Team Truck Driver Jobs
Truck driving can be a very solitary job. While solo driving may be perfect for people who like to work alone, it can be very isolating for those who enjoy having company and prefer to work as part of a team. If you like the idea of driving for your career but don’t want to spend your days alone on the road, you may want to learn more about team trucking jobs.
Team truck drivers usually cover a long distance over many days, or even weeks, with another driver splitting driving shifts. Learn about the advantages and disadvantages of team truck driver jobs, how to become a team driver, and which companies hire for these positions.
What Is Team Driving?
Team truck driving is driving in a team of up to four, but usually just a pair of drivers. With solo truck driving, you are working alone, but when you work with another driver, you’ll each take turns driving, usually for a long period of 10-11 hours. This allows each driver to rest while the truck keeps moving, transporting a load to its final destination.
Some trucking companies, particularly those dealing with very long haul loads or priority loads, may prefer to employ team drivers because their load can reach its destination faster. When only one driver is driving, they must stop after a certain number of driving hours to comply with the Hours of Service (HOS) rules. This rest stop is necessary for the driver’s own health and safety and the safety of the public and others on the road. However, when team driving, there’s always another person there to take over when one driver must take a break.
Many teams are life-partner duos, so this is a great way to spend more time with your significant other if you’re both drivers. On the other hand, spending uninterrupted time with the same person in a confined space can be a challenge, no matter how well you get on with them.
How Does Team Driving Work?
The majority of team driving jobs are over-the-road (OTR) or regional. You and your other team member may set up a rotation or driving schedule that best suits everybody. While one person drives for their set number of hours or miles, the other team driver may rest, sleep, or complete other activities.
Drivers of goods (rather than passengers) are usually permitted to drive for a maximum of 11 hours in one shift before they must take a 10-hour break (the HOS rules also depend on how many consecutive days you’ll be driving for). When team driving, each driver may drive for the maximum time that’s legally permitted, or they may take turns driving in shorter shifts.
No matter how you decide to divide up the shifts, each driver must have a turn sleeping every day/night. Unlike when solo driving, teams won’t often stop at a motel for the night because the vehicle will likely need to stay on the road with the on-duty driver driving. If everyone needs a break, you may stop the truck for the night now and then to rest. However, stops are much less frequent than they are for solo drivers.
Team truck drivers usually get paid per mile rather than per hour or shift. Because team truck drivers often cover very long distances, the end pay may be quite high. Remember that it must be split, though, so the pay for team truck driving is not necessarily any higher than for solo truck driving.
Differences Between Team Driving and Solo Driving
Although the main responsibility of the job (driving and transporting loads) is the same, there are some significant differences between solo and team truck driving jobs.
|Team Drivers||Solo Drivers|
|Drive almost 24/7||Stop to sleep|
|Sleep in the cab||Can sleep in the cab or a motel/rest stop|
|Cover long distances||May cover longer or shorter distances|
|Usually drive for several days/weeks at a time||May drive for longer or shorter periods|
|Have company||Are self-reliant|
|Divide the per-mile pay||May be paid per mile, per hour, or per shift|
Pros and Cons of Team Driving
Team driving is well-suited to some drivers but not others. These are some of the pros and cons of being a team driver.
Pros of Team Truck Driver Jobs
- Having company: Driving with another person is beneficial if you enjoy working with others or have a team driver you get along well with.
- You can work with your partner or best friend: Team truck driving can be great if your partner/husband/wife is also a driver or if you have a close friend or adult offspring who drives trucks.
- Consistent work: Team truck drivers are often in demand with companies that have urgent delivery needs or need their load to reach a destination by a tight deadline. Team truck drivers can cover more ground faster than solo drivers.
- Sick coverage: There’s someone else to take the slack if you feel unwell.
- Potential high pay on big jobs: Team truck driving jobs are usually paid per mile, so the pay will be relatively high when you’re covering a lot of miles.
- Opportunity to learn from more experienced drivers: If you’re a newer truck driver, team truck driving can be an opportunity to learn on the job.
Cons of Team Truck Driver Jobs
- Having company: This could be a con if you like to work alone or if you’re paired with a driver you don’t get along with.
- Too much time with your driving partner: Spending too much time together in close quarters can backfire after some time on the road.
- Long periods away from home: Team truck driving usually requires long periods (sometimes up to six weeks) away from home, so you’ll be away from your family and loved ones more often.
- Lack of control: When team driving, you’ll have to negotiate with someone else about when each person drives and rests and trust that the other person is driving safely.
- Pay is divided: Depending on your level of experience as a solo driver or the kinds of hauls you’re driving, you may find that you’re paid less for team driving because you must split your per-mile rate.
