Trucking industry experts weigh in on the topic:
With the economy nearly back on its feet, there is an increasing amount of goods that needs to be transported from one place to another, which is why a significant growth in the trucking industry is expected. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 330,000 jobs will be opened in the trucking industry during the next 8 years. If you take into consideration that salaries in this sector are quite high, you would think that the interest in trucking jobs will increase, as well, but surprisingly, that's not the case.
There are a couple of reasons for the current shortage of truckers in America. One of the main reasons is the fact that the process of getting certified is very complicated and expensive. You have to obtain a commercial driver's license, and to do that, you need to pass several written and road skills tests. You have to complete a certified training course, and that, along with all the CDL fees, may cost you over $5,000. That's a lot of money for someone who is not employed.
Another reason why the number of people who want to become truckers is not as high as expected, is that it's a pretty difficult job that not a lot of people are prepared to do. It's a highly demanding job, both physically and mentally. Truckers are on the road for a couple of weeks straight, away from their families, having to sleep in their trucks or motels. It's a very difficult lifestyle, a fact that often outweighs the good salary.
Lastly, the increased enforcement of traffic violations and restrictions for truck drivers in recent years has led to a decreased interest in trucking jobs. More and more truckers are being charged with a DUI or some sort of moving violations, and enforcement of laws and restrictions for truckers has become much stricter. Truckers get high fines and get their licenses suspended, which makes the job much less appealing that it used to be.
The trucking industry is a very appealing source for employment to many individuals but the industry still has a huge deficit of drivers and that is only worsening because of federal rules and regulations, funding sources for training, DOT physical & drug screen requirements and driving records. The industry faces more and more challenges as our economy bounces back, housing industry is on the rebound, consumer demand is up so stores are ordering more products and there simply are not enough trucks to keep up.
Here are a few challenges that interested individuals face when seeking to join the trucking industry:
- obtaining a CDL Class A license - There is still no regulations enforcing individuals to obtain any type of training before obtaining their CDL license but unless they have a truck/trailer in which to take the driving skills test they are not able to do so on their own.
- truck driving training schools - attending a school is very popular but tuition costs could be difficult for most especially if the students are currently out of work. CDL training schools can range $2000 to $8000. Most schools have limited tuition assistance forcing most potential students to apply for high interest loans. The lucky individuals that qualify for state funds from local Workforce offices have to go through complicated procedures that can take weeks. The funds at these agencies seem to lessen every year leaving many interested candidates behind.
- Federal & State Rules and Regulations - ongoing changes to the rules and regulations is also a deterrent to individuals seeking to obtain their CDL license. Over the last few years the industry had to adjust to stricter enforcement in the number of hours a driver is allowed to drive per day, Carrier Safety Compliance and stricter requirements on DOT physical requirements.
Devorah Fox, President
Mike Byrnes & Assoc., Inc.
This as a hot topic in our industry. There are several answers in my opinion. First, the industry is overlooked by young professionals due to the age requirement of 21. High school graduates who are not attending college need to find work and find other fields and by the time they turn 21 have vested experience and won't change to start trucking.
Another problem is the stress and time away involved. There are thousands of things that can go wrong in and eighteen wheeler traveling 500 miles a day such as traffic jams, truck and trailer break downs, tires, etc. Nothing ever runs smooth in trucking and a lot can't stand the stress. As far as time away there are different companies that have different routes where some you can be home more and some less. If you have a family, it puts a tremendous amount of pressure being away and never knowing when you might return.
In my honest opinion, there is no shortage of carriers and the free market will dictate the demand. If companies need more drivers, they will adjust compensation, hours and benefits to meet the demand.