It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to hear this, but not all truck drivers are paid equally. In fact, there can be huge differences in how much two drivers are paid, even if they both attended a good truck training school and they have roughly the same level of seniority and experience.
While truck driving is currently an in-demand job, and it’s not hard for even mediocre drivers to find work… if you want to make the big bucks, you’re going to have to work for it. Your own choices will make a lot of difference in how much you make each payday. So, let’s talk about some of these factors. At 5th Wheel we want all our trucking and CDL students to have long and prosperous careers, and we know what can help make the difference.
Five Ways To Improve Your Wages & Jobs After Graduating Truck Training School
1 – Attend the right truck training school
Yes, even among CDL schools, there’s a lot of variation in how good of an education they provide – and employers know this. Just as in other fields, attending a well-regarded school will go a long way towards getting your career off on the right foot.
In particular, if you want to improve your odds, attend a school that offers actual in-cab training in working environments. The more actual hands-on experience you get with vehicles, the more attractive you’ll be to employers. On the other hand, if you attend one of the cheap schools that only focuses on helping you pass your CDL test, you’ll be at a disadvantage when it comes to experience.
The best schools will even have resources in place to help you find jobs, or even host recruiters looking for their best and brightest students.
2 – If they ask you to work, the answer is yes
Reliability is a huge part of being a successful truck driver. Whether you’re under contract or an independent operator, shippers want to know they can rely on you to take jobs when they need you.
So, you should not turn down jobs unless you absolutely positively have no other choice in the matter. If it only happens once or twice, ever, an employer is likely to be understanding – especially if it’s for something truly important like a childbirth. However, the more times you decline, the less they’ll rely on you, and the more likely they are to call someone else when a lucrative load suddenly pops up.
Basically, if a driver isn’t willing to take a job when a shipper needs them, they can’t expect that shipper to do them any favors if they need more money.
3 – Attitude is everything
There’s a particular group who are the bane of shipping companies: the “terminal rats.” These are drivers who seem to spend a lot of time complaining while hanging around shipping terminals. They don’t get enough miles. They aren’t paid enough. Their dispatcher is an idiot. Their shipping company doesn’t look out for them. They aren’t getting jobs because of politics or other office drama.
You probably know the type.
The thing is, these folks are usually the architects of their own downfall. Now, to be clear, abuses can happen – but when someone is sitting around claiming that they’re innocent victims and the entire world is against them, it’s probably not that simple.
Maintaining a positive attitude will go so far in helping you advance your career and be more attractive to shippers and other employers. If you’re enthusiastic and have a positive attitude towards your job, your employers will notice, and it looks very good on you.
And whatever you do, don’t pay attention to the terminal rats’ griping. They’ll just drag you down with them, or give you terrible advice. If their careers are flatlined, don’t look to them for answers on how to improve your own.
4 – Set goals for yourself
Early on, your goal in trucking is just going to be to survive and thrive. And that’s fine. However, once you’re settled in and past the initial learning curve, it’s time to start looking further down the road. (So to speak.)
What do you really want out of your career?
Perhaps want to aim for the big bucks and try to retire early. Maybe you want to buy your own truck and go independent, living on the road. Maybe you want to aim for management, or a training position, once you get enough experience. There are plenty of options – but you should have a clear idea of where you’re headed.
This doesn’t just give you a goal, it gives you motivation. Many truckers will tell you that the greatest moment of their career was when they could finally afford to buy their own sleeper. That didn’t happen overnight. They spent years working hard, knowing that their new Freightliner or Peterbilt was ahead of them.
Also, give yourself milestones. Major life goals are a step-by-step process. Break down what it’ll take for you to achieve your goals, and then you can celebrate every time you find yourself one step closer.
5 – Go above and beyond.
Finally, at the risk of being trite, nothing succeeds like success. The harder you work, and the more thought and effort you put into doing a great job, the more it’s truly likely to pay off.
Don’t just hop in the cab and drive in the morning. Take a few minutes to plan out your route. Look for potential obstacles or situations where you might find yourself in rush hour traffic. Avoid them, so you don’t get caught in a traffic snarl.
If you’re driving around a city, do enough research to know where the good and bad areas are – and avoid the bad ones.
Follow the rules of the road. This might sound obvious, but it’s amazing how many drivers get sloppy about even the basics. Getting pulled over will create delays, cost you money, and embarrass your employers. Too many tickets could even endanger your license.
Take pride in your equipment, keep it clean and always leave it in better shape then it was when you took it over. How you look after the company equipment is a direct reflection on you, never forget that.
Practice defensive driving. Don’t let yourself be too complacent on the road. Stay alert and actively engaged in evaluating potential dangers around you. Few things will be better for your long-term career than having a great safety record.
Be proactive. Volunteer for jobs. They’ll probably remember that and do you a favor later on, like calling you first the next time a plumb job comes along.
Put in the effort. Do a great job. Get noticed.
5th Wheel Training Institute Gets You Off To A Great Start!
If you’re thinking about attending a truck training school in Ontario, 5th Wheel is among the most respected and well-established in the province. We have dedicated on-site training facilities offering hands-on experience in simulated work environments, along with teachers taken directly from the industry. Employers know that we produce some of the best entry-level truckers in the country, and they come directly to us for workers.
To learn more about how our truck training program can help you excel at your new career, just click here.