Getting your CDL and earning great money can happen in just a few weeks when you attend trucking schools in Alabama. Others might go into jobs where they train and then work years to move up the ladder and make a decent wage. Let’s weigh that decision–weeks versus years and no corporate politics. It’s a no-brainer.
Our previous blog told you how to get your CDL in Alabama, and a quick recap is in order.
Alabama CDL Requirements
In Alabama, you can get your CDL as young as 18. Still, you may only operate outside of state lines or haul hazardous materials once you’re 21. When applying for your CDL, you must have a valid regular driver’s license and have held it for one year. Good driving history is essential, and your driving privileges must never have been suspended, canceled, revoked, or disqualified in any other city or state.
It will take four to eight weeks of practice at Alabama truck driving schools to get your CDL which requires a commercial learners permit (CLP).
You’ll need a valid ID, a Department of Transportation-approved medical card, a completed affidavit of self-certification, your Social Security card, and driving records to get your learner’s permit. Submit it to the proper agencies, schedule your tests, and finish driving school.
That’s the simplified version, but as you can see, you’ll be on the road in no time, making an excellent wage.
What Opportunities are Available to Truck Drivers
Truck driving offers a variety of opportunities to find the experience you’re looking for and excel. Let’s check out nine great options.
Ice road drivers
You might have seen the History Channel show Ice Road Truckers, and much of the depiction is correct. Ice road drivers spend a few winter months in the far north of Canada or Alaska, taking a tremendous risk. As a driver, you may plan on challenging terrain and dangerous roads to deliver your cargo to small towns and oil and mining operations.
A few years of experience and a safe driving history are needed to become an ice road trucker. Additionally, have experience with as many different types of equipment as possible.
Indeed, you’ve seen oversized loads traveling down the highway and marveled at what they are hauling. These loads exceed the standard legal dimensions and require an above-average skill to maneuver large loads like wind turbines, industrial machines, and construction equipment.
These drivers have many requirements, including the specified times of day and routes regulators allow. You’ve also undoubtedly seen the required escort crew ahead of and following the load, another requirement.
If you like having some company, team driving might be your calling. The ability to work two shifts for up to 22 hours a day means these loads move fast. Trip times are cut in half over solo driving, resulting in a three-day coast-to-coast trip that would take a solo driver six days.
Mining industry drivers
If you’ve seen those massive dump trucks and wondered what driving one might be like, here’s your chance to find out. Productivity and safe operation are required, and mining operations run around the clock. You will also find these types of dump trucks at industrial and port locations handling raw goods.
Hazmat might be a great option if you can drive in a high-alert mode for the entire trip. Hauling dangerous and toxic materials has the potential for things to go wrong in the case of an accident. This means hazmat drivers must pass a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) background investigation, have and maintain the proper endorsements, and adhere to state and federal regulations.
Some serious physics are involved with hauling liquids in large containers due to the movement of the fluid on sharp turns or slamming on the breaks. An accident or mistake with hazmat liquid loads like propane or gasoline can result in a giant fireball. The other part of the risk equation might include acids and deadly fumes.
Many major retailers and manufacturers prefer to maintain their own fleets to move products. Routes are often from factories or distribution centers to the stores they sell in or the individual commercial customers that buy their products.
Private fleets have very high standards for their drivers, and years of driving experience and an excellent driving record matter.
Specialty vehicle haulers
High-value or specialty vehicles often need to be hauled, and these drivers get the job done. Transporting luxury automobiles, race cars, or other expensive items requires extreme caution to protect these valuable loads. Even parking requires vigilance to ensure another driver doesn’t cause damage to the load. Theft is another consideration that can require special procedures.
When you’re ready to go beyond being an average salaried employee, owner-operators essentially own their own trucking company, even if it’s just one truck.
As an owner-operator, your responsibilities are just like owning a trucking company. You’ll have to manage expenses, pay employees, maintain insurance, and find loads. But just like owning any business, you can make as much as you’re willing to work.
