Truck Drivers

Outlook

Employment Prospects

Employers

More than 1.8 million heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers and 923,050 light truck or delivery services drivers are employed in the United States. Over-the-road and local drivers may be employed by either private carriers or for-hire carriers. Food store chains and manufacturing plants that transport their own goods are examples of private carriers. There are two kinds of for-hire carriers: trucking companies serving the general public (common carriers) and trucking firms transporting goods under contract to certain companies (contract carriers).

Drivers who work independently are known as owner-operators. They own their own vehicles and often do their own maintenance and repair work. They must find customers who need goods transported, perhaps through personal references or by advertising their services. For example, many drivers find contract jobs through "Internet truck stops," where drivers can advertise their services and companies can post locations of loads they need transported. Some independent drivers establish long-term contracts with just one or two clients, such as trucking companies.

Starting Out

Prospective over-the-road drivers can gain commercial driving experience as local truck drivers and then attend a tractor-trailer driver-training program. Driving an intercity bus or dump truck is also suitable experience for aspiring over-the-road truck drivers. Many newly hired long-distance drivers start by filling in for regular drivers or helping out when extra trips are necessary. They are assigned regular work when a job opens up.

Many truck drivers hold other jobs before they become truck drivers. Some local drivers start as drivers' helpers, loading and unloading trucks and gradually taking over some driving duties. When a better driving position opens up, helpers who have shown they are reliable and responsible may be promoted. Members of the armed forces who have gained appropriate experience may get driving jobs when they are discharged.

Job seekers may apply directly to firms that use drivers. Listings of specific job openings are often posted at local offices of the state employment service and through employment agency Web sites. Many jobs, however, are not posted. Looking in the Yellow Pages under trucking and moving and storage can provide names of specific companies to solicit. Also, large manufacturers and retailing companies sometimes have their own fleets. Contact them directly by e-mail or phone. Personal visits, when appropriate, sometimes get the best results.

Advancement Prospects

Some over-the-road drivers who stay with their employers advance by becoming safety supervisors, driver supervisors, or dispatchers. Many over-the-road drivers look forward to going into business for themselves by acquiring their own tractor-trailer rigs. This step requires a significant initial investment and a continuing good income to cover expenses. Like many other small business owners, independent drivers sometimes have a hard time financially. Those who are their own mechanics and have formal business training are in the best position to do well.

Local truck drivers can advance by learning to drive specialized kinds of trucks or by acquiring better schedules or other job conditions. Some may move into positions as dispatchers and, with sufficient experience, they eventually become supervisors or terminal managers. Other local drivers decide to become over-the-road drivers to receive higher wages.

Tips for Entry

Visit https://landline.media for job listings.

Contact trucking companies directly to learn more about job opportunities.

Talk to truck drivers about their careers. Ask them for advice on breaking into the field.