These are just a few of the tough questions you may be asking yourself right now. Wages in trucking have stagnated over the years while the scrutiny you endure, the risks you take, and the challenges you face only grow with time. Traffic gets tougher by the day. The weather can sweep in and wipe you out in an instant and there's always another warm body ready for the opportunity to take your place.
Whether or not you decide to take a shot at life in the trucking industry is a complex and difficult decision for most. I'll tell you what trucking is to me and maybe that will help you decide if it would be right for you.
What I Dislike About Today's Trucking Industry
There's a lot to dislike about trucking today.
The scrutiny is brutal. Getting started in trucking means background checks, drug tests, physicals, credit checks, fingerprinting (Hazmat endorsement), employment verification, and endless piles of rules and regulations. Babysitting the President's kids would probably mean jumping through fewer hoops than becoming a truck driver.
The enforcement is very strict. You will have cameras on you most of the time, and sometimes even in the cab. Your engine will report your driving and idling habits to your company. The scale houses will scan you and track your truck's every movement. You can be pulled over anytime and searched inside and out, including the cab, without provocation. And every inspection, ticket, and accident will be tracked, scored, and reported to more entities than you would ever imagine. Everyone knows pretty much everything you're doing all the time, therefore it is far easier to lose your job today than ever before.
The traffic is unbearable. For decades now the growth in the amount of traffic on the roads has far outpaced the rate of expansion. Traffic gets worse by the day and people drive crazier than ever, partly because they have more devices to distract them than ever before.
The pay has stagnated. Although it is still a solid paying blue collar job, the pay is the same now as it was in '93. Adjusted for inflation you would need to make $64,000 today to have the same spending power as $40,000 had in '93. Unfortunately today's rookie drivers will be lucky to make $40,000 their first year, meaning they'll have about half the spending power a rookie had back in the 1993.
What I Like About Today's Trucking Industry
There's a lot to love about trucking today:
The equipment is beautiful. There is more technology and comfort in today's trucks than ever before. The visibility is great, the safety features continue to evolve, the communication and navigation technologies have never been better, and the paint is oh-so-shiny.
The pay is solid. Even though wages have remained about the same over the past 25 years, it's still a solid paying blue collar job. There aren't too many opportunities to make $40,000-$50,000 a year in today's blue collar market.
Demand is high. If you get a little OTR experience and you can keep your license, your safety record, and your service record in solid standing you could make 10 phone calls and have 10 job offers before lunchtime on any given day. You'll never have to worry about having a job.
More home time opportunities. Freight is far more regionalized today than it was in years past which has given trucking companies the opportunity to get people home more often.
So would you do it? If your answer is YES - let me help you succeed in this new adventure!