Many people in a full time career or employed full time are not happy with their jobs and are looking for a way to turn their life around. For many the call of the open road really resonates as a possible option for moving careers long term or for simply adding a second paycheck to their full time job.
For others there is natural fear or leaving a stable, paying job to take a leap into a profession that certainly has had its ups and downs in today’s economy. In a traditional type of job it is often recommended to give it a try on a part time basis, maybe weekends or evenings, and then see if it is a good match for your skills, personality and taste.
Trucking is one of those industries that has a variety of different opportunities for both full and part time employment. For people that are looking for a smaller second income it can be a good option, just as a part time trucking job can help you decide if this is a good full time career. However, perhaps in trucking more than other industries, there are some important issues to consider before selecting this as second employment option.
The Training Factor
If you don’t already have a CDL you will be limited as to what jobs you can take in the trucking industry. You may be able to find work as helper, unloading and loading trucks at terminals, docks and businesses. However, you will not actually be driving, more like just riding along.
Going through driver training for a CDL is going to take at least 3 weeks of full time school, significantly longer if you go in the evenings and on the weekends. However, the training is not the same as experience and even with your CDL you may not have the experience that most of the larger companies require for insurance and liability reasons. Most of the local, smaller companies only hire full time drivers, but you may be able to partner with an independent owner/operator to help out on over the road trips.
The Timing Factor
Timing is going to be another issue to try to coordinate a part time trucking job with full time or other part time employment. This is because a lot of jobs in the industry do not operate on anything close to a nine to five schedule. You may be loading at midnight or dropping off at 2 in the afternoon, it will all depend on the specifications of the job.
Many trucking jobs also require you to arrive at a location in a specific timeframe but then you may wait hours until you are in line to get to the dock or terminal to unload. Scheduling the drive is the easy part, but you have no idea how long you may actually be at the location waiting to unload. Unforeseen issues such as breakdowns, road closures due to weather or even changes in the route may also make scheduling this as a second job very challenging.
The Experience Factor
Insurance for a full time driver is a major cost for an employer or even as an owner/operator. With a part time driver that has limited experience, is new out of CDL driving school, and has few miles logged insurance can be even higher. Plus, driving part time may not give you an accurate picture of what being on the road in a full time driving position actually would.
Part time driving can be a good option if you are an experienced driver that may have been out of the trucking industry and are considering a return. In this case you will have the experience and the knowledge of just what you want to do and work on a part time basis to get your foot in the door with a freight company. This part time work is more likely to be seasonal in nature or to fill in when regular drivers aren’t available.
Part time driving is possible if you are fortunate enough to find the right combination of current employer and trucking employer. Just remember that trucking is not an easy job with long days and nights on the road, which may or may not work with your full time employment.
A good option may be to take a week or two of holidays and arrange to ride with an owner operator on a long haul. While you won’t be able to drive it will give you a bigger picture of the reality of the trucking industry as an OTR driver. Then, if you like that time, look for a part time role, take the training, and get ready to start your full time trucking career.