How to Forge Your Own Career as a Shipping Driver
With over-the-road shipping becoming more important by the day, now is a great time to launch a career as a shipping driver. If you’ve never looked into this industry, though, you may not know what steps you need to take to ensure that you have a long and successful career. While no two careers will look exactly alike, here are some things you can do now to help you launch quickly and successfully.
Take Training Courses
One great way to get started as a shipping driver is to take driver training courses. Driving a semi-truck or even a box truck is a lot different than driving a pick-up truck. Therefore, good training is necessary to ensure you can drive a truck safely. Not only is it important, however, it is necessary to drive. For commercial trucks, you need a special CDL license. Before you even start looking at trucks and talking to various companies, make sure you get your certification and special license.
If the classes are too expensive, then you can talk to companies about having them sponsor your certification process in exchange for you working for their fleet later on. Drivers are becoming increasingly rare, so many companies are very motivated to help encourage new aspiring drivers to get their certification.
Get a Physical Exam
Another box you’ll need to check before being hired is to have a current DOT certified physical exam on file. This will be part of the initial certification process as well, implemented with the goal of ensuring that any particular candidate is physically able to drive safely. Things that can get you excluded include disorders that may cause you to pass out at the wheel, conditions that cause seizures, and other conditions that may make it unsafe for you to be driving a massive commercial vehicle. While most disqualifying conditions should be fairly obvious to anyone before they apply, you can talk to your primary care physician in advance if you feel any concern about conditions that you may have and how they may affect your driving ability.
Make Smart Driving Decisions
Before you are hired as a professional driver, your past driving record will be heavily scrutinized. After all, driving a commercial truck is a serious responsibility that comes with a great deal of liability for any company. Therefore, it’s important that you are a safe and law-abiding driver long before you start your career path. If you have any unsettled cases against you, make sure to speak with a lawyer and have everything settled and removed from your record, if possible, before you begin your new career path.
Choose the Path You Want to Take
Another important decision you’ll need to make as you start your career is whether you want to drive for a trucking company or if you want to be an owner-operator. As an owner-operator, you’ll tend to have more flexibility with your schedule and you’ll own your own trucking vehicle. This also allows you a certain degree of power when negotiating pay rates for each job. However, driving for a company usually offers you greater salary protection and benefits, and allows for greater job security when you need a steady and reliable income. Consider the pros and cons of each option before you make a decision and consider speaking with a career advisor about your concerns if you have trouble.
As you can see, when you’re starting your career as a shipping driver, the best thing that you can do is to be proactive. Don’t wait around for someone else to tell you what you need to do next. Instead, take the initiative to prepare yourself mentally and physically so that you’re ready to go when a hiring manager gives you a call.
About the Author
Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.