The trucking industry is one of the most essential and in-demand industries today. Long-distance freight trucking is worth over $260 billion alone. However, other sectors are growing even faster. There are various reasons why the industry is growing.
The first reason is the growth of e-commerce. The pandemic has accelerated this trend as more people are shopping online. The increased demand for products being shipped has also led to an increase in the need for truck drivers.
Another reason is the need for construction materials. Construction projects increased after the pandemic’s first year. Now, many construction firms require the services of truckers to transport materials.
However, the industry is experiencing a massive shortage of drivers right now. Many companies pledge to pay as much as $110,000 for truck drivers in their first year. That’s a staggering amount, but one that requires a lot of work. If you want to start working as a trucker, here are some things to get you started.
Driver License and Training
First, you need to get your license. Getting your license isn’t as simple as you think. You have to pass a written exam and a skills test. Depending on your state, you may also need to go through specific training courses. Here are a couple of training courses that can help you out:
Basic Driving Course
Passing the written exam and skills test isn’t enough to become a truck driver. You’ll also need to take an introductory driving course. This eight-hour basic driving course is usually a refresher, but one that you need to memorize by heart. This includes trucking laws, how to handle emergencies, and driving in different conditions.
Defensive Driving Course
Some states require people to take the defensive driving course for trucking. This course teaches you how to drive defensively, prevent accidents, and handle dangerous road conditions. It’s one of the basic courses to take before starting a career as a truck driver.
Once you have your license, gaining experience and training is essential before diving headfirst into the industry. Many companies offer paid on-the-job training for new truck drivers. However, you must receive proper training because driving a truck requires unique skills, such as adequately loading and securing cargo, navigating traffic safely, and maintaining good communication with dispatchers. Here are some of those training.
A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is required for driving any commercial vehicle. This includes trucks and buses. Before getting your CDL, you must pass a written exam and skills test specific to the type of truck you’ll be driving.
Endorsements for Specific Loads
Depending on what you want to transport, you may also need endorsements for specific loads, such as hazardous materials or tanker trucks.
Hazard Loads Training
Hazard loads training is required to transport hazardous materials, such as combustible liquids and flammable gases. The training covers how to handle properly and transport these materials, as well as what to do in an emergency.
Don’t underestimate the power of networking in this industry. Many trucking companies now use technology to match drivers with available loads, but networking can still help open doors for potential job opportunities. Here are three ways you can grow your network:
Join Industry Groups
The first step in growing your network is by joining industry groups. This can help you meet potential employers and learn about job openings or connect with other truckers.
Attend Industry Events
Another way to grow your network is by attending industry events like the Mid-America Trucking Show or National Truck Driving Championships. Here, you can meet decision-makers in the industry and potentially find a job opportunity.
Utilize Online Communities
Don’t forget about online communities for truck drivers, such as Truckers Report or Trucker Path. These websites are great for networking and finding job opportunities from companies all over the country.
Building Your Reputation
Once you start working as a truck driver, maintain a good reputation. This includes following traffic laws, maintaining proper logs, and ensuring the safety of cargo and other vehicles on the road. Building a good reputation with companies is vital for long-term success in this industry. Additionally, you should create a social media page for yourself. Having one can help potential employers see your driving records and experience. Finally, post your accomplishments and achievements as a truck driver to stand out in the industry.
Being a truck driver may not be for everyone, but it can potentially lead to a lucrative career. You can succeed in this growing industry with the right license, training, experience, networking skills, and reputation. Happy driving!