When looking for suitable work after release from prison, felons may consider tow truck driving as an excellent option. There is little additional education required, tow truck companies may overlook your felonies, and there is great potential for income growth within the industry.
This article will discuss the nature of work that tow truck drivers are expected to do, how to enter the industry, the obstacles a felon might face in securing a job, and the advantages to working as a driver.
Tow Truck Driving: Job Description
Tow truck driving, in theory, is simple, and might even seem repetitive. Drivers learn how to use their equipment, show up on time to wherever they are dispatched, and follow the instructions of either a client or their company. Often, the work can be that simple.
There is more to the job than towing cars, however. Tow truck drivers may find themselves in almost any situation imaginable. A stress-free night might involve towing illegally parked vehicles from an apartment complex. Even in those settings, drivers might have to face confrontational or intoxicated car owners, who threaten violence, retaliation, or even offer bribes.
Tow truck drivers are also called to the scenes of accidents, freeway car break-downs, and crime scenes. Drivers should be even-tempered, as there is the possibility of encountering death at one of these more violent scenes. For these scenarios, drivers often have emergency equipment in their trucks, and can sometimes perform life saving acts of heroism.
Tow truck drivers may also may have to give rides to motorists whose cars have broken down. Their passengers may be anxious, or even dealing with panic. A tow truck driver with an even disposition can improve their outlook on the situation, and help them in dealing with the fallout of their car’s breakdown.
Becoming A Tow Truck Driver
Tow truck drivers are required to have a Class A Commercial Drivers License (CDL) to operate any vehicle in excess of 26,000 pounds. This is the equivalent of a medium duty truck. The more capable and powerful the truck a driver uses, the more jobs they will be called for, and the more income they will make. For these reasons, it is advisable for all tow truck drivers to have a CDL when looking for employment.
In order to qualify for a CDL, applicants must have a non-suspended, non-commercial drivers license, attend a certified class, and pass both a knowledge exam and a skills exam. The skills exam incorporates an assessment of a driver’s abilities behind the wheel of a truck. Almost all accredited classes will include this training as preparation for the licensing test.
Tow truck drivers might find themselves working for towing companies, insurance agencies, or roadside assistance services such as AAA. They might also be employed by municipal, state, or federal government agencies. Hiring standards and procedures will differ, depending on the employer.
Wages For A Tow Truck Driver
Most tow truck drivers are paid by the hour, and will start at a relatively modest rate of $12.50 per hour, which equates to roughly $27,000 annually. This can increase almost immediately, as most drivers will also be paid a commision for the vehicles they tow. For a busy day or night of work, this might be above $500.
The average annual income for a tow truck driver is estimated by various job boards as between $45,000 and $70,000. The difference is likely accounted for by how commision is factored into wages. Experienced drivers in busy areas can earn north of $100,000. With a strong work ethic and reliable, dependable conduct, a tow truck driver can lead a comfortable life.
Things For Felons To Consider
Given that a Class A Commercial Driver’s License is a requirement for most available jobs, felons will want to consider their criminal record when exploring this career. Most states will issue CDLs to felons. It may, however, depend upon the nature of the offense, or time from the date of the crime or conviction.
Felonies such as vehicular manslaughter, arson, theft or transportation of stolen vehicle, and trafficking of controlled substances may prove to be obstacles to a felon’s employment. Felons should consider expunging or sealing their criminal record if they are concerned that their conviction might disqualify them from any career.
A CDL can be revoked for felonies as well. In many states, moving violations over a certain speed, DUI’s, or reckless and negligent driving can trigger an automatic suspension of a CDL. It is a driver’s responsibility to operate any motor vehicle as safely as possible, whether they are on the job or not.
Risks Of Driving A Tow Truck
Driving a tow truck can lead drivers to encounter many different circumstances. The job can be exciting, but also hazardous. The job is often grouped with other truck driving professions when studied, making statistics scarce. In 2016, however, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that approximately 43 drivers of every 100,000 are killed on the job, a higher rate than firefighters.
Along with firefighters, police, and emergency medical professionals, tow truck drivers are often first responders to scenes of accidents. This puts them at risk of being struck by other vehicles on the road, or being exposed to extreme heat and hazardous materials.
The promise of excitement, and the ability to play a life-saving role in an emergency, may be a draw for many felons. The hours are long, and many drivers may be asked to work shifts lasting up to 12 hours. With this schedule, however, comes structure and incentives for good conduct. The possibility of dealing with unreasonable, angry, or intoxicated drivers may be a trigger for some felons. However, to those used to dealing with such individuals, they may be better suited for it than the average person.
Because drivers are often first responders to high speed collisions, crime scenes, or other scenes of violence, they may be exposed to blood or even death. A strong stomach and stern disposition are valuable traits for a driver, and many felons will find themselves more than capable in these situations.
Felons interested in this career may be drawn by the potential for high pay, ease of entry into the profession, and the potential for risk and excitement. Their time in jail, and experience in dealing with many individuals of different temperaments and levels of aggression, might also be seen as an advantage by employers. For those who can hustle and work long hours, this might be an ideal career.