The modern trucking industry is highly competitive, even more so if you’re a woman. This fact is seen in the latest statistics showing that women only make up about 8% of professional truck drivers in the US. That said, it can be lucrative and a respectful, adventurous way for women to make a living. Though there are many reasons that women might not even consider a career in trucking, it could be the perfect time to enter the field because of trucking delays due to staffing. Let’s dive a little deeper into the world of trucking for women.
Trucking Career Options
Essentially, there are two ways to get into the trucking industry if you are new. The first and likely the most common is to work for a trucking company or private business once you get training and are licensed. Some benefits include the following:
- Steady work and pay
- Less Responsibility
- Gain Experience
- Learn the Business
Though working for someone else is a good way to gain experience, it could have drawbacks if you want more control over your career.
The other option is to invest in a rig and market yourself as an independent trucker. Yes, this way gives you the most control and profit potential, however, there are serious expenses to consider and manage. To stay ahead of competitors, you would have to get operating costs as low as possible. Numerous expenses need to be managed when operating a commercial truck. The cost of maintenance and repairs, fuel, insurance, and taxes all add up quickly. Let’s take a closer look at expenses for an independent trucker.
Expenses of a Trucking Business
Fuel is the single largest operating expense for an independent trucker. In fact, it is often the highest single cost for all businesses that involve moving stock. Just ask any fleet owner just how much the recent fuel price increases have affected their businesses. For an independent rig owner, the costs might be more because there isn’t large quantity buying power.
Just as any larger business would do, an independent trucker can use strategies to lower fuel costs. Tips like minimizing idling time, minimizing speeds, and avoiding sudden accelerations help to reduce your fuel consumption significantly. Other recommendations specific to the trucking industry include using more efficient tires and low-sulfur diesel fuel. Fuel costs can be managed through several different strategies. You can purchase your fuel in advance to lock in a lower price. You can also maximize your idling time to take advantage of cheaper night rates. Some carriers also use biodiesel, which is less expensive than regular diesel.
The insurance premiums for a commercial trucker can vary greatly depending on the type of coverage you need, the number of risks you assume, and any claims you’ve had personally and professionally. You can use several methods to minimize the cost of insurance. The best way to keep the insurance cost down is to keep claims to a minimum. You can do this by keeping an excellent driving/safety record. You can also have a strong risk management strategy in place.
Repair and Maintenance
A commercial truck/rig is an expensive piece of equipment. If it breaks down, it can cost thousands of dollars to repair. This can add up quickly if you have multiple trucks/rigs in your business. To reduce your repair and maintenance costs, find ways to extend the life of your equipment. You can do this by following proper cleaning and maintenance procedures. By eliminating dirt, grime, and other debris, you can prevent rust, avoid clogging filters, and extend the life of your truck. You can also save money on repairs by regularly getting your truck serviced by a qualified technician to identify issues before they become more extensive.
Taxes and Licensing
Like insurance, taxes and licensing costs vary depending on the type of trucking operation you have. Most businesses, including trucking companies and independent truckers, must pay state and federal taxes. These fees are charged in some areas and are used to cover the costs of managing and regulating the commercial trucking industry.
First, understand what taxes and licensing fees apply to your business to reduce these costs. Next, be sure to pay them on time and in full. This will help to prevent any fines or penalties that can add to these costs. You can also try to negotiate any taxes owed with the state. If you have expenses from the previous year that should be deducted from your taxes, you can use them for a tax refund.
Time and Money Benefits
Even though owning your truck(s) has much more to it than driving for someone else, some benefits sweeten the pot. Not having to be on someone else’s schedule is likely one of the most appealing benefits, especially for women, who could have home and parenting responsibilities to consider. Making your schedule and choosing which jobs to take on is one way you could earn a living and care for a family. Once you gain a reputation as a safe, reliable driver, you can market yourself in higher-paying markets and even score contracts with high-paying companies.