April 19, 2010

Is UPS Driver a Good Job?

The article UPS Thinks Out of the Box on Driver Training from Wall Street Journal via Yahoo talks about UPS needing to hire 25,000 new drivers in the next few years.    The article says that their average annual pay for UPS drivers is $74,000.

I'm sure that some people are thinking to themselves that $74,000 to drive a brown truck sounds like a great wage.   I don't disagree with that but there are some things to take into consideration.

First of all that  $74,000 annual average figure is adding in overtime pay.   A little older article I found said that pay is $55,000 and can rise to $70,000 with overtime.   Given that I would estimate they are making about $27/hr and working 9-10 hr days to log around 400 overtime hours per year.  

Second the work can be heavily demanding.   UPS drivers have to carry heavy packages and must be in good physical shape.  Plus you have to be pretty skillful driver.  Driving a big truck around town all day is much harder than it looks.

Third point that is probably the biggest is that UPS drivers usually* don't walk into delivery truck jobs on day one.  You have to work your way up the ladder at UPS before you become a driver.   Generally people start as package handlers in UPS hub and then work their way up to driver.   Working as a package handler is a part time job for 3-5 hrs a day with pay rates around $8-10 per hour.   You may have to work as a handler for years before you get a shot at driving as a temporary driver during the busy Christmas season.   Working your way up to a good job isn't a bad thing.  But the real problem with this is that part time pay for $8-10/hr is not much to support yourself on initially.   And whats more, working as a package handler is extremely hard work.  The job consists of basically moving heavy boxes non stop for several hours.   The UPS.com site says: "This is a physical, fast-paced position that involves continual lifting, lowering and sliding packages that typically weigh 25 - 35 lbs. and may weigh up to 70 lbs."   Thats all they do is lift and move boxes.  Most people can not handle it.

If you are ok with working your way up for a few years, working very hard and putting in overtime during the busy season then working as a UPS driver could potentially be a very good job.

* edit : I added the word 'usually' there after comments from several readers.   My personal experience  at the UPS where I worked was that drivers had to work their way up from sorting jobs.  But that is not the case everywhere and other drivers are hired straight into driving positions.

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