The majority of occupations require little discussion with family and friends or even forethought. However, lorry driving is different in that it is a demanding job that requires extended time away from home. As such, family members should be an integral part of the decision-making process. It’s important because the commitment you make to a career in the lorry driving industry is also made by your family. The most successful lorry drivers make sure that the family knows what they are getting into. Here are 5 quick facts you may want to share with the ones you love.
1. Pros and cons of the career
Lorry drivers are paid by the mile which means they have the potential to earn a significant amount of money. An eager, entry level driver can expect to earn a median pay of £30,000 per year in addition to company bonuses. There’s actually quite a shortage of lorry drivers in the UK, so much so that the Freight Transport Association estimates 45,000 new recruits are needed in order to keep the industry from stopping entirely. As a result, many companies are now offering sign-on bonuses, safe driver awards and other forms of compensation to keep their best drivers and encourage new drivers to join their organisations. What this means is that you will be able to provide your family with a standard of living the very first year on the road that many other entry-level positions can’t even come close to.
The down side is that it means you would need to be away from home a minimum of 300 days per year and sometimes more. That can really put a strain on a relationship unless the entire family agreed to the career choice in advance. Hours, days and weeks of loneliness can be extremely difficult for many people. No home-cooked meals, sleeping in your own bed or showering in the comfort of your own home. For those that enter the field, acknowledging there are downsides and making plans to counteract the emotional toll of the job means that success is only one drive away.
2. Get your certification
Long haul lorry drivers require a special license called a CPC. Fortunately, the training is not only short-term but also inexpensive. Many students can complete training within about three weeks rather than spend months or years in school. Additionally, a high school diploma or college degree is not required. Remember, however, that not all training programs are equal so make sure you do your research before making a commitment.
The cost of training often requires no upfront tuition. In order to meet their driver quotas, many companies now even pay for a driver’s schooling. They pre-hire students and pay for the schooling. In exchange the student must agree to work for the company for at least one year. In that way, the potential driver not only gets a free education but also has a job before they even get to school.
3. The benefits of travel
One of the biggest appeals for those considering a career in the lorry driving industry is the amount of travel involved. Long-haul lorry drivers, for example, travel the country from coast to coast picking up and dropping off loads along the way. They see some of the most beautiful places in the US and are often sent to places many Americans never have the opportunity to see. Drivers often have the chance to explore new areas during their layovers while still getting paid.
Lorry drivers have no boss breathing down their necks. Although they do have dispatchers that keep them on schedule and tell them where to pick up and drop off loads, they also get to plan their own routes, decide when and where to drive and sleep and where to take breaks. It is the perfect career choice for those that enjoy independence, freedom of choice and that love the thrill of adventure. Sometimes companies will even allow drivers to bring along spouses or their children for a ride-a-long so the family knows what the career is all about.
4. Be aware and be prepared
As with any new job, there will be challenges especially during the first year. Just keep in mind every time you hit a roadblock that it gets easier with time and practice. As with any career choice, you have to stick with it and remember that your family is your support network. They are there to help you get through the tough times. The other drivers that become friends while you’re on the road can also help provide the reassurance and encouragement you need to be successful.
The obstacles encountered while on the road may sometimes seem overwhelming, but if you’re prepared nothing will seem like it’s too difficult to overcome. Veteran lorry drivers recommend that a log book, writing utensils, a calculator and lorry driver’s map should be available even if your lorry comes equipped with a GPS and you have a laptop for your e-logs. After all, you never know when technical problems may arise.
5. Choose your company carefully
The good thing about the lorry driving industry is that you can change companies if you don’t find a good fit the first time. However, it’s better if you do your research prior to making a commitment. You need to find a lorry driving job that meets your priorities and, if the company you’re working for no longer fits your needs, you’ll still have the information you need to make a change that fits you better. Better yet, speaking to your supervisor may reveal there’s a better fit within the company you’re already working for. You may begin missing the regularity of a 9 to 5 schedule or you may find the route you travel is too familiar and you need a new challenge. You may also want to take the extra training and education required to become a trainer yourself or to transport dangerous goods. Don’t give up on the company you work for until all avenues have been explored.
There’s no doubt that the lifestyle of a lorry driver isn’t for everyone. However, both men and women can flourish in the field due to the ever-growing needs of the industry, the flexibility built into the job, the security of the position and the constantly changing scenery and conditions. With the support of family and friends it’s much easier to be successful and it’s definitely a promising career opportunity for those ready to make the commitment.
What other advice do you have about being a lorry driver? Tweet us and let us know at @CareerCamel.