Choosing a New Career Path as a Commercial Truck Driver

Choosing a career as a commercial truck driver can be both a rewarding and challenging career choice, requiring drivers to spend days away from home. Truck driving provides an opportunity for individuals to see the country and work independently. The Washington Post reported that a recent unemployment report showed approximately 360,000 Americans were seeking unemployment benefits. With so many individuals out of work, commercial truck driving provides a solution for those seeking to pay their monthly bills.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for commercial driving is predicted to increase by an estimated 21 percent between the years 2010 and 2020, which is faster than the national occupation average. Economic growth results in an increase in demand for goods, and commercial driving keeps the supply chain moving.

Becoming a Commercial Driver

Finding a job in the commercial driving industry is just like any other career, requiring persistence and hard work to successfully attain the right position. In order to become a commercial driver, individuals need to obtain their high school diploma, two years of experience, and a commercial driver's license (CDL). According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, drivers need to earn their CDL to be able to operate vehicles that weigh over 26,001 pounds.

Those who wish to transport over-sized cargo or hazardous materials need to also obtain a CDL and special endorsements through their home state. Special endorsement for hazardous materials involves passing a knowledge test and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) threat assessment.

With driving the truck being the main responsibility of this career, some drivers are also required to complete other responsibilities, such as unloading and loading cargo. To ensure the compliance of federal regulations with regards to work and rest periods, long-haul drivers need to maintain a logbook of all their driving activities. Drivers must also record all vehicle inspections, ensuring the vehicle is equipped with the proper safety equipment. Local drivers may need to sell services or products to businesses on their routes, obtaining the necessary signatures and collecting cash.

Finding a Job

Drivers who have obtained their CDL have a variety of employment opportunities to choose from. Some may work locally, delivering supplies to customer residences or businesses. Others may work as a route driver, working on the same path to distribute supplies to retail establishments like grocery stores. Delivery and pick-up drivers operate in a specific area, delivering supplies from a transport center directly to a private customer or commercial business. For those seeking to travel across country, over-the-road drivers deliver merchandise on various routes across the country. Some drivers even specialize in distributing uncommon cargo, such as cars or hazardous materials.

When searching for truck driving jobs, individuals should take into consideration the type of freight and job security. Industries, such as grocery stores and restaurants, tend to be the most stable work environment for a commercial driver and truck companies, so obtaining a job in this industry sector almost always guarantees job stability.

Buying a Commercial Truck

Buying a commercial truck can be quite arduous, especially when it comes to reliability. Without a reliable truck, drivers will not be able to earn the money they need to pay the bills. Individuals seeking a career in commercial driving need to purchase a truck that they can count on to start every morning and to be reliable on long road trips. When searching for a new commercial vehicle to purchase, individuals need to perform the necessary research on both the company and the vehicle in order to ensure a good investment.

Obtaining Commercial Vehicle Insurance

Commercial vehicle insurance is crucial when conducting business on the road, protecting the driver from costly damage repairs and injuries in the wake of an accident. Commercial vehicle insurance offers similar coverage options as personal auto insurance, such as liability, comprehensive, collision, personal injury, and uninsured motorist protection.

With it becoming increasingly difficult to find a job, individuals are seeking new career options to pay their bills. A 2010 report released by the BLS shows that the median pay for commercial driving is approximately $37,770 annually. Obtaining one's CDL can open many new career paths, allowing individuals to not only earn extra cash in a struggling economy but also to travel around the country.