Should you become a truck driver? Many people have asked that question while scanning prospective fields in the job market. Whether you are just now entering or contemplating a career change, the idea of being a truck driver might come with mixed feelings. People associate the job with the ability to drive – a skill common among most adults – but also link the profession with life on the road.
Everyone knows the job primarily consists of driving trucks across lengthy routes, but few people imagine the freedom that comes with this line of work. Truck drivers do not have to follow a dress code or fret over task lists and sales quotas.
Truck driving is also one of the least stressful jobs, since drivers perform most of the work alone behind the wheel. Unlike careers that demand great mental exertion, truck driving can be relaxing spending most of your time on the open road. The number of physical tasks in truck driving is also small and optional. You can choose to do some of the heavy lifting between your truck and the pickup and delivery points, or leave those tasks to other hands.
So how do the benefits of being a truck driver stack up, and do they outweigh any possible downsides of the field?
Reasons to Become a Truck Driver
There are numerous reasons the truck driving profession is one of the most lucrative and flexible career options for practically anyone who knows how to operate large, commercial vehicles. As a truck driver, you can drive long or moderate routes during the hours of your choice, all while making good money and traveling through different cities. You also get to enjoy levels of freedom and job security that are rare in other fields. Consider the following list of truck driving job benefits:
One of the foremost reasons to become a truck driver is the flexibility the job allows. As a truck driver, you can choose day or evening routes that best suit your lifestyle. The number of miles you might travel in a given week could all depend on your willingness and dedication to the job. If you wish to keep your routes intrastate due to personal or family commitments, you could opt for shorter routes. If you are willing to go the extra mile – literally – and earn more money, you could accept cross-country routes.
Life as a truck driver is also flexible in terms of the hours involved. With fleets operating day and night, you could stick to day routes and spend evenings with your family. If you are more nocturnal, you could take overnight shipments and get your sleep during the daytime. Unlike conventional jobs, which pretty much force you to be a day person, truck driving allows you to select hours that are best suited to your natural body clock.
2. Good Pay
Another of the primary benefits of being a truck driver is the pay. With yearly salaries in the range of $45,000 to $55,000, truck drivers often make more than people in white-collar professions. Best of all, you do not even need a college degree to become a truck driver. All you need is a commercial driver’s license, which only takes about three months to earn. Once you have demonstrated a basic grasp of the skills required to become a truck driver, you can join a fleet and start making money.
Depending on your drive and determination as a truck driver, you could earn as much as $80,000 per year. Granted, you would need to be willing to accept long routes and be willing to lift some heavy objects. If you have certain financial goals – such as saving up for a dream home or for your children’s college tuition – you could win in multiple ways by accepting high-paying long routes. By traveling across state and regional lines and lifting heavy loads, you would get to see more of the country and stay in shape at the same time.
Any list of truck driving job benefits would be incomplete without mentioning the amount of travel involved in this line of work. As a truck driver, you get to see towns and countrysides you would otherwise never think to explore on your own time. With so many consumable goods and commercial products essential in every community, large and small, there are virtually unlimited routes you could drive throughout the country.
If you have long wondered about the sights and establishments that lie beyond your community, a truck driving job would be the perfect opportunity to learn more about the buildings and sights in neighboring counties and states. On long routes, you could even do stopovers in some of these communities and experience new restaurants, parks, lakes and hotels in the process. You might even find new places that would later serve as excellent vacation spots for your family.
4. Not an Office Job
One of the unique aspects of truck driving is its difference from normal lines of work. Unlike the typical nine-to-five office job, life as a truck driver will not confine you to set schedule. If you wish to begin work early in the morning and be home by late afternoon, there are plenty of jobs available at any given time that will suit your preferred schedule. If you prefer instead to work late nights and sleep in the daytime, there are also plenty of routes that require drivers to fill those late night/early morning hours.
Unlike office jobs, life as a truck driver allows you the freedom to be yourself and earn good money. You never need to put on a suit to deliver goods across a given route. Instead, you can wear comfortable jeans and practical work boots on the job. In a relatively solitary line of work, you never have to worry about looking “presentable” or whether others will judge you. Best of all, you can play music throughout your work shift, be it radio or your own bring-along music choices.
5. Job Security
Truck driving is one of the few fields that never flatlines, regardless of economic factors at the state or federal level. That’s because there is always a public in need of goods and a market for drivers willing to haul products from supply sources to supermarkets. With so many products needing to ship to each community every day, there are always openings in the field for new drivers. As such, you never have to worry about scalebacks or layoffs when you work as a truck driver.
