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What to Expect on Your 1st Year as a Trucker

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So you guys are coming out there, fresh and new, with your license, going to a trucking school. One thing's for sure: Your first year is going to be the absolute worst year. The trainers and the company are going to test you and see what you are really made of.

Assuming that you just got your license, just got out of trucking school, and you're going out for your first job. The thing is, 10% of you are lucky enough to find a job with a mom and pop operation/business; 90% are gonna end up stuck with a trainer. The disadvantage of the 10% here is aside from there's no training program, you're not going to benefit from somebody's trucking experience. Your driving skill level may be good, but the experience is the main thing.


On your first year, you will encounter the not-so-good situations. One of them is living in a cab. Considering the size of a truck sleeper, with two people, is really tough. It's highly recommended that you bring a cooler with you. Or if you can't afford to buy one, check with the trainer if he has and mind if you put your stuff in it. Choose a smaller unit. One that doesn't take up as much room. You're gonna need to put food in it because relying on truck stops is pretty expensive. Having a mini cooler/fridge is very convenient, plus you eat healthier food.

Another experience is you will be with a trainer from 2 weeks (for those who have a little bit experience), to a period of six months, depending on your skill level. Expect your training wages to be terrible. But at least a good average would be 25-30 cents.

Good training companies to start with are Swift, Schneider, and JB. They start their training pace a little bit higher. As you get through training, you're still not gonna make top wages, and you will be given some less desirable loads. Always remember that the trainers are still feeling you out. They're still seeing how you gonna do and how you respond to such things.

Expect that you're gonna be away from home for a long period of time. Some trucking companies send out away from home 2-3 weeks. In this case let your spouses and your families know. You have to get through your first year. Don't just quit easily because you're not getting home.

Now it's going to be tough in terms of financial. But be patient, as things are gonna start to look up for you. So suppose you got your one year and you survived. If you're not happy where you are and they're not treating you good enough, guess what? You can switch jobs. You have that option leaving and starting to look for a company that can give you decent mileage, etc.

What company do you look for? As you're starting to adjust again, try to look for something where you are a little bit more home time. Search for long haul companies (those that do a lot of regional and inter-modal). These are good jobs to get to be with more home time.

What long haul company do you look for? Look for somebody in your area or for some bigger companies. Chances in getting you home is better especially if they have terminals within 100-200 miles from your home. This is good if you have an extra car which you can park at the terminal and go home during weekends if you have no loads. If possible find a terminal close to home.

To sum it up right across the board, first-timers are not gonna get good wages starting off. But get through the first year and that's when it's all gonna get better for you. Good luck and be safe.

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  1. littlesusie's Avatar
    Thank you for the suggestions for trucking companies! Little Susie
  2. NHC's Avatar
    This is all good to know! Thanks!
  3. Marie's Avatar
    You're welcome, littlesusie and NHC.

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