Newbies - Financial Considerations
When you consider your payment package, you could have many options available from the carrier. These benefits vary with each company, but the following are some types of benefits that might be available to you as a driver. Many of these will only be offered to drivers who stay with the carrier a certain length of time, but it will give you something to look forward to if you stay with one company for a while.
Many carriers offer bonuses to their drivers. Some types of bonuses, safety bonuses, are tied to your driving record. If you do not have a chargeable accident you might qualify for this type of compensation. You might also be able to add more money to your paycheck if you can maintain fuel mileage rates that the carrier set as ideal. This is to reward you for driving the company's truck as economically as possible. The fuel and safety bonus could be tied together in order to qualify.
Many carriers reward drivers for staying with them, or for longevity. This compensation could be given in the form of a lump sum annually, or could be tied to the mileage or percentage rate. This longevity pay could add up and you should think seriously about the pay advantages of staying with one carrier for an extended period.
You will want to compare the carriers' benefit packages before you decide to work for any one company as these can add to your long term financial well being. For example, does the company offer retirement incentives? If so, how long must you be there to qualify and what length of time must you wait before you are vested? Can you take the money out if you leave? You might be able to have money put into a 401K or a profit sharing plan, or even in stock options. Many companies will match your contribution up to a certain amount, which is similar to having extra cash but it's being put away for future use. Look carefully at the financial incentives a carrier offers and think about your future financial picture.
Most carriers offer their drivers health insurance, but you will need to ask if there is a waiting period before you are eligible. Also, will your family be covered and, if so, will you be responsible for part of the premium? Make sure you ask about deductibles and co-payments. These can vary considerably between companies. Ask if there are dental or orthodontia plans, or insurance coverage for eye exams and corrective lenses. These medical bills can add up. The more coverage you receive from the carrier, the less will come out of your own pocket.
Ask you carrier representative what expenses will be reimbursed. What will you be expected to pay for yourself? Will motels be paid and under what circumstances? If you must wait for a load over ten hours, can you go to a hotel and rest or is that your own responsibility? What about tolls? Most carriers pay for tolls, but only if you follow the expected routes and drivers are often told to avoid toll roads unless there is a reason to use them. If you are expected to weigh the load, will the carrier reimburse you for your scale receipts? Be sure to ask if you are responsible for the cost of washing the truck or if it's absorbed by the company.
Since your paycheck isn't the only reason you choose one carrier over another, you should look at the intangible ways the company might compensate you. Are there safe driving awards you could earn such as jackets, plaques or items for your home or truck? Does your company encourage events such as picnics or banquets, or even breakfasts for the drivers? What types of facilities are available at the terminal? Is there a shower or an exercise room? These are also things you should consider when you compare companies.
Don't forget to look at the equipment you will be driving. You might have to earn a better tractor or a newer model as you prove your loyalty to the company, and your commitment to the safety and the upkeep of the equipment. Don't expect to step into a late model, state-of-the-art conventional in your first trip out.
Before you determine which carrier you want to work for, look at all of the ways you could be compensated and determine which one will benefit you personally. The pay package your single buddy chooses may not be the best one for you if you have a family or if you have a child with health problems. Think about your retirement years and what investment opportunities will provide the best options for your situation.
In order to answer the question of what you'll make as a driver, you will need to consider all of the above variables. Write everything down when you talk to the carrier's representative and be sure to ask for documentation so you can compare the benefit packages yourself.