Many drivers are unaware of exactly what is expected of them in their first year of trucking. As a result, many get disillusioned and give up on the profession altogether.
The truth is that trucking is a career that will make you earn your keep before it showers you with rewards. There are many reasons for this, but it’s not all too unusual. Most professions, lifestyles, and societies have ‘rights of passage’. These challenges exist to weed out those who are unable to participate and reward those who stick it out.
The question is - is it worth it to go through the challenges, or should you give up at the first hurdle?
Why trucking companies want you to have experience
Here are a few reasons why truck drivers need to go through a ‘rite of passage’ before getting the best jobs:
Insurance policies - many companies are restricted in who they are able to hire because of their insurance providers. As a result, most companies require 2+ years of CDL experience before they can take you on board. This means that as a rookie, you are far more restricted in your options. You’ll have to take a lot of jobs that are “not ideal” before you can have your pick at the trucking job buffet.
Seniority rules - When you’ve been driving for 10 years, it’s natural to expect some respect. If you had that kind of experience (maybe you do), you’d want to leave the hardest jobs for the rookies, after all.
Safety - This ties in with insurance policies, but it’s obviously more than that. Trucking means operating dangerous and valuable machinery. Who is more likely to make big mistakes - a rookie with 6 months experience, or a three year veteran with a proven safety record?
As a truck driver, you will have to prove yourself before you get the respect you feel you deserve. And even though it may feel like a long and boring process, even 6 months of experience makes a massive difference.
The jobs you’ll qualify for will drastically increase once you hit the one year mark, and even more so once you hit two years. In two years of safe driving, there will be very few jobs you won’t be qualified for.
New drivers and expectations
There’s a lack of communication in the trucking industry - specifically between employers and their employees. Many truck drivers are completely unaware of the hiring requirements and insurance policies of their prospective employers.
Drivers coming out of school aren’t always told WHY they won’t be able to land a high paying local day shift right away. They’re not told that their first six months of employment will be hard and oftentimes underpaid.
This aspect of the trucking life needs to be communicated early and often, in trucking school and also by employers.
New and prospective drivers need to be aware of the reality of the industry - they need to visualize a realistic roadmap before diving into a profession as demanding as trucking.
Why paying your dues is important
Trucking is an industry that rewards perseverance, dedication, and professionalism. Operating a truck may seem easy from the outside, but drivers know that there’s more to it than meets the eye.
We’re talking about operating large, expensive, and dangerous machinery. This job requires a guarantee of safety, reliability, and professionalism to get done properly. Those qualities take time to build up.
Paying your dues isn’t just about running circles for your superiors, it’s about proving that you are dependable, safe, and experienced.
Though you may not get all the rewards you feel entitled to right away, remember that the more you participate and get better at this job, the more you’ll be rewarded for it.
That feeling when you finally get into a new truck, or get a job that ticks all your boxes will be worth it all the more when you feel that you’ve earned it.
And always remember - it’s not about how much time you put in, but how you spend that time that will determine your value as a driver. Spend your formative driving years wisely and diligently, and you’ll have your pick of the best jobs a few years down the road.