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Top 10 Truck Driving Jobs

Take a moment and think, what is one industry that has been behind the success of every other business in the world? That’s right, the trucking industry. 

There’s no denying that the profession of trucking has and continues to be one of the largest contributors to the American economy. Without it, millions of hardworking individuals would be without a job, and other businesses, like Amazon and Walmart, would collapse due to limited resources and the inability to ship. Different vital industries like construction, oil and gas, and automotive would also suffer greatly without trucking. And without the success of these enterprises, America’s economic infrastructure would ultimately give way. 

-> What Would Our World Be Like Without Truck Drivers?

So you see, truck drivers indeed are the backbone of our society, the oil that keeps the machine running smoothly, if you will. Fortunately, the essential occupation doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, making it one of the most secure jobs in the world. The only thing left to do is pick the type of driver you would like to be. No pressure.

What are the Different Types of Truck Drivers?

Flatbed Truckers 

Built differently than traditional tractor-trailers, flatbed trucks typically require additional training or education to execute safe and effective operations. On top of that, their drivers must thoroughly understand what they will be hauling and how to secure it properly since flatbed loads must be secured differently from tractor-trailer cargo. Typical freight includes vehicles, military vehicles, oversized freight, and oddly shaped cargo that doesn’t fit well on other truck types. Fortunately, since flatbed trucking is more demanding, it typically offers higher pay than different driving positions.

Dry Van Truckers 

Dry van trucking is an excellent position for those entering the occupation with minimal experience. These drivers are typically responsible for single trailer rigs that contain items like non-perishables and dry goods. A bonus for this title is that drivers are often not accountable for unloading upon arrival.

-> Buying vs. Leasing a Semi-Truck: An Owner Operator’s Guide

Tankers 

If dry goods aren’t your thing, you may be interested in becoming a tanker. Tankers primarily transport a variety of liquids, including gasoline, chemicals, and even milk. However, there are times that tankers will also be responsible for hauling dry products like cement or sugar. But in some cases, these drivers could also be dealing with highly explosive chemicals and gases. Since moving this delicate cargo can be, in some ways, dangerous, special training is required before starting this job.

Freight Hauler 

Otherwise known as commercial truckers, freight haulers specialize in moving cargo that does not fit into a specified category like reefers and tankers. These drivers need to be flexible and good with change.

-> Post-Pandemic Era for the Freight Industry?

Refrigerated Freight (Reefer Drivers) 

Refrigerated freight truckers have a pretty strenuous position. They are responsible for hauling loads that need to be kept at specific temperatures, like food, meats, highly perishable goods, medical products, and body products. That all being said, it’s crucial that reefer drivers know how to regulate the trucks’ temperatures, monitor for fluctuations, and adequately store freight for best refrigeration and temperature stability. Like flatbed drivers, reefers are often paid more than other types of drivers due to the amount of responsibility they are charged with.

Local, Regional, and OTR Drivers 

Local, regional, and OTR drivers are labeled or defined by the mileage they acquire. While local drivers only haul within a city, regional drivers often move freight throughout an entire state or metropolitan area. For OTR drivers, they have the potential to be given routes across the United States.

-> Why Owner/Operators Should Run Hard This Holiday Season

Auto Haulers / Car Haulers 

Auto haulers, are given special trailers that can hold an abundance of various automobiles. Where they are taking these automobiles varies. Drivers may be transporting from auctions, local vehicle lots, or ports; you name it. With tens of thousands of dollars on the line, you better believe this job comes with a more than fair wage.

Hazardous Materials Drivers 

The typical hazardous materials driver will haul fuel, compressed gas, chemicals, waste, and other flammable/combustible materials. It’s crucial for drivers to be knowledgeable about the contents they’re hauling and how to handle them safely in the event of an emergency. To ensure everyone’s safety, special training, certifications, and/or permits will be required.

-> 5 Things Owner/Operators Should Do to Achieve Success

LTL Freight Truckers

 LTL, or Less Than Truckload, drivers move smaller freight and don’t need to go as far as standard shipments. With their cargo being on the smaller side, they will typically have multiple stops to make in one day and are generally responsible for unloading their own freight.

Low Boy 

The trailers that sit close to the pavement and the truckers who drive them are low boys. These rigs sit lower to accommodate taller equipment or cargo and provide stability with a lower center of gravity. In most cases, these trailers are hauling overly large freight, like manufactured homes, construction equipment, etc. However, these low boys don’t fly solo. They often are escorted by vehicles with flashing lights and signs that read something like ‘Caution’ or ‘Oversized Load.’

