The trucking industry literally connects the various separate points on supply chains. It, therefore, supports not just businesses of all sizes but whole industries and even national and international economies. There are numerous career paths you can follow in the trucking industry.
Here Walker Movements shares their insight into the different roads an aspiring driver can take, and what it could mean for them.
Company drivers are professional truck drivers who work directly for a trucking company. As company employees, they operate trucks provided by the company. They are also likely to have their routes largely planned for them although they may have some scope to adapt them. This may be at their discretion and/or in response to circumstances.
A company driver’s specific responsibilities will be determined by their employer. Typically, however, they will include some level of truck maintenance, administration and general handling as well as driving.
Advantages and disadvantages of being a company driver
There are many advantages to being a company driver. Probably the most obvious one is that company drivers receive a guaranteed, steady income plus regular employment benefits. For example, most company drivers will qualify for auto-enrolment in a pension scheme. Of those that do not, many will qualify for inclusion upon request.
Company drivers are also likely to benefit from additional support and resources provided by their employers. For example, employers may provide (or at least subsidise) additional training to help drivers further their careers.
With that said, there are disadvantages too. The main disadvantage is that employees simply do not have the same level of control over their work as freelancers. This disadvantage can manifest itself in many different ways. Most of them, however, are variations on the theme of drivers having to do things they don’t want to do because of company policy.
Additionally, company drivers are unlikely to have the same earnings potential as people on some other career paths although the stability of the income may compensate for this, at least to some degree.
A dedicated driver is a company driver who transports goods for a specific client or company on a regular basis. Although they are employed by the trucking company, their primary responsibility is to ensure the timely and efficient transportation of goods for that particular client.
Since dedicated drivers are still company drivers, the advantages and disadvantages of being a company driver largely apply to them too. With that said, there are some differences that are worth noting.
Advantages and disadvantages of being a dedicated driver
Working as a dedicated driver often provides a higher level of job security and consistency compared to other trucking roles. Dedicated drivers often have guaranteed routes and schedules. In other words, they have predictable work hours together with a predictable income. This can make for a much more stable lifestyle. It can also make it easier for drivers to budget and to be accepted for financial products such as mortgages.
Dedicated drivers are also likely to require some level of specialist knowledge to perform their roles effectively. If they do not have it at the start, they will be expected to learn it. Whether this is an advantage, a disadvantage or neither is a matter of opinion. It is extra work, especially in the beginning, but it can also open up different opportunities. For example, dedicated drivers may progress to working directly for the client.
The main potential disadvantage of being a dedicated driver is that the stability of the role can end up being too much of a good thing. In other words, it can end up limiting a driver’s scope of experience. Another potential challenge is that working with more demanding clients can be intense. With that said, the pay for these types of roles tends to reflect this.
A long-haul driver is a company driver who specialises in transporting goods over long distances. This often requires them to drive the very largest commercial vehicles. As with dedicated drivers, the fact that long-haul drivers are company drivers means that the general advantages and disadvantages of company driving apply to them too. Also as with dedicated drivers, however, there are some particular considerations it’s important to note.
Advantages and disadvantages of being a long-haul driver
The advantages of being a long-haul driver are also the disadvantages of being a long-haul driver. Again, it comes down to perspective.
As company drivers, long-haul drivers have to operate within the framework laid down by the company. On the other hand, as long-haul drivers go much further away from the base than other drivers, they have to be a lot more self-sufficient than other company drivers. Likewise, their professional skills often need to be at a higher level, plus they may need additional skills.
For example, regular company drivers and dedicated drivers are likely to need to be able to interact with staff at pick-up and drop-off points. They will also usually need to do some level of administration. Long-haul drivers, however, may need to take deliveries across international borders. This means dealing with customs officials and customs documents.
An owner-operator is a professional driver who owns their own truck and drives for their own business. They may be the only person on the payroll of that business. Alternatively, they may head up a team. In either case, however, their responsibilities extend beyond driving and into entrepreneurship and business management.
In particular, owner-operators need to find and manage their own customers. They also need to take full responsibility for their own trucks and plan their own routes. This will often require them to make agreements with other vendors. For example, company drivers may be given a company-issued card to pay for fuel. Owner-operators need to make their own arrangements for refuelling their vehicles.
Additionally, owner-operators need to ensure that they comply with all the legalities and regulations of the haulage industry. These can and do change, both over time and from place to place. Owner-occupiers, therefore, need to ensure that they always have up-to-date knowledge of them. Similarly, they need to manage their own financial records and taxes (or arrange for someone else to take care of them).
Advantages and disadvantages of being an owner-operator
As with long-haul driving, the advantages of being an owner-operator are also its disadvantages. It’s a matter of perspective. Owner-operators have full autonomy over what they do and how they do it (within legal constraints). This means they have full control over their development and their earnings potential.
The other side of this, however, is that owner-operators have to take on a lot more responsibility than even long-haul drivers. They may also find that their success depends on factors that have nothing to do with their driving ability. For example, if owner-operators do not have either industry contacts or marketing skills (or both), they may struggle to get work no matter how good they are at driving.
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