The Pros and Cons of Truck Driving
By Gus Murray, Driver Recruiter & Special Contributor
Article last updated on 3/10/2009
So many times I’ve been asked by someone looking to get into trucking, “What are the benefits that a truck driving career has to offer?” And just as much, I get asked “What are the worst parts about a trucking job?” So, I’ve compiled a list of just a few of the pros and cons of truck driving in my opinion. Everyone’s different, so what I see as a con might actually be a pro for you! Either way, I want entry level truck drivers out there to know that trucking is a very good career decision that has a lot of great benefits to offer for both you and your family. Read on for more information, and enjoy! -Gus
High Income Potential
As long as freight is moving, truck drivers are making money! The average entry level truck driver earns $33,000 to $37,000 in his first year on the road – that’s significantly more than almost any other entry level position in any industry! After the first year, drivers can expect to earn $5,000 to $10,000 more every year that they continue driving thanks to per-mile pay increases. And because truck drivers are paid by the mile, they have the ability to earn as much money as they want to.
In addition to great salaries, many trucking companies offer sign-on bonuses, safe driver awards, and other compensation to their drivers as well. The amount of money that even an entry level truck driver can make allows you to provide a higher standard of living for your family without having to spend thousands of dollars on schooling.
Short-Term, Inexpensive Training
One of the greatest benefits to becoming a truck driver is that attending training is short and inexpensive. CDL training schools help students earn a CDL license in as little as 3 weeks instead of spending months or even years in school at a college or university. A college degree or even a high school diploma is not required to be a truck driver either, so those without higher education can still enjoy a successful trucking career and earn a substantial income.
Besides being much shorter in length than other educational opportunities, CDL training is also much less expensive. In fact, some truck driver training programs offer training with no upfront tuition costs to students. These company-sponsored training programs work this way: trucking companies will agree to pre-hire a trucking student, pay for the upfront CDL training costs, and offer the student a driving job once he successful completes the training program. In exchange for providing the training costs, most companies ask that the student agree to drive for the company for one year. This means that a student will have a driving job and get their upfront tuition paid for, all before ever attending class! A few trucking companies that offer company sponsored CDL training programs include P.A.M. Transport, USA Truck, and Averitt Express.
No Experience Necessary – Anyone Can Do It
Another positive about the trucking industry is that, unlike many other occupations, you don’t need to have any experience or special skills to get started. The majority of truck drivers on the roads today started without having any driving experience other than a personal car, meaning that almost anyone is qualified to start a trucking career. Regardless of age, sex, or education level, anyone with a relatively clean driving record and criminal background report can begin trucking with no experience necessary.
Most entry level truck drivers gain knowledge and skills about the trucking industry from taking a CDL training course. At USA Truck Driving Schools, we strongly recommend that anyone without over the road truck driving experience attend one of these training schools before beginning your trucking career. Who knows, the CDL school you attend may help you land your first driving job right out the door!
Freedom to Travel the Country
For many people, the biggest appeal for becoming a truck driver is the amount of freedom that a trucking career can provide. Over the road truck drivers, for example, travel all over the country to some of the most beautiful places in America and get to visit areas they might otherwise never see. Many drivers enjoy spending layover time exploring the places they visit on the road. And best of all, these truck drivers get paid to do it!
Truck drivers also enjoy the freedom of “being their own boss”. Of course, each truck driver has a dispatcher that tells him where to pick up and drop off loads, but he also gets to enjoy being able to plan his own routes, decide when to drive, sleep, or take a break, and does not have a supervisor constantly looking over his shoulder. Truck driving has been a popular career choice for people who enjoy working independently, especially contractors, business owners, and former members of the military.
Loneliness & Time Spent Away from Home
As with every other career, truck driving is not for everyone. The lifestyle of a truck driver that appeals to so many people is also the biggest reason why some choose not to do it at all. The average over the road truck driver can expect to be away from home for 2 to 3 weeks at a time, depending on which company he works for. Being away from your family and friends can be very difficult, especially for drivers who have children. Truck drivers also miss out on home-cooked meals, the comfort of their own showers, and sleeping in their own beds every night in exchange for the trucking lifestyle.
However, many trucking companies realize the importance of family to their drivers and have made it easier for truck drivers to be over the road and spend time with their family. For example, most companies have a rider program that allows the driver to bring a spouse, friend, or child along with them in the truck. USA Truck has even implemented “special days” into their drivers’ time off schedule so that drivers can request one day off a month that they are guaranteed to be home. These days can be used for family’s birthdays, anniversaries, or just an extra day to spend at home.
Just as with any other career decision, truck driving is what you make of it. If you come into the trucking industry with a good understanding of the pros and cons, as well as a positive attitude about your new career, you are already well on your way to becoming a successful truck driver.