"Driver's ABC's -
Surviving the First Year".
Deciding to make a major career
decision is obviously difficult. Too bad there isn't a way to make
it an easier one. This site probably won't make up your mind -- but
will hopefully provide you with far more information than you might have
had otherwise so that you can make an informed choice.
What's this trucking life like?
Trucking is unlike any other profession... One day it's the greatest job
on the planet and the next can be the toughest day you've ever had.
(For a more or less typical look at "A Day in the Life" of a Driver, you
may enjoy reading "A
Everything changes - there are
few, if any, constants. This makes trucking a job that doesn't
easily become boring -- but on the other hand, even good change does
produce stress. Bad change simply generates a lot of stress!
If you're "stuck" in a job that bores you to death, that makes you feel
"tied down", that you dread going to every single day, trucking could be a
very liberating and exciting choice for you. If you're into
stability and like a set and predictable schedule (say you have pottery
class on Thursday night at 7:00, you meet the boys at the bar on Mondays
for football, etc) you may be disappointed when your activities become cut
back or eliminated altogether because you can't make it home.
What a difference a few years
make. At least now -- in the virtual 2000's, you can find out so
much information online, in the comfort of home. You can do many of
your job applications right on the Internet. You can get an idea
what people are saying about different carriers through Online Forums and
message boards. This should be your starting point. Learn all
you can about the opportunities available to you. Since the CDL came
into effect, the number of available drivers compared to the number of
trucks on the road has lessened -- resulting in a huge demand for drivers.
Carriers that never would have
accepted a trainee are now doing so -- some are finding they just can't
get enough drivers if they don't. Carriers that used to demand a
driver stay gone from home for several weeks on end have shortened those
requirements -- making their companies more attractive. More and
more local jobs are popping up for new drivers, as well as regional and
dedicated fleets. Yet other companies are coming up with strategies
like "truck sharing" to get as many as possible in a truck if those
people are good, qualified, well-trained drivers.
With some work on your part to
do the required homework and research, there's few reasons why you can't
find a job that "fits" in the trucking industry. This site will help
you in this regard. The more informed you are about what you're
getting into, the better choice you'll make. If you enter this
industry blind, you may be shocked and disappointed when it doesn't
conform to the wandering cowboy image that it's often portrayed as being
in the movies.
The truth is, the
transportation industry can be a downright tough and cruel place... cut
throat. It's all about money -- underbidding other companies, the
games played to get drivers, the games played to keep drivers. It's
about schedules and loads and who can haul the most. The shipper
does not care one iota that you have a family at home. Mother Nature
will not stop her terrible temper tantrums because your child has a
birthday. The receiver does not take your load off of the trailer
any faster because there's a semi-emergency at home. It's about
freight. Moving it, loading it, unloading it, making the dough.
This may seem extreme - even overstated - but allow me to assure you, it's
the absolute truth.
You can still be happy &
content as a driver even as these little games are playing out around you.
Do you punch a time clock? No more of that crap. Have you
worked the same schedule for years on end? That's gone, too.
When's the last time you took an afternoon nap? I'll bet it's been
awhile. What did you think of the last time you saw the mountains at
sunrise or sunset? Maybe you've never seen that. Chances are
good you will as a driver. The changing of the fall colors in New
England is a sight no one should miss. Even the big cities can be
beautiful, even if they aren't always fun to drive in. There are
definite positives -- as well as negatives -- that can be said for a
career in trucking.
So, what now? I might
suggest that you start by researching carriers. Do this before you
research schools. You may find a carrier that offers a tuition
reimbursement program - but only through one school. You may find
the carrier you decide you like only accepts trainees from accredited
schools. With the huge number of carriers that are online, this
research is time consuming, but easy.