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So You Want to be a Trucker? 6 Things You Need to Know About Trucking Industry Outlooks

The trucking industry has a need for more drivers. But is it a good time to be a trucker? 

According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), in 2017 the trucking industry was a $700 billion industry. That figure indicates that there’s plenty of revenue to go around. It’s an industry with constant demand, thanks to big retailers like Wal-Mart, Amazon, and others. 

Plus there are plenty of advantages to being a truck driver. Flexible schedules and job security make it an appealing career. 

When the economy in growth mode, trucking is more necessary than ever. If you’re thinking about a career in trucking, keep reading for six things you need to know about the trucking industry outlook.  

1. The U.S. Has a Shortage of Truckers

It seems like the perfect time to become a trucker.

There is a high demand for products to make their way cross-country. Available trucks are plentiful. Many companies are offering signing bonuses to attract more drivers.

So why is there a shortage? Life on the road as a trucker can be tough.

When you travel most of the year, truckers don’t see their families very often. It’s also a rough career for your health. Eating on the road and hours of sitting behind the wheel can cause weight gain and back issues. 

But if you can find ways to stay active during long stretches on the road, you might be a good fit for the truck driving industry. You’ll also need to consider how to best manage your time away from family. 

It’s a perfect fit for many people who love the road and the solitude. 

2. Different Industries Have Different Needs

While trucking industry trends as a whole show a high demand for workers, different industries have higher demands than others. 

Projections show that consumer goods, e-commerce, and industrial technology will be the highest growth sectors for 2019. If you’re looking for the most opportunity, try these industries to get started. 

Lower growth sectors in 2019 include construction, automobiles, mining, and metals. These industries are not without opportunities for truck drivers. But there might be less demand than with higher performing sectors. 

3. Large Fleet vs. Small Fleet

There are pros and cons to working for large fleets vs. small fleets. 

The latest freight industry trends show more drivers seem to prefer to small fleets. A small fleet operation has between 1 and 100 trucks. 

Advances in technology and a growing economy help smaller fleets get started and grow. Driving for a smaller fleet offers a more connected feeling for drivers who struggle with isolation on the road. They feel like a member of a team vs. a number on the road. 

However, larger fleets are often backed by larger corporations. You might find more job security and better benefits when driving for a bigger, established company.

Whether large or small fleets, there is no shortage of driving jobs in the industry. Choose the fleet size that feels right to you. 

4. Used Trucks Are Good Trucks

If you’re getting started as an independent driver or looking for a new rig, consider buying a used truck. 

Prices have dropped significantly in the first quarter of 2019 for used trucks. But be sure the low price of a used truck doesn’t reflect a bad truck. 

Keep these things in mind when buying your used truck:

  • Know what you need–Know the type of driving you’ll do and the products you’ll haul. Make sure your truck is the right fit for the job. 

  • Choose a reputable dealer–Find a place that certifies used trucks and has a good reputation for selling quality used trucks. 

  • Do your research–Beware a used truck that’s outlived its life expectancy. Research the history of the truck, manufacturer, maintenance, and its location before you found it on the used truck lot. 

  • Walk away if it isn’t right–Owning your own truck can be expensive. Buying a used truck can save money if it’s a good deal on a good truck. Don’t settle for a used truck that doesn’t seem right. 

As with any used car or truck, have a mechanic inspect it before you sign any papers to take ownership of a used truck. You don’t want to spend your signing bonus on expensive truck repairs. 

5. Changes in Regulations Have an Impact

The freight industry is heavily regulated. From trade negotiations between countries to the number of hours you can drive before a required break, it’s critical to keep up with freight laws and requirements. 

For 2019, there are changes to guidelines for general hours of service. These guidelines regulate time on the road vs. required length of breaks for driver safety. 

Violations can put you on a mandatory shut-down to force you off the road. Local and state agencies can also assess a fine for violating transportation regulations. Continued violations can lead to federal fines and losing your license. 

Work with your employer to stay up to date on the latest changes for 2019. 

6. Find Jobs if You’re Not a Driver

You don’t have to be a trucker to work in the trucking industry.

The trucking industry outlook shows a need for non-drivers. As the industry grows and changes, large fleets recognize a need for data analytics and better quality management to stay competitive. 

Logistics providers and large carriers are hiring people with expertise in logistics and data analytics. Software and analytics help drivers find more efficient routes to save money on fuel, labor, and wear-and-tear on trucks and equipment. 

The Trucking Industry Outlook is Driving Forward

Looking ahead through 2019 and 2020, the trucking industry outlook is driving forward. Jobs are plentiful, and technology combined with data analytics should help the industry become more efficient. 

General Transport is a dry van, truckload carrier in the Akron, OH area. We create a team environment for our drivers and employees to enhance the service of our customers. 

Whether you’re starting your career in the truck driving industry or you’re looking for a change in your route and environment, visit our career page for more information.