The Trucking Industry Keeps On Truckin'

hiring truck driverA state of logistics report put out by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals on June 9, 2010 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. had some good news for the unemployed this week: "the U.S. trucking industry will need to hire about 200,000 truck drivers by the end of 2010, and will need to add another 200,000 drivers by the end of next year."

Retiring truckers, tougher safety regulations aimed at getting drivers with bad records off the roads, and the need for replacement drivers who were laid off during the recession when companies were forced to downsize their work force are all factors contributing to the need to replenish employees within this part of the work force. Rosalyn Wilson, a seasoned transportation consultant and business analyst with 25 years experience, and the author of this logistics report that was sponsored by Penske Logistics, said in a CNNMoney.com article that, "we're going to need 1 million drivers in the next 15 years just to deal with replacing retirees and the normal growth of freight."


Life on the road

Trucking Industry 411

There are approximately 1.3 million workers employed in the U.S. truck transportation industry, according to the BLS. Overall job opportunities should be favorable, especially for long-haul drivers.


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Common Job Requirements

  • CDL
  • Minimum age of 21
  • Clean driving record
  • Alcohol and drug testing
  • Ability to sit for long periods


Salary

$17.92 -- median hourly wages of heavy truck and tractor-trailer drivers reported by BLS in May 2008. Long-haul drivers may be paid by the mile, with bonus opportunities.

At the start of 2008, the trucking industry began mass layoffs, resulting in 150,000 lost jobs since the start of 2008. Companies often had more employees and applicants looking for work than they did work orders to fill and positions to offer, which accounted for the reduction in jobs within that market. Additionally, workers with similar skill sets who had seen a downturn in their industry -- construction workers, bus drivers -- sought work in the trucking business, leading to a surplus of people to work.

Thanks to a recent upswing in the economy in the past few months, there has been a reduction in the number of applicants and a smaller work-force pool to choose from, which has led to the demand for more drivers. Wilson's report, "The Great Freight Recession" said: "the economy is showing stronger signs of recovery as we move into the second half of 2010." Wilson also pointed out that following a recession, growth in the freight industry goes up by about 10 percent.


Money and logistics for truckers

According to demographics and statistics cited in Wilson's report, one in every six truck drivers is 55 or older, and you must be at least 21 in order to obtain a CDL license. Truckers get paid per mile and can earn anywhere from 19 cents to 44 cents per mile depending on experience and some other factors, which averages out to anywhere from $300- $1,200 per week, according to The Truckers Report website. New rules allow truckers to drive for 14 hours straight before the required 10-hour break with no limit on the number of miles one can drive in that time period.


Hit the road

As of now, the demand for truckers is there and will continue to be for the next one to two years -- at least until these 400,000 positions are filled with the economy driving the demand. "How much of a driver shortage we have will depend on how much the economy picks up," Wilson says.

Truck driving may not be for everyone: Time on the road can be lonely, tiring and dangerous. An active profession that is not your average 9-to-5 type job, it is also a great way to make an honest living and drive yourself toward a bright future.

Next: Ice Road Trucker -- Scariest Job in the World >>


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