So you did it. You put in the time. You studied for countless hours. You aced your test. Now you’re a truck driving school graduate. Congratulations on the impressive feat. You’re probably already sending out applications, narrowing down your preferred employers, and crossing your fingers for a great starting route. As anxious as you might be to get out on the road, you should know a few things before you hop into the cab of your truck and start driving.
Act Like a Pro
As a truck driver, you’re a representative of the carrier that hired you. You should always act as such. Your behavior is a direct reflection of your employer, so always acting professionally and maintaining accountability is important. How you perform on the job has consequences. Whether those consequences are good or bad is ultimately up to you. Consistently excel, and your employers will notice. Fall short of your carrier’s standards, and it won’t reflect well on your character or your work ethic.
On top of that, you should always act responsibly when you’re behind the wheel of a truck. You’re in a powerful vehicle with less stopping power, and you should treat it with respect. Never drive while impaired or under the influence. Being late for a deadline is better than endangering yourself or others on the road. Besides, you probably don’t want to have to explain to your boss why you had to call a DUI defense attorney, right?
A great way to learn the ins and outs of the industry — save for the school of hard knocks, of course — is by finding a veteran driver or a mentor who you can connect with. They’ll be able to pass on valuable knowledge that you’re not going to find in your notes from driving school or an online manual. Use their experience to your benefit. It’ll help you get over the learning curve and into a groove much faster.
You always need to be prepared on the road. Being a good truck driver doesn’t simply mean getting from Point A to Point B on time. Sometimes, you’re going to have to actively problem-solve from the road. Perhaps you’re facing some bad weather and you need to reroute your delivery. Or maybe you have a flat tire, and you’re happy that you’ve invested in some truck repair shop software to help you get back on the road quicker. Whatever the case may be, you always have a way to prepare for it. You’ll likely have to actively problem solve more than once while you’re on the road, so the quicker you learn, the easier it will be to handle.
Being prepared is sometimes as simple as being ready for the day ahead. If you find yourself working some of the longer shifts out there, caffeine is likely going to be one of your biggest allies. Consider a coffee subscription to make sure that you’re always stocked up before hitting the road. Portable brewers and insulated thermoses are also an excellent way to make sure you’re getting your java fix and are alert throughout the day. If coffee isn’t your cup of tea, consider an actual cup of tea or some energy drinks. Choosing what’s right for your body might take some trial and error, but try to find something that puts some pep in your step. You’ll be better able to power through those longer days.
Enjoy the Benefits
One of the ways you’ll get the most out of a career as a truck driver is by always understanding its unique perks. While it’s easy to think of truck driving as dull and to focus on the long hours, being a truck driver has so many more advantages than most people realize. While it can be a bit overwhelming in the beginning, it won’t always be that way. To keep yourself motivated and excited for the future, you should always keep your focus of the benefits of your career.
For instance, you’ll get to travel much more than the average American. For all those hours you’ll be spending on the road, who knows where you’ll wind up. You’ll likely go to places you never thought you’d visit. One week, you may get to explore Henry County, Georgia, and the next, you’ll be off to Pebble Beach, California. If you’re an avid traveler, you’re going to get more out of a truck-driving career than many of your peers. Savor the ability to take in the country in a way most people only wish they could.
A Booming Industry
Because the trucking industry is projected to keep growing, you’re unlikely to face some of the job shortages that are plaguing other industries. Even the most modest forecasts are seeing steady growth in the industry. The demand for drivers continues to grow as global freight needs continue to climb. To incentivize drivers, salaries have been steadily climbing and carriers are constantly offering bonuses and perks to employees.
This also means that you have a certain flexibility in your surroundings. Nearly every state is full of opportunities for truck drivers. Looking for a change of scenery? Go for it. Thinking of relocating to be closer to family? There’s probably a job waiting for you. This is especially true of the larger carriers that operate nationwide, many of which are experiencing a shortage of drivers. It may take time for you to build up to employment with the top names in the business, but if you think of it as practice for the role you really want, you’ll be ahead of the curve.
If the long-haul lifestyle isn’t for you, know that more and more carriers are offering short range routes that allow you a more traditional career. That is, you’ll work a more defined schedule and will be home every evening. However, this comes at the expense of travel, so you’ll have to decide what’s ultimately the best career move and where you would flourish the most.
The Road Ahead
Being a truck driver comes with its own set of unique rewards — as well as its unique challenges. It requires patience and motivation. At times, it will seem overwhelming but the key is to persevere. It’s the same in most industries. Nobody successful got there by giving up. The same holds true for being a truck driver. Show value to your employer consistently, and you’ll reap the benefits. Always be thinking about the amazing perks to being a truck driver, such as the salaries, the immense amount of travel, and the ability to be a part of a booming industry. It’ll make the hard days that much easier. No matter what you do though, drive safely!