More than 10.5 billion tons of cargo are transported across the United States, Europe, and the rest of the world every year. This means that 3.6 million heavy-duty class 8 trucks are needed to meet these transportation needs, and each of these vehicles requires a driver to pick up and deliver the merchandise. As a result, more than 3.5 million Americans make their living as professional truckers, making it one of the most popular jobs in the United States. Trade associations in the trucking industry predict that the amount of cargo moving through North America will increase by 25% by 2030, ensuring a constant supply of new jobs as a truck driver.
In addition, the current shortage of drivers, combined with the growing recognition by most people that professional drivers are essential workers, make the idea of becoming a driver with a commercial driver's license (CDL) attractive to many people. But professional driving is more than just a job; it's a lifestyle and one that isn't for everyone. It has its many rewards and benefits, but it also comes with a wealth of challenges. Driving a truck is a well-paid profession where the “cost of entry” is low; few occupations offer such attractive incomes without requiring college degrees or even high school diplomas or GEDs.
In fact, you can learn to drive large trucks or passenger buses safely at driving schools located across the country in just a few weeks, and graduates can get their license quickly and nearly 100% of driving school graduates find work within a couple of weeks after graduating. Many will have multiple offers and options. But many times, fleets will train you, at their expense, in driving schools managed by the company - all just for the sake of agreeing to work for them for a period of time after you've trained. Get ready for personal hygiene challenges on the road; truck stops offer showers, but quality and cleanliness vary and can often be much lower than what you're used to in your home. Roadside bathing can be just as difficult.
Drivers are also at greater risk of contracting infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, since the nature of their jobs means that they interact with many people every day in uncontrolled situations. The advantages of long-distance transportation are numerous: being independent, paying to travel, experiencing something different every day, having job security and reducing costs are some of the reasons why many men and women choose to follow the trucker lifestyle. Truckers earn a good living; carriers cover a lot of expenses (tolls, repairs, fuel, etc.), so your paycheck goes into your pocket - unless you're an owner-operator. You're comfortable knowing that the money you earn is the money you keep. Traveling gives long-distance truckers the opportunity to watch professional sports games, visit large metropolitan areas and meet people from everywhere. Becoming a long-distance driver and starting the trucker lifestyle may seem daunting, but with the right mindset and knowledge this career decision can truly turn out as you imagine it.
As with all races, becoming a long-distance driver has advantages and disadvantages in addition to living the trucker lifestyle. Truck drivers can choose the type of transport they want to carry out - whether local, long-distance or interregional - with flatbed trucks being a popular choice because jobs tend to be higher paying, meaning you'll be transporting everything from grass to airplanes. If you decide to go on a long-distance route regularly, you'll face a number of different weather conditions. If you hate working hard, sitting behind a desk, dealing with office politics and attending long meetings then trucking might be for you. Unlike most nine-to-five year jobs being a long-distance trucker means you can set your own schedule for the most part. Transportation companies understand that driving trucks is a demanding job and therefore offer a wide variety of benefits to attract their employees. Deciding to become a long-distance truck driver isn't just about starting a new career but about starting a new lifestyle; the trucker's lifestyle.
Long hours on the road, truck stops meals and lack of physical activity can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle for long-distance drivers. Another advantage of becoming a long-distance truck driver is that on average truckers can earn a comfortable salary. While it's important to maintain a daily schedule the lifestyle of long-distance truckers brings something new every day. Being on the road for a long time can cause truckers to adopt unhealthy habits that can turn into long-term health problems.