Trucking is one of the most reliable careers available in developed countries. There are more than 2 million trucking jobs currently available, and ground transportation is something required by a large number of industries. Developing a career as a trucker could set you up for many years, or even a lifetime of stable earnings—and you’ll get to see many new places as well.
However, if you want to get the most out of your trucking career, there are some important tips you’ll need to follow.
Tips for Pursuing a Trucking Career
These tips can help you get more out of your trucking career—especially if you’re new to the field.
- Know your motivations. Before you decide to become a trucker, work to understand your own motivations. There are many good reasons to get into trucking, but trucking means different things for different people. For example, do you enjoy driving or do you love the idea of being behind the wheel of a big rig? Do you like the idea of a stable, consistent income? Are you interested in traveling around the country? These motivations can dictate your career choices once you get started as a trucker.
- Talk to truckers. It’s also a good idea to spend some time talking to truckers before you make your final decision. What do they see as the strengths and weaknesses of the job? What do they think is important to understand before you pursue the career? What do they wish they’d known when they started? You’ll find valuable insights and good advice here.
- Understand local laws and licensing requirements. Next, spend some time working to understand local laws and licensing requirements. In different states and in different countries, you’re going to deal with very different regulations for trucks and truck drivers. For example, do you need to have a special license to operate a commercial vehicle? Will you face strict requirements on size or seating capacity?
- Buy or lease the right vehicle. You’ll spend most of your time in a truck, so it’s important to buy or lease the right vehicle. Review your options carefully, choose the vehicle best suited for your goals, and shop around to find better terms for your lease.
- Be ready to keep hours. Most trucking jobs require you to keep strict logs, including your number of hours spent driving, your breaks, and the number of miles you’ve driven. You need to be prepared to keep these consistent records if you’re going to be successful.
- Prioritize your safety. As a trucker, you’re required by law (and likely by your employer) to follow strict safety regulations. Even if these weren’t requirements, you’d be well advised to follow them. Following safety rules will keep you safer and make the road safer for others as well. Always pay attention to your surroundings, be cautious when driving in bad weather, and never drive when you’re tired or unable to operate the vehicle reliably.
- Consider your options. Truck drivers have several options for how to pursue a career. You might choose to work directly for an employer, or become an independent contractor and take on gigs independently. You might educate yourself and seek a job afterward, or work with an employer to get schooling and get placed in a job. Review your options carefully.
- Consider your flexibility. How flexible are you going to be? Some truckers spend weeks on the road at a time, visiting various destinations and fulfilling many jobs. If you plan on having a family, this may not be ideal. Of course, you could also try to pick up more short-term and local contracts, enabling you to have more personal freedom.
- Get some practice. Before committing to becoming a truck driver, make sure you get some practice behind the wheel of a truck. This isn’t a job for everyone; some people find it very uncomfortable to sit for long periods of time, or to operate such heavy equipment. You’ll only know for sure when you get some experience.
- Have a backup plan. Finally, have a backup plan. Trucking is a stable career, but you’re not guaranteed a job (or guaranteed to keep yours forever). Have a plan in place in case things don’t pan out the way you think.
Planning for the Future
The long-term prospects for truckers are promising, but it’s still important to plan for your future. If your employer offers a retirement plan like a 401(k), make sure to take advantage of it. If not, be sure to set aside savings for your retirement independently. Additionally, make sure you set and regularly reevaluate your long-term goals; like in any field, you’ll advance more consistently if you have a long-term plan in place.