It’s no secret that the shipping industry is desperately in need of drivers. Stories have circulated about a truck driver shortage for years, and every other field that requires Commercial Driver’s Licenses also needs a lot of new workers. This makes commercial driving an excellent possibility for a new career, and a lot of people are looking into attending an Ontario truck training academy to get their CDL.
After all, who wouldn’t want to enter a job field where pretty much any company in the industry is going to be competing to hire you?
However, the truth is truck driving is not for everyone. Even as a truck driving school, we want people to recognize this. There are a lot of great aspects to being a trucker, for the right kind of person – but there are also significant drawbacks to consider before deciding that this should be your new career.
So, in this article, we wanted to break down real-world aspects of truck driving, and the overall pros and cons of the job.
Breaking Down the Positives And Negatives Of The Trucker Life
1 – Independence vs Responsibility
If you want a job where you don’t have supervisors breathing down your neck, and you’re usually trusted to simply do your job without micromanagement, truck driving can be an amazing experience. Once you’re on the road with a load, it’s just you and the open highway. Sure, you have dispatchers that you can contact for advice or help when you need it, but generally speaking, you’re left alone as long as you’re getting the job done.
The tradeoff here is responsibility. If something goes wrong, if you get in an accident, if the load you’re entrusted with becomes damaged, that’s on you. When you’re 1,500 miles from home with a half-million dollars in cargo behind you, it can begin to feel downright isolating. You often have no safety net.
True self-reliance and self-confidence are absolute necessities for a truck driver.
2 – Travel vs Stability
Ask a career truck driver what the best part of the job is, and they’re likely to talk about the driving itself. If you want to explore all the beauty and riches of North America, there are few better jobs. A long-haul trucker will be able to see and appreciate both Canada and the USA in ways that few other people ever will. Beautiful mountains, expansive plains, soaring skylines… you’ll see it all.
However, don’t expect to be home much. The best long-haul truckers are generally those without much family because you can potentially be away from your home for weeks at a time. Of course, short-haul work is also an option here, but even that can frequently keep you away from home for extended periods.
You have to be comfortable living a semi-nomadic life, with “home” being more of an abstract concept than someplace you’ll return to very often.
3 – The Fun Life vs The Healthy Life
Going hand-in-hand with all the travel involved in trucking is how much fun it can be to have the freedom to go almost anywhere you want – especially if you go independent with your own rig as a broker. If you own your truck, it effectively becomes your mobile home. You can pick jobs as you like, go where you want, and you never have to worry about where you’ll be sleeping because your home is always with you.
Unfortunately, this can easily lead to very unhealthy habits, particularly in regards to eating. Even the best-equipped sleeper truck is going to have limited options for food storage and cooking, often little more than a mini-fridge, microwave, and maybe a single small electric burner. This leads to poor eating habits or a lot of drive-through fast food. Add to that the fact that you’re simply sitting for 90%+ of your day, and it is little wonder that truckers have a reputation for being out-of-shape.
So, if you want to stay healthy, you’ll need to be proactive about it, and get creative about managing food and exercise while on the road.
4 – Freedom vs. loneliness
Are you OK being alone for extended periods of time? When is the last time you went a week without having a single face-to-face conversation with another person? Are you going to be all right living “in your head” for days at a time?
This is a serious consideration if you’re looking into truck driving, especially long-haul trucking. You will spend the vast majority of your time alone in a truck cab, maybe talking to other people via CB or Skype, but rarely having much in the way of direct human contact. For some people, this may even be a positive – introverts tend to take very well to trucking.
But if you’re someone who wants human contact and company, this may not be the right job for you.
Of course, some truckers do partner up, with a friend or a companion, but then that means splitting all the wages as well. Plus, a sleeper truck is very cozy when two people are living in it, so you better really like each other. In general, you should assume you’ll be trucking alone, and you need to be truly OK with that.
5 – Regulations vs self-monitoring
Finally, there’s the matter of rules of the road. There are extensive regulations that truckers have to follow, far more than non-commercial drivers. You’ll be looking at doing a lot of paperwork, having to log your hours, even following mandatory regulations on how long you can drive in a single stretch. While your trucking company and dispatchers will be able to help you with these aspects, by and large, it will be on your shoulders to know, remember, and follow all relevant regulations and laws.
If you aren’t good at policing your behavior, truck driving may not work out very well for you. Despite all the freedom the job offers, a trucker does need to have a level of self-awareness and self-restraint. You’ll be expected to keep yourself in line, and failure to do so could quickly harm your career – or even get you in real trouble with the law.
Get A Quality Education at 5th Wheel Training Institute’s Ontario Truck Training Academy
If you’ve read through this and you’re thinking “Yes, truck driving is definitely the job for me!” then welcome aboard. 5th Wheel Training Institute would love to help you move into your new career. Since the 1985, we’ve been one of the best and most respected truck driving schools in Ontario. Our courses offer both classroom work, to help you pass your CDL, as well as genuine hands-on experience in our simulated job sites. We’ve also got extensive industry contacts, so getting a job right after graduation is quite likely!
When you’re ready to take the next step towards becoming a truck driver, click here to find out more about us.