Which Type of Truck Driver Should I Choose? 

It’s clear that trucking is not only a high-demand profession, but it is a career that offers flexibility, the opportunity to travel, and the chance to meet and develop camaraderie with fellow drivers. Regardless of your age, gender, or educational background, your chances of achieving success are just as probable as the next. Best of all, the variety of job titles allows you to choose an occupation that best suits your life.  

Before deciding, you’ll want to consider personal factors such as your location, risk tolerance, situation, and experience. For example, if you’re new to the industry, you won’t want to dive headfirst into something like transporting hazardous materials.  There is a great likelihood that you will hold multiple positions with various skill requirements throughout your career. So, use this list as a guide to discover where to start or where to go next. 

Want to know how much truck drivers make? Download our infographic!

How to Retain Your Top Drivers During a Shortage

This past year came with several challenges and transformed the shipping industry in more ways than one. Since July, truckload rates are up 40-50% and rising due to retailers’ attempts to restock their inventory to meet the heightened demand. With these businesses reopening and the need for shipping at an all-time high, now is the perfect time for truckers to find multiple offers for work.

However, despite the wealth of opportunities for drivers, many companies are experiencing high turnover rates. Not only that, but the industry is facing a driver shortage that many professionals feared at the start of the pandemic. While these scenarios don’t seem ideal for operators, there are ways to ensure driver retention. Here are some best practices for retaining your best drivers. 

Finding the fix for the national driver shortage 

1. Invest in your drivers.

In most industries, having the best equipment and supplies is essential to running a successful business and retaining employees. Inadequate equipment and low maintenance are significant reasons why many truckers are abandoning their fleets and employers. 

It’s proven that when companies provide new equipment and proper maintenance, drivers can work more and, in turn, earn more money. If your goal is to keep your employees on and happy, you may want to consider investing in them and the tools they need to succeed. 

The top investments to make include:

  • Newer truck models. 
  • Comfortable seating.
  • Auxiliary power units (APUs).

2. Set clear communication standards.

Many would agree that establishing communication standards is key to having a healthy work environment and a functioning team. In the trucking industry, clear and concise communication is invaluable. To improve retention and team-building, opt for two-way communication with direct channels and consider instilling committees to handle any feedback or peer input to allow for internal cohesion. Over time, you will see improved efficiency and excellent communication skills.

Employment Challenges Facing the Trucking Industry 

3. Offer competitive pay.

Possibly the most obvious way to retain your drivers is through competitive pay. Many owners and operators found pay to be the single factor that drives retention downward. Try offering pay based on a guaranteed minimum mile per week versus the non-reliable high pay per mile. A set mileage will provide your drivers with more stability and keep them happy and willing to do their job. You should also consider offering health insurance packages and/or retirement plans, depending on the size of your fleet. The more you can contribute financially; the more inclined your drivers are to maintain their loyalty.

4. Prioritize health.

Approximately 50% of drivers consider their health one of their top three concerns when considering joining a new fleet. That being said, it’s essential to promote good health by equipping all trucks with functional exercise equipment, offering wellness programs that encourage healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle, and scheduling free health screenings for all drivers. These screenings will ensure optimal health and act as preventative care that keeps your drivers on the road and out of the doctor’s office.

Staying Healthy on the Road

5. Set realistic expectations.

When it comes to any job, transparency and clear expectations are a must; this standard does not change in the transportation industry. Within the first 90 days of employment, drivers will be able to tell if a job is genuinely how it was described, meaning misrepresented positions could lead to higher turnover rates. To avoid this, be upfront with new drivers about the number of miles they can anticipate, compensation, and company culture. 

Another way to ensure retention is by instructing recruiters to provide accurate information when finding fleet operators. Instead of paying your recruiters on a “per hire” basis, offer a flat salary to encourage finding the best candidates instead of collecting drivers like bounties.

6. Support your employees.

Lastly, be sure to reward your drivers’ performances. Offering support and encouragement may seem fickle, but it can be the difference between a semi-operational and fully operational fleet. Experts have gathered that a 10% raise could cure the current driver shortage, although many drivers say that a simple show of appreciation could hold the same power as a raise or promotion.

It’s true, a supportive company culture can lead to excellence through and through. Instruct your fleet managers to monitor your drivers’ key performance indicators or KPIs and their performance through data-driven observations, such as positive customer reviews. You should also consider implementing safe driver programs that reward your fleet operators for minimal idling and safe driving practices.

