You graduated from truck driving school, you’ve got your licence and you’re ready to roll.
Now what? There’s never been a better time to be a truck driver. The demand is high, and steadily increasing. There are more jobs than available drivers. What a great time to drive. That’s the good news.
But if you’re fresh out of driving school and carriers want someone with experience, how do you log the hours and mileage they’re looking for in a candidate? And if you’re looking to work with small carriers, they require a minimum of two year’s driving experience to be able to insure you. It’s a bit of a pickle, and one the industry needs to examine and improve. In the meantime, you need work. How do you get it?
It might help to think big, and start small. There are several types of truck driving roles that are based on the distance you drive from point of origin to destination which include local, regional, and over-the-road gigs.
Local - Local truck drivers transport goods over short distances (within the same, or neighboring city). Local drivers can work for businesses that deliver their own products, like home improvement retailers, meat packers, or for trucking companies who are contracted out by other businesses. Depending on the goods and the company, loading and unloading the freight may be part of a local driver’s responsibilities.
Regional - This refers to hauling freight within a particular region of the province or country, for example the GTA, or Southwestern Ontario. This type of driving often allows for the driver to get home on weekends, making it appealing to those who don’t want to venture too far from home.
Over-the-road - Also referred to as OTR, over the road simply means driving over long distances, and being away from home for weeks at a time. The more you drive and gain experience, the more flexibility you’ll have in planning out these long distance routes. Drivers rack up more mileage and hours of driving experience when doing OTR work.
Even if local and regional is your long-term goal, becoming a long distance driver can help set you off in the right direction. And remember, salary considerations aren’t just tied to distance. The type of freight you’re carrying also helps determine your rate. The more specialized the freight, the higher your rate will be. General delivery driving won’t earn you as much as specialty driving (e.g. hauling livestock, hazardous materials, or refrigerated items). The size of carrier you work with will also impact the available driving opportunities, and also your work environment. Also, many carriers are searching for drivers who are willing to provide hand-bombing/driver assistance services, so consider this option when looking for work.
Small carriers (typically between 1-10 trucks in a fleet) can often instill a sense of community among staff, are able to offer more flexibility, and potentially more competitive compensation. The main issue small carriers face when hiring is restrictive insurance and recruitment regulations that require drivers to have a minimum of two year’s driving experience before they’re eligible to be insured. This is because small carriers require third party insurance for liability coverage. Large carriers have more flexibility in their hiring because they can be self-insured. What does this mean for new drivers? It might be easier to get a foot in the door at a large carrier. In this industry, turnover tends to be high, and with the availability of work, you’ll have your pick of jobs.
Truck carriers aren’t necessarily “trucking companies” by strict definition. Cities or municipalities are “carriers” if they have a fleet of vehicles and require professional drivers to salt, sand, or plow roads or highways in the winter. Any business that requires transportation logistics— delivering/picking up, or moving something from one place to another—could be a carrier you work with to log time on the road. Think of how many drivers are now needed to keep up with the demands created by online shopping. Large retailers or grocery stores could be your gateway to new driving opportunities.
While we can’t solve every issue the trucking industry is currently facing, we can make it easier than ever to connect available drivers with carriers looking to fill roles. Sign up with Truckker for access to the best rates and a network of carriers to start building up your driving experience.