Grow Your Knowledge
June 1, 2012
It Pays To Keep Learning
By Tom Kelley
For many in our industry, a driving job is a destination. Older couples and individuals who may have spent their earlier years “tied” to a desk, or in some form of indoor occupation, have long aspired to get out on the open road and see the country while earning a living.
For others, a truck driving job is just the first step on a career path that can provide a lifetime of opportunity and growth within the trucking industry. In fact, many of today’s most successful trucking companies require that those seeking management positions actually spend some time at the wheel before advancing into a supervisory role.
Obviously, the first step on a career path in the trucking industry is to learn and practice the necessary skills to acquire a CDL with the endorsements for air-brakes and combination trailers. Many carriers also require a HazMat endorsement as an entry-level requirement, but even if they don’t, adding this endorsement will enable flexibility in your choice of jobs and loads. Similarly, a tank endorsement on your CDL will provide more possibilities for employment.
So let’s say you’ve got your CDL with the endorsements to drive anything that moves and you’re content to spend a few years on the road. What skills can you add that will help your career, both in the long and short term?
One important skill, rarely stressed in any form of organized education, is public speaking. We’re not talking about getting up in front of
10,000 people and making a presentation, but having some public speaking skill can be just as valuable while telling a lengthy joke at the lunch counter or giving directions over the phone, as it is to the politician running for office.
More importantly, confidence in your speaking skills will make it easier to communicate and deal with employers, shippers and others that you encounter on the job. As your career progresses, public speaking skills can be a benefit in dispatch, sales and management positions. Several organized groups provide opportunities to develop speaking skills.
Within our industry, groups such as Trucker Buddy are involved in arranging for truckers to make classroom visits and talk about trucking to school children.
Another skill that can help right now, as well as in your future career pursuits, is some basic accounting knowledge. As your career progresses, being able to understand finances and communicate effectively with finance personnel is a vital business skill.
Whether your career aspirations involve dispatching, sales, or even the CEO’s office, it’s important to stay informed. Read anything you can find covering information on the trucking industry. Most importantly, listen and ask questions. No amount of formal training can ever replace what you’ll learn by being right in the middle of real-life daily fleet operations, so take advantage of the free education that’s around you every day.