Just starting out in the trucking industry, it can be a challenge to find trucking companies that you might feel comfortable working for. There are plenty of trucking jobs available in today’s market. From long-distance hauling to local deliveries, a CDL driver can be fairly selective when choosing among various trucking companies for potential employment.
So how can a trucker like you sift through the opportunities to find the perfect carrier? Take a look at these tips to cut through all of the information so that you can make an informed decision on which companies are going to be right for you.
What to Consider in Trucking Companies
First of all, we can’t stress enough to not put too much faith in internet forums and discussions. If you were to look at all the comments for each company, you might assume that every trucking organization is a penny-pinching, back-stabbing, nitpicking conglomerate. That’s simply not true. Ignore the negativity and do your own research on companies.
Prioritize Your Needs First
You’ll notice the point of this article is not finding the right trucking companies, but finding the right trucking companies for you. You might have different needs or preferences than your fellow truckers, so take the time to prioritize what matters the most for your personal situation.
• Are you looking for more pay?
• Do you want to spend more time with your family?
• Are you looking to haul a different type of freight?
• Are you willing to put in the time and expense to gain endorsements that may open new driving opportunities?
Knowing what is most important to you will help when you begin to look at different trucking companies.
If you opt for a company that will have you home a lot, the pay and benefits likely won’t be as good they are for a driver with an OTR trucking job. This isn’t always the case and there are some unusually good local truck driving opportunities to be found. However, it is important to know where your priorities lie.
Over-the-road trucking companies will generally have you on the road for long periods with little regularity and a lot of time away from home. However, they also tend to pay the best. If you want something that pays great and has a great deal of variety, then OTR trucking may be right for you.
Dedicated trucking, conversely, is when you work the same routes with a lot of regularity. While the pay is not as lucrative as OTR work, it is very predictable. For people seeking stable lives and the opportunity to be home on a regular schedule, these driving jobs are very appealing.
Regional trucking companies are usually somewhere in between over-the-road and dedicated trucking opportunities.
Many of the differences between trucking companies can be predicted by the types of trucking they specialize in.
The Differences among Trucking Companies
We’ll be completely honest, from a broad perspective, trucking companies are really basically very similar. They make money by shipping freight; the more freight they move, the more money the company (and the trucker) makes. There are, however, three basic differences in companies.
1. Types of Freight
Different companies will take on various types of freight, so understand what they generally move before signing up. For example, if you are qualified to ship hazardous materials, but the company is never involved in these types of jobs, your hazmat training may go to waste.
2. Home-Time Options and Policies
Companies will set their own policies for home-time, so understand what will be expected of you before you sign on. If you need to spend weekends at home with your family, you should always ask about home time and skip over the carriers that will require frequent weekend driving.
3. Pay Structure and Benefits
You’ll probably discover that starting pay for truck driving jobs doesn’t waver significantly from one company to another, but as you work with a company for a longer period, the pay structure begins to vary. Ask about earning potential and take a look at the company’s written policies on future earnings.
There will also be different benefits, such as medical, dental, PTO, and other factors that you should consider. Some trucking companies will offer better pay with weaker benefits, or vice-versa, so it’s important you take all of these factors into consideration.
Speak with Truck Drivers Face to Face
Finally, if you are considering a company, make sure you talk with your fellow drivers face-to-face to get a real idea of what life is like working for them. A quick look online may uncover a slew of negative comments, often from former employees. It's important to keep an open mind when evaluating comments of this nature since you may not get the full story. It is essential to cut through all of the negative information so that you can make an informed decision on which companies are going to be right for you. Talking with people in-person helps you get honest, clear information about any particular company, and can help you make the right decision for your future.
Once you’ve determined your priorities, start eliminating the trucking companies that don’t fit your needs. When you’re done, you should be down to three or four.
How Trucking Companies Generally Operate
The fact of the matter is, there is not going to be a singular best company to work for among your choices. In your first year as a CDL driver, you will find they all have their ups and their downs. As far as the downs go, however, they are often listed in forums around the Internet where you can determine your tolerance in advance.
When talking with other drivers in the trucking industry, you will get a good feel for the culture of each operation. New drivers may find that trucking companies may push their new people a little harder than their established guys to see how they deal with stress. This testing may ranger from making drivers wait a little longer for loads, running them hard, adjusting their scheduled home time, or other trials. They want to see how new drivers will react.
It’s ok to stand up for yourself when the company makes unreasonable demands, but for the most part they’re trying to see how you handle it when actual problems that are common occur. Truck driver jobs are incredibly difficult and trucking companies need to know that they can count on their drivers.
A good rule of thumb is to stick with your first company for at least a year, so long as they are paying you properly and not denying you your home time. This period may incorporate about six months of training and another six months to prove what you can do. After that, things will generally settle down and you won’t have to worry as much about companies trying to test you.
If after a year you believe that you are being treated unfairly, you can start looking at other trucking companies.
The experience that you will have gained working will be to your advantage and severely limit the chances that the next company will put you through the same process. They’ll assume that if you have stuck around that you can handle most issues.
Finding the Best Truck Driving Jobs for You
Knowing where to look for trucking jobs is the key to getting you into the drivers seat. Niche jobs boards that are limited to positions in the the trucking industry, like CDLjobs.com, will provide you the most efficient means to find a large number of trucking companies that are hiring drivers. You can search for trucking companies at no charge, see all the relevant details, and start narrowing down the selection of the carriers that meet your priorities.
There are very few careers tougher than those involving driving jobs, but it’s important that you stick with it if you want to to be successful in the trucking industry. You’re going to run into companies that will test your resolve to see if you can handle obstacles thrown in your way. You’re going to have to get through a lot of negativity in order to find a company that has the best balance of pay, time, and freight for you. But in the end, it’s worth going the extra mile to find the trucking companies that will help you move your career forward.