College vs. Trucking School: Which Is Right for You?

by Pride Transport | Oct 27, 2022

Deciding if you want to go to college or enter into trucking school can be a tough decision. It’s one that you should consider carefully! There are some significant differences in what you’ll pay for schooling, how long it will take you to get educated in your field, your career path and pay, and your work environment that you have to think about. 


Knowing the differences can help you decide if working as a truck driver is right for you or if you may want to spend more time in college instead. Your financial goals, travel preferences, and other lifestyle factors may play a role in your decision. Here are some different things you should think about as you decide what you want to do.


The Cost of College vs. Trucking School

The first thing many people think about when it comes to choosing between truck driving and college is the cost of getting the education they need. They want to know which is cheaper and which will be more lucrative in the long run. They want to know how much time they’ll spend in school and if the cost has a good return on investment.


The good news is that truck driving students do typically see a great return on investment for the money spent, while that is not always the case for college students. Students attending college between the years 2019 and 2020 saw an average cost of $21,035 per year for a four-year, public college tuition as long as they went to school in-state. The average cost of a private college for four years was higher, at an average of $32,769. Many students take out student loans, which means that they’ll be paying back those costs plus interest. 


What about truck driving school? The average is around $3,000 to $7,000 in total. That total includes over-the-road training, hands-on experience, and more. For example, you may learn how to drive a large truck in poor weather conditions or about the Hours of Service regulations you’ll need to abide by when driving.


Once you’ve paid out the one-time fee for CDL training, you may not have many other outgoings as you start off in the field.

image of a man counting money and looking stressed

Get to Work Faster With Trucking School

A typical college offers two- and four-year programs. Some may offer certification programs that take less time, or there may be programs that take five years or longer depending on the field. 


You’ll save much more time (and money) if you decide to go to school to work as a truck driver. In fact, it takes only between three and four weeks to train for your commercial driver’s license (CDL), meaning that you won’t have to spend years in classrooms before you can begin your career.


Consider this, too. If you start going to a college, you will be accruing significant debt over time. Whether or not that debt is worth the degree you’re aiming for will depend on your degree program and the effort you put in. Within just the first year, you will, on average, spend around $20,000 that you’ll have to pay back if you haven’t paid it up front.


Truck driving costs less, and you don’t get stuck with debt right away. Yes, there is a fee for your initial course, but after paying that off, you’ll begin earning money with your job. Instead of adding several more years of schooling to your debts, you’ll bring in a positive income instead. You may already have money going into an IRA or 401k (depending on the employer) rather than debt building up (and potentially with interest). 


Additionally, you’ll be earning enough to start investing into things like your first home or other items you wish to purchase. 

College vs. Trucking School Earnings

Another excellent thing about working as a truck driver is that you can make a wage that is on par with those who have a college degree without having to go to an expensive, four-year school to earn it.


The median pay for new truck drivers, as of 2021, is $48,310 per year (or an estimated $23.23 hourly), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Glassdoor reports that a truck driver will see a starting salary around $48,947 on average, but it’s possible to peak at $107,000 or more annually.


As your skill level increases, you may find that your wages do, too. Specialized drivers, as well as those with more experience, tend to earn more. Perhaps even more beneficially, you can get right to work in this field because it is growing and has a driver shortage. In fact, the U.S. currently has a shortage of over 80,000 drivers, which is causing significant stress on the economy.


Settling Into the Job: Your Work Environment

Now that you know you can find work and get to work more affordably than if you go to college, you should know what your job is going to look like. 


This is not your average 9-to-5 job, and you should expect to be out on the road regularly. You will get to travel. Depending on the company you choose to work with, you may stay within your local area, the state, or the country. Some people even go across the border.


Another thing to remember is that this is a laid-back job that doesn’t typically require a uniform or dress code. You can wear what you want the majority of the time, allowing you to be comfortable as you work. 


Expenses are low, too. While you’ll need to cover your meals most of the time, you may be able to rest and sleep in your vehicle. No need for a hotel on most trips! On top of that, many companies pay for your gas, so you won’t have to cover it out of your paycheck. The ability to save money is significant with this kind of career, which is great for those who want to start putting money away for investments.


Choosing truck driving as a career is a solid option. At Pride, we want you to take pride in your career. Learn more about who we are and take a step toward a strong career by applying now

female pride transport employee standing in front of a pride truck

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