Commercial trucking isn’t a career for everyone. It’s an industry known for long, grueling hours and spending weeks away from home. But it’s also a field that’s growing, and there’s a high demand for drivers.
In fact, a 2017 report from the American Trucking Association noted that the industry will need to hire nearly one million drivers to meet rising demand. The trucking industry is in desperate need for talent, and the shortage of drivers is only getting worse.
But the trucking industry is a tough sell to young people. Despite the wide diversity of positions available, most people associate commercial trucking with an “arduous lifestyle.” Over-the-road truckers will often spend weeks on the road at a time, and their hours are grueling. However, there are also other positions in commercial trucking.
Local or regional positions may have drivers home daily or every weekend. Those who work in the boom truck industry may also be home daily and be paid a higher salary due to their unique skill.
Still, there are barriers that make this a more difficult career to enter at a young age. In order to cross state lines, drivers must be at least 21 years of age. Young adults who don’t want to go to college cannot just enter this arena.
Cost and health can also be barriers to trucking. Some companies offer free training, but tuition can cost up to $8,000. Drivers must also meet physical and health requirements. Even companies that do offer free training will require drivers to work for them for a certain period of time. If the employer doesn’t fit their needs, they’re locked into a contract or face the consequences of having to repay the tuition costs.
Efforts are being made to address the age barrier to help meet demands and reduce the driver shortage. Ultimately, commercial trucking is a field that offers ample job opportunities and room for growth.
But what about automation? Many drivers who are currently in the field fear that self-driving trucks will put them out of a job. It’s a natural concern, but some experts say that automation will only benefit the industry and its employees.
For starters, self-driving trucks won’t be driverless for quite some time – if ever. Drivers will still need to be in the vehicles for emergencies, or for entering and exiting interstates. They’d also be needed for driving on local roads.
With so many safety and security issues, we won’t be seeing truly autonomous vehicles on the road anytime soon.
But even if we do reach this point, experts say that drivers shouldn’t assume that they’ll be out of a job. If anything, it will only mean that they have to work differently. The work may even become more enjoyable, as drivers may be able to do other things while working in an autonomous truck.
The trucker shortage isn’t going away anytime soon, and it’s a career that millennials may want to consider. With many different positions available, including those that offer daily home time, there’s a driving career for just about every lifestyle.