- Sleep quality can suffer: Truck sleeping bunks are not the best places for a good night’s sleep, with the constant movement and noise. As a result, team truck drivers may end up feeling very tired due to disturbed sleeping patterns or simply not enough sleep. While some people can sleep well in bunks or function relatively well on reduced sleep, others need to sleep in more controlled environments.
Is Team Truck Driving Worth It?
Only you can decide whether team truck driving would be worth it for you. It depends on your career and financial goals, life situation, and personality. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you consider a career as a team truck driver:
- Do I prefer to work alone or with someone else?
- Do I mind working away from home for long stretches?
- Do I function well with interrupted or inconsistent sleep?
- Do I have a driver friend I could enjoy spending so much time with?
Here’s what a few truck drivers have to say on Reddit about team truck driving:
“I team drive with a dude I have known a few years from another job… we are same age, same background, same work experience, and it’s great… we make excellent money, and no issues… I wouldn’t team with just anyone though.” – OB-14
“I’ve been teaming since I got my CDL. There have been a number of times where I was glad I had an experienced driver with me to help me in situations I was unsure of. It’s been over a year now, but I make more money teaming and we work well together so it has worked out very well for me. I obviously think it’s a great idea. I’m glad I did.” – Aardvarksss
“If you can trust the person driving with your life while you try to sleep in a moving truck, you’ll be OK. But the ride quality will make sleep tough some days. Teaming with someone was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. It’s not a comforting feeling to wake up and see your team mate passing people on icy highways, or going 75 down a steep grade and smelling burning brakes. Sure, you run more miles, but the split pay may only pay you as much as being a solo driver would at some companies.” – Goodsmellin
How Do You Become a Team Truck Driver?
Team truck drivers need to have a Class A commercial driver’s license (CDL). If you don’t already have this, you’ll need to attend truck driving school to get the training you need to qualify for your CDL.
Once you have your CDL, you’ll usually need further on-the-job training to become a team truck driver. Many employers will pair a new team truck driver with an experienced driver who acts as an instructor or mentor on a team truck delivery. This can be challenging for some new team truck drivers because they don’t always get to choose who they’re paired with. Some new drivers have reported being paired with a more experienced driver they didn’t get along with or who didn’t have much experience themselves. If possible, at this stage, ask your employer questions about who you’ll be driving with to make sure they have the right skills to teach you well.
Team truck drivers may also need other CDL endorsements depending on the type of vehicle and load they’re transporting. For example, you would need an N endorsement to drive more than 1,000 gallons of liquids in a tanker truck or an X endorsement, which combines the N endorsement with a Hazmat (H) endorsement.
How Much Do Team Truck Drivers Make?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the 2020 median pay for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers as $47,130 per year, or $22.66 per hour. This figure includes all heavy and tractor-trailer driving jobs, so it’s not specific to team truck driving.
Team truck drivers usually get paid by the mile and often work around 750 miles in one trip. This is divided between both/all drivers. One employer lists their team truck driving rates as between $0.54 and $0.57 per mile, split. Another company describes the average pay as $1,900-$2,000 per week per driver.
Some team truck driving employers emphasize the opportunity to earn a lot of money, while many drivers themselves claim the pay is equal to, or a little more than, solo driving. Some drivers say that while the pay can be higher, it’s not enough to offset the annoyance of working with someone they don’t get along with.
Figuring Out Who to Team Drive With
Most team truck drivers say that team driving with a person you get along well with is the key to successful team driving. That person doesn’t need to be your life partner or best friend, because you can make great working relationships with others.
In many cases, you’ll be able to select your own driving partner, and you’ll be hired as a team/pair. You generally have less freedom to choose when you’re just starting. Either way, look for the following qualities in a team driver partner:
- Do you trust your co-driver? If they’re inexperienced or a careless driver, you may not feel safe with them, however much you like them as a person.
- Do you share similar interests/beliefs? You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your co-driver, so if you have different political/religious/life philosophies, you might not be able to tolerate them for long.
- Does your co-driver have habits you’re uncomfortable with? A fondness for loud music or questionable personal hygiene could break a working relationship pretty quickly.
If you’re thinking of going into a team driving partnership with your life partner or a friend, consider that some relationships thrive when you spend some time apart.
Companies That Hire Team Drivers
Some companies seek team drivers because they need to meet delivery deadlines, and solo drivers can’t cover the distance in the time needed. These companies may even offer hiring or sign-on bonuses for teams. Here are some companies to consider working for:
The Prime Training Program matches new drivers with an instructor or trainer based on a matching program that utilizes a person’s core values.
Werner Enterprises offers relatively high starting salaries for drivers, including team drivers.
U.S. Xpress offers sign-on bonuses to team drivers.
Schneider provides team drivers with the newest equipment, along with the “best loads, the best lanes, and the best miles.”