Living the life of a commercial truck driver can be extremely rewarding and full of adventure. You’ll get to see different parts of the country, meet interesting people at rest stops, drive for long stretches often looking out onto beautiful scenery.
If you love solitude and you love driving, driving a semi-truck delivering loads across the country can be a great career. However, there are some drawbacks, and you may not realize all of them right away.
If you’re thinking about getting your CDL and driving a tractor trailer for a living, consider these points before jumping into this career.
1. Do you want to be an owner-operator?
One of the first questions you should ask yourself is whether you’d like to work for a trucking company or become a self-employed owner-operator. Both options are rewarding, but there are pros and cons to each.
When you become an owner-operator, for instance, you’ll need to buy and maintain your own truck. Thankfully, it’s easy to get an affordable used semi by importing one from Canada. You’ll save around 30% by importing a semi-truck, and when you use a broker, they’ll handle all the logistics for you.
When you work for a trucking company, they’ll provide you with a truck and handle all the maintenance. However, the drawback is that you won’t have much freedom. Being an owner-operator, you’ll get to choose your jobs. When you work for a company, you’ll be assigned jobs and will be obligated to follow their routes and schedules.
2. Do you love solitude?
Being a truck driver will mean driving thousands of miles alone. If you think you enjoy solitude now, it’s important to ask yourself how much solitude you can handle. Sometimes being alone sounds appealing, but the reality of how much time alone you’ll spend is far more than you might be able to handle.
Imagine going on a week-long road trip by yourself. You’re the only driver and the only human interaction you’ll get is when you stop for food or hit the shower at a rest stop. This will be your life, not just once in a while, but nonstop, as long as you’re driving a truck for a living.
3. Can you handle small spaces?
Most of the time, you’ll be living in an 8’ x 8’ space in your truck. Between spending your time in the cab and in your sleeper section, you’re not going to have much room to move around. It will be somewhat like living in a small RV.
Can you handle living in a small space even after you’ve spent hours driving? You can always get out of your truck to stretch, walk around, and enjoy the fresh air. However, you’ll be giving up the ability to move around like you do in your home.
If you can handle small spaces for long periods of time, you’ll be fine living on the road in your truck. If that doesn’t sound appealing, you may want to reconsider your career options.
4. Are you okay without exercise?
Being a truck driver means not getting much exercise, if any. The job is demanding, but you’ll be sitting down most of the time. You won’t have the opportunity to go to the gym regularly, and you won’t have the space to do yoga in your truck. If you want to get a workout in, you’ll need to do it in the parking lot, but even then, you’ll probably be too tired.
If you’re the type of person who needs to exercise on a regular basis to maintain your health, driving a truck would make it difficult to stay healthy. On the other hand, if you have a fast metabolism, can be sedentary for long periods of time, and can make do with light walking for exercise, you’d probably be okay driving a truck.
5. Are you okay being away from home?
Being a truck driver will put stress on your family. If you have people at home who depend on you emotionally, like a spouse or young kids, driving a truck is probably not the right career for you. However, if your kids are grown and you don’t have anyone at home, you don’t have to worry about being away.
Consider all of your options first
Before diving in to get your CDL, consider all of your career options. If you’re drawn to driving a truck for the sake of driving a truck, you might find it to be your calling. However, if you’re just looking for a career with a good salary, you might find something else less stressful.