There are as many reasons for becoming a truck driver as there are drivers. It's financial, or it's personal, or it's whimsical and nostalgic, or it's desperation or any and all of those things. The most important thing, regardless of reason, is understanding just what it is that you're getting in to.
Drivers get into trucking from every walk of life imaginable, from fresh-out-of-high-school kids, to older retirees entering their 2nd or 3rd or 4th career. The barrier to entry for truck driving is the same for everyone, no matter the age or former careers or educational backgrounds.
As the average age of truck drivers in the U.S. is almost 50 years old, many drivers have started their careers after moving on from old ones and come from every type of background imaginable.
Many of the old stereotypes of truck drivers also persist, and unfortunately some of that holds true for the attitude, appearance, and actions of many current drivers.
It's not uncommon for people to change careers several times during their lives, as the era of retiring from your first job after high school is long past. Many people who have retired from their careers in their 50's and 60's have entered trucking as a second career, a supplement to their income, or as a way to travel the country while still earning.
Truck driving is a career like no other, and takes an exceptional amount of patience, perseverance, and hard work, but for the right person, provides an exciting and rewarding career. More than just a paycheck, it requires embracing a whole new "lifestyle" in order to be successful.
While most of your time on the road will be spoken for, successful and experienced drivers will learn how to manage their time to find ways to get out and actually see this great country in a more tourist-y fashion. Especially in this digital age, drivers should have no problem finding things to occupy what little time they have left over.
As a driver, you will still have incredible amounts of responsibility, and your movements will still be tracked and dictated by whatever company you are working for. That said, you will still be the captain of your own ship, and the "how's" of doing your job will be largely left up to you and your experience, on the road alone.
If you look at truck driving as simply a "job" that you can check-in and check-out of, and compare it to 9-5 hourly wage jobs, then no, you probably won't enjoy it, or be successful at it.
The more that you understand that trucking is a "lifestyle", and something that you "live", rather than just "do", the more you will be able to embrace it as a rewarding career, or realize that it just isn't right for you. It isn't right for everyone, and there is never any shame in admitting that.
The short answer is "No", you probably won't get rich as a truck driver. However, drivers who run hard and run smart can do very well financially in this industry.
First year drivers can expect to make between $35-40,000, the average salary industry-wide was around $42,000 in 2014, and top earners can pull in $80-100,000. For instance WalMart, whose driving jobs are among the most sought-after in the industry, starts its drivers at around $82,000 annually.
If you are unprepared to work hard, listen more than you talk, and treat truck driving as a "lifestyle" rather than a job, then trucking is going to give you a hard time.
Successful and fulfilled drivers realize that most aspects of the truck driver's day-to-day are the responsibility of the driver himself. Learning to plan ahead, anticipating when things could go wrong, making sure they get fixed, and having the patience and flexibility to adjust to things going wrong, are all part of the learning process of a successful driver.
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