Trucking can be tough....especially during the first year. As any driver knows, there are ups and downs to this job. But at the end of the day, the benefits of being a trucker are second to none:
- Getting paid to travel this beautiful country
- Having the ability to provide a great life for our family
- Working in an industry that keeps America moving (literally)
However, there is one major hurdle to tackle before really taking advantage of everything the trucking lifestyle has to offer - it's the first year. Come along with me as I share 6 truths about the first year in a truck driving job...
1. Never Stop Learning
From the time you arrive at your CDL school of choice, hopefully with the help of Driver Solutions, the learning curve can seem tremendous. But keep in mind that from day 1 to day 365, the learning curve will shrink from a mountain to that of a small hill. I hope you've heard this before, but it bears repeating, "As a trucker, you should never stop learning. Whether it’s your 1st year or your 30th year, there is always something new to learn.” With that being said, the first year of driving is often times the most challenging for truckers.
2. Adjusting To The Schedule Takes Time
People tell you about the struggles of being away from family and friends; but, the realization doesn’t hit you as a trucker until you're on the road for three or four weeks at a time. There’s no way around it, life on the road can take some getting used to. As with all things though, it gets easier with time.
Remember, traveling is part of the job. And if you’re moving that means you’re making money. Having a company that keeps you rolling is better than working for one that has you sitting. I believe that most trucking companies have your best interest at heart, but things happen and change over the course of a trucker running a route. Your company will get you home. While it may take a few detours along the way, the time will come.
3. Your Support System Is Key
I believe family and friends play a huge part in a new trucker’s success. A first year driver who’s getting used to the challenges of the daily grind needs support. Your family and friends are your support team. While they may wish you were home more often, at the end of the day they want you to do the job well and be safe. With help and understanding from everyone at home, making it through the first year challenges is so much easier. It takes time for a first year driver to learn the ins and outs of doing business behind the wheel. Having a support team that’s there through the ups and downs is worth its weight in gold.
4. Managing Your Time Is Crucial
Another thing that comes with your first year is managing yourself and your time. You may have heard that you are the captain of your own ship (truck). If you have never been in a job where you are somewhat your own boss, this new important part of the job can really make or break your success. Do you take your ten hour break and head out right after that? Or do you enjoy to sleeping in a little longer? Maybe an 11 or 12 hour break? It can take some thinking when you get a call from your fleet manager wondering why you weren't rolling 2 hours earlier. These are hours you can never get back. These are miles you will never run.
You want to be able to do what you want, when you want; but there's a business to run. Hopefully you can work with your boss and figure out quickly what is legally expected of you so you can adjust to that schedule. It will make things run so much smoother when everyone is on the same page. By proving that you can get it done, things will start to fall into place for you. You can also have some leverage of past successes to help your case when it comes to requesting specific dates for home time. Remember, successes will be your future stress relievers later on down the road.
5. Technology Is Great, But Not A Substitute
One final thing that can throw truckers for a loop is their reliance on technology. I don't think I would even want to run a truck if I didn't have the awesome trucker GPS. Yet that GPS can get you into serious trouble if you're not verifying your route to shipper as well as the route and directions to receiver. If you are not familiar with the shipper and/or receiver, it can really be tough at times. Try and take advantage of all the help your trucking company offers. At the very least, no matter what your GPS tells you, call the shipper and receiver to verify directions. It will do wonders for your peace of mind.
6. Experiences Shape Your Success
Down the road, I will dive into other topics to help with first year success. In the meantime, I want to emphasize that after you gain experience, there will be a huge amount of choices and benefits that come your way. Getting started can be challenging at times, but the lessons learned will set you up for a long-lasting, fulfilling career as a professional trucker.
What certainly helped me get my start was letting Driver Solutions do what they do best. I worked with my Driver Agent to not only figure out the best time and place to get started, but to also be prepared as best as I could be for CDL training. On top of that, I was also given the opportunity to work right after completing the program, which made my decision to become a truck driver a lot easier.
About The Author
Wayne got his start in trucking by going through the Driver Solutions company paid CDL training program back in 2012. Since then, he has traveled over 300,000 safe miles and counting! After seeing his photos and reading about his adventures, we knew we had to share them on our blog. Join Wayne on his journey for a first hand look at life on the road!