Making the choice to be a commercial truck driver is not something to rush into. Truck driving presents a unique lifestyle for those who do it, perhaps even more than other career choices. As with any job, you should consider the hours, benefits, location, job security, and earning potential.
Along with these factors, knowing the pros and cons of truck driving will contribute to your final decision. Just remember, what’s a problem for one person may be a benefit for another. The most vital part of this process is asking yourself questions so you know your own preferences.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, that’s okay. To break it down for you, we’ve developed a “pros and cons” list to help you see the different sides of a truck driver’s life. After reading through this list, you’ll know if truck driving fits your personality, lifestyle, and professional goals.
Neither the pros nor cons sections are exhaustive. But, we’d like to point out a few of the good and not-as-good parts of commercial truck driving.
Benefits of Truck Driving
Plenty of people consider solitude an ideal aspect in a working environment. Truck driving gives ample opportunity for thoughtful contemplation, self-assessment, and self-help.
It’s a common occurrence for drivers to invest in self-help books on CD to make use of the long hours on the road. Whatever you’re interested in, there’s an audiobook that talks about it. Truck driving allows for on-the-job learning and even the pursuit of hobbies and interests.
If travel is something you’re interested in, why not get paid to do it? The continental US holds a variety of scenery and cultures. Drivers enjoy getting to know the land as they get to know themselves. Adventure, travel, and experience are all up for grabs when you choose to be a commercial truck driver.
An added perk is being your own boss. Each driver has a dispatcher which they report to and receive tasks from, but drivers still makes day-to-day decisions for themselves. Why not opt to have a job where you are the one who makes the call?
Truck drivers take their breaks, arrange fuel stops, and even chart their own course depending on the company policy. With you in the driver’s seat, there’s a lot of freedom you won’t find in other industries. If you are a self-starter and like to do things your way, you might enjoy this business.
There are also several financial benefits to being a commercial truck driver. Although first-time drivers make anywhere between $20,000 and $40,000 annually, pay depends on mileage. If you build your experience and keep a clean driving record, your pay potential dramatically increases.
In fact, owner operators can make up to $160,000 annually with experience increases. Depending on your employer, experience, and record, your annual income could pay for a comfortable living.
As a commercial truck driver, you may have more opportunity to make large sums without expensive years of schooling. That means truck driving can provide a great way to begin saving money for investments. But with great earning potential comes great responsibility, so be aware of what you’re giving to get paid.
Considering the Downsides
Any commercial or “over the road” truck driver will tell you that your truck becomes your home. If you are having trouble imagining life away from home for periods of 2-3 weeks at a time, this career may not be for you. Of course, it’s always a good idea to check what the company policy is for time off. Some jobs may be more flexible than others, but make sure you’re prepared to stick with what you’re given.
Long hours also involve odd wake and sleep times. Most drivers will sleep through the day and drive through the night to avoid traffic. Because truck drivers are usually paid per mile, they want to make the most of their driving time. By that token, it makes sense to take advantage of the less busy times on the road, even if that means having an odd sleep schedule.
People-oriented employees may struggle with the long stretches of solitude and wait times. It can be difficult to spend endless time with nothing but your thoughts, but some people enjoy this aspect.
In addition to the odd hours, time away from home, and solitude, this job requires planning and responsibility. Directionally challenged drivers would do well to stay away from this vocation. Although some aspects of trucking might seem undesirable, many prefer them to the alternatives found in other careers.
Weighing Your Options
Just like with any job, commercial truck driving is not for everyone. Take the time to discuss the impacts this career will have on you and your family, as well as considering the lifestyle it requires. Go into the industry with eyes wide open to avoid surprises so you are aware of what you’re able to lose—and gain—from a career as a truck driver.