The Highest Paying Trucking Salaries of 2022
You may be wondering how much money truck drivers make. Each of the different types of hauling we mentioned also comes with an excellent salary and additional considerations. Once you finish at the CDL truck driving schools Alabama and get working, consider these salaries.
Ice road drivers
Sure it has an aspect of danger to be an ice road trucker, but it also pays incredibly well. There are only a few months when this type of hauling can take place, but these drivers make a year’s income over those few months. How’s $65,455 per season sound?
The items hauled tend to be high value. Sometimes this means additional expenses such as increased insurance limits or the escort crew, depending on who is having you haul for them. Due to the value of the items and the caution required, these drivers make a salary of $71,442 per year.
Companies tend to pay considerably more when they need a load quickly. They have a lot on the line, and it’s worth the more significant expense, meaning team drivers earn a high salary of $96,573 per year.
Mining industry drivers
Mining industry drivers must be productive and safe. Still, they enjoy the benefits of a fixed schedule and working at the same location daily. Those who like consistency and staying close to home can make $58,862 per year.
Yes, there’s a need to be on high alert to prevent a dangerous situation and additional regulations, but it pays. An outstanding $65,466 per year is the average.
It requires extreme caution and can be dangerous. Additionally, a high level of skill is necessary when transporting liquids due to the physics involved. These requirements and risks are reflected in the high salary of $88,024 per year.
If you like the idea of working for a major company like Walmart and the job security that comes with it, a private fleet might be for you. Add-in benefits and shorter weeks and getting the experience these companies want is worth your time to make an outstanding $95,999-110,000 yearly.
Specialty vehicle haulers
Working with high-value vehicles or other expensive items could be an exciting proposition for you. If you’re ready to protect those high-value loads and take additional precautions, working as a specialty vehicle hauler could be for you. $82,099 per year sweetens the excitement of hauling high-value items.
When your income is only limited by the investment of time and money you’re willing to make, the result can be very significant—most people only dream of making $247,850 per year, like owner-operators.
What Is an Independent Driver
Understandably, many people might associate the term “independent driver” with being an owner-operator, but they are quite different.
An independent driver leases their truck or makes payments on a purchased truck. The notable difference is that the driver doesn’t operate under their own DOT authority. Typically they sign on with a company as an independent contractor where they have access to tools and assistance with functions they’d typically handle themselves, like back-office paperwork.
Working as an independent driver is similar to being an owner-operator, with comparable revenue, but easier to manage. Consider it the happy medium between self-employed freedom and working for someone else.
Some of the great perks of being independent include:
- You’re free to make your schedule and pick your jobs
- Your earnings depend on your ambition
- An average salary of $160,000
- More responsibilities without the benefits of a regular employee
- Responsible for managing your own time and finding loads
- Potential responsibility for fuel, repairs, and insurance
- Accountable for all permits, tax payments, and insurance
Considerations before becoming an independent truck driver
It might sound easy to lease a truck and sign up with a company. Still, there are some serious things to consider when choosing to become an independent driver. You want to weigh the responsibilities of being an independent driver against your personal and financial goals. A list of pros and cons is always a good idea.
There are many pros to becoming an independent driver, but there are also a lot of risks, primarily financial risks. Starting out is the riskiest period because you are limited to the budget you can personally cover. The entire health of your company, thus your ability to stay in business, is all on you.
If you determine you’re ok with the financial risk, can be financially responsible, and will keep up with your paperwork, an independent driving career might be for you.
How to find loads as an independent truck driver
The method of finding loads has dramatically shifted in recent years with the move to using apps and the internet. It has become far more accessible and much more transparent.
Some ways to find loads include:
- Identifying freight brokers: An established broker with a successful track record can match you to loads that need to be moved. And they can help you find them ahead of time so you can spend more time on the road. Remember, the broker gets a portion of what you make, lowering your profitability.
