BOSIE, Idaho — Many veterans end their military careers having no idea what to do next or how they will make a living without the military.
They often struggle to find civilian jobs that align with the skillsets they learned in the military.
But many veterans have found that trucking and trucking mechanics are careers where military skills come in quite handy. Those in the trucking industry also agree, as in 2021 alone, the American Trucking Associations committed to hiring 100,000 veterans.
Many trucking companies adopted the veteran hiring programs to assist. Because of this initiative, more veterans have entered the trucking industry, and news amongst the veteran community about how trucking is a promising opportunity to ease back into civilian life began to spread.
Transitioning from operating heavy military equipment to a truck with 18 wheels is possible.
According to Truckstop, the skills a veteran learns while enlisted directly transfer to trucking.
Some of those skills are:
- Precision. All those long days in boot camp and beyond have taught you precision — you’re committed to doing the job correctly. 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 is that which 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, ammunition, or weapons or even when moving around on base. The same goes for truck driving. Security 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 vehicle. Knowing complex or heavy machinery is a definite plus, giving you a leg up on many other potential employees.”
For many veterans turned truckers, life on the road is similar to their military deployments. Going from having an extreme structure and strict guidelines as a soldier to complete freedom as a civilian can be pretty tricky for some, so the routine and regimen of a truck driver provide comfort and familiarity for them. The article stated that more transferable skills that veterans have are needed as a trucker:
- 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 and on the road. This will help you stay compliant and become 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 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, concentrating on the mission at hand, completing it with precision, and then moving on to the next one.
If you or know someone who is a veteran who wants to find their purpose or another way to serve our nation as a truck driver, the time to start is now.
Truckstop provided a step-by-step guide to getting the kickstart to your career as a trucker:
- Research and planning — Find out what type of trucking job you’re interested in (for example, long-haul, regional, local, etc.) Evaluate your personal preferences, such as what kind of driving you want to do, the schedule you would like to follow, and the lifestyle you would like. Remember that the longer the haul is, the more time away from your family and friends.
- Obtain your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) — Research your state’s requirements for obtaining one and the best way to get the training needed to obtain a license. Basic information on how to get your CDL can be found on Truckstop’s website.
- Use your GI Bill –As a veteran, you can utilize your GI Bill to cover the costs of your CDL training. Find out if you are not only eligible for the GI Bill but also what your GI Bill will cover. Your GI Bill could only cover certain areas or types of education. For example, the GI Bill could only cover tuition and housing costs as you train. There also may be sponsorship programs that will help you begin the process.
- Attend trucking school — Several trucking schools will have training programs specifically tailored to veterans. Use the advantage you have with these accelerated programs that will help make your transition as smooth as possible.
- Get your trucking experience — Starting at an entry-level position can help you figure out what type of trucking you want to do in your career. As you build your truck driving skills, you will be more comfortable with trucking and prove yourself as a trucker to your supervisors, who will see your asset to their company. The work ethic and discipline you learned from the military will benefit you most here.
- Job placement — The final step. As you prove yourself at your entry-level job, use the resources and network connections established through your trucking program, veteran-focused organizations, and supervisors to move into a more demanding job. Ask for that favor, recommendation, tip, question, etc. Many people are waiting to help you; all you have to do is ask. There are also trucking companies that prioritize hiring veterans.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.