Drivers new to the industry may not be aware of the types of jobs available to truckers with specialized skill sets. These unique trucking jobs typically pose a greater challenge compared to normal freight delivery but are likewise accompanied by greater financial incentives.
Here are nine types of jobs new drivers can master to make themselves even more valuable in an industry anxious to acquire new talent.
Types of Trucking Jobs:
1. Dry Van
Dry van trucking is the most common type you’ll find. A dry van trailer isn’t equipped with any refrigeration or other specialty equipment — it’s used to haul pallets of unspoilable goods from A to B. Most truckers get their start here, due to the abundance of dry van trucking jobs available year-round. Some key advantages of dry van trucking: drivers typically aren’t responsible for handling or unloading any of the freight, and local or regional jobs are generally easy to come by.
2. Flatbed Trucking
You’ve probably seen flatbed trailers on the freeway carrying lumber, mobile homes, or even shipping containers strapped to a long trailer. The added logistics of flatbed trucking (including dealing with the elements and the need for more precise loading and maneuvering) make flatbed jobs more lucrative than their dry van counterparts. Though the nationwide driver shortage applies to virtually all trucking jobs, specialty jobs like flatbed shipping are particularly desperate for drivers with the skills needed for safe flatbed transport.
Hazmat drivers carry a special endorsement in order to safely transport hazardous materials. Any freight that could potentially explode, poison, or otherwise harm people or the surrounding environment in the event of an accident is classified as hazardous. The safe delivery of these items requires expert handling and route planning (some routes may be off-limits to Hazmat shipments), as well as a track record of experience in more basic trucking jobs. As is the theme with this list, the demand for Hazmat drivers is already high and expected to grow.
4. Ice Road Truckers (IRT)
Yes, like the TV show — sort of. Beneath the Hollywood-ized action of the History Channel series is a real-life job held by the brave drivers of Alaska and northern Canada. From January to mid-March, these drivers traverse dangerous roads and harsh weather conditions to deliver freight to remote regions. Any potential breakdown in equipment is compounded by limited communication and freezing temperatures. Sounds like a blast, right?
The trade-off comes with some obvious advantages. In addition to becoming part of a select group of qualified drivers, just one season of ice road trucking can amount to more than a full year’s salary.
5. Auto Haulers
Auto hauling is another segment of trucking requiring special training and equipment. Car trailers are costly investments for owner-operators to make on their own, but the earning potential exceeds that of the average owner-operator. There’s also room for further specialization within the auto hauling segment — exotic car transport (predictably) pays expert drivers a premium.
6. Refrigerated Freight
Temperature-controlled freight combines precise logistics, handling procedures, and deadlines to deliver perishable goods. We’ve previously covered why this type of freight is prone to rejection on delivery if not handled with the utmost care at each phase of the delivery process. Since refrigerated freight requires a thorough understanding of the specific shipping requirements for dozens of common commodities, the pay is (as you might’ve guessed by now) equally rewarding.
7. Less than Truckload (LTL)
Less than truckload (LTL) freight pertains to jobs that don’t occupy a full truckload, allowing carriers to put freight from multiple customers into one truck. Delivering freight to multiple locations may take longer than conventional full truckload shipments, but both shippers and carriers can benefit from combining shipments into one optimized route.
8. Oversized Loads
Shipments containing special machinery or industrial equipment that can’t be broken into smaller parts might exceed standard load sizes. Height, width, and overall weight might qualify a load as an oversized delivery. Drivers willing to accept the task of maneuvering through specific routes carrying oversized loads will most likely get some form of escort for these loads for safety purposes.
9. Tanker Trucks
This is the last category we’ll touch on, and in fact, tanker jobs consist of several different subtypes. The key items to keep in mind for tanker trucks is the operation, loading/unloading, and maintenance differs substantially from your standard dry van job. It’s also common for tanker jobs to require Hazmat endorsements.
Each of these types of trucking jobs is an opportunity for new drivers to work within a specialty to maximize their earning potential. With the proper training and a decent amount of experience, each of these offers a promising new field worth a closer look.
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