If you’re thinking about making a career change and becoming a truck driver, it’s only natural to start asking yourself, “Do you need special skills to be a truck driver?” This is a career with many values and certain abilities. Because of that, it’s important to understand just what special skills you may need to have to be a good fit in the exciting and fast-paced industry of driving trucks.
Do You Need Special Skills to be a Truck Driver? Your Questions, Answered
In short, the answer to “ Do You Need Special Skills to be a Truck Driver?” is yes. You do need some special skills to be a truck driver – but not exclusively ones taught in school or gotten through certificates.
Special Skills to Have As A Truck Driver
Truck driving is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States, and it doesn’t require anything – you can get your CDL license without a high school diploma. But while anyone with a CDL can be a truck driver, not everyone will want to make it their life’s work unless they have some of these skills.
While many of the following soft skills can be taught or learned on the job, it helps to already have developed some of the special skills that help ease individuals into the life of being a truck driver.
Being detail-oriented and organized is an important special skill that goes a long way when working as a truck driver. Each day is comprised of many small tasks, including:
- keeping your hours of service current
- maintaining your paperwork (including IFTA, permits, and other insurance forms),
- handling receipts and expenses
- Trip planning
- Staying on top of trailer numbers and addresses
Being organized can make or break a trip, and that’s before you even consider the highly organized life of an owner-operator.
Truck driving can be dangerous, both for the driver and everyone else out on the road. Because of that, truck drivers need to be safety conscious at all times. It’s vital that truck drivers complete pre-trip inspections and trip planning, as well as follow the DOT rules and regulations on performing unloads.
Of course, these can feel tedious for many, but this also has to do with another special skill truck drivers should have – patience!
When you’re first wondering, “do you need special skills to be a truck driver?”, likely the first thing you think of is driving abilities or knowing roads, not patience.
While it may not sound like patience is one of the more important special skills to have to be a truck driver, having the ability to keep a cool head and stay dedicated and on task is hugely important for this industry.
Truck drivers deal with all sorts of stressful situations, ranging from long fuel lines to uncontrollable delays to reckless drivers. Because of this, it’s important that they can stay calm and collected in even the most dramatic situations.
In our modern era, we almost always can use a GPS to get us places. However, when it comes to trucks, not all technology will always be 100% accurate. Many routes simply don’t work for trucks due to their sizes and weight restrictions – even trucking GPSs are wrong sometimes. If you are driving in more rural areas, it will also be possible that you will lose your cell phone service – and your GPS with it.
Because of this, it’s important to feel comfortable reading paper maps and road atlases, as well as be able to follow directions in writing or by phone.
As a truck driver, you have to have at least a rudimentary mechanical understanding of your truck. You need to be able to:
- deal with a flat tire
- change lights
- replace fluids
- Put chains on your tires
- Couple and uncouple a tractor trailer
- conduct your own inspections
- and more.
Having a base knowledge will save you time and money if something happens on the road.
There is a golden rule in trucking to expect the unexpected. Many things can happen while a driver’s on the road that didn’t fit into the original plan of how the day would go. Weather, traffic, assignment changes, delivery issues with a customer, and more – and through it all, the driver is often a center point in communicating between managers, customers, and planners. Without communication, there can be missed loads, lost miles, and delays in the freight.
Communication is also important from a safety perspective. It’s necessary to stay in contact with shippers and receivers at the dock to ensure everyone is safe when you’re coming in. Finally, communication is simply a special skill that many different jobs require. Strong communicators are better at developing professional relationships, which can lead to long-term growth in the industry and more career opportunities.
Quick Judgement Calls
When you’re on the road, anything can happen – and it can all happen in less than a minute. Knowing the rules of the road and being decisive when faced with an emergency can be vital as a truck driver – and sometimes quite literally the difference between life and death.
Proper Driving Skills
Without your CDL, you simply don’t have your career. Because of this, you have to stay protective of your CDL and follow the rules to keep it. Avoid unsafe driving conditions, going past your driving hours, committing road rage incidents, or doing anything else that could put your CDL in jeopardy.
Do You Need Special Skills to be a Truck Driver? TDI Can Help!
While it helps to have a natural aptitude for some of these special skills, many of them can be taught on the job and at CDL training. At the Truck Driver’s Institute, we have hands-on instructors that were real drivers out in the field – meaning they can help you develop any of the special skills it takes to love truck driving.
To find out more information about how to get started at TDI, contact us today!
Get your Class A CDL in our friendly, supportive CDL training program. TRAIN with experienced instructors – multiple good-paying, secure job choices with benefits available for eligible graduates. EARN $700 – $1000+ / week to start as a truck driver. Get started today by filling out the form below. We look forward to hearing from you!