Truck driving is likely to remain one of the best industries for job security for decades to come. Wheres disruptive technology has made vast ripples in other industries, the process of hauling goods from point A to point B will always require live drivers. Even as people talk about driverless cars and delivery drones, the task of hauling large shipments of produce and furnishings will remain a human labor. If one trucking company ends up downsizing due to lost orders, there will always be other nearby openings waiting to be filled.
6. Career Flexibility
All these benefits of being a truck driver add up to the greatest professional asset of all: career flexibility. As a truck driver, you get to choose your hours and routes, all while making good money. Unlike people who work in offices, banks and retail outlets, you can also wear whatever you want and listen to your favorite music throughout each shift.
For young drivers, the opportunities in trucking are boundless. If you are young and single, a part-time job in truck driving could earn you $25,000 annually, and all with much more freedom of schedule and attire than your friends in more conventional lines of work. If you are engaged and planning to buy a house, you could easily make $35,000 during your first year as a full-time truck driver and likely bounce up to $45,000 by your second year.
A job in trucking can also accommodate your needs if you already have significant financial obligations. If you are married with kids and a mortgage, you could ultimately work your way into the upper echelon of earners in the trucking field, especially if you are willing to manually engage in some of the heavy hauls and accept lengthier, trickier routes.
7. Fuel Savings
One of the biggest differences between truck drivers and inbound city workers is that the former get to save on fuel expenses. Aside from the fuel costs of driving between your house and the fleet lot, you are less likely to burn up miles on your dime as a truck driver. People who commute to work each day generally have to cope with rising fuel costs, which can seriously eat into a person’s weekly income. As a truck driver, the company that assigns your delivery routes covers your fuel costs.
Fuel savings are an added bonus when you consider the countryside routes you get to experience while driving truckloads of products from one city to another. When you consider the fuel costs of an interstate vacation by car or van, the time you spend on the road as a truck driver could serve as a free preview of some of the country’s most breathtaking, scenic routes, which you would never get to see if you opt for a traffic-congested, city-bound office job.
8. Growth Opportunities
As a truck driver, you could opt to drive for a fleet or go it alone as an owner-operator. If you drive for a fleet, the company will assign trucks for you to drive and offer you routes of varying length. Some companies are less flexible than others regarding the hours they require of drivers in their fleets. However, the schedules involved are seldom routine because orders and shipments are based on supply and demand.
The companies that secure the most lucrative orders tend to hold their drivers to higher standards than some of the lower-paying competition. Still, the number of jobs available each week within a given local company makes truck driving one of the most flexible job options.
You can have even more freedom in the trucking industry as an owner-operator, where you purchase or rent your truck and communicate more directly with suppliers and customers. However, you need to be willing to go out and compete for assignments, which can be a challenging prospect for anyone new to the field. Nonetheless, if you are a more independent type and have the driving and interactive skills required for the work involved, you could excel as an owner-operator in the trucking industry.
Once you have soared as an owner-operator, you may have the ambition to take your business to the next level and start your own trucking fleet. In this role, you might serve as a trainer to young drivers who would ultimately fulfill deliveries in fleet trucks you would either purchase or lease from a third party.
Being a Truck Driver With a Family
An often-raised question about truck driving is whether the job is suitable for people with families. After all, truck drivers often travel great distances, and many spend half their nights in hotels far from home. Companies might also frequently require shipments at odd hours, thus restricting the time a driver can spend with loved ones. So if you are a parent, should you become a truck driver? Consider the following pros and cons:
In the trucking industry, schedules are all over the clock. Even when all the supermarkets are closed, overnight delivery fleets are hauling goods through the back entrances. For deliveries of several hundred miles or more, a driver may end up traveling 12 or 15 hours at a time, stopping only to eat, refresh and sleep. For obvious reasons, schedules such as these can make it difficult to maintain a normal family life. If you regularly take lengthier routes and drive at unusual hours, you might only see your children twice each week.
Fortunately, the 24/7 nature of the trucking industry also allows you to avoid these jobs and opt for more practical routes and schedules. If you wish to be back home no later than 6 p.m. on a typical weekday, you could choose morning-through-afternoon shifts with routes restricted to a 150-mile radius. For any driver who requires a regular schedule, there are plenty of drivers willing to take more unusual routes and hours. Young, unmarried people, for example, will often have no special scheduling requirements and be more than happy to handle long overnight routes.
Shipping routes can range from local to cross-country. If you stick to the former, trucking could easily be a nine-to-five job that would give you ample time to spend with your family. Granted, not all trucking companies are rife with openings exclusively within this daily timeframe, so you might have to search around a bit harder if you wish to make trucking your local, daytime occupation. If you want to be an owner-operator, you will need to compete for local, daytime delivery opportunities.
