Movies like Smoky and the Bandit have glorified the trucker lifestyle, leading to grand illusions of being on over-the-road cowboy or cowgirl. While being a truck driver is an honorable, noble profession, there are many things– good and bad– every prospective trucker must know.
Time with family and friends will be limited.
Truck drivers often spend days at a time on the road. This can be hard on the trucker and his or her family. You will, more than likely, miss school plays, dance recitals, anniversaries, and many more important events. This can be emotionally taxing on you and your loved ones.
Fortunately, the advancements in technology make communicating easier. Programs like Skype and Face Time allow you to communicate “face to face.” Drivers no longer have to use truck stop phones for their nightly call home.
If you’re really interested, ask other drivers about how their families acclimated to the time apart. Talk to some other trucker’s wives, ask them how they cope having their partner gone all the time.
Most importantly, talk to your spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend or partner about their concerns. Have a game plan in place. Plan time each day to speak with one another. Talk about how you will spend your time together and make the most of your time when you are home.
Many drivers are gone up to 21 days, at a time, or more.
Ride along with a few other drivers.
Talk to a few trucking companies, tell them you are considering a career in trucking. Ask them if there are opportunities to ride along.
Remember: the ride along experience will be different from driving your own truck. Being a passenger and being a driver have different sets of stressors, but the experience should give you a better indication of the lifestyle you may have.
Please be courteous to the driver you are riding with. Do not argue with him or her, even if you really are right.
Remember: the truck is their home and you are a guest. Be helpful and polite. Be clean and respectful.
Talk to recruiters and driving schools.
Getting your CDL can be costly. Most schools cost around $4,000. Some companies will pay for your to get your CDL but will require you to sign a contract to work with them once you are finished. Do your research, ask to speak with some recent graduates of their program. Find out how many of the graduates found jobs within a few months of completion.
Remember: recruiters are trying to sell you a product– they will tell you what they think you want to hear. Ask them to show you proof, numbers or names.
Cost. How much will it cost you to be a trucker?
There are many factors to this. Many new CDL recipients think they’ll land a high paying job right away, but new drivers can expect to make around $35,000 per year.
Eating on the road can be costly. If your cab doesn’t have a microwave or any way to prepare food, you will spend a lot more money. 3 meals a day x $8.00 per meal X 21 days per month = $504 a month and that doesn’t include snacks or soft drinks.
Showers- 1 a day at $5.00 per day is an added $100 per month.
Owner-operators have far higher expenses.
Laws governing trucking get stricter and stricter each year. It can be hard to keep up. Making a mistake and violating a regulation could be costly or result in losing your CDL.
CDL Life brings your information on new regulations and how they apply to you. Be sure to check our site often.
Let’s face it, it’s not a truck friendly world. Many businesses won’t let you park your truck for the night and you will often find yourself in an area without a truck stop. If you don’t plan ahead, you may end up in a town with no where to park your truck. Plan ahead, if point A has truck parking, don’t head to point B yet.
My DAT Trucker Services is an app. that shows truckers all the parking options in the area.
Layover time, or time in between loads, can be relaxing or downright annoying. You could be sitting for days with nothing to do but wait…and you may not be paid during this time. Plan ahead, take books to read or other things to do to keep yourself busy. Take a bike or running shoes. Explore the area you’re in, you may even have to opportunity to lay on the beach for a couple of days.
While many drivers complain about their jobs, many would probably agree that they wouldn’t rather do any other job. Drivers get to see some of the coolest things. One driver said, “I saw the same shuttle take off and land, months apart and in different states.”
Being out on the open road, you’re not being micro-managed, you don’t have to sit at a cubicle , or punch the clock. Driving is not a job, it’s a lifestyle. You just need to decide if it’s the lifestyle for you.