Over the past few years, there has been an increase in the number of commercial truck drivers to start their careers in the industry while in the 50’s. This shift is thought to be related to the fact that there is a significant shortage of drivers in the United States and due to a growing number getting tired of being stuck in an office and looking for ways to get out to see parts of the country while also getting paid. The significant disproportion of drivers to available work has helped to steadily drive the salary of commercial drivers up over the past couple of decades. This trend shows no sign of reversing anytime in the future.
Fortunately, age is never a problem in the truck driving industry. The industry hires at a minimum age of 21 and up to 55 years of age and over. Your age is not a problem at all as long as you can pass all the Department of Transportation (DOT) physical health fitness requirements. A report in 2014 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the average of a truck driver in the United States was 50 years old.
Before making the career change into the world of commercial trucking, it’s important to understand what you are getting into, and what you need to do to set yourself up for the best chance of success.
As you know, a truck driver primarily hauls freight from one location to the other. These “runs” that they perform can be anything from local driving where their travel radius is within a few hours of home all the way up to cross country trips where they could be away from home several days and weeks at a time.
What some people don’t realize before becoming a driver is how many other tasks they are required to do outside of just driving. Their job involves much more than just sitting behind the wheel and maneuvering thru traffic. In fact, they are also expected to perform general maintenance on trucks, maintain logs of driving times, and deliver as well as pick up shipments for transportation. The picking up of shipments could include the physical loading of the goods onto the truck. Generally you will know where your responsibilities start and stop based on the job description and union regulations.
It’s also important that a driver understand and comply with federal rules and regulations as established by the U.S. Department of Transportation as well as keeping in mind the individual state laws
Becoming a truck driver may not suit every person as the industry may require some qualities such as, excellent hearing and vision and being in a good physical condition which at times limits most5 of the people at the age of 60 who are mostly retired. Also, they must have the ability to sit for long as the job requires them to sit for a more extended period and adapt to changes in driving conditions.
For you to become a truck driver at the age of 50 (or any age), you need first to do the following to qualify.
Research the career
- By researching the job, you can come up with what to expect as a salary. Your salary is based on the work you do. Your research will let you know what type of companies pay better before enrolling in one.
- With enough research done you will be able to understand the pros and cons of the business. One of the advantages of truck driving is that it requires a short amount of schooling unlike other careers and offer high starting pay rates with decent beneficial packages.
- On the other side, trucking job can be severe and demanding, as you are expected to be on the road for at least 12 hours a day and deliver before the deadline, and at times the journey might be dangerous if transporting hazardous materials.
- Another way to do research is by talking with established truck drivers, and this will help you know the experiences they have had as well as interests in the field.
- Study the commercial driver’s manual. Studying the manual will inform you all you need to know about obtaining your commercial driver’s license within your state.
- Traffic laws change, and you’ll need to make sure that you study the most recent edition of the manual.
Qualify for the job
After researching the job details, you will be remaining with the final steps to complete for you to become a successful truck driver. They are as follows:
- Meet the minimum requirements – Before enrolling into any school, you’ll have to meet specific requirements both physical and legal qualifications. In most states, you must be at least 21 years of age to be legally eligible to work within the state. Also, you must have a clean driving record, and you must have a diploma or GED before applying.
- Must attend truck driving school – Attending good driving schools will provide both classrooms and practical education. Some programs may offer an intensive program where you might finish within 30 days or even up to 10 weeks, and at times others may consider extending up to a full year.
- Pass both parts of the licensing exam – Driving schools offer both practical (road skills) and written tests to evaluate your knowledge of various laws and safety regulations involved in truck driving. A state-licensed examiner usually supervises the road skill test.
- Passing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Requirement (FMCSR) exam – The FMCSR exam includes both written and physical components. The written portion covers federal traffic law, and the physical part includes brief hearing and vision tests.
- The final step is getting a Truck Driving Job – Some truck driving schools offer the services of job placement boards and career counseling. Truck-driving associations and organizations provide job boards and career mentoring for their members. There are also for-pay professional recruiting service organizations.
