Having a career where you get to travel on a regular basis while making money doing something you love is the American dream. If traveling the highways, living on the road, seeing the sites, and meeting people from all over the country is appealing to you, consider a career in truck driving.
Being a truck driver is unlike any profession. One day it’s the greatest job in the world and the next it could be the hardest day you’ve ever had. Every day is different, giving you very little routine. To some, this makes the job more appealing because it doesn’t become boring easily. If you feel stuck in a job and tied down, trucking can be a great move for you, but if you enjoy your daily routine and a predictable schedule, this job may not be for you.
Characteristics of a Truck Driver
Truck driving isn’t for everyone, but there are a few characteristics that make for a successful driver in the trucking industry.
- Patience – There’s a lot of sitting around and waiting involved with truck driving. Loading docks, traffic, truck stops, etc. Lack of patience can lead to serious problems including road rage.
- Driving – Although very basic, it’s an essential requirement. If you a wandering mind when you’re drive to the store or need to stop every hour, you might want to look at other careers.
- Reasonable physical condition – You don’t need to be a weightlifter, just an average Joe. You’ll be climbing around the equipment and moving freight frequently so you need to be in shape.
- Self-starter – Being a truck driver means you’re out on the road with no boss to keep you on track. You’ve got to keep moving under your own power. Hours can be long – anywhere from 12 to 14 hours a day, but you have to stay motivated and keep going.
- Drug and alcohol free – You are required to take a pre-employment drug test followed by random drug and alcohol tests. If you’re involved in a crash, you will also be tested even if it’s not your fault. A positive test or refusal to a test is reason to be let go. CDL truck drivers have a legal alcohol limit of .04 – half of the regular limit. Any detectable trace of alcohol will leave you out of service for 24 hours.
- Alone time – You may think it’s simple to be alone for hours at a time, but many people can’t stand being alone. There is the option of having a team partner, but that isn’t for everyone either.
If you feel like you have the characteristics of a truck driver, it’s time for you to get into the industry. The first thing you need is a CDL (commercial driver’s license). Without a CDL, the only truck you’ll be able to drive is a pizza delivery truck. The CDL exam will be about vehicle inspection, communicating with other drivers, how to see or anticipate hazards, skid control and recovery, driving at night and much more. Studying your states CDL manual is the best way to prepare for the exam. Each question will be from the topics. They are not designed to trick you.
Learning to control the truck and trailer that you’ll be operating may be one of the biggest physical challenges of the job. Training for your CDL only takes a month or more of courses and workshops. Once training is complete, first year truck drivers can start driving after a few months and make a full-time income.
There is also the option of advanced training in most companies. Advanced training programs are a great way to earn more money and stay current on rules and regulations with the DOT while also working for a great company. It will also show that you’re serious about your career and can be a great leader.
Choosing a career as a truck driver is a tough job so you should to make sure you’re working for the right company. Whether you have experience or not, you should know all your options. Learn about the company’s home-time, benefits, services and even their equipment. At V&S Midwest, we pride ourselves at being one of the best trucking companies in Wisconsin. We have excellent benefits and up-to-date equipment to keep you safe on the road. If you’re ready to get your career started at a quality company, then join our team today.