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?
[ic-r]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.