucking job, strive to take those specialized loads that are shunned by everyone else. Even though you are working together for the same company, at the end of the day you are responsible for your pay check and your truck driving career. Make the most of both.

Getting Better Paying Trucking Jobs

On your DAC report you will find your driving history and record that includes everything. The haul types you’ve handled, i.e. oversized loads, reefer loads, tanker trucking jobs, hazmat hauls, are listed here, along with the types of commodities you’ve carried. Whether you have experience hauling fire trucks, boxes of honey bees, loads of logs or bushes of apples, this is noted on your DAC. The more extensive you can make your commercial driving history, the better it looks for your trucking career.

If you have not already, get your CDL endorsements for tanker loads and hazardous material hauls. This will help you out immensely as you try to get the better paying specialized loads. You will have the assets required for taking the higher paying trucking jobs, thereby helping to boost your trucking career even more. CDL endorsements are rather inexpensive and only require the time it takes to study and take the tests. You can find study guides for CDL endorsements at truck driving schools and your local DMV, as well as online for little to no cost to you. However, you can also use the expenses as part of your tax deductions as work related expenses.

If you have to look for another trucking job, or simply want to find better paying trucking jobs, your DAC will help you out. However, if you’ve stuck to taking general freight loads on a regular basis that involve the same customers and haul types over the last five years, you are pinning yourself down to a particular skill set. Trucking companies want to see drivers with initiative and drive to improve their truck driving experience. You can expect to get the chance for a higher pay rate, better trucking jobs in the near future, and greater respect from your employer and fellow colleague. While general freight loads are always going to be a part of your truck driving career, specializing in specialized freight will help you advance more rapidly toward better paying trucking jobs.

Heavy Equipment Haulers Catching Slack from Caterpillar Inc.’s Declining Sales

Caterpillar-heavy-equipment-wheelloaderIn the world of heavy equipment haulers, a major player is losing steam. As the largest manufacturer of mining and construction machinery on the planet, when Caterpillar, Inc. slows down it causes quite the ripple effect. Truck drivers experienced with heavy equipment loads depend on this manufacturer to maintain the steady number of trucking jobs in this niche. Finding a way to overcome the missing sales and shipments related to CAT’s steady dip can be difficult for truck drivers specializing in heavy equipment hauls. However, there are ways to work around the doom and gloom of declining Caterpillar sales worldwide.

Caterpillar, Inc. as a Mainstay

Caterpillar, Inc. got its start almost a century ago with a merger in 1925 that established the Caterpillar Tractor Company. Based in Peoria, Illinois, keeps a lot of truck drivers in business with the transportation of everything from backhoe loaders to tracked tractors. Getting these pieces of heavy equipment to industrial sites, logging crews, mining operations and construction sites is a daily grind for many truckers. Additionally, not all truckers, particularly rookie truck drivers, are skilled or experienced with hauling heavy equipment. As a result these jobs can bring home some of the better paychecks for drivers looking to branch out from dry van trucking jobs or flatbed hauling.

Declining Sales at CAT

As the lead performer for industrial and agricultural machinery, Caterpillar, Inc. provides a global gauge in which to measure the sales of heavy equipment in general. Stock market watchers and industry leaders want to know when companies, such as CAT, are coming up short in sales. NASDAQ reported in May 2015 that Caterpillar, Inc. was experiencing its 29th decline, at a rate of 11 percent in worldwide sales in the quarter ending in April 2015. The decline has continued into the second and third quarter, due to the following situations:

  • A decreased demand in mining
  • The Chinese economy is slowing down, while Asia Pacific sales dipped by 16 percent
  • For the EAME (Europe Africa Middle East) CAT sales decreased by 9 percent
  • Emerging economy of Brazil is also slogging behind accompanied by a 44 percent decline in Latin American sales
  • The economic backdrop is weak
  • The US is the only place to see a boost in sales, but only by 5 percent.

This has been going on since 2010 to 2012 because of the recession, but while other companies are picking up the pace, Caterpillar continues to drag.

