Not every road-ready individual can be a trucker. Flatbed trucking transportation requires expertise that can only come from years behind the wheel and creating an intimate connection between yourself and the 40 tons of machinery you operate on the road.
Flatbed truck driving is known to be one of the most challenging types of truck driving due to the heavy and uniquely shaped loads that a driver needs to secure and haul. Flatbed trucking is an extremely rewarding career, and the skills it requires are in constant demand.
In the trucking industry, one breed of transportation stands out from the rest and is known to be incredibly daunting: flatbed transportation. Is flatbed trucking hard, and is it worth it?
Why Is Flatbed Trucking Hard?
Because you’re dealing with different types of freight with flatbed trucking, you will need a few particular skills you may never have paid thought to. These required skills can be challenging to acquire and master, making the career choice of flatbed trucking hard. Let’s take a look:
- Loading your freight.
Generally, your large freights will be loaded with cranes or forklifts, which won’t require a lot of effort for you as the driver. However, depending on the type of freight, you may be required to help.
Even if you are not required to help with loading, the laws and regulations are so strict that you will always want to ensure that your freight is balanced correctly over the axles and securely loaded.
- Securement of the load.
One of the skills you will have to acquire quickly in the field of being a flatbed trucker is securing your load! The rules and regulations are extremely particular on the types of tie-downs you use per load, as well as how many.
The Department of Transportation is very thorough about checking how well your load is secured.
Tarping is another technique that requires some academic skill. Not all loads will require taros, but the loads that do have to be covered in a specific way. This is where some of those tarp systems and canvas kits will come in very handy!
All covers you make use of need to be secured just as well as your freight. When your freight is not secured correctly, you may lose the tarp, and it may even land on a vehicle behind you. Losing a tarp can be just as dangerous as losing cargo!
Even though the set of skills required of a flatbed truck driver can be particular and complex, drivers are willing to go ahead in this career despite the risks that come along with the skills.
Is Flatbed Trucking Worth It?
Flatbed truckers are in the line of business for many reasons. Some of them may only do it for the pay for a short time, but others prefer it to other types of trucking once they have gotten used to it. Let’s weigh the pros and cons of flatbed trucking, and let’s see which indicates whether flatbed trucking is worth it!
Benefits Of Flatbed Trucking:
- Pay rate.
In the flatbed trucking field, you will be likely to make more money over the course of your career than you would have made in any other type of trucking job. This is not to say that all flatbed trucking companies will pay you better. Your pay will depend significantly on the companies you sign contacts with.
Overall, because of the demand for the job, you will get considerable compensation. Flatbed trucking jobs are known as one of the top-paying jobs in the trucking field, about right in line with reefer trucking jobs. You are very likely to make about $10-$15,000 more per year than other drivers on average, paying you anywhere from $65,000 and upwards.
- Job Demand.
Overall, the whole trucking industry is suffering from a significant shortage of employees, making trucking a high-demand skill. This is especially true when it comes to flatbed trucking.
Because you will be able to haul such a wide variety of freight, being a flatbed truck driver will always be in demand. You will be able to haul all sorts of different things that won’t be able to fit into enclosed trailers.
- Time off.
As a flatbed truck driver, you are likely to spend more time at home than on the job. This is not only because of the physically demanding nature of the job, but it is also because the loading process generally takes much less time.
As a flatbed trucker, you will only be stopping at one location, where other trucking jobs may require you to unload 35 pallets at several different locations, for example.
Disadvantages Of Flatbed Trucking:
- Dangers of the job.
When it comes to flatbed trucking, there will be a few dangers on the job that will not necessarily apply to other types of trucking jobs.
For example, if you are handling a large freight and not having it loaded with machinery. It could be more dangerous to work with and load. You will also usually be the one that needs to climb on top of the freight and ensure that it is secured correctly before driving off.
This leads to another safety issue: if you fail to secure your freight correctly, or if something goes wrong, you will run a big risk of it falling off and causing life-threatening damage during transport. Depending on what type of freight it is, it could get seriously hurt, and it could even threaten the safety of other drivers on the road around you.
- More pay comes with more challenges.
When offered a higher pay grade, flatbed truck drivers should immediately note that more work would be done. Generally, truckers aren’t expected to assist with loading and unloading freight, ad an enclosed trailer usually limits the necessary amount of adjustments.
However, this is not the same for flatbed truckers. Not only are flatbed truckers usually part of rigging and unrigging secures before as well as after hauls, but they can expect more hands-on maintenance of secures on their route.
- The regulations.
Because of the dangers, you can expect much stricter regulations and laws for the flatbed trucking career. The United States Department of Transportation is the agency in the U.S. that is responsible for publishing cargo securement rules.
The entire purpose of these rules and safety requirements is to ensure that your load is tied down correctly, with no risk of it becoming unstable, loosening, and falling off during transportation. This includes knowing how to monitor load limits, using the correct tie downs, trailer sizes, and weight limits.
- Increased demand for vigilance.
Being secure on the road is always easier for truckers who have an enclosed trailer to prevent any chances of theft. Unfortunately, flatbed truckers do not have this luxury which may prevent them from parking in certain areas to take a break or sleep.
Flatbed Trucking Is A Great Career
Flatbed trucking jobs can indeed be significantly more demanding than other types of trucking jobs. However, the increased time off and the salary make it worth it. The good news about the flatbed trucking skills is that they are pretty quickly learned, and you will never have to worry about finding another job again!
Obviously, when a niche in any job pays higher than others, there is always a reason. In this case, it is a more demanding type of job in several ways. Many flatbed drivers say they chose this trucking line precisely because of the challenges. Other drivers say that they enjoy the science involved in safety hauling a flatbed load.
As long as you are aware and fully comply with the rules that come with flatbed trucking, you will be sure to make an excellent and successful career out of this job!
If you were wondering whether flatbed trucking is hard and if these difficulties mentioned above make the job worth it, rest assured! Although flatbed trucking can be a demanding job, there are so many benefits that come along with it that it couldn’t be more worth it!
What is better than working on the road and spending your off days at home? Flatbed truckers are great employees, and their driving skills can be seen as a compliment on the road!