Truck driving is one of the most common professions in the United States, simply because it’s in such high demand. Currently, there are more than 3.5 million truck drivers, and nearly every trucking company is actively hiring to fill the demand.
If you’re in the market for a career change, you might have considered truck driving as a profession. It has a very low barrier to entry, but before accepting a position, weigh the pros and cons of the job.
Pro: Great Pay with Little Education Required
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median pay for starting truck drivers is about $43,600 per year; however, some companies pay as high as $70,000 per year to start. You’re typically in line for signing and performance bonuses as well.
Owner/operators (those who own their own rig and run their own business) can make as much as $150K to $200K per year.
The best part is, you don’t need much education to earn this pay. All you need is CDL certification, which can be completed in a matter of weeks.
Con: Liability and Risk
There’s always a certain level of risk for truck drivers, whether you’re driving for a company or you’re an owner/operator. The biggest risk is causing an accident. About a third of commercial drivers have been in an accident, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). A crash with a smaller vehicle likely won’t hurt you, but it will cause severe injuries or even deaths for those in a smaller vehicle.
If you were to cause an accident, the victim could rightfully claim damages in a lawsuit related to medical expenses, property destruction, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. As the driver of the truck, it’s likely that you can be held responsible in a court of law.
Pro: Lots of Travel
Your job enables you to travel all over the country. Sometimes, you’ll be in a rush to transport goods from place to place, but other times, you can take your time, stopping at tourist attractions and enjoying a little “vacation” while you work.
Con: Isolation and Mental Health
Unfortunately, all that time alone in your rig can make you lonely. You’ll rarely have another person in your vehicle—oftentimes, the trucking company will prohibit anyone from riding in your truck for liability reasons. Many truckers are also prohibited from being on their phones while they drive, so they can’t talk to others while on the road.
This consistent loneliness can lead to a few mental health issues including anxiety and depressive disorders. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and acute stress disorder are also common among truckers who have been in accidents.
A 2012 study of truckers aged 23 to 76 revealed the following serious mental health statistics:
●27.9 percent reported feeling extreme loneliness
●26.9 percent reported feeling depressed
●20.6 percent reported sleep disturbances or disorders
●14.5 percent reported anxiety
●13 percent reported other emotional problems
Pro: Extra Benefits
Most truck driving positions come with a variety of benefits. First, most companies offer medical, dental, and vision insurance packages as well as retirement and life insurance packages. You’ll also likely be covered on their commercial auto insurance.
Some trucking companies also offer other perks like tuition coverage. They may cover the cost of your CDL training as well as any future college credits you might want to take.
Con: It’s Not Great for Families
As discussed previously, truckers spend a lot of time on the road, completely alone. Therefore, it may not be the best career for those who have a family. You’ll likely have little time to spend with those you love most, and you may not be able to call home during the job.
Some jobs also require that you work weekends, so your days off won’t leave much time to spend with the kids when they’re not at school. You’ll miss a lot of soccer tournaments and such doing this job.
If you have a family, make sure they’re on board with the commitment you’re about to make. Many truck drivers quit simply because their families can’t handle the separation.
Every job has its pros and cons. You’ll have to decide if the pros outweigh the cons for you before signing on to a trucking job.