Truck driving has been in the news more than ever lately. With the world changing, trucking has to keep up with it. It might seem like a job you can walk into with a driver’s license and no prior experience, but formal education does a lot to help you prepare for live on the road. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of postsecondary education for truck drivers and what truck driving is like in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia.
Where, and what, is Hampton Roads?
Hampton Roads is comprised of seven cities in Virginia: Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach. Named in 2016 by Materials Handling and Logistics Magazine as one of the Top 50 Logistics Cities in the United States, Hampton Roads is home to a cornucopia of major transport links:
- Newport News/Williamsburg International
- Norfolk International
- Hampton Roads Executive
- Chesapeake Regional
- Virginia Port Authority
- Norfolk International Terminals
- Portsmouth Maine Terminal
- Newport News Marine Terminal
- Virginia International Gateway
- Virginia Inland Port (intermodal dry port)
- Amtrak Northeast
- A potential high-speed connection
- Light rail and intercity bus links
- A well-developed highway system
- Interstate Highways 64, 264, 464, 564 and 664
- US Routes 13, 17, 58, 60, 258 and 460
- State Routes 31 and 32
Hampton Roads’ Major Employers of Tractor Trailer Drivers
UPS, the world’s largest package delivery company, transports an average of 15.8 million packages a day. Separate from its delivery fans are its fleet of tractor-trailers known as “feeder.” Based in Hampton Roads and driving around North America, you could find yourself driving a Mack Truck, Navistar or Kenworth. In 2017, the company stopped using certain trucks owing to restrictions in trailer length. As a full-time road driver, you would be designated a Linehaul driver. In this role, you might:
- Go home every night after completing a delivery(ies)
- Travel to a location, perform dockside functions and then return home
- Stay overnight at a delivery location
Zim, employs around 4,200 people via its regional headquarters in Norfolk, Haifa, Hong Kong, and Hamburg. It has an annual turnover of approximately $3.4 billion, owns or at least partly owns about 80 vessels, and arranges onward freight transportation.
Based in Denmark, Maersk is the world’s largest container ship and supply vessel operator. With activities in energy, transport, and logistics, Maersk has interests in 130 countries and employs around 88,000 people.
Founded in 1978 in Marseilles, France, CMA-CGM is now one of the world’s top ten shipping and logistics companies. The company has more than 28,000 employees and serves more than 160 companies.
How much does a tractor-trailer driver earn?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, heavy and tractor-trailer drivers in 2016 earned a median annual wage of $42,480. The highest 10 percent earned more than $64,000, while the lowest 10 percent earned less than $27,510. Drivers are generally paid by how many miles they drive and often earn bonuses. The per-mile rate can vary from one employer to another and by the type of cargo carried. Some drivers earn a share of the revenue the company earns from shipping.
Preparing to drive a tractor-trailer in Hampton Roads
While driving a tractor-trailer does not require an advanced postgraduate degree, there is a lot to learn and it’s not something you can get into with just a high school diploma. You will need a Virginia Driver’s license as well as a Commercial Driver’s License, specifically a Class A CDL.
This tells prospective employers that you are a qualified Professional Truck Driver, and that you can safely operate a vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. A Class A CDL also means that you can tow another vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs behind your tractor-trailer.
A Tractor-Trailer Driving certificate program can prepare you for the highway cargo industry. The written portion of the CDL examination covers topics including driving safety, substance abuse, planning trips, operational procedures, vehicle maintenance, and transporting hazardous materials. Such a program will also give you proficiency in driving, parking, and shifting Class A commercial vehicles.
Students attend a total of 232 hours of classroom instruction. Most classes are held four days a week, although some classes are held on evenings and weekends. The total program takes eight weeks, after which successful graduates receive a certificate of completion. This is not a Class A CDL certificate; you still need to pass a written and practical examination to qualify for that!
If driving a tractor-trailer sounds like something you might be interested in, contact us at Advanced Technology Institute and speak to one of our admissions advisors.