6 Tips for Financing a Food Truck During a Pandemic

6 Tips for Financing a Food Truck During a Pandemic What You Need to Know About Food Truck Financing

What You Need to Know About Food Truck Financing

The food truck industry grew steadily between 2014 and 2019 as these mobile restaurants became a trendy way to serve different cuisines to a hungry clientele. In fact, the industry grew 6.8% year over year during that time, peaking at more than $1 billion.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Like many industries, food trucks were hit hard by the impact of the coronavirus. While food trucks could continue to operate during the pandemic, the customers they relied on to stay afloat disappeared, especially in urban areas. 

Food trucks have long benefitted from parking in downtown metropolitan areas, feeding lunch to the masses of office workers. With more employees working remotely from home, the lunch crowd vanished. So did the demand for food trucks to attend large gatherings or other well-attended social events, forcing many to close their doors.

The Coming Food Truck Resurgence

Hopefully, for food truck owners the worst is now in the past. With states lifting restrictions and more people returning to normal life, the opportunities that originally spurred massive growth will soon return. Entrepreneurs interested in starting a food truck—or those who stopped during the heart of the pandemic—will soon want to re-enter the market.

Many, however, will require financing, both for the truck itself and equipment used inside. Here are a few things to consider when shopping for food truck financing.

1) Choose a commercial vehicle lender.

Food truck financing can be a little different than getting a loan for another small business. If you have good credit, you should be able to get a loan—but instead of approaching a bank, find lenders that specifically offer vehicle loans. Some companies even offer vehicle financing tailored for food trucks. As with other loans, food truck owners will need to make a down payment, put down some collateral, or include a co-signer.

2) Plan to purchase a truck in good condition. 

It may be tempting to buy a fixer-upper, but many companies will not provide commercial vehicle financing if the truck is not a worthy investment. Plus, there is nothing more frustrating than losing potential income from a lengthy breakdown. It may be worth it to pay a little extra for a reliable vehicle.

3) Consider a business credit.

A business credit card or business line of credit may be required. It can be difficult to start any business, and some creditors may want more information or a history of success in the food business before offering a loan. If you are starting new, it may be difficult to get a traditional loan. You may need to use business credit until you prove your business acumen to a larger lender. If that’s the case, food truck owners will need a good credit score and may have to offer personal collateral.

4) Don’t forget about equipment loans. 

Of course, food trucks require more than just the truck. They house special equipment, like a stovetop or a deep fryer, to cook food on demand; they also need refrigeration to keep ingredients safe. Equipment loans typically use the cooking items you are leasing as collateral, so if you default on a payment they will be taken away.

5) Leverage an SBA microloan. 

Perfect for food trucks, the US Small Business Administration’s Microloan Program provides up to $50,000 to borrowers. Borrowers can use these funds to purchase supplies, equipment, and food inventory. These can be an excellent way to get a food truck off the ground once the vehicle has been acquired.

6) Explore other ways to finance your food truck. 

Crowdfunding can be a viable method as well. Think Kickstarter or GoFundMe. Food trucks have boomed during the time of social media with trucks using Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to announce their location, share pictures of what people are eating, and even release special deals. Food truck owners can get creative, offering loyal customers a small cut of the profits or a special per—five free meals per month, for example—in exchange for an investment.

The Bottom Line

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought great uncertainty to the food and beverage world, but it’s also time to rethink how things are done. Food trucks have proved to be a solid business for those who can make delicious food and find a market to sell it to. There are multiple ways to finance a food truck, so if you have the desire to get started, you can find several paths to lead you to your dream.

5 Common Tax Myths Debunked

5 Common Tax Myths Debunked

Tax season is here, bringing the usual avalanche of tax-related questions. While truck drivers do not need to be experts in the tax code, certain tips and tricks can make this time of year a little less painful—both for your wallet and your mental health. Let’s look at five common tax myths truckers need to know.

Myth 1: April 15, 2021, is the deadline to file. 

Usually, April 15 is the deadline for tax returns to be postmarked to the Internal Revenue Service without facing a possible fine, but that has changed this year. Filers now have until May 17, 2021. Better yet, there is no requirement to be granted the extension; it is immediately given to everyone. Truckers who currently feel rushed to finish their returns—or are figuring out when they will put them together between long trips—have a little bit of extra time. The April 15 deadline is scheduled to return in 2022.

Myth 2: Owner/operators do not need to pay quarterly taxes. 

