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Overdrive Extra

James Jaillet

How trucking is becoming the most attractive job in the country

| February 08, 2013

How often in the course of trucking history have those who worked in the financial sector — specifically, at a bank — left that career to pick up trucking? Not as a stop-gap measure, either. Rather, as a career to spend possibly decades working in and even to retire in?

Obviously, I don’t have any statistics in front of me that say bankers becoming truckers is an uncommon occurrence. I’m just assuming it’s not, as you probably are.

I do, however, have anecdotal evidence that it’s at least happened once: Bloomberg posted a story this week citing Robert Boyd — former assistant branch manager at a bank in Pittsburgh — who decided to leave that job to pursue trucking.

Here’s the kicker: He’s getting paid twice as much churning freight as he was pushing a pencil.

Here’s another kicker: According to the Bloomberg article, truck driver pay is increasing at a rate twice that of the rest of the U.S. workforce’s.

Whether you subscribe to the driver shortage theory or not, carriers are saying they can’t find enough qualified drivers, and they say that trend will continue for years, which only bodes well for driver pay.

Robert Boyd’s doubled salary may be — and more than likely is — an extreme outlier. But unlike many other fields, wage stagnation may not be something that touches truck drivers in the recovery period from the ’08 and ’09 recession.

I understand there are unattractive qualities right now in the form of pressing regulatory changes, skyrocketing fuel prices, demanding schedules that keep drivers away from home, etc.

There are, however, many attractive qualities, too, that shouldn’t overlooked, and stability and upward trending pay are two that could outweigh the unattractive qualities.

Is driving a truck the most attractive job in the country right now?

For those like Robert Boyd, who seek strong pay and job security (let alone all of the traditional attractions of trucking, like the independence and joy of the highway and the fulfillment that comes from providing a service necessary to keep the U.S. running), trucking may just be more attractive than anything else, in spite of its blemishes.

  • Mike Jones

    Independence and “joy of the highway”?? I can see you have NEVER driven a truck….30 years ago there was SOME freedom of the open road….NOT today. Drivers is MONITORED 24/7 everywhere he goes by Satelite Control mounted on his truck..dispatcher “beeps” him night and day. He MUST pull over and reply to the overgrown Teen’s message. Nope today it is a MAJOR HEADACHE…cops have CAMERAS poked in your face at every Weigh Station and will not hesitate to bring you in for Questioning..and examine your Tractor Trailer till they are blue in the face…..You will LIKELY pay a Fine for SOMETHING.
    Nope its a pathetic joke…the good days are long since GONE.
    If you have No Family and No Like..and are a HERMIT…this might workout for you IF you like cops!!!! They will follow you and harass you any time they want. You WILL OBEY, COMPLY, and COMFORM. I would NOT recommend this industry to an ENEMY….the pay is WAY too low…and there is No remedy for that…Shipper dont have any EXTRA money to toss to trucking companies……when adjusted for inflation the pay has been the same for 25 years!!!! Smart to STAY HOME and dont even consider this BEATING of a “job”….it is rediculous..much better opportunities at home….they all Paint a Pretty Picture….but rad all the testimonials and comments and you discover the TRUTH right away. IT SUCKS!!!!

  • Craig Vecellio

    What’s this about making double what he made at his old job? If he was an entry level clerk, MAYBE…Asst. Branch Manager? No. Unless now he’s an owner-op and you’re talking about his gross before he pays for the truck, fuel, etc. Trucking pay is almost back up to where it was 20 years ago. And that’s WITHOUT adjusting for inflation. After the adjustment, we’re talking 30 years ago. I remember when I was a kid seeing ads for 40 cpm empty or loaded. That was over 20 years ago. 20 years ago, you didn’t have the 14 hour clock to screw up your work day, either. If you had 5 hours at a dock, you could sleep those 5 hours and keep rolling. Today, those hours are gone, you never get them back, and you don’t get paid for them. I’m out of long hauling, getting almost as much laid off from the job I left it for (573 per week) as I was making running 2000+ miles per week (675 ish). Once I’m back to work, I’ll be making almost double what I made OTR with one day off for every 2 worked. I may get back into OTR eventually, I would prefer that to “Hi! Welcome to Walmart” for a keep busy, semi-retirement job because I like driving. It’s not a career, and you can’t support a family on it today. It’s the entry level trenches, and a decent retirement for a loner.

