Often when speaking to drivers, the first question I ask is when and how they got involved in the trucking industry. Not only does this question establish a baseline of their experience, but it shows just how unique each individual driver’s story is.
Over the last few years, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing hundreds of drivers on the road. But the one thing I hear most is that the four-year college experience was not pursued or completed by many drivers. As a college graduate myself, it was ingrained from a young age that the only path to success was to get a college degree. Of course, this is not the case for all careers, especially for those in trucking or looking to get their commercial driver’s license (CDL).
To better educate myself and others thinking about joining the industry, I asked the carrier community to share their opinions on the level of education needed to start their own authority.
Anthony Zeno: Greenmiles Driver & Owner Operator
“Many things you do as a driver are not taught in school. Major skills lacking in the transportation industry include communication, social skills, and time management. These are difficult to teach in a classroom because they require real work experience, especially if you want to get into trucking. “
“The courses I did pay the most attention to in school included math and geometry because they required critical thinking. Although I graduated from highschool and attended one year at the University of Phoenix, I am a firm believer that you will learn more behind the wheel, then you will in a classroom.”
Matthew Ames: Ames Transport Owner & Operator
“My wife and I started our own authority three years ago and successfully run Ames Transport as a team. I dropped out of school in 8th grade and eventually got my GED so I could register for my CDL. My education is trucking. I started out as a company driver to learn the ropes and complete my training.”
“Eventually, I bought my first truck and leased on with a few different carriers to gain experience behind the wheel. I’ve always taken this job one step at a time and I find myself learning and educating myself every day. The most important part of owning your own business is knowing your costs to operate and getting your equipment paid off as quickly as possible.”
Bill Hood, Managing Principal Consultant at VLocity Group
“New drivers need to understand that the first two years of driving is basically training they get paid for. Rather than taking out college student loans, drivers are covering their training costs (i.e having higher insurance and claim rates) by earning a lower income while they gain experience.”
“As a former fleet owner, I understand that drivers need to be in this business for the long haul because becoming a high performing driver is a long term process. I’m in the process of creating an online Trucking MBA course for Owner Operators or people interested in becoming Owner Operators that covers everything from the basics of calculating overhead, to covering advanced topics like building a solid network of repeat customers. It’s this type of information drivers need to continue to find success in this industry.”
Scott Leckliter, Leckliter Logistics Owner & Operator
“After high school, I went to a two-year college specializing in computers. I had heard that getting a job out of college was a double-edged sword – not only do you need the degree, but you need experience working to find a suitable position.”
“After a year in college, I left for a computer job in Madison, only to realize I hate sitting inside and staring at a computer all day. I switched career paths and worked security at a casino for 15 years and eventually attended classes to get my degree in law enforcement. That career lasted me 14 years until I decided to retire and get my CDL.”
“Getting my CDL was one of the best decisions I ever made. If I had known about the possibilities in trucking and owning my own authority, I may have made the switch sooner. The best education a new driver can get is through learning and talking to other people. A friend of mine showed me the ropes, and recommended a great company that I trained with for 1.5 years.”
“Eventually, I made the decision to purchase my own equipment and leased on with a few different companies before deciding to get my own authority four years ago. The best advice I can give to those interested in becoming a trucker is to do your research and save your money. There will always be bumps in the road, but with my experience in law enforcement I’ve learned to stay calm and think logically through the problems drivers run into every day.”
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