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So You Want a Career in the Trucking Industry?

So You Want a Career in the Trucking Industry?

Are you looking for a career in the trucking industry or just a job? If your answer is just a job, then this article is probably not for you as we explore the possibilities of a long term, rewarding career in the Trucking industry.

From the beginning of your career, as you take 4-6 weeks and spend $3-5,000 to get your CDL A license, to wherever you decide to end up – managing, supervising, owning your own trucking company, there are amazing opportunities to be had.

Starting a Career in Trucking

The first thing you need to do to get started in a trucking career is to attain your CDL A driver’s license. This license allows you to drive any kind of commercial truck up to and including an 18 wheeler, and that is where you start your career. You start by getting experience driving a big rig, cross country.

Getting your CDL training in Tacoma is really fairly easy. This is especially true in the Seattle-Tacoma area with all the trucking schools there and all the different opportunities for financing your education. At many of these schools, tuition is paid for by the company you go to work for after you graduate. For others, there are grants and loans.

The time and money are minimal for the reward in your second and third year of driving. How much money you make driving depends upon the routes you pick and how long you are willing to be on the road. Do you want to be home every night? Do you need to be home every weekend? Those needs cut into your potential earnings. If you are flexible and love the open road then the sky’s the limit in terms of earnings.

Non-Driving Jobs

There are also non-driving jobs available in the industry and these are usually on the job training type situations or you want to get out of a truck and come inside. The opportunities exist for:

  • Dispatchers
  • Recruiters
  • Schedulers
  • Technicians and diesel experts.
  • Supervisors
  • Managers
  • Logistics staff
  • Storage facilities staff                    

The Basic Job – OTR Truck drive          

When you are looking at the basic job after training for your CDL license, we have already said that the over the road driver who doesn’t have to be home every weekend makes the most money. This doesn’t mean that you will never be home, just that you won’t be guaranteed to be home every weekend.

Within this basic position, different companies have different types of jobs. Some like biohazard, flatbed, and refrigerated trucks require some additional training and come with some additional pay and benefits. Here are just a few of the different types of over the road truck driver positions at different companies.

  • Local
  • Regional
  • National
  • Flatbeds
  • Yard Junkie
  • Team driving
  • Car Hauler
  • Dump Truck
  • HazMat
  • Delivery and Install
  • Owner – Operator

These jobs can pay a wide variety of salary, bonus and offer many benefits, even for the entry-level driver. Let’s look at a few examples:

Company A – At this company, an experienced driver can expect:

  • $50,000 -75,000 year depending on experience.
  • Bonuses
  • Medical, vision, and dental insurance.
  • Life insurance.
  • Retirement plan.
  • After 60 days, paid vacation.
  • Bonuses for hazmat or flatbed.
  • Excellent equipment – refrigerated and non-refrigerated.
  • No touch, no life system.

Company B – Entry level with CDL A no endorsements and just out of training: Some companies pay by the mile or straight salary with bonus This company pays the right out of school driver

  • 25 cents a mile for the first 6 months,
  • 5o cents a mile after that
  • Guaranteed minimum of paid hours.
  • Yearly increases
  • Bonuses
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Health and life insurance
  • 401k with 10% match
  • 5 cent mile additional for hazmat
  • 5 cent mile additional for flatbed

This is an excellent starting packing for the driver right out of school. This is an over the road non-local no-touch job. You might or might not be home weekends. The company does not promise that.

Company C – With two years’ experience in over the road national routes this company offers:

  • Starting salary average is $75,000.
  • No-touch; Drop and Hook.
  • You call the shots on being home – when you want; as long as you want.
  • $6000 sign-on-bonus.
  • Paid Orientation.
  • Monthly Safety Bonus.
  • Brand new equipment.
  • On the road average 3000 miles per week.
  • Annual pay increases.
  • Matching 401k.
  • Health, vision, dental, long and short term disability insurance.
  • Paid vacation.
  • AD&D  and life insurance.
  • Driver referral bonus of up to $3500.

Climbing the Career Ladder

For these types of drivers who want to eventually get out of the truck and into the building, there are several career steps in all companies that they can aspire to and prepare for. Some of these we previously mentioned. Others might include CDL instructors if the company also runs a trucking school in Tacoma which many do.

Management opportunities are there for those who wish to pursue their education with college or advanced degrees.