Is Trucking Right for You?
Standing at the crossroads is a phrase from a traditional blues song. Maybe you are at a crossroads facing uncertainty about the direction of your career. Rest assured from knowledge and common sense comes wisdom, and with a bit of courage, comes the confidence to choose the right direction. Changing careers is an important decision and should be considered thoughtfully.
Be warned, being less than honest with yourself is a waste of time and money and will lead you down the wrong path. So be diligent in your research, and do not underestimate the degree of difficulty that comes with a career in Trucking. In essence, a high degree of personal responsibility is necessary. Read on to gain the knowledge needed to evaluate yourself and make a wise decision.
Economics is the prevailing factor as everyone needs to earn a living. However, just as importantly is to find a career that you enjoy, and do it with a company that shares your values and offers more than just a paycheck. Perhaps you are at the crossroads because you are dissatisfied with both your income and employer. You have much to gain by moving on. I strongly encourage you to search for the ideal situation, where you can have both good pay and work for a great company and need not settle for one or the other.
I have observed thousands of high performing, successful Truckers in my career. I will refer to them simply as Pro’s, short for Professionals. The top Pro’s share common traits. The first trait is a strong midwestern rural work ethic with a focus on completing the task at hand. This means a high level of consistency, dependability, and reliability in a challenging career. Are you easily distracted? Do you tend to act on impulse? Do you change jobs frequently? If so, Trucking is not for you.
A Pro experiences a measured level of disgust or dissatisfaction when obstacles are encountered because the job needs to be completed and done the right way. Everyday obstacles include traffic congestion, equipment breakdowns, loading delays, plus many others. The Pro will smoothly adjust, compensate, and problem solve with effective solutions. This results in a good feeling of achievement and personal satisfaction. Conversely, if you are disorganized, tend to react negatively with frustration, anger, or resentment, Trucking is not for you.
Next, a Pro has the ability to effectively plan, schedule, and be punctual. This means managing time, adjusting priorities, being disciplined, and safely arriving where you need to be. The Pro effectively collaborates with their Dispatcher to get their full support and make it all come together. If you tend to be running behind or an ineffective team player, Trucking is not for you.
High levels of stamina are necessary. Think mental toughness rather than physical strength, including the ability to persevere and continue to take a step forward during adverse conditions rather than cower and turn back. It is crucial to NOT do anything that gets in the way of getting a good night’s sleep, along with good eating & exercise habits. This is more challenging with the over the road lifestyle, but the Pro develops good habits that result in good mental and physical health. The healthiest eating habits are the most economical, and while avoiding the trap of convenience with unhealthy processed food. If you are unable to care for yourself properly to maintain a healthy mental and physical condition, then Trucking is not for you.
The Trucker lifestyle is non-traditional and in most ways the complete opposite of a traditional job. Let’s contrast some of the main differences. The first one is your work schedule. Truckers do not work 8am to 4pm everyday with a one hour lunch break. The daily schedule ebbs and flows with the pickup and delivery appointments for each load. The only certainty during your work day is that you will take a ten hour break, leaving the other 14 hours to adjust to the schedule of your load. Pros are skilled at starting and ending their day at about the same time as well as beginning and ending their work week. This seems amazing to non-trucker, but it is true.
Incredibly, the Pro finds this lifestyle and added responsibilities to be liberating. You are the captain of your ship with a lot more independence and autonomy compared to traditional service and factory jobs. Even more so if you decide to become an independent contractor and business owner.
Another big difference is home time. Pros are gone from home many days in a row. Do you have the full support from your family to make this work? Tension from home can make this unbearable. If you have a need to be home regularly, then full stop. Trucking is not for you.
Folks are born and blessed with natural talents and a personality temperament that is unique to each individual. The key is to discover it and know yourself. Think about how you are wired and the type of work you enjoy doing versus work or activities that may seem dreadful. Now complete the self survey below to help you choose the right path at the crossroads.
- Joe Keller, President and CEO
Important Considerations as a Professional Trucker:
What are important aspects to consider with CDL Training and Finishing Programs?
Expertise, as in the level of knowledge and experience including the ability to successfully transfer this to others who are able to demonstrate what has been taught. MK adapts the training to your style of learning and stage of development. The student instructor ratio is 1:1 which means a lot of meaningful individual attention. All MK Drivers are trained by a certified Smith instructor in the Smith System, a defensive driving course specific to Truckers.
Credibility as in hard evidence in the form of results to backup and support this conclusion. Both our CDL & Finishing Training Programs have graduated many high performing Professional Truckers who have gone on to achieve both career and financial success. Some have elevated their career to instructors, trainers, owner operators, dispatchers, and recruiters at MK. Opportunities are plentiful.
Humility as in we are thoughtful about mistakes, and strive to learn and avoid repeating. This attitude is why our organization is able to learn and adapt at a brisk pace. Resisting change leads to decay in the form of poor performance and results. Arrogance and selfishness is the fast track to mistakes.
What are important aspects to consider when choosing an employer?
Traditional Rural Values. Find out the type of work environment at the employer. MK believes only through high levels of professionalism, respect, teamwork, honesty, integrity, positivity, safety, and accountability can great performance be achieved; this includes performance at the individual level, the team level, and the company level. Performance is measured by how effectively we do our jobs. High performance is rewarded with economic output as in your pay. Negative behaviors are utterly destructive and will be confronted. Fairness and adhering to our Culture and Values is always top of mind. If you do not share these values then MK is not for you.
How do I determine if I am a good fit with a company?
Be thorough in your research. Complete your application and prepare some interview questions, then talk to some of our staff members. We have former Drivers on staff in recruiting and dispatch roles, or we can arrange for you to speak to one of our experienced Drivers. You will find that MK is very transparent and will tell it like it is warts and all. Now you can be assured in your ability to gather all the facts to make a wise career decision.
How do I prepare for the interview?
Review these topics and be able to clearly and thoroughly describe where you stand. Have specific examples to backup your statements. Your response should express the honest levels of what you are certain about and what is uncertain. Simply being honest is the best approach. The truthful answers to the statements below help gauge your fitness to be a Trucker.
Identify the most challenging difficulties with home time.
What gives you the confidence you will be able to adapt to the Trucker lifestyle?
Describe your energy and motivation to work 50-60 hours per week.
Describe your mental toughness and ability to overcome obstacles.
Describe your commitment and determination to achieve goals and success.
Assess how you are wired emotionally:
Patience vs Anger;
Selfishness vs Unselfishness;
Revealing a difficult truth;
Causes of Anxiety.
Humility vs Arrogance;
Conditions when you become resentful or cast blame.
Do you concern yourself more with what others are doing?