Being a CDL driver is not something for the faint of heart, nor is it something that could ever be considered “casual”. Being a driver is more a lifestyle than a job. It can often demand, upward to 300 days per year on the road. It limits what time you spend at home, potentially impacting relationships with those around you. And while we pride ourselves in having drivers come home every night and weekend, for others it may be two years before you can move into a regional driving position that allows for you to return home weekly, instead of once every three weeks.
While we absolutely believe that spouses or partners deserve some say in your deliberations before you decide if driving a truck for a living is for you, there are plenty of things that can be worthwhile to certain types of people.
If you’re attracted to flexibility, up to 20 hours of solitude each day, and following a different routine from the rest of the population, then this career is worth exploring. If we grabbed your attention, consider the following.
- Days can begin early. Really early. Many drivers like to drive with the bright light while others prefer to drive through the dark night. Most truck drivers don’t have set starting hours unless they’re calling in to dispatch after returning from “time off.”
- You may be expected to work up to 70 hours over an eight-day period. After you’ve worked for 70 hours, you cannot drive again until you take a full 34 hours off duty. The 70-hour limit could be reached by working 14-hour days, but you cannot drive for more than 11 hours in a day. You must also conclude your “Hours of Service” with a 10-hour break. This has to do with log books like we previously discussed in our previous blogs.
- While Some drivers are paid hourly, but most of the time, pay is calculated by the mile. This is different for other similar jobs such a delivery driver where if they are not driving, they are not getting paid.
- If you are being paid by your employer by “practical miles”, this means that they pay based on every mile driven while on the job. On the flip side, “paid miles” is more like drawing a straight-line on a map from Point A to Point B, even though routes aren’t always straight or consistent. There is an opportunity to increase your salary if you become a trainer, are willing to haul oversize freight or hazardous materials, or if an employer pays you a percentage of each load you run.
- It’s not uncommon to know what you’ll be paid until the end of a year. A good estimate would be $35,000 in your first year, and $45,000 to $55,000 afterwards but again, this can all vary depending on a variety of factors.
- You will either do “drop and hooks” or live loading and unloading, which can take two to three hours each. While OTR drivers will almost never have to unload any freight, you will have to rely on others loading you and how they factor into your schedule.
- Most drivers are expected to cover around 2,500 miles a week, which equates to 500 miles a day.
- There are many perks that come with a truck driver’s schedule, not the least of which is a unique view of the country, state or area you drive in. You’ll meet people from all walks of life, all of which are out on the road with own dreams, ambitions and goals, making their way through life. In many ways, you’ll have sights and opportunities that many others may not see in their lifetime.
Truck drivers have a long history of being held in high esteem by the public. Without them, our society would most likely collapse and all the necessities and comforts of modern life would come crashing to a close. As said before, it’s not a job for everyone, but for those with the time, flexibility and right mindset, it’s an adventure of a lifetime just waiting for you to take.