The truck driver shortage in the United States may be on your top 10 reasons for wanting to become a CDL truck driver. Before you decide, make sure that you understand what this truck driver shortage is all about.
The shortage is the effect of a combination of the following factors:
- Recovering economy – In 2011, the shortage was 130,000 drivers. This continues to grow. One of the causes is that the economy is slowly growing, but at a rate that is faster than the rate the number of drivers are growing. For example, the freight industry, which is a primary customer of truck drivers, grew 4% in 2011, while the number of truck drivers grew only 1%. As the economy recovers faster, this shortage will also grow faster.
For you, this translates into more opportunities. Due to the huge number of job openings, with the right qualifications, you have a big chance of landing a good job with a good company. You have every reason to choose well.
- Stricter regulations – In 2010, the Federal Motor and Carrier Safety released more stringent regulation on drivers of buses and heavy duty trucks. Due to this development, many truck drivers who previously qualified are now disqualified based on the new point system. Under this system, drivers are given points for unsafe driving, crash history, alcohol and drug abuse and excessive work hours, among others. If a driver reaches a certain number of points, he is disqualified.
If you are one of those drivers who have a clean driving record and have no alcohol and drug abuse problem, you have to emphasize this in your resume, and during interviews. You are exactly the kind of employee that employers want. Strive to keep your record clean.
- Compensation issues – Another reason for the truck driver shortage is that a lot of CDL drivers have moved on to other lines of work due to what they claim is an unsatisfactory pay structure. Although most of them make $40,000 a year, this is deemed inadequate compensation for all the time they spend away from their families. This number is expected to rise to $60,000 a year, but employers are still resistant to such a raise, and even that number is seen by many truck drivers as not enough.
The reason truck drivers feel they are underpaid is that they are only paid per mile driven. In reality, they spend additional hours at work – maintaining vehicles every day, loading and unloading cargo, waiting for customers to be ready with their merchandise. These are all unpaid hours. Thus, there is reason for truck drivers to want to go into other lines of work, where all their time at work is paid.
These are things that you can look into as you go job hunting. Some companies pay better than others, and allow for more leisure time. Do some research online. Ask around. Then you can target these companies as you send out your applications.
The important thing is that you now have a better understanding of the truck driver shortage and what issues prevail. Hopefully, this understanding will help you find the job that is right for you.