When I started in this industry over 25 years ago, things were different… but it’s absolutely better.”
As the trucking industry continues to grow and change, there are a number of things new truckers can do to continue driving towards success. We recently interviewed a few current drivers and drivers who have been promoted to other roles to find out what advice they would give drivers starting out in the industry today. With a few interviewees being professional drivers for upwards of 30 years, these drivers have experienced the industry first hand. So what would they tell the newcomers looking to start their career?
Find a Carrier that Continues to Grow
In my 25+ years, I have never been laid off or had to worry about finding work.”
The trucking industry continues to grow with a projected 21% growth by 20221. With as many as 115,000 truck driver job openings by 2016, it may be difficult to find the right company to drive for. Keep an eye out for a carrier that consistently grows. This will help ensure job security and that there will always be plenty of work available. Aside from consistent work, growing carriers may also offer opportunities for advancement. For example, truck drivers can go on to become trainers where they can advise and mentor others on how to improve their skills.
Unexpected things will occur… you’ll have good and bad days but that’s with any job. Keep calm and adjust.”
One thing all of our interviewees stressed was patience. Just like any job, you can’t expect to immediately reap all the benefits that driving has to offer. Take your time with your education and training. By learning as much as possible, you will be a stronger driver and employee. You will also be more prepared for whatever can occur on the road. Some employers may offer training programs which can take anywhere from eight weeks to six months to complete. In addition to training, a wealth of knowledge can be found from other drivers and coworkers. Seek out individuals that are able to help you and listen to the more experienced drivers. There will be some days where things are hard, weather and road conditions won’t always be in your favor, but having the right training will make these days easier.
Know What Kind of Schedule Best Fits You
When you are a part of a 24/7 operation there are a variety of shifts available. “
There are many options for drivers. If you choose to drive for longer hauls, you may be away for days at a time. If you drive for a dedicated operation, you may be home daily, but may need to work over night. There are countless scenarios, but each comes with their own pros and cons. Know what kind of operation you’d like to drive for and set expectations with your family as well as yourself.
Always Continue Learning
Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions.”
Preparation can come in many forms. Finishing schooling, earning your CDL, and beginning the job search process are all part of preparation for your career. Again, try to learn as much as you can about the different aspects of the job. Knowing what to expect when you load and unload in different scenarios will help. Aside from knowing the routes inside and out, it’s important to know actual tractors inside and out. One of our interviewees even suggested mastering how to drive in different trucks like a standard transmission. Having the knowledge of both the trucks and different type of trucking routes will make you a valuable employee.
Mental and Physical Preparedness
Take time to continue to improve your health.”
Aside from preparing with certification, it’s also important to be prepared mentally and physically. At times, the job can be physically demanding. There may be instances when you may have to unload pallets and other heavier goods. There will be some instances where you are sitting and driving a majority of your day so it’s important to stretch and exercise when you can. Mentally, you have to prepare yourself to understand the process and know about the different routes you could possibly take on your career path as well as what comes with each decision.
If you can learn to adapt to [different situations] then you will prosper.”
One of the greatest pieces of advice we received was to just stay positive. It’s important to not only stay positive, but show it. Present yourself to others in a positive way; greet them and always keep your head above negativity. Our interviewees continue to complement their coworkers on just being overall great people.
As the trucking industry continues to grow and demand for new drivers reflects that, we hope that drivers will feel like they can find other drivers to mentor them. It was clear that as long as you put in the work, you’ll see the benefits and continue to grow.