While some of the lengthiest routs may entail several days to and from the delivery destination, the longer routes a trucking company will generally assign are no more than 600 miles to and from the customer. Basically, the longest routes most drivers get assigned equal the approximate distance between San Francisco and Portland, Ore., which a driver could complete within a 30-hour period.
If 600 miles is too much time and distance away from your loved ones, you could set your limits at half that distance and complete your routes in a single day without the need for stopovers. Then again, you might be limiting your earnings potential as a truck driver by restricting yourself to family-hour-friendly routes. After all, some of the highest-paid drivers are those who will drive any distance anytime, day or night.
For a parent, the earnings potential of a full-time truck-driving job might outweigh any of the drawbacks. If you can make it into the $85,000 income bracket, you could probably provide your children an above-average standard of living. If you wish to see them go to college and not amass large sums of debt, you could even put money away for their college education with the income you would earn as a top-paid driver. Life as a high-earning truck driver might also allow you to pay off your mortgage much sooner and own your home free and clear.
If you live in a joint-income household, the sacrifices of becoming a top-earning driver might not be worth the effort. Even then, an annual income of $55,000 – which many drivers earn with schedules that consists of more reasonable routes – could be more than enough to live an ideal life and support your family. As long as you and your spouse properly manage your joint finances, you could even grow a substantial savings account from your income as a medium-earning truck driver.
Then again, you could exceed the $85,000 threshold without driving lengthy routes if you become your own boss in the field. For the owner-operator with determination and drive, the next step will often be to start an independent fleet and begin competing with larger trucking companies. If business explodes, you could be raking in a six-figure income annually without driving any great distances because some of the more willing drivers in your fleet will take on that kind of work instead.
Like any family person, you probably have numerous obligations to your spouse and children, as well as in-laws and members of your community. A typical job will also consist of various interactions between colleagues, temps, clients, bosses and managers. If you head a large household and also go into a crowded work environment each day, chances are you have very little alone time. While it is true humans are social creatures, it is also essential for everyone to have some time alone each day.
Truck driving is one of the few professions in which you can make good money in relative solitude during most of your hours on the clock. The job provides ample time to relax your mind and let go of obligations for upwards of six or eight hours at a time on a given delivery route. With this comes a sharpened clarity of mind, because you are not in a constant rush to take action and make decisions. Moreover, you are less likely to become irritable because you are not spending your days fielding questions and fulfilling tasks.
Some of the most memorable experiences in a person’s life involve trips to unique destinations. As a truck driver, you would swiftly rack up a lot more travel experience than the average person. Whereas the typical person will only get to travel afar once or twice each year, you would be constantly on the move from town to town, city to city and possibly from state to state as a truck driver.
The roads and sites of trucking routes may vary in terms of their appeal, but all serve as unique experiences that are never without their points of interest, especially when compared to the same-four-walls monotony of the office environment. On a given route, you might get to see some marvel of human engineering like the Hoover Dam or the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. On other routes, you may encounter novel roadside attractions like the giant Pedro mascot of South of the Border on I-95.
As you experience rout after route along America’s roadmap, you will have countless memories and stories to share with loved ones. With a smartphone in your pocket on each route, you could even return home with numerous photos to show for your experiences. Chances are, your kids will become envious of some of your many sightseeing opportunities on the job and ask to visit these places on future family vacations.
The Pros of Being a Female Truck Driver
Despite the often male-centric stereotype, truck driving is one of the more female-friendly fields in today’s job market. Few other fields offer women the independence and stress-free peace of mind that comes with truck driving.
As a truck driver, you deliver items from one location to another while taking in the beautiful scenery of America’s highways. Best of all, you can dress however you want, take breaks at your discretion and stay entertained on the job in whichever manner suits you. Consider the following benefits of being a female truck driver.
One of the primary reasons for women to become truck drivers is the independence that comes with the job. As a truck driver, you get to work by yourself without the prying eyes and gazing stares of micro-managing bosses. The job is also a relatively simple one that merely requires the ability to operate large commercial trucks and follow directions to various delivery locations.
With no one to breathe down your neck during your hours on the clock, you can do your job in a manner that suits you best. If you wish to listen to music as you drive, you are free to do so, without having to quarrel with co-workers over the choice between jazz stations, rock stations, country stations and talk radio. Moreover, life as a truck driver allows you to take breaks, eat and sleep whenever you want. In other words, you’ll be free from the rigors and tedium of the nine-to-five schedule.
2. Judgement Free
Truck driving culture is relatively free of judgment. Just as the profession does not require men to wear button-up shirts, slacks and blazers, it does not require women to wear skirts, blouses and pumps. An informal, casual look is standard among truck drivers because T-shirt-and-denim ensembles are best suited for this line of work. As a truck driver, you could rewash and wear the same outfit several times each week until the threads unravel if you so wish. No one will criticize your wardrobe selection for doing so.