Third Quarter Reports a Steady Slide

Where does Caterpillar, Inc. stand at the moment? According to the third quarter report released on October 22, 2015 the decline drags on with a staggering 19 percent decline in revenue and sales worldwide. Caterpillar Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Doug Oberhelman stated:

  • “The environment remains extremely challenging for most of the key industries we serve, with sales and revenues down 19 percent from the third quarter last year. Improving how we operate is our focus amidst the continued weakness in mining and oil and gas. We’re tackling costs, and our year-to-date decremental profit pull through has been better than our target. We’re also focusing on our global market position, and it continues to improve even in challenging end markets. Our product quality is in great shape, and our safety record is among the best of any industrial company today.”

Finding a way to dig themselves out of this hole will take some clever moves. In the meantime truckers and trucking companies that are focused on hauling heavy equipment, for CAT in particular, may want to check into other clients or types of trucking jobs. While Caterpillar, Inc. isn’t showing drastic signs as of yet, whenever there is a decline in sales this results in a decline in trucking jobs for manufactured parts, finished machinery and port shipments to other countries. Truck drivers who have previously depended on CAT machinery hauls for bolstering their paychecks are the ones with the most at stake.

As a truck driver you have to be able to look horizontally at declines in businesses related to your loads. Notice that several other industries are also experiencing declines in heavy equipment hauls, as associated with the Caterpillar decline. These include mining operations and industrial construction. For truckers who are focused on these industries, the dip in CAT sales in the mining industry in particular indicate that this industry is leveling out with the need of new construction and ongoing operations.

Heavy Equipment Trucking Jobs

Even though Caterpillar, Inc. is experiencing a decline in sales, which is causing a slowdown in heavy equipment trucking hauls featuring the famous CAT logo, you don’t have to hang up your heavy equipment hauler hat just yet. Drivers with experience in construction, mining, farming or logging who are familiar with operating heavy machinery have the advantage over their trucking counterparts. As a trucker specializing in heavy equipment hauls, being able to operate the machinery gives them a boost in their trucking career. If you can handle the equipment in the case of an emergency, or you know what to look for in maintaining these units, then use this knowledge to your advantage when searching for trucking jobs.

Should Truck Driving Schools Merge with Colleges?

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At the moment you can get into a technical or vocational school and study truck driving. You can also go to truck driving schools sponsored by a trucking company, such as Swift Transportation, Werner Trucking or JB Hunt. Then there are the trucking schools available online, and those offered independently by private companies. See the pattern? There are tons of places to go if you want to get training as a trucker, but there isn’t a set route for all truckers. In fact, you don’t even have to go through a trucker training course if you don’t want to. All you have to do is pass your CDL exam and you are ready to roll. Is that enough? Given the way the trucking industry is advancing, let’s look at the pros and cons of consolidating and mandating truck driver training.

Should Truck Driver Training be Mandatory?

In every profession you have some sort of training. Nursing, electrician, chefs. This training involves learning the basics and receiving a certificate of completion that shows your ability to do your job successful. In trucking there are plenty of training programs available to truckers in training, but they aren’t required. You do not have to have a certificate of completion of a trucking school in order to get your CDL. However, the CDL exam requires an extensive understanding of technical and operational knowledge.

Everyone has to know the same information, across the board. Furthermore, getting your CDL is a serious endeavor that is backed up with federal level regulations, i.e. DOT physical exams, an ongoing renewal process and endorsement possibilities for specialization. Trucking is a very serious profession that requires drivers to be physically capable of doing their job, similar to the way police officers have to pass certain physical activity tests. So why aren’t truckers being held to the same professional standards as other vocational careers? Truckers aren’t required to get any training or certification, as most other vocations require, even though they are operating heavy duty commercial equipment in dangerous and stressful situations.

Increasing Truck Driver Image

Truck drivers as a community have the reputation of being hardcore rough. They aren’t worried about getting their hands dirty, they work longer hours than most vocational professionals, and they live where they work. As millions of baby boomer aged truck drivers are retiring, and the trucking industry is at its max in terms of rigs rolling. There simply aren’t enough truckers coming out of the woodwork to fill those jobs. Part of this is due to the nature of the job, which is demanding in terms of time for OTR trucking jobs and physically strenuous. Another part of this is due to the reputation that truck drivers have received over the years.

