Alabama CDL Truck Driver Salary Information
The state of Alabama has plenty of job opportunities. Its top industries are automotive, aeronautics, chemical, technology, forestry, and farming. If you are looking for a career in which you don’t have sit in a gray cubicle for 8 hours a day and you enjoy traveling and seeing the United States, then the life of a truck driver may be right for you.
Alabama has a fairly large trucking industry so once you have your commercial driver’s license (CDL) you should not have much of a problem finding a job. Think about it. Darn near everything we have is transported by truck. You could be working every day to keep America going.
Check out the five largest cities in Alabama for the best chance of finding a job:
- Montgomery – State Capital
Whether you want a job driving intrastate throughout Alabama, or a job as an interstate driver carrying loads throughout the southeast to surrounding states: Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, and the Florida panhandle, you could be making good money and seeing places you’ve never been.
There are about 32,000 truckers in Alabama currently. The salary as a whole is lower than the national average, but depending on the area of the state in which you work, the salary can be different. For example, note the fluctuations in median salaries in some of the top cities (SOURCE):
- OVERALL US $41,340
- Alabama $37,460
- Mobile $42,680
- Birmingham $38,250
- Huntsville $37,840
- Montgomery $37,420
- Tuscaloosa $33,100
You have plenty of choices when it comes to choosing a company to work for. You could drive locally for companies like Alabama Power or national companies including Wal-Mart and UPS. Many trucking companies give signing bonuses and/or medical and other benefits.
Also, if you have additional knowledge and skills like transporting hazardous chemicals, or driving a cab with double trailers you can make a higher salary. More good news is that projected employment for truck drivers over the next 6 years is estimated at 8% for Alabama while the U.S. average is 6% (SOURCE).
Alabama CDL License Information and Insights
Every state in the nation adheres to the Federal Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986, which is a system used to classify, test, and license commercial vehicle drivers. There are several types of Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDLs) so know which one you need and ensure you have all the correct paperwork, test results and fees to be able to get yours.
CDL Endorsements are needed to operate tanker vehicles, double or triple trailers, school busses, passenger vehicles, and vehicles with hazardous material placards. The Alabama CDL is valid for four years.
- CLASS A: This type of license is for “combination” vehicles that have a Gross Weight of more than 26,000 pounds. Meaning the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the vehicle you tow is more than 10,000 pounds. Class A licenses with the appropriate endorsements allow you to operate vehicles included in classes B, C, and D.
- CLASS B: This license is similar to Class A except that it includes single and combination vehicles. Weights are the same except the GVWR of the single vehicle is over 26,000 pounds and the vehicle in tow cannot exceed 10,000 pounds. With the appropriate endorsements on a Class B license, you can drive vehicles in Class C or Class D.
- CLASS C: Vehicles that carry 16 or more passengers, or those containing hazardous materials that don’t fall under Class A or B requirements fall under Class C.
You are required to pass both knowledge and skill tests, as well as a medical test to ensure you are physically able to handle the job. The fees for the tests and licenses are quite affordable (SOURCE).
Common Types of Trucking Jobs in Alabama
Over-the-road truck drivers have several traits in common – they all have an independent spirit and a love for the open road and the freedom that provides. The length of haul will differ and some of it depends on what you want as a truck driver. Average hauls can range from 500 to 900 miles – keep in mind, the more miles you drive, the more money you make.
Even though there are several trucking schools in the state, many trucking companies offer training to new employees that are not yet licensed. Just like drivers, different companies have their own ways of fulfilling requirements and tasks. As an OTR driver in Alabama you will earn a higher salary than local or intrastate drivers.
Some drivers want to stay close to home and that means trucking companies in search of OTR drivers will offer a sign-on bonus or increased salary as well as medical and dental benefits. A few of the trucking companies in Alabama that hire OTR drivers include C.R. England, Marten Transport, and Gantt Trucking.
While you may not want to start your career as an owner operator, once you have experience in the ins-and-outs of the trucking business you may think about being your own boss. An owner operator owns his/her own truck, chooses the routes, and makes all the business decisions. Since Alabama is located near other states with large trucking industries, namely Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee, you are likely to find enough jobs to keep you as busy as you want to be.
In the beginning the process will be difficult just like starting any business, but once you build up your reputation, get a good list of clients, your income will increase. Another thing to keep in mind is as an owner operator you will not receive a guaranteed salary, benefits, or bonuses.
You will no doubt have to buy your own health, business, and liability insurance. Think about these issues when planning your business. They are not reasons to stop you from going into business for yourself, but you need to take them into consideration. Talking to other owner operator truckers can garner you lots of valuable information as well.
Trucking Schools in Alabama
There are many trucking driving schools in Alabama that a prospective driver can attend. A great option seems to be truck driving courses at local community colleges. The tuition is reasonable and many offer funding of the course through the Alabama Career Center.
They all have mostly the same requirements such as being at least 21 years of age, hold a valid class D driver’s license, good driving record, and can pass a DOT physical and drug test. Check out the top schools in the largest cities in Alabama.
- Truck Driver Institute (Oxford, A – 1 hour east of Birmingham)
- Premier Driving Academy (Theodore, AL – 15 minutes outside of Mobile)
- Alabama Driving Academy (Huntsville, AL)
There are also companies that will pay for your CDL training, as they are the trainer, as long as you enter into a contract with them to drive for a certain amount of time with them before seeking employment elsewhere. C.R. England and Roehl Transport are a couple that offer paid CDL training.
Alabama Trucking in the News
BIRMINGHAM – In early September 2017, two Alabama truckers were trying to get monetary donations so they could get to Houston to help flood victims.
“If we can get it done, we will get down there,” George Lawson, a veteran trucker said.
George and his friend, Alvin Bland, work at Universal Trucking in Tarrant. Neither man will get paid for his time or service in helping these victims.
“If I can help, I will. That is just me. It’s just something I want to do. That’s a calling on me.” Lawson said. Alvin Brand felt the same way, “I was just driving down the highway. It came across my mind I wanted to help Texas some kind of way. I wanted to stand up for Alabama show them that Houston has our support.
Universal Trucking is generously donating two trailers to carry donated supplies for flood victims. Both men will pay for their own fuel and drive the trucks to Texas (SOURCE).