“There is more credit and satisfaction in being a first-rate truck driver than a tenth-rate executive”
Forbes was the Scottish born founder and editor of Forbes Magazine; the glossy pages detailing the wants and lives of the luxury and business set. Back in 1917 when he said this, maybe being a tenth-rate executive was still OK – it probably meant you didn’t end up in the trenches of Europe during the First World War for a start!
Today, many truckers are actively pursuing a career over the road instead of an office job. This applies even to college graduates – and you will be surprised at how many do take up trucking as a career and lifestyle choice.
Let’s take a hard look at trucking as a career option.
To be a commercial trucker you must possess a CDL – Commercial Drivers’ License.
Getting this can be expensive and you have two options – sign on with a carrier who agrees to put you through driver training, but on the condition you remain with them for a period of time afterwards so they can recoup the cost of training you for your CDL. A good example is the Schneider National program
The alternative is you pay for it yourself.
CDL driver schools range in quality and are not cheap so the former option is usually taken up by rookies.
A CDL requires you pass a series of tests, both written and on the road, involving trucking rules, road regulations and your ability to handle a commercial vehicle. There are different classes of license depending on the type of rig you intend to drive and you will also need a learner’s permit.
In Texas, all CDL applicants and holders are deemed to have given permission to be tested for drug and alcohol use.
Get a copy of the Texas Drivers Handbook and use this as your bible through driver training. You can also get a free copy from the any of the DPS offices (for the Houston offices just follow the link here).
Life on the Road
Before starting down the road on a trucking career, you need to consider what life will really be like.
Typical salaries for a rookie on a driver training contract will be around $40,000, though conditions and benefits vary widely. Second year earnings can be expected to be in the $55,000 to $65,000 range as a driver.
You will spend a lot of time away from home. By a lot of time, we mean most of your life – both waking and sleeping. Married applicants and those with a need to be close to home and family will find the greatest difficulty in adjusting to a life on the road. This must be carefully considered because taking time off for family events creates scheduling difficulties for carriers and adversely affects their profitability.