Truck drivers play an integral role in keeping America’s wheels turning.
They keep retailers’ shelves stocked and ensure our packages arrive at our doorstep on time.
Without truckers, manufacturers would not have the parts they need to deliver cars, computers, or heavy machinery.
In a nutshell, the trucking industry is essential for the health of our economy.
There are currently over 3.5 million truckers in the United States.
According to the American Trucking Association, this number is expected to grow by 240,000 this year alone.
That makes this a great time to enter the industry.
Professional truck driving is a rewarding and lucrative career.
Like most careers, it has its benefits and challenges. Unlike other professions, it is more than just a job.
It is a lifestyle; one that is not right for everyone.
If you are considering becoming a truck driver, it is important that you have all the facts.
Understanding the pros and cons of this career path can help you determine if it is the right choice for you and your family.
Pros of Being a Truck Driver
1. No Formal Education Is Required
Becoming a truck driver does not require higher education or years of training.
To get started, you will need to acquire your commercial driver’s license (CDL).
The cost and time investment varies from one course to another.
The average time investment is 7 weeks.
Tuition ranges from $3,000 to $7,000.
Driving schools have an almost perfect success rate, with many truckers landing their first job in a matter of weeks.
The icing on the cake – many trucking companies will reimburse you for your tuition.
2. Truck Driving Is a Lucrative Career
A truck driver’s salary depends upon a number of factors.
- Type of freight you are hauling
- Trip distance
- Type of company you work for
- Number of years on the job
On average, truck drivers earn a base annual income of almost $51,000.
Long-distance haulers and private fleet drivers can earn significantly more.
Most drivers are eligible for bonuses throughout the year, which can substantially increase your annual income.
3. Room for Professional Growth
Once you obtain your CDL, you are not locked into long-haul trucking.
Having your CDL opens up other professional opportunities.
You can opt for higher-paying jobs like bull hauling or driving tanker trucks.
Many truckers transition into less stressful jobs, like CDL training or driving for one of the delivery services.
4. Job Security
The American Trucking Association first reported on the truck driver shortage in 2015.
Since that time, the shortage has increased from 20,000 to over 80,000.
While this can negatively impact the products consumers have access to, it is great news for truck drivers.
As long as you maintain your commercial driver’s license and a good driving record, your job as a trucker is secure.
The U. S. Dept of Transportation does require a physical examination to ensure you are physically qualified to manage a rig on public roadways.
These exams must be renewed every 2 years.
Have you ever worked a job where your boss micromanaged you all day?
If so, you know how distracting and frustrating this can be.
Trucking is one of the few careers that offer flexibility and independence.
You will still have to deal with logs, schedules, and dispatchers.
But you will not have anyone standing over you telling you when to take a break or what kind of music you should play.
6. Excellent Benefits
On top of job security and high earnings, trucking offers great benefits.
Most jobs offer benefits from the first day of employment.
These include medical, vision, and dental for you and your family, as well as a retirement plan with matching contributions.
Other benefits typically offered include paid vacation, holiday pay, and stock options in the company.
Many companies also offer truck leasing opportunities.
Becoming an owner-operator can significantly increase your annual pay.
7. Get Paid to Travel
If you enjoy traveling, trucking may be the perfect career for you.
While there is not a lot of time for sightseeing, you will have an opportunity to see all that our country has to offer.
8. Making a Real Difference in the World
As we mentioned earlier, our nation depends upon the work of truck drivers.
Without them, much of our nation’s activities would come to a halt.
Grocery store shelves would be bare and restaurants would not be able to put food and drinks on the table.
There is something very rewarding about knowing your nation counts on you for survival.
As a result, the trucking community is very tight-knit.
The camaraderie you will feel from entering this elite group is empowering.
Cons of Being a Truck Driver
1. Trucking Can Be Physically Demanding
One of the biggest cons you will hear about in the trucking industry is that it can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle.