This is a big misnomer that gets many independent contractors in trouble, regardless of industry. Owner/operators work as their own business and as such must manage their tax payments to the federal and state governments (this is compared to a traditional employee who will have taxes withheld). Owner/operators need to set aside money each quarter—think about 25% of income after deductible expenses—and pay it to the government.

Failing to make these payments can result in penalties but owner/operators also have to make sure not to pay too much. While the federal government will give you a return, an overpayment is akin to giving the government a free loan of any earned income that could be spent, saved, or invested. It may take some practice, but owner/operators need to be cognizant of their income, what existing taxable deductions they can take, and keep track throughout the year for an accurate total.

Myth 3: Truckers need to keep receipts for every meal they eat.

Over-the-road truckers can spend weeks on end without ever going to their permanent home. As a result, they can benefit from the per diem food benefit allowed through the IRS. Truckers with work that takes them away from home overnight are allowed to charge the government on the IRS Schedule C form. This directly reduces self-employment taxes and does not need to be itemized. As long as a trucker eats below $60 to $70 on food each day, they will make that money—and more—back with taxes. 

Myth 4: You can deduct deadhead mileage and days off for illness. 

Sadly, this one is not true. Owner/operators can only deduct actual expenses while working on the profit being made. Things like time off and deadhead miles cannot be deducted. However, some things that truckers occasionally overlook can be. Truckers who travel with a dog can write the dog off as a security expense if the dog is always with the truck. Permits and license fees can also be deducted along with accounting services, repairs, and interest paid on business loans. There are lots of valuable deductions if you know where to look.

Myth 5: More deductions increase your chance of an audit

The IRS will closely look at your returns but there is no guarantee you will face an audit. It is best to be honest with all your deductions and only use the ones that pertain to your situation. The IRS knows how to spot potentially fraudulent deductions, so be honest and upfront. 

Take the time to understand the deductions you take and keep detailed records where possible. These records can prove invaluable, ensuring first that you get all the deductions owed but also holding up to the scrutiny of an audit. Owner/operators must face a lot of difficult tax issues to run their business. It may be beneficial to hire a professional or take a course to fully understand how to manage your tax situation. While the IRS does not want to charge penalties and conduct audits, they also want to ensure every person pays their properly owed amount.

Buying vs. Leasing a Semi-Truck: An Owner Operator’s Guide

Owner/operators are in the position to make important business decisions that impact their future success. Your semi-truck can either be the means to your financial gains or a detriment—which direction you go depends on the choices you make around your truck. When it comes to buying versus leasing, there’s not a clear-cut answer. Your unique situation and goals play a large part in your decision to buy or lease a semi-truck. Ultimately, it comes down to the type of truck you want and how you prefer to spend your money. 

Buying a Semi-Truck as an Owner/Operator

The average price of a new or newer truck is well over $100,000. Do you have the capital to make this purchase? If not, take a look at financing. Either way, you’ll start to accrue equity. The purchase can also be used as a tax write-off; talk to an accountant or tax professional before you make the purchase to understand all the tax considerations. Additionally, you’ll save money on insurance as rates are often cheaper than those for leased vehicles. If you have good credit and the truck is not terribly expensive, you may not have to make a down payment, depending on the company issuing the loan.  

With a new truck, you’ll also get the latest in mechanical technology. This may mean saving money on operating costs and fuel, as many are more energy-efficient than older models. It’ll also come with a factory warranty which covers service issues and any problems that come up during the warranty period. 

If you want to purchase, but a $100,000-plus price tag is outside of your investment range, you can buy a used truck for as low as $15,000. Keep in mind that you may end up paying to keep it up and running. 

Leasing a Semi-Truck as an Owner/Operator


If you’re not able to buy your truck or you want to limit your financial risks, leasing may be the best option. A lease contract usually lasts anywhere from three to five years. Once your agreement is over, you’ll return the truck, and you can start another lease on a new truck. If you choose to break your lease before it ends, you’ll pay a penalty; the amount of the penalty is a lump sign that’s stated in the contract. 

Make sure you read the fine print on your lease agreement. Often, there are rules and requirements you must follow while you have the truck. Like a personal vehicle, you may have a limit on your mileage. When you turn the truck in at the end of the lease, you’ll have to pay for each mile you go over it. 

Lease Types

There are two types of lease: conventional or lease-to-own. With either, you don’t need to put down a large amount of money upfront. Oftentimes, you don’t need good credit; some leases don’t even require a credit check.  

A conventional lease has a set period of time in which you make monthly payments. You’ll have the freedom to walk away from your truck when your contract is over. Another benefit is gaining insight into the real-life costs of owning a truck without some of the hassles. Many conventional leases come with a servicing agreement for any maintenance or service needs that the vehicle needs during the extent of the contract. 

