Becoming a Truck Driver: 5 Career Paths to Pursue
December 8, 2022 • 5 min read
Most businesses in the United States rely on truck driver services. Truck drivers are trained professionals who transport goods between states and even countries. And while it may seem like a straightforward job, there’s plenty you should know before taking on this career.
We’ll cover the basics of the job in the U.S. and explore five career paths in the trucking industry. Read on if you think you have what it takes and want to learn more about the role.
Most newcomers assume that a truck driver’s job is delivering goods between points A and B. Although this is one of their primary responsibilities, they also take on other important roles. Truck drivers inspect their vehicles before each shipment, perform preventative maintenance, plan routes, and coordinate with dispatchers and company owners.
If you meet the requirements, you can become a truck driver in the technical sense. However, this isn’t a job for everyone. You must have patience and work alone most of the time. Truck drivers also face numerous challenges on the job. They work long hours, usually more than the standard 40 a week.
Before you start with the process of becoming one, ask a current truck driver what it is like on the road. They may give you essential insight into the job’s pros and cons that you may not have thought about before.
Truck drivers make a high income, which is one of the main reasons people apply for their CDL yearly. The average truck driver makes $62,021 in the United States, averaging $31.81 an hour. The salary depends on multiple factors, such as whether you work in a company or own your vehicle. Some drivers receive payment per mile, and others make an hourly wage.
Delaware truck drivers make the highest earnings in the country, at up to $70,901 a year. Hawaii is the state with the lowest truck driver wages, at $44,475 a year. However, even the lowest earners make more than many professionals in other industries. The more experience you have, the higher your wage becomes. Most trucking companies are willing to pay top dollar for reliable drivers due to countrywide shortages and the high turnover rate of this career.
Being a truck driver is quite stressful and comes with many responsibilities. Unfortunately, due to the nature of this job, not many people make it a lifelong career. Some of the cons of becoming a truck driver include the following:
- Long hours that extend over 40 hours a week
- It is a solitary job that involves limited human contact
- Strict deadlines and constant driving make it a stressful job
- Truck drivers are more likely to get into accidents due to the nature of their field
- Spending long hours away from home puts stress on marriages and families
- Truck drivers suffer from chronic sleep problems
- Since truck drivers must stay awake and alert, they are more likely to engage in substance abuse
- Bad weather and road conditions lead to delays, costing them money
- It isn’t easy to maintain personal hygiene when you are consistently on the go
- Truck drivers usually don’t have healthy diets due to the nature of staying on the road
- Maintaining good physical health and exercise habits is challenging with no consistent routine
- It is hard to find a safe place to sleep
If you are thinking of becoming a truck driver, keep these points in mind to determine if this is a suitable job for you.
Fortunately, not every aspect of this job is doom and gloom. Many people stay in this career for a lifetime and manage to build a great life from their work. Truck drivers make good money that leads to a comfortable financial life.
Moreover, this job allows for independence, especially if you own the vehicle and don’t work for a company.
Truck drivers see many places others do not, especially since they are always on the road. This flexibility allows them to see new cities and beautiful natural sites and discover places they otherwise would never visit. And because this job is so unique, you’ll make friends with other truck drivers along the way who share your experiences.
You do not need a college degree to start working as a truck driver. However, you must have a high school diploma or a GED to apply for a Commercial Driving License or CDL. Moreover, to work in the United States, you need to speak and read English at an acceptable level.
Getting a CDL license is not difficult, but you must go through training and meet the minimum federal requirements to start. Here is a list of the criteria:
- Pass a background check
- Be at least 18 years old if you plan to drive within your state
- Be at least 21 years old if you will move between state lines
- Must be a U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident
- You must have a non-commercial driving license before applying for the CDL
- Have at least two years of driving experience (in some states, you need one year)
- Pass a road skills test
- Complete driver training from an FMCSA provider if you want a Class A or Class B CDL
- Take a written exam
- Take a DOT-approved physical and maintain your medical card
- Complete a CDL training course
Many companies offer truck driver training and help you complete all your CDL requirements. Although you may know how to drive a car, it is essential to train using a truck. This practice allows you to understand how to properly maneuver the vehicle and maintain it if something happens while you are on the road.
One asset you have when you become a truck driver is your Commercial Driving License. You can use it to choose multiple career options, such as:
An Owner-Operator is a truck driver who owns their vehicle and equipment. This career allows for much independence and flexibility because you choose your clients and hours of operation while managing your work independently. You can work alone or open a business with other truck drivers, making for a lucrative career opportunity.
If you have the experience or interest in this position but don’t want to spend long hours on the road, you can become a supervisor. As a supervisor, you can oversee the operations of a truck fleet, manage or create schedules, train new drivers, and coordinate deliveries.
You can become a bus driver using your CDL if you want human interaction. Bus drivers have steadier work hours, consistent routes, and interact with their passengers instead of working alone.
Some people specialize in moving specific types of cargo. For example, you can handle auto deliveries, food delivery, or construction materials. Specialty drivers have trucks equipped to handle the unique products they move. A good industry reputation allows you to charge more per haul.
Dispatchers are vital to the trucking industry. These professionals coordinate routes with drivers, inform them about traffic delays and weather changes and help manage delivery issues. Depending on your chosen company, it can be a fast-paced job involving much communication or a more laid-back one with minimal effort.
Fortunately, truck drivers are in high demand. If you want to start work as a truck driver and have your CDL license ready, you can use your search engine to find jobs near you. However, remember that you still need a proper resume to apply for these jobs.
Rocket Resume lets you create a custom truck driver resume in minutes. All you have to do is choose a format and input your information. You’ll have a professional resume that you can use to apply to any truck driving position that suits your lifestyle.
Are you ready to take on the responsibilities of becoming a truck driver? Visit Rocket Resume today to get a professional truck driver’s CV in minutes without the hassle.