- Shippers and dispatch services: If you want to make the entire profit on the load, working directly with the shipper is the way to go. Some serious drawbacks of this method include the time associated with networking and negotiating or time lost if taking a load to a bad area where finding a return load is challenging.
- Become a government contractor: The government needs truck drivers too. You could be very busy if you register as a government contractor or work with a current government contractor.
- Use an App: The most excellent resource for independent truckers is the advent of trucking apps that help you find loads. They are easy and efficient. Artificial intelligence considers your location and needs to find the loads that best fit you and do it within minutes.
Being a Truck Driver Comes With Many Other Benefits
Beyond the high salaries, many additional benefits come with going to truck driving schools in Alabama and becoming a truck driver.
Those benefits include:
- Health insurance: If a trucking company directly employs you, expect standard benefits like health, dental, and life insurance.
- Job Security: The need for truck drivers has continuous growth as the demand for goods grows. You can rest assured you continue to be needed as a vital part of the US economy.
- No degree required: Four years and $100,000 needn’t be expended for a high-paying job. You could make more than those with that expensive degree in just a few weeks.
- Travel: Want to see the country while making money? Truck driving will take you through cities, into wildlands, along coastlines, and by roadside attractions.
- Freedom: While driving, you’re in control. Listen to a podcast or whatever music you wish. No one is looking over your shoulder. If you are an independent or owner-operator, you work on your schedule.
How to Start a Trucking Company With Your Truck Driving Experience
So you’ve been driving for a while and decided to start a truck company. Here’s a quick list of what to do.
- Get some experience as a driver before taking on the challenge. The initial training and guidance of a large trucking company can be invaluable.
- Take what you’ve learned and set up a business plan. Figure out your niche, the equipment you need, regulations to follow, and the money you need to start, then go for it.
- Take care of the paperwork, including licenses, permits, and establishing a business entity.
- You can only begin once you acquire the equipment you need. Figure out what you need and if you want to buy or lease it.
- You’re responsible for caring insurance, so get insured for liability, cargo, passenger accidents, and damage.
- Get loads and grow using load boards, apps, shipper relationships, or freight brokers.
- Manage your business well and be a success. If you always keep learning, change with innovations, and work hard, you’ll be a success.
Why Choose AMX Academy for Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT)?
Becoming a truck driver is quick and inexpensive. You’ll have an excellent salary immediately after learning to drive, taking the required tests, and getting on the road after attending the premier Alabama CDL school.
Learning with AMX ensures you have plenty of time behind the wheel and backing. The equipment is top-notch and the same as you’ll use on the road.
AMX instructors are experienced teachers and drivers that teach small classes to ensure individualized attention.
AMX students cover the modules required by the FMCSA and prepare to take your CDL-A permit test, learning on clean and modern equipment. All the tractors and trailers at the school are the same; you will be operating as a CDL-A driver.
The AMX classroom is designed to facilitate learning at your pace with books, tablets, and video instruction designed to help students excel. AMX Academy coordinates all the details for your test date, and our instructors will be with you on your big day.
Suppose you want to get your Class A license or upgrade from Class B to Class A. In that case, AMX Acadamy’s mission is to prepare you for the tests and help you become a safe and effective driver with a successful career.
Benefits of Becoming a Truck Driver Through AMX Academy
AMX offers tremendous benefits to students while preparing them for a successful and exciting career. Most importantly, AMX makes it easy and quickly gets you on the road. When you attend AMX, you’ll:
- Work where you can literally “let your career take you places!”
- Learn real-world techniques from instructors with real-world experience.
- Be taught by industry experts that know what’s needed to make it in the industry.
AMX Academy Simplifies Truck Driver Training
There has never been a better time to enter the trucking profession. Suppose you’re ready to begin your new exciting, high-paying career as a CDL-A driver. In that case, AMX Academy will simplify the process and set you up for success.
Apply to AMX Academy today to start your incredible new career.