Life as a Truck Driver – Balance Between Highway and Home

You might be on the road for 300 days a year. But remember whether you work in a desk a factory, or as a local driver you’re still gone all day (depending on shift). The big difference is that you will sleep in your own bed and in your house and not the truck.

A few other considerations:

  • Though your time is flexible, most days start early and run long;
  • You might put in 70 plus hours, but you’re not supposed to drive for more than 11 hours a day. You need to observe rest periods and such. So clock watching is important.
  • Typically the driver is paid by the mile, if you’re not moving (with a contracted load) you’re not getting paid (unless you’re paid hourly). There are two ways to calculate these miles, ‘practical’ which is based on the actual miles driven and ‘paid’ basically as the crow flies (a straight line).
  • It can be hard to calculate what your yearly salary will be (though 35-45,000 is a good estimate). Your pay will greatly increase after few years under your belt.
  • Even though you think you will just ‘drop and hook’, be prepared to load and unload, or wait for what will feel like an eternity.
  • The average driver does roughly 500 miles a day, reaching approximately 2,500 miles a week, which adds up to 125,000 miles a year!

The last thing to touch on regarding the working side of life as a truck driver is what it takes to become one.

I am sure you are not surprised to learn that The Department of Transportation (DOT), through the FMCSA has commercial driver’s license program and strict requirements for operating a commercial vehicle.

These include age, testing (written and skill), licensing, and medical. Now, once you pass and/or complete everything you will earn your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).

Keep in mind, the federal government has set the standards, but the individual states have their own requirements as well. When you get licensed in must be in your state of residence and in accordance with law.

The standard basic eligibility requirements are:

  • You must be 21 years old (to drive across state lines);
  • Have no felony or other disqualifying criminal history (Some trucking companies hire felony truck drivers do, but with convictions that are seven years old or more).

The next steps:

  • Take the test and get a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP);
  • Maintain this for at least 14 days;
  • Take the skills test, the road test…

The CDL test has three sections that must be completed and passed:

  • Vehicle inspection;
  • Basic controls exam;
  • Road test.

Keep in mind if… you want additional endorsements, such as HAZ-mat, you’ll need to apply and take the appropriate test. You have some requirement to get the CLP, they are:

  • Submit all required documentation and identity/citizenship related documents;
  • Your current state issued driver’s license;
  • A record of your driving history for the past 10 years;
  • Medical form, DOT physical as performed by a DOT approved physician;
  • Have a passing score on all skill related tests (passing score of 80%);
  • And of course you must pay all the associated fees.

Something that tends to get people is the fact that each state has the right to set up their own CDL test and approval how they want. Of course at a minimum they must observe the federal level requirements but they can add to them (just not take away).

So you must check with your state to see what additional, if any, requirements they have.

One of the more common requirements is the completion of an approved driving school. These can range in length and cost.

If you are prior service military with, commercial level driving experience, most states will waive the school requirements. Check with your local VA rep for more information regarding this.

I did say life as a truck driver can be challenging. But it is well worth it as well. As there are many good things that come from it. One of the best benefits is being your own boss. Oh sure you have schedules to keep and such, but your truck and the open road is your office.

And as long as you don’t mind your own company, you don’t have to worry about all the nonsense that comes with working around others.

This isn’t about being anti-social or not team-player, on the contrary, it is about not have to deal with the office politics that comes with most jobs.Most would agree the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to the working life of a truck driver.

Work Life Balance, There Is A Way

Ok, so I really went into detail trying to cover what is the working or highway side of living life as a truck driver. But is that all there is? Driving and driving? What about when you’re not driving?

Well you see this is truly one of the best perks about life as a truck driver. When your office and home is the same place you have no commute. It isn’t like other jobs; when your day is done you still have an hour or more of time before you’re home.

When you’re mobile, it’s wherever you choose to stop. It is really that simple.

If you are one who likes the finer things in life, you might need to rethink this line of work. But if you love seeing new places, checking out new things and the peacefulness of star-fill sky, then this is the right choice for you.

Just how many other jobs let travel and see all the crazy little things that make America, well, America!?

So if you like to go to roadside shops, or buy this from the farmer’s market you can easily do that. If you like to hike or bike you can do that too!



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