If you hear that someone is a truck driver, you automatically peg them as rowdy and independent. Truckers are their own breed, with their own culture that involves a language, i.e. CBs and trucker handles; work environment, i.e. truck stops and rest areas; and shared experiences. This culture develops from the rigors of the job. You are driving day in and day out, which means you are spending a lot of time alone, possibly adding to your lack of social graces and interactions. You work long hours, leaving very little time to get a hobby, take a shower, or get involved in social functions. Most truckers don’t have spouses or children, due to the nature of the job. Not everyone wants to be a part of that world. What if there was a way to create a more professional and polished ideal of the typical trucker?

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Consider the possibilities of truck driving schools and certifications for all new hires. Truckers would start out with a degree or diploma that gives them pride and prestige in their new job. They would also be given the tools and skills they need to make their job easier and more productive. For example, in trucking school you learn about the need to take time out for yourself, i.e. your mental and physical health.

If you never went to trucking school, you would have never been in a group setting where you were A. exposed to the benefits of exercise, and B. placed in a learning environment with other truckers where you learn that this is something that other truckers do. Other skills and ideas you and your fellow truckers would pick up in a mandated truck driving course, such as safety rules and social involvement, could help you in your career. On down the road you would be able to fall back on what you learned in trucking school.

Getting certified as a trucker has other benefit possibilities:

  • Increasing the prestige of people working in the trucking industry
  • Increasing your pay opportunities since you are a certified professional
  • Open up doors to the different areas of trucking you might have missed out on had you not gone to trucking school

Getting Certified and Reliable Training

At the moment you can go to a wide variety of truck driving schools:

  • Truck driving schools that are state licensed and/or accredited
  • Certified truck driving schools
  • Truck driving schools that provide sponsored training programs
  • Trucking companies that are connected with trucking schools
  • Community college trucking schools
  • Technical or vocational institution truck driver training programs
  • Online truck driving schools

At each of these truck driving schools you get a completely unique experience. For starters, if you go to a trucking school through a truck driving company, then you will most likely have a free ride as long as you get your CDL and drive for that company for a period of time. If you go to trucking school through a community college or technical school, then you will may be able to get student loans to cover costs, but you will not be guaranteed a job upon completion. At the same time, not every truck driving training program is accredited or licensed, so you will have a different learning experience compared to the next guy. There is no standard training, which means you might not get the training you need, such as to pass your CDL. It’s like the Wild, Wild West out there.

Certification from PTSI

There is one way that you can ensure that you are getting certified training, and that is via the Professional Truck Driver Institute. The PTDI offers certification that ensures you are learning every single thing you need to know in order to pass the CDL exam and be the best truck driver possible. Unfortunately not all trucking schools are PTDI-certified. If there was a standardized training for all new truckers, then using the PTDI truck driver certification is the ideal solution for ensuring that all schools provide the most comprehensive training.

Paying for Truck Driving School

A big factor for why newbies choose to go to a trucking company for truck driver training is cost. For a person who wants to go to trucking school, they are looking at a $4,000-plus expense. Many would-be truckers can’t afford to go to trucking school on their own, simply because they are trying to get a job because they need to be able to make money. Since there isn’t a standardized trucker training program across the US, there aren’t school loan or grant opportunities for these independent programs.

If trucking school was part of a standardized program there would be the organization that could allow for nonprofit grants and loan options for students. Truckers wouldn’t be forced into driving for a trucking company just to be able to afford trucking school. At the same time, if grants were available, would-be truckers could get the training they need to make the most of their professional career without being broke before they get behind the wheel.

What do you think? Should truckers have to get trained and/or certified before getting trucking jobs?

