First year as a truck driver
What to expect as a truck driver in your first year
The first year is the hardest year — no matter what job you have. But it’s worth it if you stick it out. Ultimately, your mindset will determine your success. Use this first year as a truck driver walk-through to set realistic expectations and anticipate what’s coming. Then, tackle it with confidence.
Month 1 — Truck driving school
Some schools’ courses are longer, some are shorter, but either way, you can get the training you need and get your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in about a month.
We go into this more elsewhere: How to get a CDL
Month 2 — Starting with Schneider
Weeks 5-7 — Paid Schneider orientation
Once you’ve chosen Schneider as your company of choice (you can even do that before or during driving school!), graduated from driving school and received your CDL, you’ll lock in an orientation start date. Schneider has classes starting weekly. Gear up with a combination of classroom and in-truck training, plus over-the-road time with a training engineer.
More on this elsewhere too:
- VIDEO: What to expect at Schneider's OTR truck driver training
- VIDEO: What to pack for truck driving OTR training
Week 8 — Your first truck and your first independent load
You’ll get the keys to your truck on the last day of orientation, head home for a couple days to unwind and then return for day one on your own or with your team partner. It’ll be a little nerve-racking, but you’ll be ready. Your training engineer won’t be in the seat next to you anymore, but you’ll have trained for this moment. Do your pre-trip, double check your trip plan, trust your preparation, stay focused and start earning!
Handy resources/refreshers for peace of mind:
Months 3-5 — Hitting the road, the mountain worth climbing
The first three months of any job are tough. They just are. You’re a newbie and there will be times when you’ll be frustrated. You’ll do something embarrassing at some point. You’ll struggle through cycles of doubt, reassurance and confidence.
But trust us — it will be worth it. We have over 5,000 drivers in company history with more than 1 million consecutive safe miles, and every single one of them started out feeling this way. So stay the course, and let us help along the way.
Your new driver survival guide:
How much money can you really expect to earn your first year?
Months 7-9 — Getting the hang of life on the road
By this point, you’ll probably be at about 80 percent of your capability — improved stamina for driving longer distances, setting more accurate estimated times of arrival (ETAs) and ultimately starting to feel more comfortable with the rhythms of day-to-day life on the road. Experience is everything in this industry, but there’s only one way to get it. Don’t give up on yourself before you realize your full potential!
Insight to help you refine your approach:
Months 10-12 — Maximizing your potential
The second half of your first year is typically when it all clicks. There are always opportunities to grow, but you’ll have experienced enough time on the road to be operating at close to 100 percent capability — from an earnings and time management standpoint.
Once you hit your one-year anniversary and the pay increase that comes with it, you’ll be able to look back on how far you’ve come, and you’ll be grateful you stayed with it!
Pro tips to take your career to the next level:
- 6 leading truck driver budget and money saving tips
- 8 truck driver trip planning tips
- Top 13 truck driver tools to keep in your semi
- Top semi-truck organization ideas
Year 1 done — congratulations! Now what?
You made it! Crossing that one-year milestone will be incredibly fulfilling. It also means doors will start to open for more opportunities within the company — driving options that grow with you, training/mentoring opportunities or switching to a non-driving career.
Explore all Schneider’s career paths for drivers