Driving a truck, whether over-the-road or local, is a career that offers good pay, independence, and a chance to see parts of the country you might otherwise miss. But this career has its drawbacks as well -- long hours, time away from family and friends, and tight time restrictions that can become stressful. It's not a job that just anyone can take on and turn into a successful career, but for the right individual, it can be a dream come true. If you're thinking of pursuing a career as a professional truck driver, there are several steps you can take to help increase your chances of success:
Go to School
If you're on the fence about whether to pursue formal schooling at a truck-driving academy or just try to go it alone on the driving skills you already have, opt for the former. According to CNN Money, companies who hire truck drivers are becoming increasingly picky about their training. It's a big responsibility to maneuver a large rig up and down America's interstate highways, and no company wants to end up in the hot seat over an accident caused by an inexperienced driver.
With about an 8-week investment and around $6,000, you can take the training courses necessary to make you an expert driver. This will buy you the certifications you need to work for most major trucking companies, as long as you pass the test, and it will get your trucking career started off on the right foot.
Understand What's Involved
Taking a truck-driving position with most companies means a lot of time away from home. Even local routes are often overnight hauls that leave you sleeping either inside the cab of your truck or in a lonely motel in a strange town. If you're a devout family man who hates being away from home for long periods of time, you might want to reconsider a career as a truck driver. But if you've examined the requirements and still wish to give it a go, you might search for local vending routes that take you around the city and bring you home again each night.
Give Yourself Time to Adjust
After you've obtained work in the field, give yourself a period of adjustment to decide whether this is a career choice that you can happily live with. Trucking isn't for everyone, but for those who enjoy driving America's highways, who love a challenge, and who enjoy visiting new towns and seeing new things, it can be a solid fit. But you won't know this right away. Give yourself time to experience both the best and worst of what the industry has to offer before making a solid decision.
Consider Becoming an Owner/Operator
Once you have a bit of driving experience under your belt, and you realize that you genuinely enjoy your trucking career, you might want to consider becoming an owner-operator. This is a trucker who owns his own rig and is usually an independent contractor. While you'll have more responsibility for locating jobs, the independence you'll experience when you work for yourself is hard to beat. And while the cost of buying a rig outright can be daunting, if you purchase a used semi truck, you'll take a much smaller hit to your wallet. Companies who offer commercial trucks for sale are good resources for someone looking to become an owner/operator for the first time. Used trucks are cheaper and just as durable as brand-new versions for a much smaller price.
Truck drivers are essential components of life in America, without them, no goods would be delivered, and the free market would shut completely down. There's a lot of responsibility riding on the shoulders of someone who drives a truck for a living. If you think you have what it takes, don't hesitate to give it your best shot.