  • freedom fred

    don’t do it mr banker man. We trying to work here. :-)


    The banker may have confused the term “Double Nickle” to mean double pay. In reality the term to a professional driver means a 55mph posted speed limit. I say “Good Luck.” Pushing a pencil is easier than pushing 80,000 lbs.

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  • Mike Jones

    These magazines want to post these FANTACY STORIES about trucking…the industry is a DISASTER. Stay at HOME and enjoy a REAL life..with family and friends…get some training at a tech school maybe…anything….trucking is the job of choice for the ILLiterate Illegal alien….your “colleages” at the Truckstop will be speaking spanish..or wearing some strange “headgear”…really to promote this Idiocy to young people seeking a career with a future should be a CRIME. Its actually LOW pay..not this $50k they advertise…not at all. Its just a Big Waste Of Time……I would much rather see young people moving into some work and EDUCATION to have a DECENT life…not this rediculous dead end of a job. YUK!!!!!

  • localnet

    I read this “story” and about fell out of my air ride seat! The wages I have seen out here are allot less than when I started 23 years ago, especially when you figure in inflation.

    Trucking is the last job I would recommend, unless you are say a single person with very little personal obligations or debt, no debt is ideal. Say a young man wanting to see the country, travel for a year until its out of his system and go find a real job… A year of travel would be fun for some young men, at least he would have a roof and hopefully enough pay to eat one or two meals a day. I honestly do not see how the majority of drivers can even afford to be behind a wheel now a days.

  • Joe D.

    I made more money in he late 70’s and 80’s than you can make now. I loved the open road but the big companies have coach busses sitiing at the Mexican line. Not as safe as it used to be.

  • Mike Jones

    Trucking has ACTUALLY become one of the most PATHETIC jobs. It WAS somewhat tolerable at one time….but not today….with has become a totally monitored industry…none of that freedom stuff..thats all in the past. The PAY has actually been CUT during the recession AND a Huge influx of immigrunt drivers are chosing truckin…as their “job of choice”….Big shippers and Brokers know they will work CHEAP…since they are probably here illegally AND they are illiterate lettuce pickers with no skills. So they have Lowered the diginity of truck driver to the point of no return. I dont know of any trucker who would recommend trucking as an industry with a future..for a newcomer….its basically Disgusting today.

  • Jerry Stiles

    (Is driving a truck the most attractive job in the country right now?)
    Is this a JOKE??? or what plant are you on? Maybe what drugs are you taking? Pay sucks and there is no freedom on the road as it once was, your monitored all the time one restriction after another, continuous changes in the regulations, what is attractive about that? Pay was better in the Early 80’s than today as far as money in your pocket, with much less (watching over you) Trucking was fun in the 70’s, 80″s and even early 90’s.

  • Mike Jones

    Now THAT is the TRUTH. These articles and Blogs are basically Flat Out Lies.

  • Sirromancealot

    Obviously James Jaillet you haven’t driven a truck and I suggest you never do. The pay sucks, ever see a trucker in new Cadillac, or BMW. Out on the road the expenses eat up your paycheck and as the otherdrivers said 40cpm was out their over 20 years ago. Ever spent 45 minutes or more arguing with an idiot/prick DOT officer. How about getting an inspection and they find some small thing like a trailer air line with a few weather cracks and your shut down with a $150.00 fine and a service call all out of your paycheck. Bad weather, no family time, cramped truck stops,breakdowns, and my favorite sitting at a shipper for several hours and not getting paid for the wait.

  • Andrea Sitler

    Hard pressed to read this with any reality check in place. Driver wages stink. You make more flipping burgers is you break it down hourly. A major increase is needed. There isn’t any “freedom” left in this job with the over regulated industry, in cab EOBR and the proposed cameras. It is worse than a boss breathing down your neck. What this article states was once true back in the 1980s and even more so before that but it is far from the “real picture” that is experienced out there today.

  • Deep alpha

    When your young and in school everyone tells you stay in school and get a good education …… If not you will end up a ditch digger ……. Or worse , a truck driver !!!!

  • jane

    you have no clue. to young and to stupid.

  • Kurt Keilhofer

    No matter how poorly any bank employee is paid, they are paid for all of their time spent at work.
    If drivers’ wages were climbing, it would only happen after rates increased. That has not happened.

