When people across the country sit down to make career plans, one line of work rarely enters the picture: trucking. For many, that might be a grave mistake. Unlike many other job categories these days, the trucking industry is currently facing a dramatic shortage of workers. Thanks to some unprecedented social and economic factors, there’s never been a better time to consider this oft-overlooked career.
Trucking’s Shrinking Labor Pool
There are far fewer trained truck drivers working today than America’s complex logistics systems really need. The American Trucking Associations estimates that approximately 51,000 more drivers are needed than are currently available, and that shortfall is expected to double by 2022 as the economy grows stronger and small online consumer shipments grow even more popular.
Unfortunately, the supply of new truckers is also falling. There are very few new young entrants into this job market each year, and the drivers that are left are constantly creeping closer to retirement. As they leave their jobs, there is often no new candidate to replace them.
Another issue is the introduction of new regulations limiting total road time per driver per day. These new laws are critical from the standpoint of saving lives, but they only exacerbate the industry’s supply problem by making it hard for existing truckers to attempt to cover the demand by working a little longer.
A Persistent Problem
While there is certainly a confirmed shortage of truckers right now, you might be surprised to hear that the job market is not currently moving to fill the gap and hasn’t for several years. Part of the reason for this is that new entrants to the job market may not realize how lucrative these positions have become and opt for jobs that have a longer history of strong compensation. Others think that the long-distance travel requirements are too much of a sacrifice. Some may find the stereotypical image of a trucker to be off-putting, and women especially may feel that they are not welcome in such a male-dominated field.
Even the looming threat of self-driving trucks scares some away from trying their hand at trucking despite experts insisting that there will still be an interim period where the industry will continue to need labor. Because of these issues, driver demand remains high even after several years of problems.
What’s In It For You
With so much demand behind you, you have the opportunity to build a very comfortable life for yourself by following this path. There are obviously plenty of jobs available all over the country, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these truckers earn a respectable median wage of $20.42 per hour. Training intervals are short and it’s easy to transition into this field in well under a single year.
Trucking for a living has many side benefits, too. One positive part of spending so much time away from home is that you don’t have to choose a place to live based on your projected commute, since you’ll be on the road a lot regardless. This means that it might be more feasible to opt for an area with a lower cost of living than you could choose otherwise.
It’s fairly routine work that also has the potential to bring some exciting moments, which provides a good balance of stability and challenge. You’ll also get to see a lot more of the country as a trucker than you otherwise might, which can be appealing for people who want to travel and seek new experiences. Finally, many companies offer signing bonuses to new workers, so you’ll get a little extra money out of it too.
Technically speaking, all you need to qualify to be a truck driver is a valid CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) of the appropriate class for the vehicle you’ll be driving. However, that doesn’t mean you should skimp on your preparations. Education is still ideally required when taking on such a changeable role.
You want to know everything there is to know about your truck and the logistical process you’re participating in, just in case something goes wrong on the road. An accredited trucking school could teach you everything you need to know about how to follow the specific trucking regulations of each area you traverse, how to properly log your time on the job, how to stay safe during the long drives, and much more.
Can You See Yourself Behind the Wheel?
If truck driving sounds at all appealing to you, you should consider enrolling in the Tractor-Trailer Driving program at Virginia’s Advanced Technology Institute. Connect with an admissions counselor today to learn more about our classes and your future career.