Life as a truck driver is also free of the gossip and drama that often accompanies the office environment. When you work behind the wheel traveling hundreds of miles each week, there is none of the pettiness that is almost inevitable in environments where dozens of people are working under the same roof.
If you become a truck driver, you will never have colleagues in neighboring cubicles conspiring or spreading rumors if you get bumped into a higher earnings bracket. If you do end up earning more than your fellow drivers, the achievement would be a private gain based on your willingness to work harder and better.
3. Fluid Income
For anyone who enters the field of truck driving determined to make a good living, the earnings potential is impressive. For female truck drivers, the earnings range is the same as for men. If you prove yourself as a reliable driver who makes deliveries on time, you could make $35,000 during your first year on the job and grow that figure to $45,000 by the second year. If you are willing to drive long routes and work odd hours, you could exceed your wildest financial dreams as a truck driver.
As in any field that offers high degrees of independence, your financial goals will drive your work incentive. If you are hoping to save for a house or pay down college debt, you could easily make that sort of money within a few years as a truck driver. By the time you reach those goals, many of your college classmates who entered white-collar fields will still be struggling and saving.
4. Secure Employment
As anyone who was of working age during the Great Recession of the late 2000s knows, good, stable jobs can be fleeting in an unstable economy. Fortunately, the world of truck driving remains relatively untouched by this instability. Even when the average consumer has little disposable income and sales are down on luxury items, people will still purchase food and furnishings. This nonstop demand for consumables and basic consumer items is the reason truck drivers enjoy job security throughout periods of widespread layoffs.
As a truck driver, you can almost always count on work availability. In the rare cases when a trucking company cuts its staff, the problem is usually down to mismanagement on the company’s part and not some dip in the trucking market. Suppliers and supermarkets can rarely find enough drivers to haul all their goods from point A to point B. When you decide to become a truck driver, you are helping an in-demand, yet under-filled, industry.
5. Scenic Routes
When you drive trucks for a living, you’ll spend many hours along America’s scenic highways. the experience sharply contrasts with the confined spaces, congested routes and urban cluster of the city-bound nine-to-five world. As a truck driver, you get to experience far more nature in the span of a given week than most people do on vacations. The time you spend on the wide-open road allows for freedom of thought and clarity of mind.
Compared to the intense mental demands people in white-collar industries often experience, the tasks of a truck driver are mostly carefree. Whereas office workers will constantly stress over deadlines, your only real concern as a truck driver is to arrive at each destination on time with a new shipment. In case tedium of another kind is ever a concern, the beautiful scenery of the U.S. highway system can help alleviate some of the boredom people typically associate with long hours on the road.
The Benefits of Factoring as an Owner-Operator
If the long list of truck driving job benefits has made you eager to enter the field, you may wish to become an owner-operator and truly harness the independent aspects of truck driving. As an owner-operator, you can deliver for the types of customers you wish to do business with and work the schedules that are best suited to your lifestyle. To ensure you always get money when you need it for each of your deliveries, it is best to harness the option of factoring.
Factoring is the solution to the payment delays that are standard in the trucking industry. In a normal scenario, you deliver a shipment to a supermarket or furniture store and receive your payment for said delivery between four and six weeks after the fact
When you sign on with a factoring company, you get your payments upon the credit approval of a given customer. This way, you can get the money for a delivery while en route to the destination or possibly sooner. The moment a customer gets approved, the funds get deposited to your account, and the customer pays the factoring company four to six weeks later.
Factoring With FactorLoads
At FactorLoads, we give owner-operators the options of recourse and non-recourse factoring. The latter option si best for anyone beginning in the trucking industry because there are no risks on your end if a customer fails to pay. FactorLoads pays the funds to you in good faith, while waiting for reimbursement from the customer. Best of all, FactorLoads operates 24/7, 365 days per year. Regardless of the hour a customer gets approved, the funds immediately become available in your account for remote access from any location.
The factoring services of FactorLoads take the tasks of customer paperwork off your hands so you can focus on delivering shipments. Unlike other factoring services, we don’t lock drivers into long-term contracts or impose any delivery quotas. With FactorLoads, you can send customers through us anytime you need upfront funds, or refrain from the service on select deliveries at your discretion. Moreover, we offer 24/7 roadside assistance if you ever find yourself stranded while en route to or from a delivery destination.
At FactorLoads, we help startup owner-operators and smaller trucking companies launch and become competitive by providing the funds they need, when they need them. As you start your trucking business, you will need payments for your deliveries upfront, not a month or more down the line. Fill out our online contact form or call us today for a free quote on our back-end services from a FactorLoads account specialist.