I talk to a lot of drivers out there from day to day, but I find a lot of different reasons for people entering into the trucking industry as drivers. From direct observations though the reason usually lies on one end of the spectrum or the other, often being a case of either someone’s last resort, or much like my own the complete opposite direction where trucking was my first choice. Regardless of which choice it is, the reason trucking was ultimately chosen usually deals with the ability to still earn a fair wage that is reflected directly by the amount of effort one can put into it!
When I analyzed my likes and dislikes when considering my post-military career choices, since there wasn’t really a need for parachute riggers in the civilian world, I considered the things I enjoyed doing outside of work as part of my decision. Always loving wide-open spaces, road trips and driving of any kind, as well as having a love for all types of big equipment, over-the-road driving just seemed like a natural fit. Of course this was pre-wife and kids, so the long stints on the road and being away were not so much of a deal breaker as they might be for me now if I was just getting into it. The fact that the country will always need trucks for goods to be delivered helped me deduce it would be a stable career path and I liked the fact that I could control my income to a certain extent, essentially driving more to make more. Although some might consider me too much an optimist for the way I approached my fledgling career as a driver, that optimistic attitude along with research and planning have made for a pretty fair outcome thus far.
What surprises me when analyzing my conversations with others however, are the amount of drivers that actually got into the trucking industry because it was their “last resort” so-to-speak. It is of course these drivers I tend to have the hardest time convincing that a career can be had out of driving a truck, not just a job or a lifestyle. I have a friend that entered in this manner, being laid off during the beginning of the last U.S. recession from a corporate desk job, finding with his skillsets that he would not have been able to provide gainful employment anytime quickly, with a wife and family to support. The fact that he could start in a completely new industry and still make a livable age with the right company to start with, gave him the boost to overcome the intimidation and make the jump into being a driver. Although not the most ideal of circumstances to start as a truck driver, he is now earning a livable wage and settled into a local/regional position that gets him home nearly nightly and weekends, being happy enough with the situation that he doesn’t plan on returning to a desk again.
Of the many conversations I have out there with folks about what got them started in trucking, it surprises me how a grand majority of the stories I hear are on either on one end of the “first choice/last resort” spectrum or the other. I can especially understand where the “last resort” option tends to show up regularly when talking to other veterans. Some job skillsets attained in the military are not always conducive to finding a job in the civilian world once discharged, but in trucking their unique discipline, training and skills will more often than not prove to be priceless even if they have never even driven a truck before. I still believe to this day that trucking can be a directly impacted source of income in relation to how hard you work and that is why I am glad it was my first choice all those years ago. Though I had other skills and abilities I could have pursued, much like many other “first choicers” I have talked with, the unique ability to get back more when I put in more is what has always kept me sticking with it. Whether it is your first choice, or even your last resort, remember that you alone control the outcome by using yourself as the center of your decision. Educate yourself, immerse yourself in the industry and never stop looking forward out the windshield wondering how far you can truly go!