Trucking Career Field

Trucking Career Field Outlook

Trucking CareerAccording to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of wage and salary jobs in the trucking and warehousing industry is expected to grow 14 percent from 2004 through 2014, as fast as the expected rate for all industries combined. However, growth depends on the general economy. If orders and shipments slow down during a recession, trucking suffers. There is strong competition in the industry, both among trucking companies and with the railroad industry. Some trucking companies are expanding their businesses to include logistical services, such as inventory management and just-in-time shipping. Trucking companies have also been forced to tighten security and make adjustments in response to threat of terrorism. Trucks have been identified both as potential weapons, for use as truck bombs, and targets, such as tanker trucks and trucks transporting hazardous materials. This has led to greater background checks for employees and stricter monitoring of trucks, which can cause delays and incur extra costs.

Despite all this, the outlook is good for truckers. Jobs for drivers are expected to grow about as fast as average, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Still, opportunities for qualified candidates should be strong due to the difficulty in locating skilled drivers. The Professional Truck Driver Institute of America predicts that approximately 80,000 drivers will be needed each year for the next decade.

Employment in business, management, financial, sales, and maintenance occupations is projected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through 2014. There is a considerable amount of turnover in the field and beginners are able to find many openings. Competition is expected to remain strong for the more desirable jobs, such as those with large companies or the easiest routes.

The Career Guide to Industries reports that in 2004 there were about 27,000 local trucking businesses, 39,000 long-distance trucking firms, and 46,000 specialized freight establishments. The increase of Internet retail sales should increase business for parcel and package carriers, such as the U.S. Postal Service, United Parcel Service, and Federal Express.

Current issues that the trucking industry must face include highway transportation safety, now regulated by a separate motor carrier safety administration established in 1999. Trucking formerly was a part of the Federal Highway Administration. The trucking industry must comply with environmental regulations, such as diesel engine emissions rules and water quality standards at maintenance facilities. The Department of Transportation governs work hours and other conditions, and the trucking industry is also working with labor and safety groups to improve hours-of-service rules for drivers. It is promoting 24-hour work-rest schedules, with a maximum of 14 hours of on-duty time followed by a minimum of 10 consecutive hours of off-duty time.

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