So you think you want to be a cowboy, riding the open range following a paved path from state to state on your pony made of steel? There are no shortage of advertisements claiming you will make 40-60 thousand dollars your first year with companies that will have you behind the wheel making the big bucks in as few as two weeks. Is it really that easy? While not entirely impossible to make the kind of money advertised, most new drivers who have survived the first year will tell you making anything more than 20-25 thousand is an exception rather than the rule, and in fact, there are many who make even less.
Now lets say you are the risk taking type and just want to see for yourself, thinking you could be the exception; that all those horror stories of starving, stranded drivers won’t apply to you. Or, maybe you feel like you were born to ride and don’t really care about the money. Where does one begin with all the promises made by various companies claiming to have the best trucks, the best benefits, and the most home time?
Well the truth is most large trucking companies are all pretty much the same. Their goal is to make money and you the driver are merely a pawn in the big game of chess where companies compete for freight. While some may offer a more attractive incentive in one area, it will more than likely be at the expense of another benefit where another company may excel. The potential driver can only bite the bullet, choose one best fitted to their needs, and ride it out until they gain the experience better companies require. Turnover is high in training companies, but with the romantic notion of man and the road that so often appeals to those who are new, there is always a warm body to replace the one that left.
Still convinced trucking is the answer? Well then, your next decision should be whether to get your commercial driver’s license through a company training school or by private instruction. Again, there really is no right or wrong choice. Those who have gone through a community college truck driving school often boast that they have had the better training because it took longer and they either learned more or had more time to spend on what they learned and that they have more freedom of choice as to who they want to work for. On the other hand, company instruction will have you on the road and earning a paycheck a lot sooner. Either way, in the end you will have a class A commercial driver’s license, and that’s all that matters since your real training begins once you hit the road.
All in all, a few thousand miles down the road you will realize how you got your CDL and what company trained you really did not matter at all. Your work ethic and ability to finish what you start will determine if you make it once you are in the saddle. At times the path will be rocky, cold, and lonely, but a true cowboy rides on. Happy trails!