It has been a few years since the media and technology pundits predicted massive losses to trucking jobs due to automation. However, truckers are still in high demand because of the fears these doomsayers stoked.
Automation Won’t Take Trucking Jobs
Trucking corporations, as well as the developers and programmers of “automated” trucks, are quick to point out that they never declared — or even implied — that automation will take over trucking jobs. Automated trucks are more focused on maintaining optimum speeds for better mileage and diagnostic systems for easier maintenance and repairs. True automation or self-driving vehicles are likely a thing in the far future. To have a fraction of safety, every car should be connected to a single network that manages the routes and speeds of each one. Without a network, there are too many variables that make the roads unsafe. The death of Elaine Herzberg is a black mark against automation, proving that anything can happen on the road.
What Automation Didn’t Do
Automation might not have harmed trucking jobs, but the fear of it certainly did. The doom and gloom espoused by the media made potential truck drivers reluctant to join the industry, opting for a different career path instead. Fear of automation has led to an aging workforce with very few younger drivers to take their place. The median age for truck drivers is 55 — only a few years until retirement age.
In the next ten years, the trucking industry will need 1.1 million new drivers (110,000 new drivers per year) to meet demands and fill-in the shoes of retiring drivers. The industry is expected to lose the majority of its workforce (54 percent) during that period, making new drivers extremely valuable. Trucking companies are struggling to entice new drivers and retain their existing ones, sometimes recruiting from other carriers by offering bigger bonuses, higher wages, better routes, shorter hours, and more modern trucks. Trucking wages have passed the $80,000 mark, with top earners bringing home $100,000-$120,000 a year before bonuses.
Time for Trucking
If you want to start a career in trucking, you’ll need a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and a bit of training. Most trucking companies will partner up with a driving school, offering to pay for tuition and even doling out allowances. However, it is best to pay for your training to maintain a bit of independence. However, you’ll need to be over 21 to cross state lines, meaning you will have to settle for the less lucrative positions if you’re underage. Once your training is done, you can choose the company that offers the best deals, or you can have a staffing company do it for you. Trucking companies value new drivers, and you can earn a starting wage of $50,000, even before bonuses.
In the end, all the commotion and excitement over automated trucks proved to be fake news. Truck drivers are even more in-demand, and the proof is seen in higher wages, bigger bonuses, and better work conditions.