The transportation industry is full of opportunities for drivers from all walks of life and demographics. Regardless of your level of experience, professional trucking blends stability and adventure in equal measures and can be an excellent option for anyone who’s looking to kickstart a new career path.Starting any new career can be a lot to take in, especially for younger demographics who have yet to acquire years of experience in a particular field. While this remains true for young drivers entering the trucking industry, starting a truck driving career is far more straightforward and accessible than a large percentage of other occupations.
Instead of demanding years of experience, or additional (and expensive) education, you can start a trucking career right out of college. With a little training and studying, you can earn your commercial driver’s license, get hired by a company that’s eager and excited to be working with you, and hit the road in a relatively short length of time.
The requirements to become a truck driver are incredibly approachable, and since the industry is always looking for new and excited drivers, a trucking career can be an advantageous and lucrative path for anyone and everyone who is looking for an alternative to a traditional office job. With trucking, your desk is your cockpit, and your office is the open road.
If you’re a new truck driver looking to get on the road, then Lily Transportation is here to help. To encourage you on your way, here’s a comprehensive breakdown of the benefits and experiences you can expect to encounter when you start your trucking career with Lily.
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Ease of Entry
If you have a valid state driver’s license and a high school diploma (or GED equivalent), then you’re already qualified to begin pursuing a truck driving career. There are other steps, of course, but the barrier for entry is relatively minuscule compared to many of the other industries that offer its employees the level of compensation that trucking does.
According to information gathered on Study.com, “A truck driver should possess good communication, customer service, and judgment skills. A truck driver must have excellent hearing and vision and be in good physical condition, especially if their job requires loading and unloading freight. They must have the ability to sit for long periods and adapt to changes in driving conditions.”
Clearly, then, becoming a professional truck driver is a relatively attainable role for just about anyone willing to apply themselves. And on account of the industry’s eagerness for younger and more diverse drivers, companies are often prepared to help young drivers find their footing however they can.
Here’s how you can get the wheels rolling on your trucking career:
Obtaining a CDL
The first step in attaining your commercial driver's license (CDL) is to visit your local DMV/RMV and request a CDL Manual. This manual will be your anchor point as you move toward a professional trucking profession. Study this manual, become familiar with its touchpoints and the information it provides you with, and use it to prepare for your written test.
Taking the written test is the doorway that will allow you to get behind the wheel of a truck and practice the skills you’ve been studying. After successfully passing the written exams, you’ll be provided with a commercial learner’s permit (CLP), which enables you to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) on public roads as long as a CDL holder is in the vehicle with you.
In addition to the written tests, your driving record for the last ten years will also be checked and reviewed. This is the case in all 50 states (and the District of Columbia) and is an integral part of determining someone’s readiness and ability to operate a CMV successfully. You’ll also need to provide proof that you’re medically able to drive a commercial vehicle.
Once these steps have been taken, and you’ve had your CLP for two-weeks, you’ll be able to schedule your skills test. It’s essential that you spend ample time practicing the maneuvers and inspection tasks you’ve learned about from your CDL manual before taking the skills test, as it is these abilities that will dictate whether you pass the test or not.
The Skills Test itself consists of three distinct parts, according to FMSCA:
After you pass each of these tests, and proper documentation signifying your success has been recorded, you will receive your CDL and can begin looking for driving jobs in earnest.
Some drivers get their CDL before they enroll in a truck driving school, while others find it helpful to start with the school program and then move into the CDL testing process. Enrolling in a professional truck driving training program isn’t mandatory, but it’s never a bad idea to participate as it will make your transition into your new career that much smoother.
In the end, the order is up to each driver’s preference. Truck driving schools usually teach their students how to drive trucks “as well as learn the regulatory details to pass licensing exams,” but it’s also not uncommon for a driver to earn their CDL and then attend a driving school after a company has hired them.
In the latter scenario, the driver will usually sign an employment contract with a company in exchange for a scholarship that will often cover the expenses of your schooling. This contract often involves an over-the-road (OTR) driving assignment and will help the company feel confident that they’re investing in someone willing to invest in them.
