Long-Haul Trucking—Is It the Right Job for You?
There are two major types of trucking jobs: short-haul and long-haul. Short-haul trucking involves closer routes where drivers can go home at the end of the day or shift. Comparatively, long-haul trucking involves transporting larger and heavier loads from state to state or from one side of the coast to the other. Long-haul truckers can be away for days, weeks, or even months at a time.
Despite the unpredictability of this position, it has many benefits, especially if you’re the type of person that enjoys being on the open road.
If you’re considering a career in transportation, the main question you’re probably asking is: is this type of job worth it?
In this blog, we’ll cover everything you need to know about long-haul trucking jobs, including application requirements, daily responsibilities, salary expectations, benefits, challenges, and job security, so that you can make the most informed decision for your future.
Job Qualifications & Requirements
Most employers require a GED or high school diploma and a clean driving record. They may also request that you pass a physical examination to validate your vision and hearing.
While some qualifications and requirements will vary from employer to employer, these are the basic requirements you need to have to secure a long-haul trucking job:
- Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
- Meet Age Requirements
- Previous Driving Experience & Clean Record
The age requirements in Michigan depend on whether you’re driving within or out of state. 18 is the age requirement to drive a truck within Michigan, while 21 is the age needed to drive a truck over state lines. Additionally, you can only have one license per state—there are three different classes (A, B, and C) that are based on the weight and type of freight you’re transporting. A CDL A is what you should plan to obtain.
Responsibilities & Day-to-Day Life
It’s easy to think that long-haul driving is simply transporting a shipment from one location to the next or that you can drive as long as you want, but that’s not the case. This leads us to our first responsibility—getting plenty of rest and sleep. It’s not just smart to do—it’s also a federal requirement.
Here is a breakdown of a truck driver’s daily responsibilities:
1. Following Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Guidelines: The FMCSA has set strict Hours of Service (HOS) guidelines concerning the number of consecutive driving hours. The primary goal is to ensure you never experience fatigue or sleep deprivation. These hours will have to be logged by you, so some amount of data entry will be required.
2. Route Planning: Being proactive and planning your route well in advance will help ensure you deliver the shipment to the right location at the right time. This allows you to plan stops and maintenance checks, schedule rest and sleep, and prepare for potential construction in high-traffic areas.
3. Loading & Unloading: Be ready to assist or oversee the loading and unloading of your shipment. You may need to physically load and unload portions of your shipment.
4. Respecting Traffic Signs & Laws: There are no shortcuts to long-haul trucking. Pay close attention to traffic signs and clearance indicators.
5. Maintenance/Inspection: You don’t have to be a mechanic to drive a truck. However, you do need to perform periodic inspections to ensure your truck and its contents are safely secured and in good working order.
The national average salary for a long-haul truck driver in the United States is $77,970. Your salary may change based on your experience, the state you work in, and your employer.
The average salary for long-haul trucking jobs in Michigan is $101,266. The Michigan average is approximately 30% higher than the national average due to the large presence of various industries (automotive, aerospace, defense) within the state. The national salary is also higher in Michigan because the state is close to the United State’s largest trading partner—Canada.
Perks & Benefits
- It’s a High-Demand Profession
- 401k & Other Benefits (Medical, Dental, Life, & Paid Vacation)
- Competitive & Stable Income
- Incentives to Increase Total Compensation
- Performance & Signing Bonuses (Dependent on Employer)
Long-haul trucking can also be a fantastic job if you enjoy driving and visiting different locations.
There are several challenges to be aware of before starting your new career. First, there are guaranteed to be times when an “Act of God” event occurs that you simply cannot control. There will most likely be delivery delays in these situations, so it’s important to communicate with your dispatcher so they can advise you on the next steps.
Second, even with the strict FMCSA guidelines, it’s not uncommon for fatigue to set in. Put yourself first. Stop, take some time for yourself, and rest. A 20- to 30-minute power nap does make a difference.
Third, if you’re an owner-operator, account for inflation. Rising fuel, consumable, and spare part prices can erode your profit margins.
Finally, at some point, you will encounter a situation where a customer refuses a shipment. Always remain professional in these situations. If you like to avoid confrontation, this may not be the best job for you.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of trucking jobs is estimated to increase by 4% annually until 2031. This equates to 259,900 additional jobs each year for the remaining eight years.
The industry is growing, and individuals pursuing truck driving jobs will get a rewarding career and excellent job security.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Applying
If you’ve come this far, this may be the right job for you. If you’re still not sure, ask yourself these questions before you apply for a long-haul trucking job:
- Do you want to be on the road for long hours?
- Can you take time away from your family?
- If you don’t have a license or experience, do you have time to dedicate to earning your CDL and attending a training program?
- Can you afford the initial expenses of being a long-haul driver?
- Will long-haul driving be physically challenging for you?
- Most importantly, will taking this job make you happy?
- Have you always had that “entrepreneurial” spirit and enjoyed working alone?
- Do visiting different parts of the country and portions of Canada and Mexico interest you?
If you answered “yes,” to most of these—start applying today!
Find Open Long-Haul Trucking Positions at TSI
Founded over 40 years ago, TSI is an established freight transportation company that provides services to clients in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. We offer rewarding careers for shot-haul, long-haul, and owner-operators.