You have gone to CDL school to earn your truck driving license. Now you are on your first assignment with your driver trainer, hoping to quickly learn the ropes so you can be turned loose and go solo. In the back of your mind you are already wondering what you have to do to earn better pay. Such thoughts are a normal part of life for the new truck driver.
Better pay in the trucking industry boils down to two things: more miles and more lucrative loads. Keep in mind that truck driver pay is based on mileage rather than hours worked. So the more miles you put under your wheels, the more money will flow into your bank account. Furthermore, some loads pay better than others.
Believe it or not, there is a tried-and-true formula for achieving better pay. That better pay comes to those veteran drivers who adhere to the formula. Those who expect better pay simply for time served will be disappointed when it doesn’t come. As for your career as a truck driver, it will be what you make it. Below is the formula you need to follow if you want to maximize your career earnings.
The first and most important ingredient in the better pay formula is safety. Unsafe drivers cost trucking companies time and money. They make the news and damage reputations. The most important thing you can do for yourself and your career is to adopt a safety-first mindset that overrules everything else you do. Consistently safe drivers are rewarded with more miles and more valuable loads.
Ask for More Miles
You have undoubtedly heard the adage that says the early bird gets the worm. In trucking, the driver who asks for more miles gets them. You should definitely be looking for as many miles as you can get in your pursuit of higher pay. A willingness to take more miles demonstrates that you are a hard worker. It also demonstrates that you are not afraid to take extra assignments. It further demonstrates that you are not looking to do just enough to get by.
Embrace the Dirty Work
Trucking is no different to any other industry in the sense that new drivers have to start at the bottom and work their way up. The least desirable runs are left to rookies for that very reason. So when your dispatcher gives you some ‘dirty work’, as it were, don’t complain about it. Instead, embrace it and do it to the best of your ability. Embracing the dirty work without complaining usually means you will not be doing it for very long.
Keep to Your Schedule
You may not understand the time sensitive nature of trucking as a rookie, but it will not be long before you figure it out. Schedules in trucking are very tight. Therefore, you will be helping yourself to increase your miles and load values by making sure you are always on time. Make every effort to keep to your schedules, for both pickup and delivery. If something outside your control interferes with your schedule, be sure to communicate clearly with your dispatcher and anyone else involved.
Have the Right Attitude
Finally, rookie drivers who maintain a friendly and professional attitude at all times quickly win the respect of their dispatchers and managers. Maintaining the right attitude is second only to safety in progressing a trucker along a vertical career path. A big part of this attitude is making a concerted effort to always get along with your dispatcher. Don’t make your dispatcher an enemy or your career will suffer.