If you are someone without a college degree, or you’re someone who doesn’t necessarily want to go to college, you can still make a great living doing something you love. There are many options available to people without degrees, one of which is truck driving. If you are someone who loves the open road, enjoys some solitude, and loves to travel, trucking can be a great career for you.
Read further to explore an industry that pays well, and is just as (if not more) important to society as a whole, than many jobs requiring college degrees.
What Truck Drivers Do
Truck drivers do more than simply drive their trucks from point A to B. There are many different goods that truck drivers transport; these can range from food, goods/merchandise, chemicals, to heavy equipment, and more.
Truck drivers are also responsible for:
- Maintaining driving logs
- Performing basic maintenance on their truck
- Possibly loading and unloading their truck
- Performing a pre-trip inspection before each departure
As you can see, a lot goes into trucking and there are many different types of truck driving jobs you can pursue. Let’s take a look.
OTR Truck Drivers
OTR truck drivers may be what first comes to your mind when picturing a truck driving job. OTR drivers' routes span throughout the country across all regions. Typically, an OTR truck driver is out on the road for days or weeks at a time before returning home. They also tend to have a higher earning potential due to the extensive miles they cover.
Regional Truck Drivers
Regional truck drivers navigate throughout different states, but all within the same region. They may also find themselves driving from the northmost point of one state to its southern end. Typically, regional drivers are on the road for days at a time, but can expect to return home weekly.
Local Truck Drivers
Local truck drivers transport goods to and from specific locations within a city or a few neighboring metropolitan areas. They stay within state lines, and some serve set routes (dedicated route drivers). Generally speaking, they unload all of their goods themselves for whichever business they are servicing. Local truck drivers tend to have daily home time.
Flatbed drivers have the responsibility of hauling various items that would otherwise not fit in a typical dry van/tractor trailer. True to the name, flatbeds lay completely flat, with no sides or roof around the bed to securely transport heavy-duty loads. Flatbed drivers need to be skilled at securing their cargo properly.
With a good amount of experience under your belt and a steady savings to invest in your own truck and insurance, you could work for yourself and pocket almost all of your profits by becoming an owner-operator. You will be in charge of your fleet and scheduling your own deliveries and routes. It is one of the most profitable positions to have in the trucking industry.
There are other jobs available to truck drivers as well. As you continue to dive into the industry, you’ll likely get an idea of the jobs you would like best, and prepare yourself to enter that sector of the trucking world.
How Do I Become a Truck Driver?
It’s correct that very little schooling is required to become a truck driver, and that no degree is necessary at all. So, how exactly do you go about becoming a truck driver? With the right guidance and training, you may be able to break into the exciting world of trucking in as few as 6 weeks.
If you’d like to save some time before attending truck driving school, you can take the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) physical exam. During your DOT physical, doctors will assess your vision, hearing, blood pressure, and other physical conditions that affect your ability to operate a truck.
Next, you will need to enroll in a truck driver training program. These programs can vary in course length and expense. Many programs can be completed in 3 to 6 weeks if you are a student who attends full time. Truck driver training is a combination of classroom and hands-on learning.
The classroom portion of CDL training tends to total about 40 hours and is designed to prepare you to take the written portion of your CDL exam. You will study the CDL manual, and also become familiar with different state and federal regulations, operating and maneuvering trucks, safe transportation practices, etc.
Your hands-on training will cover the crucial pre-trip inspection, basic vehicle controls, right and left turns, shifting gears, braking, straight line backing, street driving and maneuvers, etc. Ideally, the road portion of your training should prepare you for your CDL road test.
Once your training is complete, you’ll need to pass your CDL test to become a licensed truck driver. Again, the CDL exam has both a written portion and a road test. Your schooling will be designed to help you test with confidence.
Once you earn your CDL, you can begin your trucking career by applying for a trucking job!
Become a Truck Driver Today!
If you’re one of the many people who don’t feel college is for you, you’re not alone. Truck driving is one of the many profitable jobs you can get without a college degree. Depending on state regulations, most people can start driving locally at the age of 18, and regionally/OTR once they turn 21.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average pay for truck drivers was $50,340 in 2021, with the top 10 percent earning $72,730. As you gain experience, it is likely you will see your pay increase from your entry-level wage. The BLS also reported that demand for truck drivers is expected to increase 4 percent by 2031.
Explore truck driving jobs near you or find a CDL school and begin your journey as a professional truck driver!