Throughout its short history, the truck driving workforce has consisted mostly of drivers who are men.
History is, well, history, and throughout the past decade, the demand for women truck drivers is on the rise. Slow rise, but a rise nonetheless.
Should you, as a woman, consider getting on the road? All the numbers point to yes, you should.
In this post, we’ll overview why a woman should look into a career in trucking, as well as the pros and cons of life on the road.
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First things first: Is Trucking a Well-Paid Job?
Statistics have shown that trucking is up there with the highest paying jobs that don’t require a degree. The average base salary of a truck driver has been reported to be in the range of $50-60k. But still, some states are the winners here, and some states are the losers.
Having said that, still, the average trucker salaries per state show that trucking is a viable career path throughout the whole US.
Truck drivers are paid in multiple ways, from hourly rates, percentages of the load, stop pay, detention pay, bonuses, etc. CPM (or cost per mile) has been the industry staple though, as it is by far the most popular way of getting paid as a truck driver. In ideal conditions, it’s great, as the rates range from around .30 up to .45 cents per mile. However, delays can cause your paycheck to be cut short.
The Trucking Industry Struggles with Driver Shortage
It is no secret that the trucking industry has been struggling with driver shortage in the past decade, which has been on a continuous rise ever since 2011.
Due to this, the driver churn has hit record levels. A report from 2018 showed the driver churn to be almost 90% for large carriers and 73% for small fleets. What is happening is drivers are moving from one carrier to another due to better conditions, and the fact that the shortage of experienced drivers is an even bigger issue here, so carriers trying to offer a more competitive offer means there are a lot of choices for experienced drivers out there.
You know what this all means, right? As soon as you get enough experience, you are the one holding the cards, and you can choose where you work and the conditions under which you work.
Trucking Is One of the Few Jobs that Offers Equal Pay
The number of miles driven, well, a certain amount of miles driven, no matter the gender of the driver. So, trucking is one of the few careers that offer equal pay for equal work. The nature of the job offers much more liberty than a desk job, so many women prefer the on the road experience of truck driving.
The Number of Women Who Decide to Become Truckers Is Increasing
For the past decade, the number of women truck drivers (as compared to men) has been steadily increasing. The number, which was 4.6 percent in 2010, and then rose to 5.8 percent in 2015, has become 6.7 percent in 2019.
This means that the stigma of being a woman in trucking is slowly making its way out, which is great for both women and the trucking industry, as both will emerge the winners.
Companies Are Realizing the Potential
Recent statistics show that women are less likely to cause a safety issue. They also show that women tend to drive more miles than men.
The latter is mostly because team driving is a viable thing in truck driving. Statistics show that men like solo driving more as compared to women, who prefer to drive in teams.
There are even driving teams consisting of husband-wife duos, so if you are married, this would be a great way to enter the trucking career with support from your loved one.
Another statistic shows that women cause less trucking accidents than men, as they are more cautious behind the wheel.
Life as a Woman Truck Driver
Life as a truck driver is hard. For women, it’s even harder. On top of all the hardships men go through, women endure problems that are present in almost all industries – sexism, intimidation, harassment.
As we said, trucking comes with its fair share of problems. Physical inactivity leading to chronic diseases, the below-average diet, especially on long hauls, the long hours – all these have their drawbacks. It is not unusual for a truck driver to suffer from back pain and obesity.
Still, most of the 9-5 jobs are like that, so should you decide to work as a truck driver, there are ways to negate the effects of the job-related hardships. You can keep a meal diary to keep track of food intake, you can exercise in your truck or while at a stop, and you can look for local routes if you don’t want to do the long hauls.
How to Become a Truck Driver?
So far, we’ve said a lot of things, but not the most important part – and that is how to become a truck driver.
Well, truck driving requires training, so that’s where you should start. Usually, that training would include preparation for the written portion of a CDL license exam (Commercial Driver License).
This exam includes everything related to truck driving, from planning a trip, operational procedures, how to transport hazardous materials, to driving safety and substance abuse.
Having said that, there are some sketchy CDL schools out there, so the most important thing to look into when choosing where to get a CDL license is the course length, which should be around eight weeks, and the course should provide on-the-road training.
Luckily, a lot of carriers offer training when you sign with them, and you can even get a loan program from within the company that you can repay after you finish the training.
There Are a Lot of Resources Out There – Embrace them!
As women in trucking were becoming more and more represented, it led to a lot of women-trucker organizations and resources becoming available. These can prove invaluable for you, should you decide for a career in trucking.
These organizations include Women in Trucking, which was founded in 2007 as a non-profit organization focused on, as they proudly state on their website, “encouraging the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments, and minimize obstacles faced by women working in the trucking industry.”
Another organization to look into is Real Women in Trucking, which was formed by veteran female commercial truck drivers to inform and educate drivers, as well as people who are looking into a career on the road. Their YouTube channel is also great, so we recommend you check it out as well.