Transitioning from military to civilian life is no easy task. After time spent in the military, where every day is unpredictable, getting reacclimatized as a civilian can be an overwhelming challenge. Finding a new line of work can be a great resource to help find your footing again.
This is where the trucking and logistics industry can help. Whether you know it or not, your unique experience and mission-focused work ethic make you a great fit for an industry that is ready and eager to find a place for you in its ranks.
If you’re a veteran searching for a new career path after the military, then the trucking industry is a great place to start. It’s an industry that pays its drivers well, offers travel opportunities, provides its drivers with a wealth of benefits, and is a relatively easy industry to break into. All of this works together to make it a great option for anyone who is looking for an exciting new career and lifestyle.
To help you decide whether this industry could be the place for you, here’s a comprehensive list of all the ways a trucking career can help make your transition from military to civilian life easier.
Table of Contents:
You Already Have the Experience
As a military veteran, your experience in ever-changing scenarios makes you uniquely qualified for a number of careers. Your dynamic leadership skills, ability to thrive as part of a team, a fierce sense of commitment, and ability to adapt to the situation at hand are incredibly valuable skills that make you someone plenty of companies are eager to hire.
This is especially true for the trucking industry. Trucking companies are eager to work with diverse individuals who have the dedication and experience necessary to thrive in the industry.
1) Leadership Ability
Military veterans have an intimate understanding of the importance of leadership. Your experience in the service has equipped you with the discipline, resolve, and understanding that are innate in a leader.
This is a very appealing quality to trucking companies. Truckers must take initiative to lead and make educated decisions when needed in order to overcome obstacles on the road. These are all abilities that military veterans are experienced in, making them a valuable addition to any trucking company.
2) Operating as Part of a Team
While many truck drivers drive solo, some companies—such as Lily Transportation—also offer over-the-road (OTR) driving teams where two drivers work together in alternating shifts in order to spend less time stopped and more time on the road. Regardless of which role best fits you, military veterans are uniquely prepared to thrive in both solo and team driving situations.
Whether you choose to drive solo or as part of a team, there’s a special sense of community in the trucking industry. Whether you’re interacting with other drivers on the road or swapping stories with co-workers, truck drivers enjoy being part of a community built on a passion for their careers.
This is yet another reason why military veterans are qualified for a trucking career. You know how valuable teamwork and community can be, and for someone transitioning from military to civilian life, this camaraderie can be especially important.
3) Sense of Commitment
Being committed to a task’s completion is a must in any field of work, but when you’re behind the wheel of a large truck carrying cargo across the country, that commitment is more important than ever.
As a veteran, your mission-focused experience in the military has trained you properly to understand the importance of committing to the task at hand. Your ability to filter out distractions and see a job through to its successful completion makes you an attractive candidate to trucking companies across the country.
Ease of Entry
Where some careers require years of education and schooling before you’ll even be considered for the position, the trucking industry is different. Success as a truck driver does demand some education and training, but the extent and time commitment are less substantial than most careers, and as a military veteran, you may even qualify for the military skills test waiver program that is provided through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Even if you don’t qualify for a waiver program, getting started in a trucking career is still a straightforward process.
1) How to Obtain Your Commercial Driver’s License
The first step in obtaining your commercial driver’s license is to obtain a CDL manual from your local state DMV. This manual will be your textbook, of sorts, as it’ll help you study for the written exam you’ll need to complete before you can take the skills test that’ll earn you your CDL.
You’ll also need to decide on what classification of CDL you’ll need for your desired trucking role. Here’s a breakdown of the three CDL classifications you can consider and the requirements of each one, as outlined on DMV.org:
Class A License: Required to operate any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more.
Class B License: Required to operate a single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or heavier and/or any vehicle as described above that is towing another vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs.
Class C License: Required if the vehicle you intend to drive does not meet the criteria for either a Class A or Class B license and is meant to transport at least 16 passengers (to include you, the driver) or any hazardous material (HAZMAT) as laid out by federal guidelines.
In addition, depending on what CDL you’re pursuing, you might need endorsements for specific types of trailers and vehicles. These can involve taking additional skill or written tests and are intended to show you’re an experienced and educated professional behind the wheel of whatever class of truck you drive.
