Long work days, long hours of relentless driving, unhealthy truck stop food, sole responsibility for the safety of goods while on the road… And yet, talk to most truck drivers and they wouldn’t want to change their lifestyles – or their job – for anything else in the world.
The employment security is great, as trucking is always in high demand and there’s a significant shortage of qualified drivers (estimates show that there is a 100,000 driver shortage in the trucking industry today). Salaries are always going up (median pay in 2018 was $ 66,711). Add bonuses, insurance, free travel opportunities, flexibility and a love of equipment and driving, and it is hard to find another profession that can yield so many benefits with no expectation of higher education.
Not everyone is cut for a life on the road, but if you’re interested in making a career in truck driving, these are the driving jobs that are always in demand:
# 1: DRY VAN DRIVERS
This is a gateway job when you first start out in the trucking industry. Dry van trucks are the single trailer vehicles with rectangle containers that we see most often on the roads, carrying all kinds of freight – from non-perishable goods to factory parts. Dry van trucks are easy to drive, and often, the drivers don’t have to unload the trucks themselves.
# 2: FLAT BED DRIVERS
Driving flat bed trucks is a lot more complicated. This is partly because the goods have to be loaded in different ways, depending on what they are, with chains, binders, straps and tarps. Therefore, drivers have to be very familiar with the material they are transporting, and not mind the significant amount of physical exertions that come with the job.
# 3: TANKER DRIVERS
Tanker truck drivers are responsible for transporting liquids and gases. There are four types of tankers — fuel tankers, chemical tankers, pneumatic tankers and propane tankers – and each come with their own unique driving challenges and special responsibilities. It is an in-demand career as these drivers often transport hazardous material and liquid which can be potentially dangerous, and the average tanker trucking salary is much higher than a regular freight driver.
# 4: REFRIGERATED FREIGHT DRIVERS
These truck drivers transport perishable goods like meat, produce, medical supplies etc. that must be refrigerated while in transit. They may load and unload their cargo, keep shipment records, maintain cleanliness of their vehicles and monitor temperature levels at all times while the goods are being transported.
# 5: FREIGHT HAULERS
Freight haulers transport any types of goods that are not covered by dry vans. The cargo material can include hazardous, liquid or oversized goods that the dry haulers are not licensed to handle.
# 6: LTL FREIGHT DRIVERS
LTL (Less Than Truckload) drivers typically transport multiple, smaller shipments of various commodities of variable size and weight to make up one full truckload of freight. They may drive shorter distances, make several stops in a day and be responsible for loading/unloading their material. LTL freight drivers can do local jobs that allow them to be at home more frequently than OTR (Over The Road) drivers.
# 7: LOCAL, REGIONAL AND OTR DRIVERS
These three job titles indicate how far you have to drive. Local driving involves ferrying goods around the city, regional takes the truck further out into the state and OTR drivers may be going anywhere in the country.