For returning military veterans, first let us say: Thank you for your service.
Starting a new career after the military isn’t always easy, but knowing where to look can be a big help. The trucking industry, for example, is a great place for military veterans who are entering the civilian job market to find new opportunities with great potential.
Not only are there a ton of jobs available due to the current driver shortage, but also many of the skills and attributes that veterans develop while serving can be applied to professional truck driving.
Some military jobs develop skills that are obviously directly related to truck driving, like driving military vehicles or operating heavy machinery. But there are a number of other skills and qualities that many veterans gain simply from being in the military, no matter what type of jobs they had while serving, that also apply to the trucking industry.
Here are 10 skills and qualities that translate from the military to truck driving, and how they can help military veterans to excel within the industry:
In the military, it’s imperative to know your surroundings at all times. In Trucking, this skill is a core component of being a safe driver. From knowing where other vehicles are around your rig at any given moment to monitoring developments in road conditions, weather changes, route detours and more, paying attention and having situational awareness give veterans a leg up in Trucking.
Veterans know how to get things done efficiently and effectively. Logistics like route planning are important in Trucking because efficiency is critical to keeping costs down, not only the fuel costs for the carrier but also the cost of the consumer products that the drivers deliver.
This one goes hand in hand with situational awareness and knowing your surroundings, but being able to adapt to those dynamic situations is another skill altogether. Whether you’re driving regionally or cross-country, conditions can change in an instant. Just like service members must adapt to and overcome evolving circumstances, professional truck drivers must at times be able to make adjustments based on sudden changes in road conditions, weather, other drivers’ actions and more.
In the military, there are times when you must be able to stay focused on the task at hand for a long stretch of time. Returning veterans who maintain this ability have a definite advantage in Trucking, especially because most drivers begin their careers driving over-the-road (OTR). These long-haul trips can last for several weeks at a time, so maintaining physical and mental stamina is very important.
Military veterans understand the importance of taking responsibility and being accountable for their actions. Professional truck drivers need to have a similar sense of accountability because they are responsible for getting shipments to their destinations — often on the other side of the country — safely and on time.
Service members must rely on one another in order to achieve objectives. The military depends on this teamwork in order to function. In the trucking industry, all personnel must work together in order to keep things running smoothly. From operations managers and dispatchers to the drivers themselves, if one person isn’t on the same page as the rest, it can have a big impact on the entire operation and cause shipments to be delayed.
There’s a definite pride that goes along with being in the military. From the work itself to the uniforms they wear, these men and women who serve take pride in all they do. As a professional truck driver, it’s important to take pride not only in the important role you’re playing in helping the country, but also in the cleanliness of your truck and in your own appearance. Out on the road, the way you dress, act and take care of your truck says a lot about who you are, but it also reflects on your company and on the trucking industry as a whole.
The military is based on respect. The whole system revolves around respect for your superiors, your fellow service members and yourself. In Trucking, that same respect goes a long way. Being courteous to everyone you encounter — from the dispatchers to the people you’re delivering cargo to and the fellow drivers you’ll meet in between — is one of the best ways to move up within the industry while earning that respect for yourself.
Patriotism means supporting, defending or being devoted to your country. After your military career, becoming a professional truck driver is a great way to continue supporting the country because Trucking keeps the economy moving. Truck drivers are the reason there are groceries on the shelves at local supermarkets, medical supplies in the hospitals and more.
This is more of a long-term quality, but it’s just as important as any of the rest. In addition to the men and women out on the road, the trucking industry always needs instructors. A good instructor not only teaches students how to drive, but also acts as an example for how students should carry themselves. Veterans who become instructors or take on other leadership roles also are in a great position to pass on all of the skills on this list to new drivers, which helps the trucking industry to continue down the right path for years to come.
Some companies even have programs specifically designed to put veterans in a position to be an example for fellow veterans. In Werner Enterprises’ Operation Freedom Tour, for example, select military veterans drive a special fleet of trucks to raise awareness for fellow veterans in the industry and for those who may wish to join the industry.
So as you can see, if you’re a returning military veteran the trucking industry is a place where you can apply the skills and qualities you developed while serving. Not only can you excel as a driver, but also there are plenty of ways to branch out into related careers within the industry. Whatever your path, the trucking industry is a great place to build a whole new career after your time in the military.
It all starts with getting your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Just make sure whichever program you choose to help you get your CDL accepts the Post 9-11 GI Bill. Roadmaster Drivers School, for example, accepts these benefits.
*wage information provided by Werner Enterprises