You’ve completed the training and you’re ready to trade the classroom for the open road as an entry-level truck driver. Congrats! While classroom training can help you pass your CDL exam and get a feel for the truck and how it operates, there’s more to the day-to-day life of a truck driver.
One advantage of CDL training is how quickly you can complete it and get on the road, but that speed means some of the day-to-day aspects of the job are left for you to discover on your own. We’ve put together this piece to help bridge that gap and give you an idea of what your first year or so as a truck driver will be like.
Starting With OTR Routes
Whether starting with a small company or a massive trucking operation, the vast majority of entry-level truck drivers will start with over the road routes. These routes can take you all over the country keeping you in your truck for days or weeks at a time. Because many drivers get into this field for the ability to travel, this can be a good thing. Also, this level of exposure to the truck and the job can help flatten the learning curve that comes with a career in trucking. Early career drivers will need to make sure they keep their bodies in the same kind of shape as their trucks. A broken down truck driver from too much fast food and not enough exercise is just as bad as a broken down truck.
Solitude is another factor early career truck drivers will need to deal with. Students coming directly from CDL training or those coming from other careers will likely have spent a lot of time recently with fellow students or co-workers. There may be times such as picking up and dropping off cargo where you get to see other people, but most hours in your truck will be spent alone. Many truck drivers like this aspect of the job. On the trucking blog Trucking Truth, a poster by the name TruckerMike had this to say about the solitude of the job: “I much prefer being alone for 23 hours out of everyday than having to work with others all day long. My last job was nothing but dealing with co-workers and talking on the phone to customers all day everyday. I never have a desire to go back to that again.”
As a driver advances in their trucking career, there are opportunities to work more directly with other people. There are opportunities such as team driving experiences, but it will be in every driver’s best interest to get used to being by themselves.
Money, Money, Money (Eventually)
While your entry-level years on the job may not reflect your eventual pay, with experience, you'll find that you can earn a great living while doing what you love. With time your salary can reflect the national average. In 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that truck drivers in the U.S earned an average of $50,340. The top 10% of drivers ended up earning $72,730.
Keeping expenses low the first year or so of your career will also be important. You won’t be in your prime earning years yet, and life on the road can get expensive if you don’t manage your spending.
A career in trucking is different from just about any other career. Most drivers like that and see that as a benefit of the job. The key to success for this career is managing expectations and doing your research. DriverWave is here to help you get the most out of your new career.
Search for an entry level truck driving job near you.
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