Driving is an essential life skill, but some career options require more than just steering and stepping on the gas pedal of a four-wheeled vehicle. Whether you are handling a dump truck or a cab, becoming a professional driver is definitely not for everyone, unless you find that it’s your true calling, of course.
There are casual drivers and then there are serious drivers. Becoming the latter involves knowing where to start and how to stay on the right road, physically and metaphorically. So buckle up and read on to learn about how you can get started making a living as a professional driver.
How to Start Making a Living as a Professional Driver
1. Make the Right Call
Like with any career option, you need to know whether you are on the right track to becoming a professional driver. Before you get down looking for any jobs, it’s important to make sure you won’t regret this decision down the line.
The best way to determine this is by analyzing your passion for vehicles. If you love reaching insane speeds and customizing engines, then you’ll feel right at home being a race car driver. If you love traversing open roads on a semi-trailer truck, you might consider signing up for a job at a freight company.
The trick here is to follow your heart. That way, you won’t have to switch careers too often. Making these considerations will allow you to choose the perfect job for your needs. So if you are looking to get started as a professional driver, try taking a look at a few of these roles:
Global supply chains rely on expert drivers who are capable of handling large trucks or trailers across hundreds or even thousands of miles. This job alone has made truck drivers legends in their own right. If you are the type of person who is comfortable driving and maintaining 35,000-pound road monsters, then being a freight driver might just be your top job choice.
Average salary: $61,000 per year (Indeed.com)
Do you consider yourself an adrenaline junkie? Are you addicted to incredibly high speeds? Becoming a sports car driver may be just the job to satisfy your thirst for excitement. Whether you are looking to make it as a drag racer or become the next Formula 1 celebrity, you have to understand the amount of work it takes to make a breakthrough in the racing industry. It takes top tier talent to become the next Michael Schumacher, but so long as you have the heart for it, achieving success is always on the table.
Average salary: $125,000 to $175,000 per race (Chron.com)
Have you ever wanted to work alongside the likes of Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson? The action genre is a mainstay of modern film culture, with car chases and highway explosions being a vital part of the spectacle. For that reason, stunt drivers are very much in-demand on film productions. They make car chases look authentic in ways that CGI just isn’t able to match. The only trade-off, however, is that you’re putting your body on the line to make a scene appear more realistic. The positive side is that you get paid a lot of money for the trouble.
Average salary: $70,000 annually, depending on your experience (TruckersTraining.com)
Public Transport Driver
If you want a more low-key career as a professional driver, you can look no further than the public transportation system. While it’s not always a top pick for a fulfilling job, you get to enjoy the benefits of a career in the public service sector, such as higher health and social security benefits that pay off nicely once you retire. Whether it’s a transit bus or a cab, helping others get to and from their destinations safely can be fulfilling in its own right once you get the hang of it.
Average salary: $42,000 per year (USNews.com)
Personal or Corporate Driver
Celebrities, public officials, and socialites, still need to get around somehow. A chauffeur’s job is to transport such high-profile individuals safely. Given the nature of the work, a higher salary is often part of the package. Then again, the hiring process for a personal driver to a member of a royal family or corporate executives is very rigid, depending on the amount of risk to the client. However, if you’re willing to endure these potential risks, you may find that this choice of a career can be largely satisfying and very lucrative.
Average salary: $57,000 per year (ZipRecruiter.com)
Being a delivery driver for a local restaurant chain or grocery store can be a low-key job that’s decent enough to pay the bills and easy enough to not be stressful. As with any other job, your outlook is everything. Delivery drivers are in high demand these days, especially with restrictions imposed by COVID-19 lockdowns.
Average salary: $14 per hour (Payscale.com)
2. Do Your Homework
Knowing where you want to go is only the beginning. The real challenge comes as you get started looking for jobs that require your driving skills. There’s no doubt that finding a rewarding position can be difficult, considering that there is always a demand for professional drivers across different industries.
To gain an edge over your competition, it helps if you do your research before you start sending out applications. Consider comparing salary ranges and identifying companies offering positions that require your level of expertise. Additionally, you need to look for online platforms or job portals that allow you to send applications directly to companies.
Aside from doing online searches, you can also crowdsource opinions by asking people you know for advice on how to get started as a professional driver. Instead of just asking about salary ranges, try to inquire about benefits and work experiences. You wouldn’t want to end up in a job you will regret later on, so it’s always best to be certain about your choices.
