No matter what industry you’re in, the first year on the job is always going to be a learning process. This is especially true for the trucking industry. Once you’ve passed your CDL training and have begun your new truck driving job, you’ll find that there are plenty of things you still need to learn. As a first-year truck driver, you’ll have your ups and downs, but in the end it’s always worth it.
1. First-Year Truck Drivers Get The Worst Routes
No matter where you end up working, you’re going to start at the bottom of the totem pole. There are other drivers ahead of you who have years of experience, and they’re going to get those plum jobs. Meanwhile, as a first-year truck driver, you’ll more than likely get the worst routes that are left over. Don’t take it personally, but be prepared for it. It’s simply the nature of the business.
Instead of getting down on yourself, use this as experience, which is the most important thing in your first year. Over your career as a truck driver, you’re going to run into all kinds of obstacles. Take these instances as a great learning experience. When you’ve dealt with more problems later on in your career, you can use these moments on your résumé.
Despite the poor jobs you may be getting, collecting as many miles under your belt as possible is the most important thing you can do in your first year.
2. You Might Be Stuck With A Driver Trainer
There’s a pretty good chance that, as a first-year truck driver, a good portion of your first year you’ll be doing your routes with a driver trainer. Depending on who you’re with, this can be either a very good or a very poor experience.
The truck cabin is already pretty small when you consider how much time you spend in it and the important items you’ll pack. Now add in another human being in those close quarters, and things can get difficult.
Either way you’re going to be stuck with this person, so you may as well make the best of it and understand where they’re coming from. Just understand that they probably don’t want to be spending so much time in such a small place with another human being, either. The better you try to understand each other, the easier your time will be. Use this time to gain experience and knowledge from your trainer.
3. Be Prepared To Be Away From Home
As mentioned earlier, as a first-year truck driver you’re going to be given the least appealing routes and jobs. With that comes being on the road for long periods of time.
Since you’re a rookie, you won’t have the ability to create your own schedule and get favorable routes and times. Those with more experience and relationships in the industry will get those. Be prepared to spend a lot of time on the road, away from your family. It can be difficult, but the experience is all worth it in the end, when you get to make your own schedule and are earning a lot of money for your loved ones.
4. Time Management Is Everything
You’ve heard the cliché before: time is money. In the trucking industry, that is especially true. Your time spent on the road is money for both you and for your employer.
As a first-year truck driver, managing your time properly is absolutely crucial to gaining experience, as well as trust with your employer and dispatchers. They want to know that you’re able to be on time (barring any unforeseen incidents), and they want to know that they can trust you to deliver a load in the expected timeframe.
For a company to consistently get good contracts from clients, the client needs to know they can depend on the trucking company. That’s where your consistent, on-time delivery comes into play. If you’re out on the road by yourself, that means you’re your own boss. You need to treat yourself like you would an employee and ensure you aren’t taking extended breaks, and that you’re doing your absolute best at your job.
5. Stay Safe On The Road
This might sound like common sense, but making sure you follow truck driving regulations and avoid accidents and tickets will show your company that you’re not a screw-up.
Part of the reason why it’s difficult for a first-year truck driver is that you’re being tested. Companies want to see you prove yourself in order to weed out those who aren’t cut out for the lifestyle.
Keeping a clean record goes a long way towards your truck driver salary. The better record you have, the more attractive a driver you are to companies and dispatchers. This shows that they can depend on you to get the job done in a safe manner.
Remember that this isn’t different from any other job field that you enter. No one gets into a new career and goes straight to the top. It’s all about gaining experience and working your way up the ladder as a first-year truck driver. No matter what company you work for, it’s important to ask your employer the right questions before committing to work for them. Understanding the job beforehand will lessen the chance of regret later on.
Use your first year to gain all the experience and seat time possible. Ask other drivers questions when you get a chance. Make sure you’re treating dispatchers right. Having a good relationship with them will make life easier down the road when you’re not a first-year truck driver anymore.