4 Tips to Keep in Mind During Your First Year as a Trucker

Plenty of songs and commercials highlight the importance of being a trucker. The job description sounds simple enough: Transport goods from one place to another using large trucks. Yet, nothing prepares you for the reality of a trucking job.

Your first year as a trucker is full of adjustments as you learn how to be comfortable, how to plan and track your routes, and where the truck-friendly stops are located. 

As you’re getting used to this new life, it’s easy to get disheartened and frustrated. But take heart: The first year is always the hardest, and with these tips, you’ll get through it and onto a successful trucking career.

1. Keep Working Out (Mentally, That Is)

Truck drivers must be in decent physical shape to handle the long hours behind the steering wheel. Sitting and controlling heavy equipment is harder on the body than you realize. 

But you can get away with skipping the gym as long as you’re cautious about your overall health. Truck drivers statistically have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease because of factors like diet and inactivity. 

As you monitor your wellness, don’t forget about your mental health. The job is long and often solitary. Research shows that truck drivers often have mental health issues, such as depression, loneliness, anxiety, and sleep disturbances.

To make your job successful and combat these mental woes, go into each day with a plan to stick to a healthy mindset. Some strategies used by many truckers include:

  • Listening to positive and motivational podcasts
  • Scheduling time to call a family member or friend each day
  • Having an accountability partner to talk to when they’re feeling down
  • Meditate before getting on the road
  • Focus on eating well and getting restful sleep, even if it’s in short chunks

If all else fails and your mental fog makes it hard to concentrate, pull over to the next truck stop and get active for a few minutes. The activity releases endorphins that naturally increase your mood and energy. You might be “off schedule,” but you’ll be much safer and happier driving with a clearer mind.

2. Make Learning Your Goal

Trucking is a complicated job. Your ultimate goal might be to make big bucks and have your own company, but first, you have to start at the beginning.

Set your goal simple: stay safe and compliant. As you work on these two crucial factors, you’ll learn about the laws and rules that govern the industry. The essential knowledge will make you a better driver and help you knock out the bigger targets when you’re ready for them in the future.

3. Find the Truck-Friendly Places

As popular as the “Thank a trucker” slogan is, some places are friendlier toward big rigs than others. Look for these truck-friendly places on your route or the chains that are known for this reputation, and get to know them.

These would be gas stations that are designed to be easy for your semi to get in and out of, hotels with truck-sized parking spaces, and restaurants that don’t mind truckers taking up half the parking lot.

Businesses that advertise themselves as trucker-friendly usually have other benefits, too. They might provide free coffee for truckers or showers to help you wake up and freshen up. 

Trucker-friendly hotels offer discounted rooms and flexible check-ins. They almost always have a 24-hour restaurant within walking distance and a gas station where you can refuel before returning to work.

Check with your trucker friends or connect on a truck-driving forum and ask other drivers for their favorite spots. 

4. Stay in One Place (For Now)

During your first year, your major target is to make it safely to year two with no accidents. You’ll be learning what to do and what not to do, and you might not be thrilled with your hours, pay, route, or managers. It’s normal.

What you don’t want to do is job hop. Right now, you don’t know what you want well enough to know how to find it. Stick with the job you’re hired at unless it’s unsafe. When you have enough experience, you can apply for better pay and choice routes at another company. The year will go faster than you think, and your resume will look better for having consistent work under your belt.


The only thing that can prepare you for a trucking job is the experience of getting behind the wheel and on the road. Your first year is going to be full of challenges and accomplishments. Focus on safety first and follow these four tips, and you’ll be on the road to a successful trucking career.

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