After you take and pass your driving skills test, you’ll be CDL-certified and fully-equipped with the tools and experience needed to thrive in your new role as a truck driver.
However, if your MOS in the military was heavy equipment, then you might qualify for the aforementioned military skills test waiver program that would mean only needing to take the written-portion of the CDL test.
2) Programs for Veterans
Here at Lily Transportation, for example, we offer veterans a one-of-a-kind training program that won’t deplete your veteran benefits. After your CDL-certification is complete, you can enter into Lily’s veteran training program, which includes:
A fully paid curriculum that doesn’t require the use of your GI Bill benefits
A paid salary of $800 per week, while in training, including company benefits
Annual compensation in the $70,000+ range upon graduation
A one-year commitment from you in an over-the-road assignment
Lily Transportation Corp. acknowledges and values the wealth of skills and experiences the men and women who have served in our military exemplify in their daily lives, and we are committed to providing them with a safe, secure, and productive place of employment.
We are actively working to increase our percentage of employed veterans by 10% every year, and our unique veterans’ program is designed to help make your transition from military to civilian life as seamless as possible.
Finding Adventure on the Open Road
The transition from one career to another is almost always a challenge. One of the tricks, according to an article by Forbes, is “to find the crossover—to look for skills and talents you use in your present career that apply to the new career you are interested in.”
There are plenty of people and services who are willing to help you in this transition. Like the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), these services can be helpful as you begin to search for a new career. You want to find a career path that’s a good fit for you and your skillset, but you also want to identify a career that you’ll find fulfilling and exciting.
1) Life on the Road
Truck driving is a lifestyle. Career truck drivers are tasked with the important job of delivering products, goods, and other cargo all over the country. This means committing to long hours, days, or even weeks on the road, and needing to remain alert, focused and safe for the duration.
For most drivers, there’s an incredible amount of satisfaction to be found in successfully overcoming any and all of the challenges they encounter on the open road. Every day is different in the trucking industry and will expose you to new people, new sights, and new situations to effectively handle and solve.
This kind of lifestyle can be especially meaningful to military veterans, as the time spent behind the wheel can be both calming and exciting. Your attention is engaged, your senses alert, and you have a clearly defined goal to focus on and strive toward.
2) See the Sights
There are very few jobs that allow for the kind of extensive travel that a trucking career does. While that travel is part of the job, you’ll still be seeing the country’s sights in a way few people really get to. Across all seasons, all times of day, and all environments, truck drivers get to experience the country in an up-close and personal way.
For people who love the open road, there’s nothing better than coast-to-coast driving. One trucker even told Thrillist.com that she had driven in places where you could look down on valleys that looked like “landscape paintings.” There’s no end to the diversity and serenity you can find out on the open road as a truck driver: all you have to do is get behind the wheel and see it for yourself.
3) Wealth of Opportunities
In addition to the exciting travel opportunities, trucking careers can also provide you with tremendous benefits. With the industry in need of drivers, trucking companies like Lily Transportation value their employees and are more than willing to support them in as many ways as they can in order to ensure they have happy, driven, and productive employees.
Because of the industry’s need for employees, there’s a healthy degree of job security and financial stability you can rely on. Most companies tend to pay their drivers on a per-mile basis, meaning the more ground you cover the more income you’ll be able to earn.
A Road Towards the Future
Transitioning from the dynamic and ever-changing world of the military back into civilian life can be a challenge for a lot of people but you don’t have to do it alone. Looking for an exciting new career path can be a fantastic way to not only keep yourself busy as you continue to transition back into civilian life, but it’ll also help you meet new people, make new memories, and experience the world in a way you never have before.
If you’re interested in more information about how a career in the logistics and trucking industry could help you, Lily Transportation would love to talk with you. Your unique experiences, mission-focused work ethic, and specific skill set are all qualities that make you an ideal candidate for a career as a professional truck driver.
Everyone at Lily Transportation is excited about your new career opportunities and want to see you succeed in whatever you do. If you have any questions about the trucking industry or any of the resources we have available for military veterans, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 800-248-5459 or on our careers page.