How do I know if trucking is for me? For somebody considering a career in the trucking industry, this is the million dollar question. I mean, how many people have ever experienced being a truck driver or even gotten a chance to travel with one? Pretty much nobody. So how are you supposed to know if trucking is for you?
To say "try it and see" isn't realistic. You need schooling. I've heard "ride with a driver for a week and see if you like it." Oh, OK, let me reach into my pocket here and pull out that truck driver I have so I can cruise around with him for a while. Seriously, most of us do not know any truckers that will take us cruising around the country. So how do you find out if it's for you?
The best way is to talk to someone who has done it for a long time. Like me. Almost 15 years and about 1.5 million miles. I absolutely loved driving truck. Loved it. In looking back, I believe there are two main reasons I've loved it so much - because if fits my personality, and because it fits my lifestyle.
I'm going to tell you one thing right away - if you want to be successful and make really good money driving truck, it is not an easy job. The hours are very long, it takes a lot of self-discipline, and you spend the vast majority of your time alone. None of those sound too appealing to most people, and I would dare say that trucking is not for most people.
I have always been an independent, hard-working, adventurous guy. I don't like people looking over my shoulder, I don't like routines, and I love a challenge. I wanted to really see this country, and really know what it was all about. And I don't mean know it from television - I wanted to really know from experiencing it - meeting the people and seeing the places myself. And what a grand adventure truck driving is!
It's not uncommon to be in five different states in a day! It's not uncommon to speak with hundreds of new people in one day. I've left Los Angeles in the middle of the afternoon when it was 72 degrees out only to find myself way up in the mountains of Utah late that night and the temperature was 15 degrees below zero! I've seen most of the famous sites in our country and a million of 'em that nobody has ever heard of.
I've experienced so many priceless moments like watching the sunset over the mountains of Wyoming as the elk graze on the high plain. Or the sun rising over the ocean on a humid, salty-aired morning heading south along the coast of Florida as the gulls circle overhead. Moments that were priceless to me because I knew how many people were never going to see so many of the things I've gotten to see, nor enjoy their lives day to day and moment to moment the way I've gotten to enjoy mine. But see, that's just me.
When you are on the road, you're pretty much on your own. I mean, sure you can call someone with a tow-truck when you break down. And sure you can stroll into a truckstop for a meal and a conversation when you want one. But when you're lying down to catch a few hours of sleep at night and you're alone somewhere in the middle of the Nevada desert, there isn't anyone to encourage you that tomorrow will be a better day. There isn't anyone to comfort you if you're feeling a bit down. And three hours later when it's time to get up and it's still as dark as it was when you went to sleep, there isn't really anyone around that cares. And I didn't mind that a bit. But it isn't easy.
I've loved the adventure, I've loved not having a boss looking over my shoulder, and I've loved the tranquility of my home on the road. I've gotten to know this country from one end to the other, I've gotten to know myself inside and out, and I would say there are no greater blessings on Earth than to have accomplished those two things...but again, that's just me.
There are a ton of questions in the mind of anyone considering becoming a truck driver. Questions that won't be on any tests at any schools - and won't be discussed by the recruiters at any of the trucking companies. Questions that can only be answered by each individual for themselves. But the problem is that most people have no information to use for making their decision. There are tons of things that one must know about life on the road if he or she is going to make the right decision - things you may not even consider if you had never been out there. So how can you find out?
Keep reading our truck driving articles, read the free version of my book Becoming A Truck Driver: The Raw Truth About Trucking and go through our CDL Training Diaries which is a section in our forum where people document their time in training and on the road.
A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:
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