The Best Trucking Company to Work For – Including Your Own

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Once you finish the schooling for over the road (OTR) trucking, you’re ready to start working. You might have dreams of starting your own company, but like any profession, it’s a good idea to start working for someone so that you can get some experience under your belt. If OTR trucking companies peak your interest — but you find they offer jobs to people with experience only, you may have to start with another option. Some companies even offer school — and then a job after your schooling.

What to Look for From a Trucking Company

When you are looking for CDL jobs, you’ll want to choose a company that can provide enough work, good pay, benefits, home time, and most importantly, continual training. All of these benefits allow you to make a living, put some money aside for your own company in the future or give you room to move up in the company, and keep you in the loop when it comes to new laws, rules and technology for drivers. Mileage and Steady Freight: Look for a company that offers a high mileage per haul. Some companies guarantee an average of 500 to 600 miles per haul.

The more miles you haul a load, the more you will get paid. Try to find jobs that offer long hauls. Additionally, you need to find a company that has consistent loads so you are ready to go back out when you return or after your time off. There’s nothing worse than taking a load and returning to relax for your time off only to learn that you’re going to be off for another week because there isn’t a load for you to haul. Touch and No-Touch Freight: Look at the percentage of touch and no-touch freight available from the company you choose. If you have to load and unload the freight, you’ll want to ensure that you have access to the equipment to quickly load and unload – and that you know how to use that equipment. The job could become stressful if you have to unload a 53-footer without the proper equipment – all after you just drove the road across the country.

Pay, Benefits and Home Time

Once you find a trucking job that you think you’ll enjoy because there’s plenty of work, most of the freight is no-touch freight or you know how to use the equipment to get that freight off your trailer, you now need to look at pay, benefits and home time. While you might be at a point where you need money and don’t care about time off, be sure to consider that when applying for truck driving jobs. You may work constantly for the first few months, but eventually, you’ll need some time off or you’re going to get burned out.

The more more miles you drive, the more you’ll get paid. If you are entering into the workforce as a new driver out of school, you’ll make less than veteran truckers, but you’ll still make plenty of money. Many companies offer mileage, accessorial pay, performance bonuses and referral bonuses. As you gain more experience, you’ll be able to take more challenging loads that pay more; and you’ll get raises along the way, even without challenging loads. Benefits are also important. Look for trucking companies that offer medical, dental and vision insurance, vacation days, sick days, and even a retirement program. The retirement program is more important for those who have no intentions of starting a new trucking company, but would prefer to retire from one company.

Continual Training

Safety should always in the forefront of your mind. A company that offers continual training also has your safety in mind and will offer continual training throughout your career so that you are always on top of the game — and that includes your trucking skills. Continual training also ensures that you are up to date on new laws and rules, whether implemented by the government or the company you work for.

Working for Yourself

The ultimate job is working for yourself. However, being your own boss is not always sugar and spice. You’ll have to take care of all of the administrative aspects of a trucking company, plus drive and worry about truck repairs. If you hire additional drivers, you’ll have to keep track of their files, their earnings and benefits and maintenance on their trucks. This is why it’s a great idea to get some experience with an established company before starting your own company – you’ll know some of what you should expect. For those who have worked for themselves in other professions, you know that even so, you still have a boss. Many, in fact. When you depend on others for your living, you have to learn to conduct yourself in a good manner so that you don’t lose your customers. It’s the same with the trucking industry. You’ll have deadlines to meet and you will have to make sure your customers are happy with your services or you’ll be out of work.

Planning It Out

When you start your new trucking career, consider what your future plans are so that you can manage your working time accordingly. Whether you want to stay with one company; get some experience under your belt so that you can move on to specialty jobs like ice road trucking or hauling flammables; or you want to eventually own your own trucking company, your first job should allow you to get the experience and knowledge you can use later in life.

This means you don’t want “just a job,” you want to work for a company that provides for its drivers and allows the drivers to move up via raises, longer OTR trips and raises based on time and performance. And, don’t forget benefits, especially if you plan on staying with one company. The trucking profession offers so much to drivers willing to put in the time and the effort to move up within the company or work to get the experience required for more difficult driving positions or even your own company.