The World Behind the Wheel
There are very few careers that enable people to travel as much as truck driving does. As you spend your days behind the wheel, you’ll be earning some great money and you’ll simultaneously have unique access to an ever-changing landscape of stunning nature, industry, and community. If an office job isn’t for you, then maybe truck driving is the alternative you’re looking for!
Not only is the transportation industry one of the best opportunities you’ll have to see the country in all of its many forms—but every day on the road is going to look different, both literally and figuratively speaking.
The Open Road
According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the more exposure someone has to nature while working, the lower their levels of stress will be. The study claims that “Increasing nature contact at work may offer a simple population-based approach to enhance workplace health promotion.”
This is good news for truck drivers because they spend almost all of their days on the open road surrounded by an ever-changing view of nature and the outdoors. If there’s ever been a part of the country that you’ve wanted to see, then you’ll probably get a chance to see it (and more!) as a professional truck driver.
Opportunities and Benefits
Regardless of your level of experience, the truck driving industry is a field rife with benefits and opportunities for anyone and everyone willing to buckle up and get behind the wheel. Not every trucking company is the same though, so once you’ve acquired your CDL and are ready to hit the road, be sure to do your research and find a company that is willing to invest in you just as much as you’re willing to invest in them.
In addition to competitive pay—which is becoming increasingly commonplace in the industry—most companies will have standards and systems in place to ensure the well-being and safety of their drivers. This means having well-maintained equipment, ample vacation time so drivers can recover after long trips, insurance and other benefits, and more.
The Industry Needs Drivers
According to an often-cited report by the American Trucking Association, “the trucking industry will need to hire roughly 898,000 new drivers, or an average of nearly 90,000 per year” if it wants to keep up with demand. “Replacing retiring truck drivers will be by far the largest factor,” the report elaborates. It then explains that almost half of all new drivers will be hired for this purpose with the second largest factoring being “ industry growth, accounting for 28% of new driver hires.”
Those statistics are far from insignificant, and paint a picture of an industry that is very eager to recruit younger and more diverse drivers. Trucking companies are taking action, too, and many carriers are “aggressively, and smartly, raising driver sign-on bonuses, increasing pay, and providing financial aid options for potential drivers to attend driver training schools to get them their CDL licenses.”
Even if there wasn’t a shortage of drivers, the industry would still be eagerly searching for recruits. With Statista reporting that 40% of American internet users purchase products online more than once a month, and 20% of them buy items weekly, it’s safe to assume that the need for truck drivers isn’t going away anytime soon. Especially if industry analysts are correct and those percentages end up doubling by 2021.
The industry’s chronic need for new drivers has created an environment of stability and opportunity which is great news for truck drivers. Not only do companies pay their drivers on a per-mile-driven scale—meaning that the more miles you cover in a day, the more you earn—but opportunities for growth and expansion are frequent. Your first year of driving may be part of an over the road (OTR) team, to help you build up experience, but the longer you commit to the job the faster you’ll be able to accelerate your career.
There are other financial factors to keep in mind as well, such as the income incentives many companies offer their drivers via safety and loyalty programs. This means that the safer you drive, and the longer you drive for the same company, the more opportunities for additional income you’ll unlock.
Success in the trucking industry comes down to commitment and integrity, and carriers across the country have no qualms about rewarding drivers who represent those qualities.
Kickstart Your Career with Lily!
When you kickstart your truck driving career with Lily Transportation, you’ll not only be taking the first steps toward a wealth of professional experience, but you’ll also become part of a large and diverse family of people who love what they do. We’re always looking for new, passionate drivers to join our team, and would love to hear from you!
At Lily, we believe that it’s our people who are our greatest asset. They’re the backbone and foundation of what makes Lily Transportation such an enduring presence in the transportation industry. This is why we do whatever we can to make sure every one of our employees is equipped with the tools and support they need to thrive on-and-off the job.
When you join our team as a new driver, you’ll have access to a diverse array of benefits, including:
- Blue Cross Blue Shield Medical and Dental Insurance
- Paid Holiday and Vacation Time
- Matching 401K
- Safety Bonuses
- Health and Wellness Program
- Meticulously maintained equipment
- And much more!
If you’re interested in learning more about how Lily Transportation can help you find a place in the trucking industry, then please visit our Careers Page or give us a call at 800-248-5459. We can’t wait to hear from you!