Trucking can be a great career! That’s especially true if you’re someone who loves hitting the road. But that doesn’t mean trucking is automatically the right career for you.
Here are seven things you’ll want to think about before you decide to become a truck driver.
Know the Rules and Regulations for Truck Drivers
As is the case with any industry, there are plenty of rules to follow. Especially in an industry like trucking where catastrophic injuries and even loss of life are possible.
Take the time to research the essential regulations governing commercial trucks before you take the plunge and become a truck driver. For example, there are rules and regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that regulate things like:
- Hours of service for truck drivers, which include regulations on breaks
- The inspection, repairs, and maintenance of trailers
- Regular drug and alcohol testing for drivers
- Truck driver qualifications, like age, training, and driving history
- Qualifying insurance coverage
- And more
You may determine that trucking may or may not be the right career option for you after doing your research. For example, if you have a history of drunk driving, you may find the trucking industry too difficult, so you may want to pursue a different path.
Know What Kind of Training You Need
A truck isn’t just a truck. There are different types of trucks that require different kinds of qualifications.
- Class A vehicles with a combined weight of over 26,000 pounds that pull other vehicles, like tow trucks
- Class B vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds, but aren’t pulling other vehicles
- Class C vehicles that carry hazardous materials or more than 16 passengers
You can also receive CDL endorsements that enable you to haul different kinds of loads. For example, you could get an N endorsement that enables you to drive tank vehicles, or an H endorsement that enables you to transport hazardous materials.
After you determine the type of driving you want to do, you can seek out the proper training.
Take the Stresses of This Career Seriously
Most truckers have at least one thing in common—a love of driving. However, just because you like to drive doesn’t mean driving a truck isn’t stressful.
The act of driving can be detrimental to your health. Just driving a vehicle elicits an acute stress response, especially when it comes to extended driving hours. Even if you like driving, you will likely still find driving a truck to be stressful.
There are other stressors you should be aware of too. You’ll experience stress when you’re stuck in traffic, if you get lost making a delivery, or you struggle to back into an exceptionally small spot. Thinking through these stressors will help you decide if trucking really is the right choice for you.
Consider the Impact of Being Away From Home
One of the biggest stressors associated with driving a truck is being away from home for long periods of time. It is uncommon to spend more time on the road than you do at home.
That’s not such a big deal if you’re just getting started and you live alone, but if you plan to make trucking a long-term career, you’ll eventually have to deal with being away from loved ones. Spouses who take on all the duties at home can become resentful, and it can be especially difficult to be away from children.
Being a trucker means you’ll have to work on emotional and moral support more in your interpersonal relationships than workers in some other industries.
Truckers make a decent income, but it’s important to note that you probably aren’t going to get rich driving a truck. Especially when you factor in all the things you have to pay for as a truck driver. From repairs as an owner-operator to paying for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the road, costs can add up fast.
If increasing your income is something you’re interested in doing over time, look into ways you can advance in the trucking industry and see how well they pay. That way, you have a plan in place when you’re ready to raise your income.
Prepare For Change With Self-Driving Technology
Don’t automatically give up on a trucking career just because self-driving technology is the future. It turns out that future is farther off than you probably think.
There are a ton of things that have to fall into place in order for completely autonomous trucks to hit the road. It requires a costly infrastructure that just isn’t feasible to build from scratch anytime soon.
Questions like how driverless trucks will be able to set up reflective triangles when pulled over on the side of the road or what the vehicle will do in case of a blown tire make it even more difficult for trucks to go driverless.
Trucks will need drivers for some time, but you do have to be prepared to roll with the punches. How you drive a truck may change over time as different technologies are rolled out.
Take the Time to Think About What You Would Like About Trucking Too
It’s easy to focus on all the negative things when you’re weighing which career is right for you, but don’t forget to think about the positive things too!
There are plenty of good things the trucking world has to offer its drivers. You get to explore the country and meet new people. It’s also a great career choice for those who want to be more autonomous and don’t want to spend their life under the glare of office lights.
You should never jump into any career without thinking about it carefully first. That’s especially true when it comes to driving a truck. When you take the time to think about the items on this list, you can increase your chances of making the right choice for you.