By Dana Smith
So you’ve decided to become a commercial truck driver. How is that done these days? No matter what industry you work in, training and skill level play a key role in your success. Back in the day a person could take a driving test, get their commercial license, and start driving immediately.
Over the years trucking has evolved with new rules, training, technology, and equipment. Customers have evolved as well with different needs and wants, some having very specific requirements. We have also seen the shift to more home deliveries from increased online sales and faster shipping times, as people were staying more at home and shopping online due to the pandemic rules of self-isolation.
Some have said that being a professional driver is not a skill, that anyone can do it. Not only is it a skill, not everyone can and wants to do it. There are many challenges that come with being a professional driver such as driving for long periods of time, being away from family, and unhealthy habits on the road. There are also many rewards too, such as getting paid to see the country and travelling; operating heavy equipment, meeting lots of new people, job security, freedom and flexibility, and steady pay.
Is there a need for truck drivers? Most would say “yes”. According to reports by Trucking HR Canada, Canada will have a shortage of 25,000 truck drivers by 2023. T0hat being said, it appears there’s a substantial need for new professional drivers.
Now that we’ve identified the need for professional drivers, what’s the next step? Figuring out what you need to get started in the industry. Trucking is like most careers, with a few things to consider before getting behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound rig.
You have all heard the saying, “Pay me now or pay me later.” Jumping into a career before you do your research can lead to many problems, including stress, short-term careers, unhappiness, relationship issues, financial hardships, job jumping, and many more. We are all gifted at something, and that something may-or-may not be driving a truck.
Trucking is a lifestyle. It can be an exciting one for many people. Using a checklist to figure out if trucking is right for you is a great way to determine if you should jump in with both feet or not. Doing it for the love of it, is always the best way for a rewarding, fulfilling career.
Ask yourself these questions before you start:
- Do you like to drive? This is an important one for obvious reasons, as the job entails driving for long periods of time.
- Are you ok with being away from home for one-to-two weeks at a time or more? The job you get may require you to be on the road for extended periods of time, away from family.
- Do you like being alone? The job requires a lot of alone time in your treuck.
- Do you like change? There is a saying in the industry that “trucking changes every five minutes.” One minute you’re going one way, and the next you’re going another. If you’re not a fan of change you might want to rethink this.
- How will it affect your home life? Talk to your partner, and/or your family, and make the decision together, so that you both are aware of what you are going to be doing, and how it will affect your day-to-day life.
Make sure you’re willing to do the required work and live the lifestyle before you commit to a career in trucking. As a 30-year veteran, I can honestly say that I love the industry, and would encourage anyone to give it a try.
If you have decided to jump in, then you will need some training. Truck training schools are the first place to look. Find one that is licensed, and can provide you with the training you need to get started. There are many out there, but be aware of choosing the right one for you. Do your research.
Many truck training schools offer internships after the initial training is done. This means that once you receive your license, you will then go to a company and drive with a certified coach for a period of time. A coach is an over-the-road experienced driver that will be in the truck with you while you are learning the ropes. This has many obvious benefits. Once you have fulfilled the internship training, it is very possible to receive a job out of it, with that particular company.
Of course, the requirements for being a licensed truck driver vary depending on the province or state that you are applying in. You may-or-may not need a medical/physical, and depending on your health, may-or –may not qualify to drive a commercial vehicle. Most companies require a criminal search, and a driver’s abstract as well.
The end result can be a game changer. Doing your research and asking the appropriate questions can be the difference of “paying me now, or paying me later” in many different positive and/or negative ways. If you are considering a career in trucking and aren’t sure where to start, contact themindfultrucker.com, and we will put you in touch with the right people.
Keep on trucking.