As we’ve said so many times on this site, if you’ve got a long attention span, a tolerance for a demanding schedule, a driver’s license and a love of life on the road, trucking can be the perfect job for you. Nearly half of all Americans know someone who works in the trucking industry, so odds are you already have a professional contact!
Long-term driving can involve from 2-4 weeks away from home on the road, which can be hard on a family—but for a born nomad, it’s a match made in heaven. You spend a lot of time alone—so introverts have an advantage—but truck stops are open 24/7 and there will always be colleagues on the road to talk to!
When asked about the crucial qualifications for their job, most drivers most often cite “long haul skills”: focused, experienced driving, the ability to adapt to all kinds of weather and other challenging conditions, and proficiency in basic servicing for your vehicle. Maintenance of your truck and being responsible for your own sense of professionalism often boost truckers’ self-respect and can even translate to other career fields down the road.
Here are some of the skills and certifications many employers currently look for in their professional driving staff. You can acquire the basics, like a CDL license, at any of the reputable driving schools in the country.
One of the major benefits many truckers mention is the freedom to pretty much live anywhere along their main route. And while these salaries represent the lower end of the scale, many drivers report income as high as $70K within three years of regular, full-time driving.
Top employers include, no surprise, companies with long distance shipping needs like Lowe’s, Walmart, Nestle, and Costco. You can also function basically as a freelancer when you work with an independent company—dispatchers will put out calls for drivers and if you’re available, you can snag the job.
Some states are even exploring lowering the interstate driving age; the current regional age is 18 in many areas, but drivers aren’t allowed to cross state lines. Current legislation may change all that.
And if you’re in search of perks, some trucking companies are investing in high-end, luxury-packed vehicles. You may find there’s no place like home, and that home just happens to be on four wheels and pulling a trailer.
Future prospects when you’re ready to get off the road might include being a dispatcher. Dispatching rigs requires many of the same road-savvy skills as driving, with an added layer of multi-tasking and organizational strategies.
3 Sample Job Postings
Job postings for truck drivers are fairly simple—mostly they need to know whether you can show up to pick up your load and deliver it on time.
Responsible for planning and executing delivery activities, preparing delivery loads, following planned delivery routes, and assisting with merchandise installations or returns, unloading, installing, and checking appliances and store equipment. Also responsible for the cleanliness and standard maintenance of delivery vehicles, observing safety procedures regarding Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations, Hazmat, and power equipment tools, maintaining DOT and CDL certifications, and complying with reporting.
Requires morning, afternoon, and evening availability any day of the week. Physical ability to move large, bulky and/or heavy merchandise. Physical ability to perform tasks that may require prolonged standing, sitting, and other activities necessary to perform job duties.
Valid Class A (with air brake endorsement) license
Ability to read, write, and perform basic arithmetic (addition, subtraction).
Minimum 21 years of age
3 months experience operating a forklift or Moffett onloading/offloading a vehicle.
1 year experience driving a semi-truck/trailer OR certification from a driving school.
6 months experience performing in-home delivery OR retail customer service.
Whether you find the prospect of long hours of your own company appealing or want to see more of the country before settling into a driving occupation closer to home, explore trucking—see if it’s the right lane for you!