A lease-to-own agreement means you have the option to purchase the semi-truck at the end of the agreement. There will be a buy-out price set in the contract which may be negotiated before you sign the lease. With this type of lease, you’ll need to haul enough merchandise or goods to pay the monthly payment. If you don’t, the leasing company can repossess your truck.

What Should I do?

Commitment is the biggest difference between the two options to purchase or lease a semi-truck. A conventional lease can be a short-term commitment that may provide the freedom to walk away from your truck. Though you’ll spend less money upfront, you won’t build any equity. Overall, you may pay more money than if you were to buy it outright. Insurance is typically higher on a leased semi-truck than one that you’ve purchased. You also can’t make it your own by modifying or updating it the way you would if you owned it. 

Buying or leasing a semi-truck is ultimately a financial endeavor. But it doesn’t end there; it also comes down to your goals and long-term vision for yourself as an owner/operator.

How Owner/Operators Can Prepare for Tax Season

After a very long year, the 2021 tax season is upon us. As an owner/operator, properly filing your tax return is crucial to the success of your operation. Navigating the increasingly complex tax code can be arduous, though. Multiple deadlines, numerous deductions, and various available exemptions and credits… filing your taxes can feel nigh on impossible. Those in the industry, however, know preparation is key. Plan ahead to ensure you have all the necessary documentation you need to properly file your taxes by the expected deadlines. 

Here’s how owner/operators can prepare for the 2021 tax season.

Which Tax Forms Do Owner/Operators Need?

Let’s begin by answering the most basic question: Which tax forms am I expected to file? This depends entirely on your specific employment status—are you an employee of a trucking company, an independent contractor, or an owner/operator?

If you are employed as a driver for a carrier company or similar, you should receive a standard W-2 form for filing your taxes. The W-2 details the amount of wages you were paid during the previous fiscal year of employment. This form is the most straightforward filing procedure since there are no job-related expenses. 

If you are an independent contractor or owner/operator, however, you will receive two tax filing forms: a 1099-MISC and a 1099-NEC. What’s the difference between the two? The 1099-MISC is an information return form (similar to a W-2) used to report payments made from a business to an independent contractor. Any independent driver who makes more than $600 from one particular source will be expected to complete a 1099-MISC from that source. The 1099-NEC, on the other hand, is used for independent contractors to report payments received from businesses for work performed. Independent contractors and owner/operators are required to complete and file both the 1099-MISC and 1099-NEC forms with the IRS.

When are the Filing Deadlines?

Don’t get slapped with a hefty penalty by missing the appropriate filing deadlines. The IRS penalizes workers for multiple reasons, including failure to file taxes and failure to pay taxes. Penalties include steep fines, seizure of property, and even jail time. Protect yourself by knowing the important filing and extension dates. 

  • February 12: The IRS begins accepting and processing individual tax returns.
  • April 15: The date for employees to file their returns or request a deadline extension.
  • April 15: Any unpaid taxes must be paid in full to avoid owing interest and penalties. 
  • October 15: Final date to file for those who requested a deadline extension. 

Notice that April 15 is an especially important date as it is the deadline to file your returns, request an extension on filing, or pay any unpaid taxes to the IRS. 

What’s the Recovery Rebate Credit?

This year, many working individuals will have the ability to receive a tax credit if they did not receive a stimulus check. If you received the maximum amount of payment from both federal stimulus checks, then there is no impact on your taxes and you do not need to report the stimulus payment as income. If you are one of the many owner/operators who did not receive the full stimulus payment amount from one or both stimulus packages due to your level of income, you may be eligible for the Recovery Rebate Credit. The Recovery Rebate Credit is designed to either increase tax refund amounts or decrease the amount of taxes owed for workers who did not receive the full economic relief payments from the federal government. 

To be eligible for the Recovery Rebate, you must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident alien, cannot be claimed as a dependent for tax year 2020, and you must have a Social Security number valid for employment. To determine whether or not you are eligible for the Recover Rebate, fill out the Recovery Rebate Credit Worksheet in the Instructions for Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR.

Filing your taxes can be intimidating, as the United States tax code becomes increasingly complicated each year. Rest assured, you don’t have to go at it alone. If you are concerned with your ability to file your taxes correctly and on-time, hire a professional tax preparer to help guide you step-by-step through the filing process. Protect yourself and avoid making common mistakes by filing the correct forms by the appropriate deadline.

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