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10 things new drivers should research when looking for a good truck driving company

Top 10 Things to Weigh When Looking for cdl jobs at a trucking company:

What are your top priorities when trying to decide which transportation company will fit your goals and needs? Research these 10 things to find a company that is going to provide you with a stable and fulfilling career instead of just a job.

PAY

 

The truckload industry typically pays drivers per mile. Although there are companies that pay their drivers hourly, these positions will typically go to more experienced drivers. Researching a company’s pay scale should be one of your top priorities when you begin exploring your options. In addition to finding out what pay rate you would start with, also ask about scheduled pay increases, bonus pay and accessorial pay. Taking bonus pay and accessorial pay into consideration can sometimes increase your mileage pay anywhere from $.02-$.10 per mile! Also ask whether the company pays practical miles or short route miles (often referred to as HHG miles). Payment of practical miles averages about 5.5% more than HHG miles, which can make a significant difference on your paycheck.

HOME TIME

Depending on your situation, you may want to make sure that the company you are looking at signing on with will be able to get you home as often as you need to be. Some companies may promise you the home time you need, but it’s important to really do your research; talk to drivers, look at forums on the internet, ask specific questions about their freight lanes. Do diligent research to verify that you will be able to get home as often as you need to. Generally, companies offering regional driving opportunities try to get their drivers home weekly and most often that home time falls on the weekend.

 

SAFETY

Most people outside of the trucking industry don’t understand the responsibilities associated with being a professional truck driver. A commercial truck and trailer is nearly 80,000 pounds of force going down the highway, and commercial drivers have to have the skills and awareness to keep themselves safe and the general motoring public safe. That’s why it’s crucial to find a company that understands the accountability on a driver’s shoulders and that makes safety a priority always. You can search any carrier’s federal safety scores at: https://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/sms/. Read through each category description to get an understanding of how the scoring works and this will give you a good idea of how seriously a company is about safety.

 

TUITION REIMBURSEMENT

 

It’s common practice for carriers to reimburse their new students for the money they paid or borrowed for their tuition, but the way in which that is paid out and the amount available to be paid differs amongst different companies. Each company has a set tuition reimbursement limit, so make sure that limit will cover your complete schooling costs. Companies also offer different payout plans; some are dependent on miles or time employed, some are paid directly to you or to your loan institution.

EQUIPMENT

 

When you’re a professional truck driver, when you’re out on the road, your truck is your home. I once heard a driver compare living in a truck to camping every day, which is a pretty fair comparison. So, keeping up with that analogy, you want to make sure your tent is going to be not only in safe operating condition, but that it will also be a comfortable place for you to live. Most truck manufacturers are beginning to pay a lot more attention to driver comfort, so it’s important to inquire about the average age of the trucks that a company is running. Newer trucks will provide more creature comforts and will help make your transition into trucking much easier. Making sure the trucks are well taken care of with quality equipment and proactive preventative maintenance schedules should also weigh in. Looking at the Federal score mentioned in the Safety section can also tell you about the operating condition of the equipment they run.

BENEFITS

Benefits are not always a black and white topic, but can be an important consideration depending on your needs and the needs of your family. Ask about insurance coverages, costs and provider networks. See what kind of retirement plans the company offers and if the company matches any percentage of your contribution. Check to see if you will be offered paid vacations and holiday pay as well.

RIDER & PET POLICIES

Companies have a wide range of rules regarding riders in the truck. Some of these rules depend on experience, time of the year, age of the rider and length of time the rider is allowed in the truck. If you think you may want to take a rider with you at some point, make sure before you start that this will be an available option. If you have a cat or a dog, you should verify that pets will be allowed in the truck. Again, companies have varying rules on the size and kind of pet and even the type of containment pets are required to be in while the vehicle is in motion.

REPUTATION

 

Looking at how long a company has been in business will give you a pretty good idea of their reputation. Currently, there is a big need for trucking in the country, which means a lot of small transportation companies are popping up all over the place in order to take advantage of the market, but it’s good to do background checks on these companies to make sure they understand how to operate to achieve long-term goals, which also usually means that they will make a better effort to take care of their drivers.

FREIGHT LANES

This category coincides with home time and reputation a little bit, but the type of customer freight that a company gets speaks of their reputation in the industry and their reliability in providing quality service to their customers. Companies with consistent customer freight with large, reputable customers will have more stable freight to help meet your mileage goals. Freight lanes will also dictate how easily a company will be able to get you home regularly.

 

SUPPORT

 

This might be a little harder to get a feel for when you’re doing your information gathering, but you can try to talk to current employees and check forums about how drivers are treated within a company. Do they feel respected? Do they get the help that they need when they need it? How many drivers does each dispatcher manage?

 

When you’re in truck driving school, there will be a lot of recruiters working hard to convince you to sign on with their company, but don’t sign on with the first company that will take you. There are hundreds of transportation companies all offering different packages to their drivers. Do research and find one that is going to fit your needs. If you don’t, you will find yourself restarting the search again in a few months, and job-hopping from company to company is both frustrating and costly.

One Response to 10 things new drivers should research when looking for a good truck driving company

Jake White says: October 12, 2015 at 12:58 pm

I rode with a trucker once when I was younger, and boy it is much harder than it looks to operate a truck. I drive a truck now for my grandfather’s business, and I can agree with this article that safety is an important priority. Anyone looking for a trucking job should make sure to find a company that is going to give them the proper training to ensure that they will be safe on the job. Good information!

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