Lance Ringler gets JobShadowed about being a truck driver.  You can find him at GonzoTrucker.com. Also see the sidebar to follow him on Twitter.

What do you do for a living?

Local Truck Driver / Tractor Trailer Driver

How would you describe what you do?

I drive 18 wheel tractor trailers delivering all types of freight.

From groceries to cars we deliver everything you find in your daily life.  Truck drivers deliver goods to and from all locations in any industrialized society, and fill a much needed demand.

As far back as the beginning of society there was a demand to move goods from one location to another.

What does your work entail?

We aren’t only driving the trucks we have to inspect them for any, and all defects. Mechanical items or issues relating to safe operation.  Others, such as driver/sales workers, are also responsible for sales and customer service. Route planning map reading, and know all regulations.

Without trucks the world would stop.  Sometimes you will be required to hand load, and unload the freight.

What’s a typical work week like?

Depends on if you’re an over the road truck driver or local truck drivers. Over the road truck drivers your week will never be on a set schedule.  Local truck drivers generally work a 9 to 5 job like many other professions.  General start of week pre-trip inspection of your truck and trailer  for defects. Then use the computer in your truck to get your dispatch, then map out a route to your pickup spot.

Then when you arrive back into the dock, you get loaded. After that you will drive to your final destination and deliver your load. During your trip you will have to make sure your load is under the weight allowed by each state or province you will pass through.

Make sure you have all the proper permits, and regulations plus stay within the guidelines for hours of service (logbook).

How did you get started?

I started driving a truck when I was 16 on my family farm in Indiana.

What do you like about what you do?

The freedom of the job. Make sure you pick and deliver on time in a safe manner, and you will have no boss breathing down your neck.  Plus you will get to see the country.

What do you dislike?

Regulations put on us by the federal government.

How do you make money/or how are you compensated?

Generally we are paid by the mile driven  .30 a mile up to .50 cents a mile. If you own your own truck even more. Also if you’re a local Truck Driver you will be paid hourly ranging from $12 up to $30 an hour.

How much money do truck drivers make?

Most truck drivers earn an average salary of $50,000 per year. But it is not uncommon for you to earn $75,000 to $100,000 a year if you own your own truck. Some truck drivers earn well in excess of $100,000 a year if they own their own truck.

If you work for a private fleet you can earn $75,000 a year as a company Truck Driver.

How much money do truck drivers make starting out?

Between $35,000 to $50,000 your first year.

What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this?

You will have to get CDL training and your commercial driver license.  There are many different ways to get the necessary training.  You can attend a truck driving school or sign a one year contract with a company who will then provide free training to you.

What is most challenging about what you do?

Staying up to date on the new rules and regulations, and driving in traffic.

What is most rewarding?

The truck drivers salary, and the feeling you get knowing that you are much needed to keep the country alive.  Without trucks America stops.

What advice would you offer someone considering this career?

Take your time to pick the right truck driver training program. Then after your training don’t be in a rush to get your load delivered.  Learn from other truck drivers who have been doing it a long time. Do all your research first about the lifestyle of being a truck driver.

How much time off do you get/take?

Local truck drivers get 2 days off every week. Over the road truck drivers it varies from 2 weeks out with 2 days off. Some more some less depending on who you work for.  We get 2 weeks vacation every year until 5 years with the company then 3 weeks.

You can work 4 months at a time then take a whole month off if that is what you want.

What is a common misconception people have about what you do?

-Most truck drivers today are highly educated. Most of us earn more than someone with a 4 year college degree.

-We are unskilled laborer. truck drivers are highly skilled.

-That we are never home. That is not the case anymore truck driving no longer has to be a life style. You can be a truck driver, and get home every night or weekend it’s your choice.

What are your goals/dreams for the future?

Keep on Trucking.  Try to improve my industry for the future generations of truck drivers.

What else would you like people to know about your job/career?

The trucking industry as a whole is having, and will continue to have a shortage of truck drivers. So being a truck driver is a stable career path to follow. With very few layoffs, and no outsourcing this can be a great way of earning a living.