Drivers' Corner - Ask the Recruiter


A number of outstanding questions were sent to me since the last column. Please continue sending questions and I will do my best to answer as many as I can. If I don’t answer your question in the column there is the possibility that a similar one has already been answered in a previous column, so I encourage reviewing the archives when possible. For next month, let me know what your number one concern about the future of trucking is. Thank you for making this column the success that it is.

   
Q

Hello, I am 18 years old, and I am interested in becoming a truck driver. It seems like a pretty fun, exciting, and somewhat easy job. I was just wondering what exactly this job consists of including behind the scenes work - the things you won’t read about online? Also, would I be able to get a job only during the summer months?

   
A

First, thank you for your question and your interest in the career. You are at the right age to really begin considering what you want to do for a living for the rest of your life. There is little doubt that the trucking industry offers many opportunities, some driving and others non-driving.

The first thing I want to address is your comment about how “easy” the job of a truck driver appears. I recommend taking a trip to the local truck stop and asking some drivers what their jobs are like. I am fairly certain “easy” will not be a term that comes up, but many people might just believe a driver simply sits behind the wheel of a truck and steers. This simply is not the case.

A great deal of knowledge about rules and regulations is required. The ability to do math is necessary, whether that is for the log book, the bills of lading, or accounting purposes. Accounting skills such as budgeting and tax knowledge is necessary. In addition to the mental aspects of the job there are physical requirements, too, which is why every driver must maintain a current physical exam. Moving boxes, tarping freight, securing loads, and other similar duties take effort – and you cannot afford to do any of those duties poorly.

At age 18 you won’t be able to find an over the road truck driving job as you are too young. After training, typically through a school, you can earn a CDL and drive locally though. There are not a lot of trucking companies, both local and over the road that just hire for the summer months though.

Truck driving is a career, it isn’t a job. So, I hope you maintain your interest and chat with a few professional drivers to get their perspective. This might just be the perfect job for you.

   
   
Q

I am a Driver/Trainer with 25 years of OTR experience and watned to know what was going on out there the last couple of months. And, why has freight NOT been picked-up yet? I am thinking of getting back into the game if freight picks up.

   
A

You have asked an excellent question, no doubt, and one that many former and current drivers are curious about. The national /global recession has had a serious impact on all sectors of the economy, including the trucking industry.

Freight numbers have been down in 2009 and are not really expected to rebound until later in 2010 – if we are lucky. According to FTR Associations, “The worst is over for the freight economy, but recovery will be slow and uneven.” They add, “We are at the bottom of the steepest decline in freight since the 1980-1982 downturn. Freight is down 15% from the previous peak.”

In addition to a decline in freight, unemployment continues to be an issue in the trucking industry. The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in August of 2008 that “truck transportation” jobs were at 1.39 million. In August of 2009 they were reported at 1.26 million. They also noted a job loss of 4000 between July and August of 2009.

Times are tough, but there are indications that things are turning around in 2010 and 2011. Hang in there!

   

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