The Complete Guide To A Career In Trucking

What is the lifestyle of a trucker really like?

flatbed truck driver folding up his tarp in the winter

Most experienced drivers will refer to truck driving not as a job, but as a "lifestyle". Your responsibilities go so much further than just holding the wheel and shifting gears and, especially for over-the-road drivers, trucking is not a switch that you just turn off at the end of the day. Dozens of different pieces have to fall into place for you to be successful, and you have to deal with weather, traffic, dispatch, the DOT, safety, life on the road, etc., etc, and it ALL falls on you, the driver, to get the job done safely and efficiently.

Even for local and regional drivers who are home more often, truck driving is still nothing like a typical 9-5 job at which you punch a clock twice a day at the same time. Long hours and sometimes-frustrating circumstances are the norm, and combined with the ever-present safety concerns and danger of the job in general.

What is the lifestyle REALLY like??

Living in your truck:

New solo drivers, and drivers in company team-training, will generally be starting off over-the-road, which means that you will be living in your truck, and driving your home around the country. This can take some getting used to.

Trucker Josh Hits The Road

Trucker Josh talks about the lifestyle of an OTR trucker

The solitude of life on the road:

Most people are living lives that don't quite prepare them for the solitude of truck driving. Granted, today's global communications environment goes a long way to alleviate the loneliness, but it's certainly no substitute.

OTR drivers can go long stretches of time without interacting with other humans in any meaningful way. Some love it, some hate it, and many don't figure out which until they're actually out there on their own.

Driver scrutiny and regulation enforcement:

As a truck driver, or even a potential driver, you can expect a great deal of scrutiny and intrusion as a part of the process, both before and during. Background checks, employment histories, drug checks, criminal histories are all going to be part of becoming a trucker.

Truck drivers are also held to a multitude of regulatory standards, especially when it comes to the hours-of-service (HOS) and drug/alcohol policies and testing.

How much money do truck drivers really make?

Rookie drivers will usually make $35-40k their first year, average salary is around $42k, and driver salary tops out somewhere around 100k. Experienced drivers who are skilled at time management and handling obstacles can make a very good salary, and it's not uncommon at all for good drivers to pull in $50,000+ annually.

Keeping in mind that driver pay depends on many factors, including experience, location, and personal limitations (i.e. family).

How will I be affected by traffic as a truck driver?

Safely assuming that you've had some experience driving in situations in which there were other cars around, you know that traffic can get crazy and congested seemingly out of nowhere, and your stopping time in a big rig is much, much greater than that of a 4-wheeler.

It takes generous amounts of both skill and patience to navigate a 75-foot vehicle in and out of mild traffic, not to mention heavy, slow, or heavy and fast, rush hour traffic. Being on the road so much, you will see other drivers doing stupid things on a regular basis, and will need to pay attention on a much higher level to avoid disaster.

Is truck driving a dangerous occupation to get into?

Unfortunately, as a percentage, truck drivers are killed on the job at a higher rate than most all other occupations. Although truck accidents, along with fatalities, have been on the decline, trucking still ranks near or at the top as far as dangerous jobs go.

Is there a lot of waiting around in trucking? Where do I get the patience for it?

Oh boy, are you going to do some waiting around. You're going to wait to get loaded. You're going to wait in traffic. You're going to wait to get unloaded. And you're going to have to learn to manage your hours so that you are available to drive whenever you are done waiting.

Along with the patience for waiting (which is only, by definition, doing nothing until it is time to do something), your limits of patience are going to be tested every day. Nothing is ever going to go 100% as planned, and you need to be ready to adapt and roll with it. Remember that stress plays a big part in many cases of high blood pressure. Stress hates you, and can literally kill you.

Why Join Trucking Truth?

We have an awesome set of tools that will help you understand the trucking industry and prepare for a great start to your trucking career. Not only that, but everything we offer here at TruckingTruth is 100% free - no strings attached! Sign up now and get instant access to our member's section:
High Road Training Program Logo
  • The High Road Training Program
  • The High Road Article Series
  • The Friendliest Trucker's Forum Ever!
  • Email Updates When New Articles Are Posted

Apply For Paid CDL Training Through TruckingTruth

Did you know you can fill out one quick form here on TruckingTruth and apply to several companies at once for paid CDL training? Seriously! The application only takes one minute. You will speak with recruiters today. There is no obligation whatsoever. Learn more and apply here:

Apply For Paid CDL Training