When most people thinking about the trucking industry the first thing that comes to their mind is a tractor trailer outfit piloted by a guy in cowboy hat blazing down the highway. The reality is though that the trucking industry is a huge, multifaceted environment with plenty of career opportunities from drivers who man a day-cab and are at home every night to the fleet manager overseeing thousands of trucks all across the United States. You might ask yourself: How do I get started in the trucking industry? The answer is: There are tons of ways to get started and the heavy duty truck industry is a great way to launch a lifelong career. Most people don’t know what goes on behind the scenes and just assumes food magically appears at the grocery store. In this article, we will outline some of the different positions available in the industry, their median salaries, and how to go about starting your career.
Driver– The backbone of the industry and the people that get behind the wheel everyday to actually deliver the goods we all enjoy. Once a person has obtained their CDL (Commercial Drivers License) they can begin driving for a large carrier and earning a living. Most people entering the industry start as a driver. It is a great way to learn the ins and outs of shipping products, scheduling pickups, navigating the nation’s highways and dealing with customers at pickups and deliveries. Many companies offer benefits for safe driving records and reliable performance. The upside is lower than owning a truck but many people have long, happy carriers driving for major carriers.
Owner/Operator – This is anyone who owns a truck, or multiple trucks, that still manages to get behind the wheel and make their own living. Much of your time as an owner operator will be spent keeping your customers happy and keeping a good group of drivers to man your vehicles. It is probably a good idea to get some experience under your belt before undertaking the purchase of a truck. To turn a profit you have to be a great driver as well as a great business person and many of the skills needed aren’t readily learned and available. According to the OOIDA the median gross income for owner-operators was $160,000 and the median expenses were $119,500 with a median net income then of $50,000. Without proper management of expenses it can be very difficult to keep your head above water. A strong business acumen and a good amount of driving experience is recommended before taking the plunge into ownership.
Dispatcher – Dispatchers traditionally work in an office environment either attached to a terminal or in a cubicle setup. The job is fast paced and you must be alert, detail oriented and good with people over the phone. The position is widely considered a foot-in-the-door position for management in commercial trucking companies. A high school degree is generally required. You’ll be scheduling pick-ups and deliveries for customers and have to make sure your drivers are taking the best routes, getting to their destinations on time and following the rules. If you don’t want to get behind the wheel this can be a great way to still be a part of the trucking industry.
Fleet Manager -This person is in charge of a large number of trucks and is a very valuable and difficult position within a trucking company. They must make sure their fleet is up to date with emissions regulations, their drivers are staying safe and performing optimally, and making sure the trucks stay in working condition. Fleet managers can also be responsible for the purchase of new trucks so they must be up to date on the trends of the industry and the needs of their company. Generally, a college or technical degree in logistics or diesel maintenance is required for these positions but experience plays a big part too.
Parts, Accessories and Service – If you own a truck, or even just drive one, you will need to repair it, upgrade it and make it look nice. In a service center you will have diesel mechanics turning the wrenches, countermen to help you find the right part and look up your vehicle’s specs, salesmen to help you through the ordering process or to set up future repairs or part purchases and customer service reps to help you post-order. If you are handy with a wrench or just enjoy being in the shop surrounded in awesome heavy machinery one of these positions might be right for you.
Our company focuses more heavily on the accessories and customization side of this category. We have people from all over the world call in that want to dress up their truck. We are constantly hiring so make sure to check out our careers section here to learn more about opportunities at Raney’s. Our positions are more focused on chrome and making trucks look good but we love people with any experience in the trucking world. Working for Raney’s will give you opportunities to travel to some of the coolest truck shows, participate in company wide outings and interact with a great group of people on a daily basis.