Truck Driving in the Eagle Ford Shale Play

Is it a good career move?
Mission Well Services Frac Spread

Hundreds of trucks used in oil & gas operations | Click to Enlarge

Even those who are not in the trucking industry have an inkling of an idea about the driver shortage. Ads for jobs for holders of commercial driver’s licenses pepper the newspaper classifieds. Recruitment ads fill television and computer screens not to mention the Job Board on this site, suggesting to even the casual viewer that drivers are in demand.

The industry needs about 100,000 new drivers every year. Why that many? Experienced drivers reaching retirement age are parking their trucks. Safety initiatives, in particular the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program, have pushed many less-than-competent drivers out of the industry. New hours of service regulations have cut productive driving time so it takes more drivers to deliver the same amount of freight.

If you’ve been eyeing truck driving as a career, you might be wondering if this is the time to make your move but what type of trucking? The boom in oilfield service means a variety of drivers are needed for that industry segment.

Trucking in the Oilfield

Jobs for drivers in the Eagle Ford Shale play include the transportation of hazardous and non-hazardous materials like sand, cement, crude oil or water. You may be moving rigs and equipment. So you’ll be operating all types of equipment such as flat beds, tankers, dry van, end dump, belly dump, pole trucks and oversize equipment.

Is the Work Hard?

Trucking has never been an easy job. There’s so much more to CMV operation than simply getting the vehicle from Point A to Point B. Drivers have to deliver cargo undamaged and on time while guarding the safety of those which whom they’re sharing the road as well as their own safety. It all has to be done within the limits set by complex regulations that seem to change daily, if not hourly.

Trucking in the oilfield presents additional challenges. Working in the oil and gas industry as a commercial driver is very demanding, requiring you to work long hours which many times include duties other than driving. Your cargo may consist of extremely expensive equipment or supplies. Time may be even more of an essence than in other trucking jobs if production has come to halt waiting for your payload. The temptation to exceed the legal limits placed on your working hours will be great although you’ll quickly realize it’s not worth risking your health and safety not to mention your license.

The roads that you travel take a beating and will test your vehicle-handling skills to the max. Most of the work is local, usually within a 60-mile radius of the fleet facility. Drivers usually work an 11-hour day, much of it spent waiting to be offloaded at a rig site. Some sites won’t allow trucks to move at night.

What About Pay?

Most oilfield CMV drivers are paid weekly. Jobs sometimes include important benefits like medical insurance as well as dental and vision coverage. You may be offered participation in a 401(k) retirement program with the company matching your contribution. Paid vacation days may be part of the package. Depending on location salaries are around $45,000 a year and can reach $70,000 a year.

What Do I Need to Know?

For starters you will need a CDL and you’ll likely need one or more Endorsements. We highly recommend getting the Hazardous Material, Tanker and Doubles & Triples Endorsements to increase your skills and job readiness.

Beyond the knowledge and skills you need to get the required license and endorsements, you’ll need to be creative and inventive as well as self-reliant. Your equipment might break down in a location where assistance might not arrive for some time. You need to know your equipment thoroughly, be able to troubleshoot problems and be prepared to make basic repairs. You’ll realize that it’s very important to conduct thorough vehicle inspections at the beginning of your shift as well as a post trip in order to prevent breakdowns that rob you of productivity.

There are easier jobs than trucking in the Eagle Ford Shale Play but not all are as rewarding. The field is wide open to drivers with the necessary skills and a professional attitude. Check it out. You may be just right for trucking in the oilfield and it might be just right for you.

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Devorah Fox, President - Mike Byrnes and Associates, Inc Authors of BUMPERTOBUMPER®, The Complete Guide to Tractor-Trailer Operations and the Easy CDL iPhone apps, Mike Byrnes and Associates, Inc. has helped launch successful commercial motor vehicle operator careers since 1987.


  1. Jarrod Wells says:

    First of all only believe half of what your company tells you about pay. It’s always lower than what they say. Best thing to do is go to a truck stop in the Eagle Ford Shale area. Stay there all day. Talk to all the company drivers that come in there and find out from them what they are getting paid. Most companies in the oilfield don’t pay overtime. It’s illegal but when have you ever gotten a politician to do anything about it. You’ll make your money by the long hours that you work. You’ll likely be paid 16-18 per hour and work 70-80 hours a week, which equals 60-75k a year. This job is a lifestyle and not really a job. You’ll be in that truck 6-7 days a week, 12-14 hours a day. But, it’s not all bad. I have listened to probably 1,000 audio books in the last 15 years. I am also the first one to know all of the new songs that come out on the radio and I can lip-sink Rush Limbaugh because I already know what he’s going to say before he says it.
    It’s a rewarding job, however. Consider that you are making more money than 90% of college graduates, and even as much money as some PHD’s. Also consider the fact that you know everything is okay and taken care of, and that you can sleep easy knowing that your putting money away and maybe eventually fulfilling your dreams. These are the thoughts that will keep you going all of the long, hard years.

  2. Roy Marshall says:

    I will be attending ATDS in Elm Mott, Texas and will graduate 11/30/2013. I want a job in the Eagle Ford Shale play. Any advice besides Hazmat/Tanker endorsements? What companies are hiring?? Where do I look for these companies?

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