Long haul trucking jobs are challenging yet offer relatively high salaries for those without a college degree. Long haul truck drivers can earn well over $50,000 a year with bonuses. Companies such as J.B Hunt offer sign on bonuses along with health insurance and 401-K retirement plans. Truck drivers come from all walks of life and many women are joining the profession for the salary and benefits.
What You Will Need to Get a Job as a Long Haul Truck Driver
You will need a commercial drivers license or CDL with an air brake endorsement, since most 18 wheelers have air brakes. Most companies will not hire drivers who have no experience. Consider attending a truck driving school in your area to gain experience. Many truck driving courses that are offered by community colleges and private companies have placement services to help you land a job in the trucking industry. You should posses some mechanical aptitude since maintaining your truck in good working order while on the road is essential.
Drug Tests, Vision, Disabilities
To get a job as a long haul truck driver you need to pass a pre-employment drug test. You will also be randomly tested by most companies and by state DOT. You will need to have good vision and depth perception, or prescription glasses. Disabled drivers are accommodated by some companies though discrimination can be a problem with many employers.
Long haul truck driving jobs often require that the driver spend up to several weeks away from home. A good dispatcher will try and get drivers back-hauls that land them near home so that they can spend a day or so with family. It helps if your company's terminal or yard is located near your home as this will increase your chances of getting more home time. Because of the nature of the trucking industry, long haul truck drivers often do not have set work schedules. Back-hauls can arise and a dispatcher will divert a driver to another location around the country for another load. It pays to inquire about the companies policy regarding home time. Some of the major carriers mention a percentage of home time in advertisements. Be sure and read the fine print.
The larger over the road trucking companies will typically offer two weeks of paid vacation a year. This may increase after 5 or 10 years of steady employment.
Many long haul trucking company jobs will be as a team driver. Your partner will sleep in the sleeper compartment of the truck when you are driving. His life is in your hands, and vice versa. You will want to get to know your team partner and determine his driving skills and trustworthiness. Team driving means you can get more sleep yet you may earn less.
Other Things to Consider:
- Staying Fit and Healthy. Long haul truck driving jobs can be hard on your health. Many modern truck stops now offer fitness centers and restaurants with healthy food. Salad bars are common in today's truck stops. Getting enough sleep can be difficult, but with team driving this is less of a problem.
- Long Haul Truck Driving as a Long Term Career Path. There will always be a need for over the road truck drivers. Truck driving jobs are a respectable way of earning a living and offer the freedom to work outside of an office and to see much of the country. Truck driving jobs are not for everybody, but if you are in good physical shape and can handle odd hours it might be a good choice for you.