There was a time when people who held white-collar jobs—the so-called professional occupations that usually require some form of formal education and are based in an office—would almost perish the thought of transitioning to a blue-collar role. After all, it always seemed as if blue-collar represented the antithesis of what the white-collar world was all about. Blue-collar jobs generally refer to manual jobs that don’t require a formal education although they may require skills in certain trades. While the majority of white-collar jobs will generally pay more than their blue-collar brethren, there are still plenty of great blue-collar jobs out there, such as those in the trucking industry, which come with good salaries and good outdoor adventures as well.
Why the shift in attitude?
Things have changed significantly over the years. Now, people are changing jobs more times than ever before, and they’re stepping out of their comfort zones. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is the U.S. Department of Labor agency responsible for keeping tabs on occupational statistics, estimates the average person will switch jobs about 12 times during their lifetime, and one of the reasons that they’ve given for doing this is for more interesting work.
The Great Recession also caused a lot of people to reprioritize what’s important in terms of where they worked and they learned to branch out more. The only thing that truly mattered was putting food on the table and getting some money flowing into their bank accounts again. Many also realized that they could take their skills and capabilities and simply apply their talents in a new environment, perhaps one completely different from what they were used to.
Why you should think about trucking
Truckers are seen all over towns and cities shuttling this and that for homeowners anxious about new moves and businesses setting up operations and moving into new headquarters. Others like retailers rely on them to get merchandise to their destinations on schedule, so customers are happy and profits remain robust. Taking a flatbed trucking job, for a company like Miller Truck Lines, Werner or SteelPro, for example, can be a good move if you’re looking for steady work with pay commensurate with experience. The flatbed trucks are the ones that are used to move large building and construction supplies like steel beams.
While a trucking job can be a bit lonely, when you consider the average 2014 earnings of a trucker were close to $50,000 a year, odds are you can get over being companionless every now and then. PayScale.com, a popular website that keeps track of occupational salaries, estimates the high earners in the trucking field—considered the “lifeblood of the U.S. economy” by its main trade group, American Trucking Associations—took home close to $70,000 a year on average. For the more adventurous and risky who are willing to go the extra mile to boost their income, they can take a job as an ice road trucker and bring home what has been estimated at $120,000 for only three months of work.
What’s the outlook for trucking?
While the outlook for some fields looks fairly bleak, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics paints a very rosy picture for those in the trucking industry. The BLS is bullish and predicts increased demand for trucking services as well as an increase of about 20 percent in jobs for truckers—making it what the agency classifies as one of the fastest growing professions—for the 2010 to 2020 period.
What are the qualifications?
Many trucking jobs will require you to have at least a year of experience driving a truck and a commercial driver’s license, commonly referred to simply as a CDL. The CDL requirement will typically apply only if you’re applying for a trucking job in which you’ll be carrying a minimum of 26,000 pounds or if you’ll be carrying loads that contain hazardous materials. The cleaner your driving record, the better. You’ll also need to successfully pass both parts of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, or FMCSR, exam as well.
Many people are switching careers and discovering all kinds of new freedoms for themselves. The trucking business offers a taste of freedom that is rarely enjoyed by employees in other professions, and it’s one of the few professions in which you don’t need a college degree. If you’ve never entertained the notion of dipping your toes in the waters of the trucking business, then you should at least think about it. It could be an amazing opportunity that you might welcome in this time of your life.