  • David Wilson

    Ha, I thought who is spreading this crap. Then I see all the post below with the same thoughts I have. Just as the president of OIDA said “trucking is a last resort job”. Who wants to sit a a dock for hours with out pay, then drive all night to deliver. Shower in a nasty truck stop, if you get time. Get home twice a month and maybe make more than min wage when you figure all this in. Apparently James Jaillet is a moron or this banker guy was really was fired from the bank for taking money and couldn’t get a job anywhere else and it was his last resort.

  • J-R

    I am really sorry to read such bad comments about your jobs. I see a lot of frustraiton from you guys.

    I am recruiter for a family owned company. All our drivers earned their life quite well. In fact most of them make a better salary than the medium wage in Canada.

    2 things. First, Those who make good money in thie job take pride in their job. They do not bring back tickets by the bucket tickets that would come from their pey check. They manage their time accordig to the job to be done. They have an equilibrate family life.

    Second, tehy are well supported in their jobs.

    Finaly don’t blame the companies that are stuck with deregulation imposed on them by governements you voted for. Transporters live in the real world. If you are not happy you ar not in your place. Change jobs.

  • Mike Jones

    Correct!! The PRESIDENT of the Owner Operator Independent Driver Association says “trucking has become a job of LAST RESORT”. Man is he Accurate.

  • Mike Jones

    ..ah the fond memories!!! let me count all the idiot prick DOT cops…..and the thousands of hours at shippers AND receivers..all for FREE! NO PAY……then the funtimes being cussed at by Dispatchers AND company owners! Its been REAL…but not Real Fun!!!! certainly NO MONEY for the driver…….some tiny paycheck….maybe ya can “retire” in a USED single wide……on Rented Space……so funny these articles about the Pure Joy of trucking! LOL.

  • localnet

    JR, you need to get out of the office more often… As far as current driver wages, they are less than they were 20 years ago when you figure in inflation, not to mention the cost of living on the road. I remember when just about everyone offered free showers, fuel or no fuel, if I did buy fuel, my coffee was free. The food was normally reasonable, now to have a sit down, your looking at an easy $20 if you are nice enough to leave a tip. I could go on and on, especially from an O/Ops perspective…

    There are still a few places left that a decent wage can be earned, but they are far and few between from my experience. I’m doing fine, but I sold my last truck and trailers and headed up to the North Dakota oil fields. Honestly, I believe this is one of the few jobs left in trucking where a guy can easily pull in 6 figures as a company driver. I know it pays better than the last year I owned my own equipment. Thank God for North Dakota!

  • Megan Kessler-Brewster

    Where do you work? Id like to get involved making 6 figures

  • Megan Kessler-Brewster

    Where do you work as a company driver making this kind of money? Are they hiring?

  • SalenaLettera

    JR has a good point – there does seem to be a lot of
    frustration among the drivers these days and I’m sure some of it is justified, but I do agree that if you’re not happy with the job you have, you should probably look elsewhere for work.

    My boyfriend and I are owner-operators – he’s been driving
    for over 17 years and I’ve been driving for 7 – and we love what we do and make a very good living doing it.

    As JR said, we take pride in what we’re doing, we’re professional, we keep our equipment in excellent condition, and we manage our business in such a way that we are able to profit every year. We love being on the road but we also love having time off – most years we’re on the road about 300 days, but last year we had approximately six months off and we still managed just fine.

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to come from a job such as
    banking and be able to make more money trucking. We have friends who both spent over 25 years in other professions and several years ago got into trucking. They started as company drivers and are now owner-operators who are also flourishing in this business.

    It’s possible to make a great living out here. Yes, the regulations can be restrictive, but if you plan your business well, you can work with them and still turn a profit.

    Strong pay, job security and providing a necessary service are attractive qualities of trucking, but the joy of the highway for me is truly the biggest draw. The travel side of the job more than makes up for the negative aspects.

    I’ve been writing a daily blog ( for over eight years and have found many things about trucking that make the profession extremely attractive. I have recommended it to many people, and will continue to do so.

    It’s what you make of it.

  • localnet

    I’m working in North Dakota, our office is in Fairview MT. We haul propane, butane, natural gasoline and y-grade which is a waste product after the natural gas is captured from the well sites in the oil field.

    Get on Craig’s List, look under the entire state of ND under “Transportation”. We, the oil industry up here, are just gearing up for the Spring hiring spree. Most driving jobs start at anywhere from $20 to $25 an hour, time and a half after forty. That is the normal starting wage for a water hauler. Most of these jobs have housing, some will charge you, some supply for free.

