Driving a semi-truck for a living is unlike any other profession. A trucker’s workspace is a small moving office that sits on ten or more wheels and doubles as a bedroom. The first step to become a truck driver isn’t getting your license or getting hired by a big trucking company. The first and most important step is to decide that this is the career for you.
Trucking is More Than a Job; It’s a Lifestyle.
Long-haul truck drivers, also called over-the-road drivers, are typically away from home for several weeks at a time. Truckers eat and shower on the road. They must be comfortable sleeping in the cab directly behind the driver’s seat and using public facilities for restrooms and showers.
Even local drivers, spend most of their time alone in a confined space. Compared with other jobs, the biggest challenge for people that want to become a truck driver is the lifestyle.
What’s the Weekly Schedule?
The average day for a truck driver consists of driving for 11 hours and being on-duty for an additional 3 hours. When you’re not driving, your on-duty time is spent loading or unloading the truck. Each 14-hour day is structured in this manner by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, or FMCSA, to optimize safety standards. The regulation is referred to as a trucker’s Hours of Service (HOS).
The regulation mandates that a trucker needs to take a break after driving for 60 hours during a seven-day workweek.
If a driver needs to continue driving for whatever reason, they are allowed by law to drive up to an additional 10 hours on the eighth day.
This means you can work 60 hours for a seven-day week or 70 hours for an eight-day week. After that, you must take a 34-hour reset. No driving!
Why do we bring up the Hours of Service? Because driving a truck gives you a tough schedule.
You should consider the 60 and 70-hour work weeks before signing up to become a truck driver. Nine-to-fivers need not apply.
Decide if the Money Is Worth It.
Truck drivers receive good pay for the demanding work and long hours. With the right CDL endorsements, the right routes, and the right freight, a trucker can earn close to six figures easily.
Getting the best freight and the best routes does take experience. You don’t start out with the highest-paying loads. And you’ll never get to the best pay if you can’t stand the truck driver lifestyle.
Check out the following list of potential issues and then balance that with the salary you want:
- How important is it to have a presence at home?
- Will you have difficulty maintaining relationships with family, loved ones, and/or children?
- Can you sit for long periods of time?
- Are you comfortable spending days alone?
- Are you okay traveling all the time?
We’ve actually written a complete guide “WILL I BE SUCCESSFUL?” to help you decide if this is the job for you.
Understand the Job, Then Make Your Decision.
Rookie drivers that don’t mind any of the above issues may find that driving a truck suits them perfectly.
Professional truckers typically report that they love the job because it matches their personality and preferences. But you have to know what to anticipate if you want to transition smoothly into the truck driver lifestyle.
Make sure you understand your own needs and the needs of the job. Take the time to discuss these difficulties with your family and friends. And give it extra consideration if you’re raising a child.
After sharing your concerns with family, talk to truck drivers about their experiences on the road. Find a truck stop and treat them to a cup of coffee and a donut. Usually, drivers are pretty friendly and enjoy chatting with complete strangers if they have the time.
Once you have carefully considered the lifestyle and made your decision to become a truck driver, then you deserve congratulations. You have already taken the biggest step.
Next, move onto Step Two to learn if you fit the requirements to get your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).