The State of the Company Truck Driver Job
The State of the Company Truck Driver Job
Most truck drivers start their career as a company driver. In our survey, drivers 86% of participants haven driven as company employees for over 5 years. Even experienced and older drivers lean towards company driving over independent driving.
So, what’s it like to be a company driver?
Trucking companies offer their employees top pay and usually include comprehensive benefits for the driver and their dependents. On top of that, most company drivers don’t have to pay for tolls AND get to participate in company-wide discount programs like fuel perks.
A company provides the truck for their drivers and covers maintenance costs. Drivers must inform their employer of equipment issues and rely on the company to resolve them. The biggest over-arching difference between company drivers and owner operators is company drivers have to deal with less administrative and business work so they can spend more time running miles.
A salary per year for company drivers ranges from about $40,000 after taxes to over $110,000.
Why become a company driver?
When asked why they became a driver, survey respondents shared an incredible variety of reasons with us. Overall, many drivers felt called to the open road because of a love of trucks from a young age or family involvement in the industry.
Many drivers point out that truck drivers have one of the most independent and supervisor-free jobs that also does not require constant interaction with many people or frequent requests for sales.
Inexperienced or student drivers can find valuable training programs and mentors by becoming a company driver. Most companies will give drivers an orientation and sometimes a ride-along trainer to help them prepare for time over the road.
Survey participant drivers pointed out that their time in orientation helped them get more connected with the company, meet other drivers and learn helpful safety and regulatory tricks that they did not know beforehand.
With the help of a trucking company by their side, these drivers were able to grow their skill set and get on the road prepped for success.
What Matters Most To Company Drivers
The American Driver Network surveyed 273 company drivers in February 2017 to find out what’s on their mind when choosing a job and leaving a job.
Company truck drivers rank pay, time at home, dispatcher relationship, company reputation and equipment as the top five priorities they consider when choosing a new job and when leaving a previous employer.
During the hiring process, company drivers care significantly less than owner operators about overall work load (15% less) and unloading/loading requirements (10% less).
When a company driver chooses to drive with a carrier, they are looking for:
Consistent work with clear pay structures and comprehensive benefits
A commitment to putting safety first by trusting the driver’s choices
Respectful treatment from dispatchers and company representatives
What do company drivers want?
Company drivers and owner operators both want the same things from their jobs: respectful treatment and great pay. Although it is important to note that company drivers report feeling more flexible about unloading and loading requirements than their owner operator peers.
Straight from company driver’s mouths, they want:
“Honesty about expectations probably the most important part of a company job”
“Give me good health insurance and I’ll keep on driving for you!”
“Steady pay and get me home when I need to without fussing.”
“Don’t make me sit for hours before I can unload”
“Pay me for what I do. Don’t cut corners, miles, or communication.”
“Respect my judgment. I’m the one out there on the road.”
In a nutshell, company drivers care about one thing: moving. They chose to work for an employer so they can spend less time and energy on anything that keeps them from the road. When company drivers share feelings of frustration or anger about their job, it usually revolves around obstacles that keep them from making money. These obstacles include everything from sitting at a loading dock for more than 4 hours to experiencing equipment difficulties that must be resolved.
In our post-survey interviews, company drivers stressed the importance of working with good dispatchers. The dispatcher in nearly every case played the primary role in driver job satisfaction. This quote from a company driver shows how important the dispatcher is:
“When I think about my happiest time on the road, all of those moments were when I had a great dispatcher. There’s basically two kinds: a dispatcher that listens to you and tries to meet your needs and then there’s a dispatcher that just runs you wherever, whenever, however. Nobody wants to work with that guy.”
A good relationship with a dispatcher than listens can make or break a company driver’s job. The dispatcher is the driver’s key to stress-less running.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, as of May 2015, the number of for-hire carriers on file with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration totaled 586,014, private carriers totaled 747,781 and other* interstate motor carriers totaled 144,170. 90.8% of these operate 6 or fewer trucks and 97.3 operate less than 20 trucks. The other 2.7% are known as large fleet carriers.
What does this mean for company drivers? Opportunity! Company drivers can work with small trucking companies and family-owned businesses or they can work with a large fleet. The job they choose can be with the company that meets their individual needs.
The perks of being a company driver add up for truckers. As one participant said, “The hassle and paperwork of running my own business took away from the fun of being a trucker. I’ll be a company driver until the day I win the lottery or the DOT won’t give me a med card, whichever comes first.”