The lifestyle of a trucker is something that hundreds of thousands of people aspire to attain. Not only does this career give you the chance to explore the length and breadth of the country, giving you access to the open road and a sense of freedom, but it can also lead you to a successful, profitable career in which you work on your own terms and take shifts that suit you and your loved ones. In this article, we’ll break down what you’ll need to do to become a successful trucker in 2022.
Let’s start with the most obvious barrier to entry for this profession: the fact that you simply cannot drive a heavy vehicle without a trucking license. This can be a little costly to attain, which is why some aspiring truckers start out with smaller vehicles and more local deliveries before moving up to the haulage level of delivering. Still, it’s worth getting your trucking license under your belt if you’re sure you’ll one day want to work on the heavier loads.
Getting the license takes a number of days, and often you’ll want to book in advance. Given the recent shortage in truckers, you might well find that some firms are offering discounts on driving courses. Do check to see which offer you the best deal.
You’re then present with two choices as a qualified truck driver. You can either purchase your own vehicle, which will make you an owner operator of a truck, or you can work for a large haulage company, in which case you’ll drive their vehicles and you won’t own the vehicle that you work in. As it’s more likely that you won’t have the cash to own a large hauling truck just yet, we’ll work off the assumption that you’ll first work for a haulage firm.
In these cases, you’ll just need to pick a firm that you believe will give you the work that you’re aspiring to complete. Check a handful of haulage firms in your area and ask their current employees what it’s like to work there. Complete interviews and tests and join at least one of these firms. You’re looking to establish relationships that you’ll use later in your career.
After you’ve joined a haulage firm, you’ll be issued your first jobs. You might be slightly nervous about these, and that’s fine; everyone’s a little apprehensive when they try out a new job or skill. The trick here is to be confident and to make a note of everything you need to do successfully in order to impress your boss and ensure you’re not letting anyone down at either end of the delivery. These key steps include:
- Updating the app that tracks your vehicle and the contents that it contains
- Supervising the loading of the items into your truck, and checking that everything that’s supposed to be there is indeed there
- Doing a cursory check to see if anything’s damaged before transit
- Signing documents
- Following GPS apps to carry your load to its destination, and ensuring that your haulage firm’s app is also working in the background
If you manage to deliver your first loads without incident and to the deadline set by all parties, you’ll quickly gain a reputation as a reliable haulage employee, and this is likely to see you given better and better jobs. It’s a great way to learn, to progress, and to be seen as someone that multiple senior employees can trust on the bigger and more important jobs.
So, let’s say that you’ve worked in haulage firms for around a year. It’s likely that you’ve had a steady stream of orders, and that you’ve built a reputation as someone who can be trusted to get things from A to B. Importantly, you’ll have a year’s worth of incomings, and a lump sum of cash, which you can show to a loan company to show that you will be able to finance the purchase of your own truck.
This is a pivotal moment in a trucker’s career, and it’s often a moment that lower-level truckers avoid. Owning and operating your own truck does come with its own responsibilities – like making sure you’re insured, for instance. But it also comes with significant perks, in that you can now choose when you work and who you work for, which is a brilliant step to take if you buy your own truck.
Finding New Work
If you’ve just become a truck owner-operator, it’s time for you to find jobs outside of the agencies and haulage firms in which you cut your teeth as a driver. At first, that’ll seem a little difficult. Remember, though, that there are literally hundreds of jobs out there each day, and you just need to skim one or two off the surface in order to start making better money out of your haulage efforts.
Find truck loads for owner operators by reading online guides designed for ambitious truckers like you, and by associating yourself with the online platforms that regularly share the details of deliveries that are required in your area. Keep your contact book full of haulage operators who will know you’re someone to call with a job offer and make your rates as an independent trucker known in your area. You’ll soon find that going it alone is more profitable than working for a haulage firm.
Finally, if you want to progress further in your career, you’ll have a number of options. One is to set up your own haulage firm, using all the experience you’ve gained on the road to operate a tight and profitable business that means that you can, if you wish, leave the open road behind altogether.
Another is to further specialize as a driver choosing only the jobs that you know will deliver the most money into your bank account each month. Savvy truckers know which routes are most profitable and tend to carve out a space where these are the only routes they ever drive.
There you have it: some key tips to help you become a successful trucker in the months and years to come.