    I tell people that want to come up to make sure they have a job with housing, you will need a car up here too, to get back and forth to work. Water hauling is a good place to start, it is a good introduction to driving in the oil patch. It is also a good way to come into contact with other outfits that pay allot more. These better paying outfits normally want to see some time under your belt, water is a normal starting point for most people, but some have, and can jump right into the $30+ an hour jobs if you find the right outfit. Normally you will have to find those jobs via word of mouth, as those jobs are rarely advertised.

    The outfits that pay the better money are almost always crude hauling companies. Due to insurance regs they like to see some experience in that area, or water hauling, which normally puts you into contact with production and flow back water, which is nearly identical to working with crude.

    That is why I recommend starting with water, unless you get lucky and wind up driving a crude truck right off the bat.

    Now, the work normally entails working a 70 hour work week. You will need some basic mechanical skills. Also need to be able to chain tires, and work days and nights. Most outfits run legal up here, so you will get at least 10 hours off and a 34 hour reset.

    The hours are long, the work really is not that hard, but there is not much to do up here other than work. It is here, I’m pulling in well over $10,000 a month. All I do is make three trips to a gas plant and deliver those loads to a rail yard, about 36 miles round trip three times a shift. Hook up a hose and turn on the pump, pretty easy work.

    We are not currently hiring, but our company is Turner Gas dot com, you can put in an ap online for the ND division out of Fairview MT. We have housing. You will need doubles/triples, HazMat and Tanker endorsements along with a fresh DOT medical card. And this will apply to almost every company up here. Do not come here without a HazMat or Tanker endorsement… And you better not come up dirty, if you cannot pass a drug test, don’t waste yours or our time. Some companies do do a hair follicle test along with an instant and normal pee test.

    Hope this helps.


  • John Hillsbery

    They are trying to sucker somebody…lol.

  • localnet

    Just informed today that we are hiring… Turnergas dot com, there is an downloadable application under employment. Fill it out and fax or email it back, follow up immediately with a call, and ask if they will connect you with Diane in the Fairview MT office, as she is the one that makes the call on who gets hired.

    We normally work 4 to 6 weeks on and get 7 days off. Standard trucking work week, 70 to 84 hours a week, with 10 to 12 hour breaks and 34 hour resets. We have company supplied housing, no charge, two men to a trailer, or husband and wife, they have to pay $500 a month rent. We are the only company up here that allows and supplies accommodations for families. No boyfriends or girlfriends.

    The pay is good, plus we get daily per diem of $45, $315 a week. Pay is always direct deposited on time and have not had any issues to speak of.

    Good luck!

  • Ed

    Gee its unreal to see all these unhappy drivers. I have a lot of friends driving, making good money, best move they ever made. Maybe you should go to a trade school and learn something you might enjoy??

  • gdamifino

    As a veteran driver of over 30yrs + and an instructor for the past eight, your right on Mike. They do not make OTR drivers any more. Our younger entrance level kids for the most don’t have the work ethic necessary to make it at this.Hard core used to mean staying out 6,8 even 12 weeks at a time. There are only a few willing to make the sacrifices necessary. OTR is not a “job”, it is and always has been a lifestyle.It takes a lot of self discipline to make it. The industry has changed to retain drivers,but the regulations have turned it into a tedious 11 hour a day job with no rewards. Who wants to work under constant monitoring.

  • luvin retirement

    I believe the author is living in fantasy land. Long hours,overreglation and companies that treat you like your dog shit on the bottom of their shoe. Nope there are a lot better ways to make a living.I know I trucked all across this country for 20 years.

  • luvin retirement

    LOL your funny .What you consider good money and what a driver considers good money are two different horses.Changing jobs usually get you a company worse than the previous one. Your comments about tickets is another line that shows your true colors to.I never received a ticket in 20 years .Looking around on the roads now you cannot turn a corner without meetin a DOT cop with a truck pulled over. Truckers are taking it up the backdoor nowadays.

  • luvin retirement

    Ed where you dispatching at . You have to be a dispatcher to lie like that.Trucking is going down the septic system.

