Have you been thinking about becoming a trucker? Do you wish you could, but think you can’t? If you’ve never drove a truck, it may seem like an impossible task. Trucks are so huge and drivers have to backup into tiny docks and tight places, around corners, in alleys and oftentimes right next to someone’s shiny new black Mercedes.
Many people who would otherwise love this type of job, never follow through on the training because, for one reason or another, they just feel that they can’t do it. Even if they had the training, many older or smaller men or women may feel, for example, that they are just not strong enough physically. They see drivers cranking those big handles on the side of the trailer and it looks like you have to be really strong. Or they see a trailer full of eighty-pound bags of salt and they think that they couldn’t possibly unload all of that by hand, especially if they can’t even pick up one bag. Those huge doors on the back look heavy too, and if you have never operated them, you might think you’d have to be pretty strong just to open them.
I have heard many office girls, who work at a trucking company and see the driver’s paychecks, say that they would love to make that kind of money but they could never drive a truck. Well, if you are one of those mentioned above, I have some good news for you. You don’t have to be Arnold Schwarzenegger to open those doors, or even to crank that big handle. Winona Rider could do it. However, you might have to be Arnold Schwarzenegger to unload that trailer full of eighty-pound bags. But the good news is, most companies wouldn’t even think of asking their drivers to do that. They hire “lumpers” for that. They want you to save your energy for driving.
Many companies today love to hire women. Everywhere you go, you see more and more women driving trucks. Another insurmountable task that aspiring truckers fear is the aggravation of traffic and driving all day, everyday. It is true that this can be quite aggravating at times. But, that is why they pay you the big bucks. If it was easy, anybody could do it and it wouldn’t pay very well. Every job in the world has some form of aggravation that goes with it. The least they could do is pay you for your aggravation, which trucking does. You will find ways of coping with traffic. I try to remind myself that this is part of my job and what I’m being paid for.
Sometimes I get frustrated because there are so many stupid drivers out there. I overcome that by realizing that everyone is not as smart as me. I take pride in the fact that I am one of the lucky ones who actually has a brain that works.
Another way to get through the aggravation of heavy traffic is to try to look at it as entertainment. It’s really funny sometimes – like when you see someone switching lanes twenty times, only to wind up back in the same spot he was ten minutes before. That one always cracks me up!
Last but not least, there’s the (seemingly) biggest obstacle to overcome of them all. How to get started with no experience. There are two traditional ways to get started – either work your way up or go to truck driving school. But they are by no means the only ways into this field. Creative people can always find a way.
If you want to work your way up, then you have to start small. Get a job driving a pick-up truck or a van. Work there for a few months, then get a job driving a step-van or small straight-truck. Work there for a few months, then get a job driving a bigger straight-truck or small tractor-trailer. Work there for a few months and then get a job driving a bigger truck. After a year or two, you can work your way up into a big-truck driving job, and then get an over-the-road job if you wish.
If you want to go to truck driving school, there are two ways to do that. The first way is to pay for it yourself (or get a government grant), and the second is to find a company that has their own truck driving school. If you pay for it yourself, you will find more job opportunities when you finish your studies. If you get a company to pay for you, you will have to work for them exclusively for at least a year, and usually two. If you quit before the year is over, you will have to reimburse them for the schooling.
Some companies offer tuition reimbursement- After you pay for the schooling yourself, you work for them for a certain amount of time and they will reimburse you a certain amount of what you spent on school. If you plan on paying for it yourself, make sure you attend an accredited school that has been in business for a while. There have been a few schools that have folded and the graduates from those schools are having a tough time proving that they went there.
If you want to find some companies that will pay your schooling, just go to the nearest truck stop and pick up a few of those free trucking job magazines. They are chock full of jobs and they all tell you exactly what level of experience is required.
The most important thing to remember on your quest to be a trucker, is to maintain a clean driving record. A speeding ticket can disqualify you at many companies (and speeding sixteen miles over the limit will get your CDL suspended). A drunk driving or a reckless driving ticket will also disqualify you at any trucking company and get your CDL suspended, as will tailgating within twenty feet.
Being a professional driver means not getting tickets. Always obey the law, even when nobody else is. It will also help you to do some reading on the subject. Browse the site here at Big City Driver. You will find some links to many resources as well as some useful information for beginners (as well as experienced) drivers. If you’re already a trucker, congratulations! Pass this article to someone you know who wants to become a trucker but is afraid. Help calm their fears.