The challenges you face are unlike any other career.
Your employer and their customers are counting on you to deliver freight safely and on time.
Unexpected delays due to mechanical issues, accidents on the road, and poor weather conditions can make the job stressful.
Over time, the stress and poor eating habits can take a toll on your body.
These stresses, combined with excessive sitting, leave truckers at greater risk for obesity and musculoskeletal issues.
Obesity can lead to sleep apnea, heart disease, and diabetes.
To avoid these issues, take frequent breaks and pack nutritious meals for the road.
2. You Are Away From Your Family
Another chief complaint among truck drivers is the time away from family.
Holidays, family events, and children’s milestones are often missed due to your time on the road.
This can take a toll on your marriage and increase your partner’s stress.
To combat these issues, many truckers are now electing to run short hauls, which keeps them closer to home.
If you have a family, partner with a trucking company that recognizes the value of work-life balance.
3. Can Lead to Fatigue
Despite popular belief, sitting in one place for long periods of time can be exhausting.
This can lead to altered sleep patterns, which only increases your fatigue.
Power naps, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, drinking lots of water, and eating a balanced diet are all ways to avoid fatigue.
4. Trucking Can Take a Toll on Your Psychological Health
This profession does not just take a toll on your physical health; it’s psychologically demanding as well.
Keep in mind, that you are on the road alone for long hours at a time.
Downtime is usually spent resting for the next leg of the trip.
This is heaven for introverts.
If you are an extrovert, however, this can lead to depression and making bad decisions.
There are ways to avoid psychological distress.
Many owner-operators work as teams.
This not only provides companionship on the road but also gives you a partner to share driving responsibilities.
Pets are another great source of companionship.
They also require frequent pit stops, ensuring you’re taking the breaks you need.
5. Personal Hygiene Is Challenging
If you have ever been to a truck stop, you have probably noticed the shower options.
Bathroom and shower options are inconsistent.
Some are notorious for being clean, while others…not so much.
Shower shoes are definitely recommended.
Many truckers keep themselves on schedule by avoiding bathroom breaks.
Instead, they urinate in bottles.
This only adds to the uncleanliness of truck stop bathrooms.
6. Long Hours
The trucking industry is notorious for long working hours.
Add in the fact that you’re alone most of this time, and the hours can feel even longer.
7. Delays Are Often Out of Your Control
Bad weather, re-routed traffic, and shipping delays.
These are all delays that truck drivers encounter on a regular basis.
For truckers, time equals money.
If you are detained for four hours through no fault of your own, this elevates your stress levels and can cost you precious time and money.
These delays, known in the industry as detention, cost truckers as much as 40% of their day.
Fortunately, awareness of this costly issue has led to recent innovations.
With the use of technology, organizations can now monitor detention, resulting in increased efficiency.
Pros and Cons of Being a Truck Driver – Summary Table
|Pros of Being a Truck Driver||Cons of Being a Truck Driver|
|1. No Formal Education Is Required||1. Trucking Can Be Physically Demanding|
|2. Truck Driving Is a Lucrative Career||2. You Are Away From Your Family|
|3. Room for Professional Growth||3. Can Lead to Fatigue|
|4. Job Security||4. Trucking Can Take a Toll on Your Psychological Health|
|5. Independence||5. Personal Hygiene Is Challenging|
|6. Excellent Benefits||6. Long Hours|
|7. Get Paid to Travel||7. Delays Are Often Out of Your Control|
|8. Making a Real Difference in the World|
Should I Become a Truck Driver?
Truck driving is a rewarding career.
The starting salary and opportunities for bonuses only add to its appeal.
For some, the pros far outweigh the cons.
In fact, many people do not view the cons as negatives at all.
The trucking industry is in desperate need of more drivers.
Many companies are even offering incentives to females and minorities, in an effort to balance this male-dominated industry.
Do you have what it takes to find success and happiness as a truck driver?
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