Why Veterans Should Consider a Career in Trucking
Many veterans leave the military feeling struggling to figure out what to do next. With a long list of disciplines and transferable skills, more and more veterans are finding that their experience from the United States military is useful and vital as a truck driver—and the industry agrees.
In 2021, the American Trucking Association made a commitment to hire 100,000 veterans, with many trucking companies adopting veteran hiring programs to assist. As more veterans enter the industry, news has gotten out that it’s a great way to ease back into civilian life. If you’re a veteran looking for the next step in your career, trucking just might be the way to go.
Military to Trucking Transferable Skill
Moving from operating military heavy equipment to a semi-truck is less drastic than you think. The skills needed to succeed in the military directly transfer to being a truck driver, including:
- Precision. All those long days in boot camp and beyond have taught you precision—you’re committed to doing the job the right way. As one veteran turned truck driver said: “Military veterans are so good at the job because they are wired to check everything off the list and do the job well.”
- Self-discipline. One of the defining characteristics of the military, self-discipline is also necessary as a truck driver. For the vast majority of your working hours, you’ll be on your own, so having the discipline to get out of bed on time, make timely deliveries, and run your route efficiently will fall on you.
- Safety consciousness. Every veteran knows that being safety conscious is everyone’s job. Whether it’s safety around heavy equipment, with ammunition or weapons, or even when moving around on base. The same goes for truck driving. Safety while behind the wheel or when loading and unloading requires everyone’s attention.
- Familiarity with complex machinery. As a trucker, you’ll be doing a lot of routine maintenance on your own vehicle. Having knowledge of complex or heavy machinery is a definite plus, giving you a leg up on many other potential employees.
Comfort in Consistency with Life on the Road
Many veterans turned truckers find that the lifestyle on the road is similar to what they experienced in the military. And for many veterans, this is a saving grace when it comes to transitioning back into civilian life. Going from extreme structure and strict guidelines to complete freedom can be tricky, so falling into a routine and regimen is helpful. Many of the life skills you learned in your time in the military will help you be a successful trucker, such as:
- Teamwork. You have a bond with your brothers and sisters in the military. It’s also something you can find with your fellow drivers. There is a sense of community in the trucking world, and it runs deep.
- Leadership. Being an example for others and taking the initiative to do the right thing is essential in the military as well as on the road. This will help you stay compliant and become a trustworthy driver shippers and brokers rely on.
- Mental stamina. You’ve learned how to get yourself through tough things. Driving requires a lot of focus and mental strain, particularly if you’ve been driving long hours or have been stuck in traffic. Mental discipline is essential to keep you and others on the road safe.
- Mission focused. Moving from one mission to the next in the military will feel similar to moving from one trip or route to the next in trucking, focusing on the mission at hand, completing it with precision, and then moving on to the next one.
Step-by-Step Actions to Become a Trucker
If you’re ready to look into a career shift from military to trucking, now is the time to get started. Here are a few actionable steps you need to take to start a career as a truck driver:
- Research and planning. Find out what type of trucking job you’re interested in (long-haul, regional, local, etc.). Evaluate your personal preferences, such as what type of driving you want to do, the schedule you’d like to keep, and the lifestyle you want. Keep in mind that the longer the haul, the more time you’ll be away from home and family.
- Obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Check your state’s requirements for obtaining a CDL as well as the best approach for CDL training. You can find the basics of how to get your CDL here on Truckstop.com.
- Utilize the GI Bill to cover CDL training costs. If you’re eligible, utilizing the GI bill to help cover your CDL training costs is a great way to get started. While the GI Bill covers different types of education, it could help cover tuition and housing costs while you’re earning your CDL. There may also be sponsorship programs, such as Troops in Transportation, that help you begin the process while you’re still on duty in the military.
- Attend trucking school. Many trucking schools will have training programs tailored to veterans. Take advantage of these accelerated programs, as well as the GI Bill, to make this transition as smooth as possible.
- Gain experience. Starting with an entry-level position can help you figure out what type of trucking you want to do for the rest of your career. You’ll build your trucking skills and move up as you prove yourself. Leverage your military work ethic and discipline, and your supervisors will see the asset you are to their company.
- Job placement. Use all the resources and networking connections you’ve established through veteran-focused organizations and trucking schools. Never be shy to ask for that favor or that recommendation—you deserve it and many people are there waiting to help you. There are many trucking companies that prioritize hiring veterans.
Military to Trucking—Get Started Today
With so many resources tailored specifically to helping veterans succeed in the transportation industry, it’s clear that moving from the military to trucking is a natural transition. The assistance of the GI Bill, dedicated resources that facilitate this natural career switch, and the American Trucking Association’s commitment to hiring veterans are just a few resources you will find to help you make this transition. With so many transferable skills—both hard skills and soft lifestyle skills—you are the perfect candidate to be a trucker.
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