3. Start Your Job Hunt
Now that you know which professional driving job to accept and where to get one, you have to search for companies that have vacancies for your line of work. The best way you can go about this is to do a simple Google search. You can also try scouting for possible job offers on these sites:
Considered to be a top choice for professionals looking to jumpstart their careers, LinkedIn allows you to hunt for jobs easily. With its advanced search option, you can search for vacancies according to job type and the level of experience required to get hired. It also happens to be the best place to look for quality job vacancies from large companies.
If you need to find local jobs in a hurry Indeed would be the best place to start. Not only do top-tier companies post vacancy ads on the site, but they also allow employers to “push” job ads directly to people who match the requirements. Easy to use and highly efficient in producing a large number of job listings, Indeed gives you a more straightforward way to get hired
When it comes down to user-friendliness, Ziprecruiter happens to have all the best benefits you can expect from a job search website. You won’t have to waste time trying to figure out where to go and what to do to find a professional driving job that fits your preferences. And just like Indeed, Ziprecruiter notifies you about recent job postings that match your skills and experience.
When it comes to selecting the right company or the right individual to work for, Glassdoor has got you covered with the information you need to make your choice. You can get data on salary ranges, company size, and job roles that will help you make the right pick.
Of course, we wouldn’t want to leave out everyone’s go-to place for anything. Craigslist has been around since 1995 and has helped local job seekers find their ideal career paths by providing listings of relevant job vacancies. Despite its longevity, you still need to exercise a bit of caution when doing your job hunt on the site. You will never know if the job you picked is even legitimate and authentic.
If you want to go the traditional route, try browsing the classified ads of the local newspaper or scanning the yellow pages for the contact numbers of taxi companies and hospitals (if you are looking for a job as a cab driver or ambulance driver).
It’s important to know, however, that certain driving jobs require a specific set of skills. Before applying, it’s important to know if your skill set matches the expectations of the job itself. If you’re lacking the skills required for the position, consider this next tip.
4. Develop the Skills You Need and Get a License
Being able to handle a vehicle well is not the only component of being a professional driver. Some positions require certain skills and training. Ambulance drivers, for one, need to have superb decision-making and communication skills under very stressful conditions.
You also need the same skills as a truck driver. It’s also important to be very organized and focused, especially if you are transferring precious cargo that needs to be delivered on time.
Fortunately, some companies will mandate an orientation and training period that will hone your driving skills and help you understand other important aspects of your job.
On the other hand, some companies will only hire drivers who have already undergone training or attained certain driver’s licenses prior to applying for the job. You can always find driving schools that can help you with getting the specific skills you need to obtain a professional driver’s license.
You can get started by asking for recommendations from experienced drivers. They will suggest the right driving schools that can help you hone your skills based on the kind of driving job you want. When picking a driving school, it’s important to know if it has the right credentials. You wouldn’t want to be dealing with a school that operates in a secretive or illicit manner. You may also want to find out if the school has a bad safety record. To be sure, you will need to check online reviews to see what past students think about their experiences.
5. Be Responsible and Professional
As a professional driver, you have a contract to fulfill, so it’s important to do your job diligently. That said, you need to act lawfully and consider yourself as a carrier of your employer’s reputation.
In everything that you do and regardless of where you are in the line of duty, it’s important to abide by the laws of the road and refrain from performing any illicit acts.
Then again, there will always be cases in which a lapse of judgment may lead you towards legal problems that will taint your professional record, such as getting pulled over for a DUI in Pennsylvania. In such a scenario, it’s important to compose yourself in front of authorities and contact Philadelphia or Pittsburgh DUI attorneys to help you out.
Don’t think your employer will be responsible for you every time. You also need to act professionally and avoid making hapless mistakes while you are behind the wheel. Before you are hired, you need to brush up on the principles of defensive driving. You can also enhance your stress management techniques while you are on the road. After all, road rage often complicates things for you, on top of being a good reason to fire you.
Some might think there’s nothing special about driving professionally. The truth is, it can make for a fulfilling and rewarding career. Just be sure to adequately prepare for it and learn how to make the most out of it behind the wheel.
One more thing: Your attitude is just as important as your skills. More than just writing a fancy resume, you also need to adopt a mindset of positivity. So, commit to your goal of being a process driver and never give up. Everything else should follow through.