Driver Knowledge Tests

Driver opportunities in trucking

There’s a shortage of truck drivers and it’s getting worse. The average age of a truck driver is now over 47 (it’s over 55 in America!) Truck drivers in Australia can get better pay than in Europe and New Zealand, but we have to put up with some very long and boring journeys with severe weather extremes.

There’s so much of a shortage that some trucking companies permanently have trucks parked up with no drivers to drive them.

How much money can you make as a truck driver?

  • If you are a casual urban truck driver, not very much. You’ll be making $20-25 per hour; maybe a little more if you do warehouse duties such as forklift driving, too.
  • If you have tipper truck or excavator skills you might make another $5 per hour, or around $11,000 per year more.
  • If you upskill and become an MC/HC truck driver then you could expect around $30-35/hr, or up to $71,000 working a 40-hour week (most truck drivers work longer than that)
  • If you’re prepared to work in more challenging environments such as mining or driving difficult loads through the outback, or you have specialist equipment experience then you can achieve a six-figure income.
  • If you have your own trucks and employ other drivers, too, then your earnings could be well into the six-figure bracket.

There are some more examples of truck driver salaries here.

Why is there a shortage of truck drivers?

It’s not like there aren’t opportunities and money, so why aren’t people interested in being a truck driver?

  • A large number of drivers fail compulsory drug or alcohol tests – they can’t work because they can’t stay clean
  • Image problem – people still think it’s a low-tech, working-class industry, and there’s not enough pride in being a truck driver for many people. This is the case with some driving jobs, but many jobs now require additional qualifications to operate complex machinery and an excellent understanding of workplace hazards
  • High death rate – according to Safe Work Australia, the average deaths per 100,000 workers is 20, and that’s 12 times the average; you have to be careful as a trucker
  • 17% of the road toll in 2015 involved trucks, sometimes because other drivers are impatient and do irrational things around trucks, and this causes a¬†high risk of grief for truck drivers
  • Industry regulations prevent young people getting into the largest heavy vehicles that give the best page until they’re 25, and that means years of lower wages waiting for your opportunity
  • The government doesn’t like to give out visas for truck drivers
  • Long working hours and long periods away from home
  • Costs for training – the costs are less than the average student loan, but it seems a lot to pay upfront for the immediate low wages
  • Trades are more appealing – being a trucker can be lonely and many listen to endless audiobooks as they travel long distances on straight roads with very little variation in scenery
  • It’s difficult to get very young kids interested because they’re not allowed to ride alongside in the cab like they used to be.

How do you get a job as a truck driver?

Build up your skills as much as possible. The more training you do, the more valuable you are to an employer.

Be employable! If you’re a nightmare to deal with, you like being hard on the gear, your CV is rubbish and no one will give you references, you’re not the sort of person the trucking industry needs. If you want to make the money, you need to be professional.

Talk to people in the industry; opportunities are found by developing relationships.

Darren is an expert on driving and transport, and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists

Posted in Advice, Heavy Vehicle