What’s an Entry Level CDL Job Like?
If you’re a newly licensed truck driver or thinking about CDL training, you’re probably wondering what an entry level CDL truck driving job is like. Every professional was once a beginner, and seasoned truck drivers are not an exception.
It takes a while to learn about the ins and outs of the industry and get some miles and experience under your belt. Read on for pointers to help you prepare for the unexpected and go from entry level driver to a pro with ease.
Finding a Job Right After CDL Training
Trucking is one of the rare industries where you’re in high demand immediately after your license acquisition. With a national truck driver shortage, there are hundreds of companies that not only want to hire you, but will even pay to train you for the job and repay your trucking school tuition.
With multiple companies so eager to offer you an employment, you get the luxury to pick the one that offers the best value. Don’t choose the very first carrier that you find. Do your research; get picky!
First Trucking Job: What’s It Like?
Your first trucking job most likely will be a long haul, or as it’s more commonly known in the industry, Over The Road (OTR). OTR drivers are usually gone for several days, weeks, or sometimes even months at a time delivering goods across the country.
Driving OTR for the first 6 months is the most traditional path for the drivers who want to not just put their foot in the door, but fully submerge themselves into the trucking world.
It’s important to point out that there are many companies who hire entry level drivers for local and regional positions, but they usually require additional endorsements and rigorous training.
Truck Driver Salary Info
Trucking is an overall high paying career, but as an entry level driver, it’s important to set realistic expectations for your first 6 months to a year. Your first job will pay lower rates compared to the seasoned professionals, but your first goal here is to gain experience -- not make bank right away.
(By the way, many companies offer sign-on bonuses for the new hires, which can serve as a nice financial cushion at the beginning of your career!)
Be patient, choose a reputable carrier that offers fair and consistent pay raise, and keep climbing the ladder. With a strong work ethic, you’ll get to the top in no time.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2021, average annual earnings for truck drivers was $50,340, with the top 10 percent earning $72,730.
New Places, New Faces
Trucking opens doors to a lot of traveling opportunities. You’ll get to discover parts of the country that you’ve never seen before and meet a lot of new people along the way. There’s a romantic side to this job, and it can be certainly counted as a perk.
Even though you will spend a lot of time in solitude, it’s important to polish your social skills when dealing with shippers and receivers, communicating with your dispatcher, or simply interacting with other drivers on the highway. Good manners and courtesy go a long way!
Is Truck Driving a Good Career Choice?
Trucking is not a career for everyone. Many drivers call trucking a lifestyle that includes long hours spent away from the loved ones. On the other hand, most truck drivers who call this job a lifestyle wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
Trucking is a job that comes with a stunning “office” view, a high pay ceiling, and a lot of room for professional growth. These essential workers are always on the front line and in high demand.
Tips for Success
Pay Attention: Whether you’re driving, parking or doing your pre-trip, always pay close attention to everything around you.
Stick Around: Your entry level job is your first bullet point on your future trucking resume. Don’t jump ships (or rather, trucks,) quickly. Take your time choosing the right carrier and focus on building your reputation first.
Get Out And Look: When in doubt get out and look! There’s no shame in double checking your surroundings and making sure you’re making a safe move.
Keep Your Record Clean: By all means, try to avoid any tickets and accidents throughout your entire trucking career, especially in your early days.