  • Guest

    it’s hard to argue with flipped and ridiculous statement like this… The core of the
    issue is that trucking is not the most attractive… It’s simply the
    only chance to get another job, available for those who lost their job
    in their original profession…

  • Zygmunt Banaszak

    Well… It’s hard to argue with flipped and ridiculous statement like this…The core of the
    issue is that trucking is not the most attractive… It’s simply the
    only chance to get another job, available for those who lost their job
    in their original profession…

  • Guest

    My “dear Friend”.., you’re very, very wrong… If you had my education you would be asking for prime minister job… About the money… You can make in the truckin’ not only 50 K but close to 70 if you search a little and you know what you do… Cheers…

  • Zygmunt Banaszak

    My “dear Friend”.., you’re very, very wrong about trucking… If you had my education
    you would be asking for prime minister job… About the money… You can
    make in the truckin’ not only 50 K but easy 50 after deductions, if you search a
    little and you know what you do… Cheers…

  • Zygmunt Banaszak

    it’s hard to argue with flipped and ridiculous statement like this… The core of the
    issue is that trucking is not the most attractive at all… It’s simply the
    only chance to get another job, available for those who lost their job
    in their original profession for “Chinese factor”…” You guy’s below are right that the trucking is not anymore like it use to be, but there is still some joy left in it – that’s from my experience. Qualcom ?? – You just have to learn how to use it to maximize you hours – is not that difficult just take some time. If I can make 11 thousand kms in one week then that means you can do that tooooooo… Cameras ?? Put your own in your truck !! F… their cameras and a cap. If you not to crazy the caps won’t bother you for nothing… The money – could be better though they are still good to make a good living.

  • Zygmunt Banaszak

    “They have an equilibrate family life”.
    – Wrong !!! I make good – well… dissent money. Though my Family life came down to every second week at home… You wouldn’t call that equilibrate Family Life if it was yours…
    – De-regulations ??? They created it in YOUR faver on every aspect Mr. Owner. You have all rights and choices you want. We truckers are limited with a right to breath and pay taxes.
    You’re sorry ? Don’t be… Present corporate paradise will end sooner or later – be thoughtful what you gonna do then…

  • Zygmunt Banaszak

    PS… Do you have real name ?

  • Smitador

    Kurt you are correct. In 1980 the actual income of Truck drivers compared to the average office employee was nearly triple. Today it is around double, or less. Pay has increased evenly with inflation, but not at a rate to increase the actual purchasing power of the money earned. this is in direct correlation to truckload rates paid by shippers, with a yearly increase of 1%, maybe 2% the rates are in the same boat as Driver pay. They have increased, but not at a high enough rate to overcome increased costs.
    With the new HOS regs going into effect Carriers must implement rate hikes that will cover the loss in productivity, as well as allow them to appropriatley compensate the drivers for their loss in productivity as well. This summer will prove interesting on how rates change due to new regulations and an almost inevitable capacity crunch. It is time for the carriers to raise rates and keep them that way, it will be neccessary for profitable operations on the company side, and for their drivers as well.

  • ilovdieselsmoke

    Really? Than why are the turnover rates so high? I have forty-seven years devoted to this turmoil. Believe us when we say driving for a living is not so warm & cozy!! The first twenty years were incredible. Oh, very hard work back then starting in the sixties but I loved it. Even the considerable bad times we endured always ended up later being more than compensated for with the good side of trucking. Well let’s see, so far as for the remaining time? It’s become strictly survival mode pretty much starting in the early eighties.We’re constantly looking over our shoulder for someone else wanting a piece of the trucking pie, be it the local police force who balances the budget with predatory traffic stops, state DOT,brokers, lying trucking agents, customers who think your time is “FREE!!” It’s an attack from every direction today.. I love to hear these Smokey & the bear romantic stories but sadly we live out here in the real world where the road is paved with revenue traps & broken promises from companies who value their own truckers somewhere between Burger King workers & janitors!

  • Joe blow

    I started in 2001. Prided myself as an accident free driver for well over 1 million miles. One bad wreck has ruined my CDL. I was not at fault in the accident either. I had many ups and downs in the industry. I was not your typical truck stop warrior.. I did my job and kept my war stories to myself. Many guys will complain about jobs in general because they are complainers. Well I will be straight up and honest to any new recruit or one who is thinking as out trucking as a career… Stay away! Run while you still have your youth and pride. The industry doesn’t care about you, the company doesn’t care about you, the general public doesn’t like you, it’s all about the almighty dollar. My company looked the other way and turned it’s back on a nice/safe driver. I have a bad taste in my mouth but what I am saying is the truth. My fellow road warriors know what I’m talking about. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.