Truck Driving Jobs for Beginners: What You Should Know During the First Few Years
Are you looking to start a career in transportation? The good news is that the transportation and trucking industry is continuously growing, so there are plenty of opportunities out there for you. The (maybe not so) bad news is that you will be required to spend many hours on the road. Despite this slight disadvantage, a career in the transportation industry can be incredibly rewarding. However, you need to make sure it’s the right decision for your lifestyle.
If you’re not sure if a truck driving job is right for you, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll cover everything a beginner should know about truck driving, including what to expect during your first year, potential growth opportunities, how much you should expect to make.
Your First Year as a Truck Driver
Being constantly on the road is a huge lifestyle change that comes with new challenges and hurdles, which is why there will always be an adjustment period during your first year as a truck driver. In fact, for many, the first year is the most difficult year. It can be somewhat frustrating for beginners as they acclimate themselves to a life on the road. However, don’t despair, there are a few tips you can follow to make your first year easier.
- Pace Yourself: Understand that there will be long periods on the road away from your family. This is an adjustment period for them as much as it is for you. Make sure you pace yourself, maintain a positive attitude, and discuss ways you’ll stay in touch with friends and family while on the road.
- Manage Your Expectations: As the saying goes, “Rome was not built in a day.” Be sure to manage your expectations in terms of salary and experience. It will take time to gain experience. It will take time to turn that experience into a higher salary. Neither of these happens overnight.
- Define Attainable Goals: The most important goal you should set for yourself is not to have an accident or get injured. All other goals are secondary to this primary goal. As you start your trucking career, make sure your goals are challenging but attainable.
- Stick With It: Don’t let a single problem, stumbling block, or issue force you to give up. Stick with it. Most importantly, don’t job-hop for other truck-driving jobs. Experience and hours on the road are critical to furthering your career, as are years of service.
How to Progress Your Truck Driving Career Efficiently
The best way to further your truck driving career is to go beyond just arriving on time; getting into the habit of arriving early will help establish your reputation as a reliable truck driver.
You should also be sure to communicate with dispatch. Keep them aware of your progress, including when you deliver early shipments. The more you communicate with them, the more your reputation will grow. They’ll come to expect great things from you and help propel your career forward. On the flipside, if you’re experiencing issues (illness, lack of sleep, etc.) be sure to also communicate this information to them. When dispatch assigns jobs, they typically don’t know the status of each individual driver (including personal issues).
Finally, always drive safely and effectively by following the rules of the road. Arriving early will help build your reputation, but not if you’re cutting corners or aren’t careful. You can deliver early by driving safely. These are not mutually exclusive, so make sure you find that all-important balance.
Your Salary Will Increase With Experience
As you progress in your career, your advancement opportunities will increase. In Michigan, the average salary for beginner truck driving jobs (less than one year of experience) is $65,556. However, this amount can increase by upwards of $10,000 as you gain more experience. Some companies may also offer a sign-on bonus. At some point in your career, you may even decide to become an owner-operator or add and change routes to increase your compensation per mile.
Being on the road for extended periods requires commitment and a willingness to adopt some best practices. The demands on truck drivers are both mental and physical. As such, adopting some of the following tips is a good idea to keep yourself fresh:
- Pack Healthy Foods: While on the road, you’ll most likely be tempted by the convenience of fast food. While treating yourself every once in a while is fine, eating fast food daily can quickly become tiresome and unhealthy, leaving you feeling lethargic. Pack plenty of healthy foods. This includes drinking plenty of water and always having fruits on hand or nuts/trail mix.
- Designate Rest Time: Don’t make the mistake of trying to catch up on time by driving when you should be sleeping. You must schedule rest time. Driving while tired is problematic at best and could lead to an accident where both your truck and consumer goods are damaged.
- Exercise: A quick five or ten-minute stretch will get the blood flowing, reduce the risks of injuries, and keep you alert. The human body is not meant to sit for prolonged periods, so schedule time where you can stretch your legs.
- Plan Ahead: Always be sure to plan your routes. Identify potential rest spots and pinpoint any potential construction zones or weather patterns that might slow you down. Being prepared is crucial and will help make the trip much easier.
- Communicate Delays: Again, always communicate with dispatch. Keep them aware of how your trip is going, whether you’re on schedule, if you need sleep before your next assignment, and if you’ve encountered any issues. This gives them ample opportunity to make alternative arrangements.
Start Your Truck Driving Career at TSI
If you want to pursue a career as a truck driver, turn to TSI. Founded over four decades ago, we’re a family-owned and -operated trucking company that provides services throughout North America.
Every driver at our company receives a $10,000 sign-on bonus, paid vacations, weekly pay, and full vision/dental/medical coverage. We even offer a six-week, hands-on training program for new drivers. Click here to learn more about this program, or visit our careers web page to learn more about our beginner driving opportunities.