Why it’s the perfect time for young CDL drivers
Young CDL drivers have never been more fortunate.
The trucking industry is changing quickly with a wide range of new developments that provide drivers in their 20s and 30s more freedom, flexibility and money than previous generations. So whether you’re a young CDL driver looking for a better situation, or somebody considering starting a truck driving career — there are many reasons why NOW is the perfect time to be a driver, including:
Work + Home Balance
You’re more than a truck driver. You may also be a spouse, parent, friend or simply a huge college football fan. So why not take advantage of more downtime away from the cab to enjoy those things?
Three years ago, a federal mandate put electronic logging devices (ELDs) into every CDL vehicle. It changed the workday (week) for millions of truck drivers immediately. Limited to 11 hours of driving per day, today’s drivers get a significantly longer break from the road and have more time to pursue other interests.
Additionally, more lanes are reserved for regional freight with shorter hauls, so you’re on the road fewer days at a time. With capacity tight, many shippers are contracting for dedicated lanes, so drivers can also take advantage of more consistent runs and planned downtime.
Young CDL drivers are in demand. And trucking firms are willing to pay the price to get you on their team. With or without a college degree, you can begin your career earning up to about $55k annually and can reach $75K or more within your first three or four years behind the wheel. Many trucking companies also offer competitive benefits — including medical insurance, savings plans and more — to add to the entire compensation package.
Turnover of an Aging Workforce
The average age of a commercial truck driver is 55 years old. And the industry is losing many of these drivers every day to retirement. Somebody needs to replace them.
The rate of minority and female truck drivers is increasing. In fact, more than 40% of today’s drivers are minorities, up about 15% in recent years. Every new driver joins a rapidly shrinking pool, so it’s easier to move up the ranks quickly. It often takes only two or three years for today’s young CDL drivers with a clean record to be in the top 20% of a company’s driver pool. That sort of seniority leads to a better choice of lanes, more production bonuses, higher salaries and other preferences.
Employee-Friendly Trucking Companies
The industry lost more than 3,000 trucking companies last year. But like much of the country, the industry is rebounding. Many companies are extremely busy right now — and searching for good drivers.
But beware! The easiest strategy for luring new drivers is offering big signing bonuses. Pay close attention to promises of big bonuses that don’t include a guaranteed payout within the year or offer requirements that will be difficult or even impossible to meet. Instead, look for a company where you can see yourself driving for an extended period.
How do you know if a trucking company is a good place to work? Ask other drivers. Or even ask the hiring manager about the company’s turnover rate. If it’s high, you know there are reasons so many other drivers have left. Ask about support and you’ll know right away how much they value their drivers. Will you have a dedicated dispatcher? Will you be able to share feedback with managers or ownership? Do they use names or numbers to identify drivers?
MAKE YOUR MOVE
You’re in control, with a lot of cards to play as a young CDL driver. While many of your peers may be searching for a career to help pay off their student loans, mortgages and other financial responsibilities, you can begin earning good money right away. And if you can prove yourself to be a reliable, professional driver, you’ll gain a lot of respect (and even more earnings) as a key member of any trucking company you join.
Are you ready to make your move?
Jared Moore, Vice President of Traffic and Logistics, AMX
WANT TO DRIVE FOR AMX?
You’re in the driver’s seat of where you work — and who you work for. Now is a great time to advance your career as a truck driver. Choose a company that can consistently offer quality work for quality pay — both today and tomorrow.