Thinking About Becoming a Trucker? Answer These 6 Questions

Red truck rounding a corner.

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Trucking is among the most popular occupations in the U.S. Despite the popularity, many companies face shortages, so becoming a trucker is an excellent choice for a job. However, you should know it’s nothing like the movies “Black Dog” or “Over the Top.”

Before sending in applications, you should make some considerations. Becoming a truck driver isn’t easy, but it is rewarding. Ask yourself these six questions to ensure your success.

1. Do You Like Driving?

This one may seem like a given. You need to love driving to become a successful driver. Many guys love cruising on the highway with the top down and music blasting. However, trucking isn’t like driving your sports car. It can be peaceful, but you’re often crossing long distances. The average trucker travels between 600 and 700 miles daily, depending on traffic, weather and other circumstances.    

Enjoying the drive is an essential part of becoming a trucker. You’ll travel to numerous states and meet amazing people along the way. Think about a trucking career similar to fun road trips you get paid for. However, some people don’t adapt well to the job because they don’t want to sit still in their seats. 

2. Are You Willing to Learn?

Operating an 18-wheeler differs greatly from the fully-loaded Ford or Chevy truck sitting in your driveway. Not even truck driver simulators can prepare you for the complicated nature of hauling semis. Becoming a trucker takes time, patience and learning.

Your truck driving career starts with getting a commercial driver’s license (CDL). You can train for a CDL through classes at a community college or vocational school. Some companies sponsor training programs leading to jobs when you graduate. The duration depends on the company, but many programs require two to six months of training before you hit the road.

POV, behind the wheel of a truck on a clear day.

3. How Good Is Your Stamina?

It’s no secret the days are long as a truck driver. You’re typically driving from sunrise to sunset. Tight deadlines mean you may start your day in Chicago but end up in Philadelphia by your shift’s end. Truckers stay on the road long, but driving doesn’t occupy the entire day. Federal laws generally cap driving at 11 hours following 10 off-duty hours for truckers.

Driving for even two or three hours can wear out many people, so 11 hours can definitely test your stamina. Many truck drivers rely on coffee, music and snacks to stay awake for long shifts. 

4. Do You Have Good Sleeping Habits?

Waking up daily for 11-hour driving shifts requires stamina and adequate sleep the night before. Truck drivers often sleep in their haulers every night, so you should consider your sleeping habits and if they fit with the trucker lifestyle. At the truck stop, drivers hang out with other truckers, watch movies and eat dinner before going to bed and preparing for another workday.

Most semi trucks have a small sleeping section behind the cab. This room will become your bedroom, so trucks often include a twin bed, a TV and a refrigerator. You’ll sleep where you work, making it difficult to separate work from your personal life. Some people don’t like being away from their bed at home — sleeping in a truck can take getting used to.

5. Can You Handle Being Alone?

In an office, you get to be around co-workers all day. Remote work may include daily meetings and collaborative sessions. However, trucking is a lonely profession. You’ll need communication skills when meeting with clients, bosses and fellow truckers, but it’s mostly a solo venture. Eleven hours on the road include a lot of solitary time.

You’ll quickly find the days go by slowly if you don’t have ways to entertain yourself. Many truckers jam out to music or find a good podcast or audiobook to listen to. Talk radio is also prominent with sports fans. Finding audio activities to enjoy is crucial for dealing with long drives. 

6. How Do You Handle Stress?

The loneliness, deadlines and other factors can create a stressful environment for some. A 2022 BMC Public Health study found mental and physical health problems are prevalent among truck drivers in Australia. Becoming a trucker can take a toll on you due to the irregular nature of the job. You’re often by yourself, sitting down for a long time and eating fast food. Can you overcome the stressful factors associated with trucking?

Reducing stress is easier said than done, but there are a few ways truckers keep their peace of mind on the road. It starts with getting a good night’s sleep beforehand and eating healthy food. Fast food restaurants might not provide the most nutritious options. Still, truckers can stock up on water, peanuts, jerky, string cheese, fruit and other healthy choices.

Trucker in a hat checking his phone behind the wheel.

Becoming a Trucker in the 21st Century

Do you have what it takes to be a truck driver? It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s a unique and challenging job that’s rewarding for many who enjoy being on the road. If you’re considering becoming a trucker, ask yourself these six questions.

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