How to Get the Trucking Job You Really Want
Tuesday, Nov 7 2017 Staff Writer
In the trucking industry, there’s a lot more than just finding a trucking job. You have to choose a haul type, trucking company, region, route, and type of product you transport. It’s a lot to think about. You want to make the best decision possible, so you aren’t stuck in a cycle of constantly searching for the next best trucking job. So how do you do this? How do you find the trucking job that you really want on your first try? We’ve come up with some industry proven tips to get you on the right route to success with truck driving jobs.
Understand the Trucking Industry
Start with a solid understanding of what the trucking industry is all about. You have certain types of trucking jobs:
- Long-haul, over-the-road trucking jobs
- Regional trucking jobs
- Local trucking jobs
If you select long-haul, OTR trucking jobs, these will require you to be away from home more. However, these types of jobs pay the most in the industry. Regional trucking jobs will give you more home time, as you will generally be away for two to three days at a time. Of course, the pay decreases compared to long-haul trucking. If you want to be home every night, go with local trucking jobs. Again, pay will be the least of the three, but for truck drivers with family or community commitments, the home time is more important.
Now consider what kind of haul type you want and will be willing to do on a daily basis. Here is a breakdown of the most common haul types and associated duties:
- Dry van trucking loads involve closed-up box trailers and generally include no-touch, drop-and-hook freight, which means you back up to the loading dock and hook to your trailer and roll on down the road. There is less work involved in loading, and you typically do not monitor the freight while on a route.
- Flatbed trucking loads are more tedious as these involve open-air trailers. You are required to strap down the load and to stop and check the security of your straps on a set time frame while hauling the freight. You may also have to tarp the load depending on the weather and security concerns of the shipper. If you have to tarp a load, this involves a lot of manual labor, and you’ll have to keep a check on your tarping just like you do with the strapping.
- Reefer trucking loads use a dry van box trailer equipped with a refrigeration unit. Your main focus will be on the temperature of the trailer. You will be required to stop and check the temp at certain times throughout the haul to ensure the refrigeration system is running as needed. You will also have to keep the reefer unit filled with fuel and provide any on-the-spot maintenance and repairs as needed. Otherwise, your load could be jeopardized if the temperature fluctuates improperly. You are also required to be on the strictest of delivery schedules since your freight is perishable.
These are the three basic haul types, but as with any job, there are exceptions. For starters, you could be required to haul an oversized load within any of these three haul types. Most often, an oversized load will be on a flatbed trailer simply because of the freedom of the width and height of the load. Oversized loads are one-off; you are least likely to find a trucking company that specializes in nothing but oversized loads. While this type of trucking load pays the most, there are few of these types of loads to go around.
CDL Endorsements for Loads
After you have considered the haul types you would be best suited for, it’s time to take a gander at CDL endorsements. By getting a CDL endorsement, you increase your trucking job opportunities as well as the amount of money you can make in trucking.
For starters, the most common CDL endorsements are tank and hazardous materials endorsements. In fact, typically truckers will get both of these endorsements so they can haul the most freight. For this reason, the Department of Transportation has issued the X endorsement for a combination of tank and hazmat endorsements.
If you have an X endorsement, you can haul anything that involves a tanker trailer and hazardous materials. This includes propane/gas, chemicals, liquid foods/beverages, water for oil mining, sand for fracking, and medical waste. These types of trucking jobs pay more, but they are also more stressful. After all, when you are hauling a tanker load of fuel, you are putting yourself at risk more so than if you were hauling a dry van load of paper.
The bottom line is that as a truck driver, you can earn more money and have more job opportunities by increasing your specialization. At the same time, these types of trucking jobs can be more stressful, so it’s a balancing act in terms of what you want and what you are willing to sacrifice for a trucking career.
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