What Type of Trucking Is Most In Demand Today?

If you have the proper CDL and endorsements, now is truly an ideal time to get into the trucking industry and land one of these hot careers.

If you have the proper CDL and endorsements, now is truly an ideal time to get into the trucking industry and land one of these hot careers. - Trucking,in demand

With the ever-growing need for transportation of goods across the nation, trucking remains one of the most vital industries keeping America’s economy moving. But within the broad field of trucking, which specific roles and specialties are most in demand right now? What market forces are shaping the industry and creating hot career opportunities?

Let’s start with some background on why trucking demand continues to grow exponentially. According to the American Trucking Associations, over 72% of all freight transported in the US is moved by truck. That’s up from 60.2% two decades ago.

Several key factors are driving this boom:

  • The growth of e-commerce and rapid home delivery for goods purchased online
  • Businesses leaning toward just-in-time inventory delivered by truck rather than maintaining large warehouses
  • The relative low cost of trucking compared to other transportation modes like rail or air
  • New manufacturing and distribution centers opening in suburban and rural areas away from railways and ports

With trucking volume steadily increasing (up 45.5% since 2000), the demand for drivers has skyrocketed. The American Trucking Associations estimates a shortage of over 80,000 drivers in the industry, currently  a number projected to double over the next decade.

Clearly, opportunities are plentiful for anyone getting into the trucking industry right now. But which specific driving jobs and trucking niches are most in demand at the moment? After analyzing the latest data and trends, here are the roles companies are desperate to fill:

  1. Long-Haul Truckers It probably comes as no surprise that over-the-road (OTR) long-haul truckers remain the single most in-demand role in the industry. The backbone of America’s freight transportation network relies on drivers willing to travel long distances and be away from home for extended stretches.

Some quick figures to quantify the need:

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, tractor-trailer and heavy truck drivers make up the single largest transportation occupation in the US, with over 2 million drivers on the road
  • Yet the trucking industry is still short around 80,000 long-haul truckers, according to ATA estimates
  • Major carriers like Swift, J.B. Hunt, Werner, etc. have drastically boosted hiring incentives, pay rates, and benefits to attract more drivers

The growth of e-commerce and rapid shipping has only amplified the demand for OTR drivers that are willing to spend 2-4 weeks at a time on the road moving freight across the country.

It’s a challenging role not for everyone. The extended periods away from home and loneliness of daily life on the road deter many drivers. But for the right type of person, the pay can be extremely high, over $50,000 at major carriers with the opportunity to earn even more hauling specialty freight.

Companies are getting desperate to fill these roles right now and retain drivers longer term. Major sign-on bonuses, 401k matches, health plans, and more are on the table to incentivize long-haul drivers.

  1. Flatbed/Oversized Load Truckers Beyond standard dry van and reefer loads, specialty truckers hauling flatbed, heavy equipment, and oversized freight are another hot commodity right now. The construction and manufacturing sectors have seen booming growth of late, driving high demand for drivers that are licensed and skilled at securing and transporting atypical cargo.

For example, the Federal Highway Administration reported over 8 million overweight or oversized truck loads permitted annually as of 2019 – and that number has only grown since. A separate trucking industry analysis projects flatbed trucking demand will increase over 75% by 2026 as other sectors expand.

Companies like Lone Star Transportation, Landstar, and Maverick specialize in flatbed and heavy haul freight. Typical compensation for these drivers ranges from $50,000 to over $80,000 for the most experienced, highest paying roles.

Handling flatbed, oversized, or heavyweight freight requires additional skills, preparation, and risk management for drivers that bumps up the pay:

  • Special licensing endorsements like tanker, oversize, etc.
  • Ability to safely load, secure, and inspect unique cargo
  • Precise vehicle handling and maneuvering (backing up oversize loads, etc.)
  • Executing overdimensional moves that require extra permits and procedures

So not only are these roles in high demand, but they are also high paying to compensate for the skills and responsibilities required. Trucking companies have been aggressively recruiting flatbed and specialized freight drivers to meet market needs.

  1. Last-Mile Delivery Drivers While long-haul truckers keep goods flowing across the country, there’s equal demand for workers to handle the critical last leg of delivery – the final transport of packages and freight from warehouses to homes and businesses.

E-commerce growth and the rise of third-party logistics providers have created a booming market for last-mile logistics solutions involving both medium-duty and light-duty delivery vehicles.

Some quick figures:

  • U.S. parcel volume is projected to increase over 70% by 2026
  • Total ground parcel spend in the U.S. is expected to grow to over $201 billion by 2030
  • Demand for local couriers and messengers is projected to increase 15% by 2031

This has companies like FedEx Ground, UPS, Amazon, XPO, and others scrambling to rapidly hire drivers for the huge fleets needed to handle last-mile trucking and delivery.

While not as lucrative as some long-haul positions, last-mile drivers can still earn solid middle-class incomes around $35,000-$50,000 on average. Veteran drivers working for companies like FedEx can earn over $60k in high cost areas.

The job duties involve loading trucks, operating straight trucks or box trucks from distribution hubs to make deliveries regionally or within a metro area. Long work days and physical demands of unloading freight are common. But there are benefits like being home daily with a regular schedule.

It’s grueling work that’s been amplified by recent shipping volume and driver shortages. But for people seeking driving jobs with stable schedules, great benefits, and opportunities for long-term growth in the industry, last-mile delivery ticks a lot of boxes.

Honorable Mentions

Those are the top three trucking job roles that companies are desperate to fill right now. But there are other notable mentions that are seeing high demand as well:

  • Bus Drivers – Both school bus and transit bus drivers are consistently in demand amid shortages
  • Tanker/Hazmat Truck Drivers – Companies endlessly seek qualified drivers to haul liquid bulk goods and hazardous materials
  • Dump Truck Drivers – Road construction and infrastructure projects create steady demand

So in summary, the trucking industry as a whole is booming like never before. But the areas seeing the most acute demand at the moment are over-the-road long-haul truckers, specialty flatbed and oversize load haulers, and local last-mile delivery drivers.

The compensation, benefits, and opportunities for success in these roles have never been higher as companies pull out all the stops to bring in drivers. If you have the proper CDL and endorsements, now is truly an ideal time to get into the trucking industry and land one of these hot careers.

Drive Your Career Forward with HandledNow

The logistics industry offers immense opportunities for skilled professionals, but also comes with its fair share of challenges. If you’re looking for a company that will support you through the twists and turns of this fast-paced field, look no further than HandledNow.

As a nationwide staffing company built on principles of Respect, Honor, and Integrity, we take pride in providing the best long-term CDL and trade job opportunities to qualified candidates. Our close-knit, family atmosphere demonstrates our commitment to treating your needs as our top priority.

Ready to join a company that will support you through the highs and lows? We’re ready to get you Handled. Apply now to get your logistics career in gear with HandledNow!

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