Finding a career that really fits you can be one of life’s biggest challenges. It’s important to be able to make enough money to support yourself and your family, of course, but settling into a line of work that suits your personality and temperament can make all the difference if you want to stay in a career for the long haul, advance to the highest levels, and keep from burning out. For anyone who loves the open road, would love to see every corner of this country from coast to coast, and appreciates how vital it is to deliver the goods and materials that keep us working, building, and living our lives to the destinations where they’re needed, truck driving might be their calling. All trucking jobs are not created equal, though. It might seem as simple as driving from point A to point B to the inexperienced, but career truckers often specialize in handling different types of freight and vehicles. Liquid tanker drivers have to have specialized training, ice road truckers need highly advanced driving and mechanical skills, and even flatbed trucking jobs have particular requirements. If you’re interested in a career as a trucker, you’ll want to research all the different types of jobs there are and figure out which trucking jobs are right for you.
Before you can choose a trucking specialty, you’ll probably have to get your foot in the door and gain some experience with an entry-level trucking job for new drivers. The first thing you’re going to need to launch your career as a trucker is a commercial driver’s license and your trucking authority. There are some jobs that can be done with a class B or C license, but if you want a shot at higher-paying trucking jobs, you’re going to have to get a Class A license. Fortunately, there are many schools and training programs that can help you with this. Once you have your license, you can start looking for work. Dry van trucking, where you’re hauling containers of non-perishable freight, is a common entry-level trucking job, and can get you the experience you need to move up to a more lucrative specialty.
With a Class A CDL and a year or more of truck driving experience under your belt, you can start looking into specialized trucking jobs that offer greater pay and benefits. Here are a few of the options you might want to consider.
Liquid tankers. Transporting large volumes of liquid in tanker trucks is a job for experienced truckers, as liquid’s center of gravity can shift easily, making these kinds of trucks more prone to turn over and spill. Driving a tanker containing hazardous chemicals requires additional training and strict adherence to safety regulations.
Oversized load haulers. Slow and steady are the watchwords for this kind of driving. Truckers that transport oversize loads have to work with escort cars to help them share the road safely with other vehicles, and it takes a cool head and lots of patience to handle this kind of job.
Ice road trucking. Moving freight on dangerous frozen roads is one of the most highly compensated trucking jobs, but you’ll need a lot of courage, a lot of experience, and top-notch driving skills to be considered for this kind of work. You’ll also be expected to handle basic mechanical problems on your own when you’re out in the middle of nowhere. Ice road trucking definitely isn’t for everyone, but somebody has to do it!
Flatbed trucking. Cargo that won’t fit easily into containers often has to be carried by flatbed trucks. Knowing how to properly and safely load, unload, and tie down the goods you’re transporting is essential to being successful as a flatbed truck driver. Typically, you’ll have to handle the loading and unloading yourself and test whether the cargo restraints are secure before you start driving, so flatbed trucking can be very physically demanding compared to other types of trucking specialties.
Car haulers. Whether it’s old clunkers headed for the scrap yard or fancy new models being delivered to a showroom, transporting automobiles takes special driving and handling skills, but if you can land a job hauling luxury vehicles, this can be a very well-compensated specialty to get into.
Transporting freight is an indispensable part of our economy, and a truck driving career can have a lot to offer the right person. If you love driving and traveling, truck driving might be just the line of work you were made for, and if you have the talent and perseverance to get work as a specialized trucker, you can make a lot of money doing it.