Benefits of Semi-Retired Driving
Truck driving is an excellent semi-retirement job for those who want to delay social security a little longer while still having a reason to get up in the morning. You see, often people go straight from the working life to the retired life only to discover it can get quite dull as a retiree,
and as prices rise, but their money dwindles, it may end up being a mistake. Nowadays, people often plan to work in some capacity after they retire to still have a purpose in their lives as well as an income.
There is no limit nor restriction on the age factor of the person, from the young and fresh drivers to the retirees various trucking companies employ truck drivers. Employing of retirees has been greatly encouraged as these retirees have a good and reliable track record, eager to work, a strong sense of ethic and enough stability.
The most common reason for young drivers not to work in the truck industry is that the younger drivers are married and have families and wish to be closer to their family and if possible near home rather than away. The retirees seem to be filling this gap of shortage among young drivers and are therefore on the books of the truck driving companies.
Taking up a job as a trucker gives you that extra buck which had ended with their retirement.
Potential Financial Bonuses:
- Monthly mileage
- Sign-on bonus
- Fuel efficiency
- Safety pay
- Layover pay
- Clean DOT inspection.
- Paid sick time
- Paid vacation
- Life insurance
- Job security
- Medical and Dental insurance
- Ride along policy
- 401k retirement plans.
You have much to benefit as a retiree in a trucking company. It is worth looking at truck driving as a second career after you have retired from your regular employment. They become entitled to the sign-on bonuses, insurance benefits, and paid vacations.
Challenges of Semi-Retired Driving
As you can see from above, making a career change and joining the trucking industry as you are nearing retirement age has many perks. We discussed the ample amount of jobs available, the pay benefits as well as the relative ease at entering the field. As with any job or career, there are some drawbacks that need to be considered.
- Loneliness – Time away from home and loved ones can be lonely as the truck driver spends days at a time sitting in a semi cab. Being on the road by yourself can take it’s toll on a person. Unless you are running the same routes repeatedly, it’s rare that you are going to see anyone you know while out on the road. This can be a challenge for people that consider themselves an extreme extrovert. Human interaction is going to be limited to the people you see at truck stops, restaurants and pick and deliver stops.
- Stress – Driving a truck in rush hour traffic in a major city is much different than driving a car in the same conditions. Your truck weighs many times more than a car and has numerous blind spots. One small oversite can result in a crash that causes significant injury. It’s not uncommon for truckers to face high anxiety situations on a common basis. In fact, other items that can elevate their stress levls include: onerous regulations, and long hours, unrealistic delivery schedules and at times lack respect for the profession.
- Health issues – Maintaining a healthy lifestyle while being a trucker driver can be extremely challenging. There are few healthy food options available for those that are often on the road. This results in drivers stopping for fast food meals. The combination of these unhealthy choices mixed with the lack of opportunities to exercise can cause significant health problems in a short amount of time. Before making the career change into this industry, it is highly suggested that you perform research on the best methods to eat healthy and stay in shape during your travels.
- Where to Sleep? – Finding a place to sleep each night that is safe can get old quick. Unfortunately, it’s becoming more common for states to close truck rest areas due to budget constraints. These areas were once quite common and provided drivers with safe places to shower and sleep while on the road. As these locations continue to close, truckers are forced to park their trucks on the side of the interstate or truck stops to catch some much needed sleep before getting back on the road.
- Truck and Trailer maintenance – If you elect to become an owner/operator, the high cost of truck maintenance can add stress to your day. Even the slightest of repairs on a big rig commonly cost into the hundreds of dollars.
- The high cost of fuel – Another stress to add onto the owner operators is not only the high cost of fuel but also the variability of fuel prices. Pricing often fluctuates with little warning, thus making it very difficult to plan and budget for the increase in expenses.
Truck driving is an excellent job to consider after retiring from another post because it keeps a person active in many ways. There’s the chance to see parts of the state or the country via the roads and highways, so a person can enjoy the opportunity to travel and see new places. There’s also the camaraderie of the job whereas a person meets all sorts of new and exciting people during a typical work week, from administrative assistants to truck stop workers and then some. Finally, semi-retirement jobs like truck driving offer fun, with each trip being an adventure in its own right.