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How to Find Happiness in Trucking

Written by John Daniels
May 11, 2022

As tempting as it is to go on a bit of a rant about what happiness means and how to achieve it, I will leave that to some other fool. No, I’m here to talk about something a little less philosophically discombobulating – happiness in your trucking career. And if you can’t stomach the word “happiness”, just call it “satisfaction” – though I find that takes some of the oomph out of it.

Many truck drivers are embittered and grumpy and jaded, and I get it. It’s a tough job, and you have to roll with a lot of punches to survive. Still, we are ultimately responsible for our life choices. Despite the difficulties, you chose this career path for one reason or another.

Of course, the choice to get into trucking isn’t always made for the right reasons. That’s evidenced by the rate of churn, turnover, and number of inactive CDL holders. But for those that do stick around, happiness (or at least “satisfaction”) at work is worth fighting for.

What is a happy trucker?

A happy trucker is one that’s chosen this career because they love something about it that doesn’t just relate to their paycheck. A love for big American trucks, the open road, the act of driving, seeing the country, the feeling of being part of a strong and silent culture – these are some things that come to mind.

But that’s not all it takes to be happy. Loving the open road and taking home diddly-squat at the end of the week doesn’t make for a happy work life. So what does?

Having a good attitude as well as drive and professionalism is a good start. But what about the things outside of your control?

Well, there are many factors that play into keeping you happy and satisfied in your career. Let’s get into a few of them here.

Your job satisfaction is mostly up to your employer

A stiff upper lip isn’t going to save you from terrible working conditions and employers that don’t value you. This means that much of what it takes to be happy is outside of your hands. However, finding a job that ticks all the boxes for you isn’t impossible… you just need to know what to look for.

The right rate of pay

If you’ve been in the industry for a while, you should know better than to get swayed by loud promises of sign-on bonuses and huge weekly paychecks. The fact is, most companies can’t put their money where their mouth is when it comes to guaranteeing pay. However, you can be on the lookout for additional compensation offered by the employer to gauge how solid the employer is. Do they cover detention pay? Do they cover overtime? Do they pay mileage, fuel, safety bonuses? The more security you can get to know that your time will be properly compensated, the happier you’ll be and the less likely you are to hop jobs.

The people

The relationships between all members of the organization should be healthy. Dispatchers shouldn’t be rude to you, and you should feel like there’s a solid line of communication between you and whoever you need to reach. You can get a solid impression of what the company is like by asking the right questions when speaking to a recruiter. Ask them about their dispatchers, managers, and customers. Do drivers generally have good things to say about the company? These are all things you should consider when approximating how happy you’ll be at a company.

Home time that suits you

You should feel like your home time needs are respected, even if you’re running OTR. The fact is, there are plenty of OTR jobs that offer generous home time - 4 day resets every 10 days, or 2 day resets every 7. Why settle for a job that has you running 3 weeks at a time with 2 days off? There’s really no point when so many other jobs can offer you better home time at no cost to you.

Where you drive

Hey, you wanna drive all around the east coast? Let’s make sure we keep you in as many big cities as possible and let’s throw some NYC in there for good measure. Where your job takes you can be as important as any other factor. You want your driving to be comfortable and in parts of the country that accommodate large trucks. You

Respect

Feeling respected is at the core of staying satisfied at your job. To feel like your needs are being met and that you are treated like a human being, not a robot is essential. Regardless of who you are, you want to feel like your well being and your commitment is taken into account.

Schedule

Working for a company that doesn’t set clear schedule boundaries can quickly turn into a nightmare. Make sure to set those expectations if you want to last at your next trucking job.

The trucking industry has the potential to improve

The trucking industry is full of false promises and shady players. It’s rough out there, but it doesn’t have to be. If trucking companies were held accountable for their promises, and if we actually demanded decent working conditions, we could see a better future for trucking.

The thing is, there are so many companies out there that there really is no reason to settle. For ten lackluster jobs, you’ll find one that ticks all the right boxes… just remember that it isn’t all about the money advertised on the job ad. If you’re swayed by a high salary number and don’t dig any deeper, that’s on you. You have to do your due diligence and make sure the job you’re going for is a job where you can be happy.

Retention & good pay is essential

In an industry where turnover is so high, it’s hard to find a company that keeps the same drivers happily driving for years on end. Retention is the key focus for any company that wants to stay competitive in today’s trucking market.

The trucking industry NEEDS drivers to stay in the profession. It NEEDS new drivers to get educated and replace the aging population. The trucking industry NEEDS to be seen as a profession that’s worth the sacrifices.

It will never be easy and it will never be cushy, but with the right pay and the right treatment, trucking could reclaim its position as the king of blue collar professions.

Unbreaking Trucking

Inspiring insights for the ambitious driver.

Being able to overcome the challenges of the trucking industry is the key to your professional well-being as a CDL driver.

Staying on top of your game will help you make smarter choices, land better jobs, and have a clearer picture of where your career is heading.

We’re here to help you do just that.

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