Updated: Apr 28
The American career path is quickly changing. Americans used to clock in and clock out of the same job for 40+ years and then retire with a good pension and a handshake for a job well done. In today’s job marketplace, Americans are shifting jobs and careers every few years. The climb to the top is no longer a simple ladder up, but a game of chutes and ladders. And more and more Americans are becoming self-employed or starting their own businesses. In 2011, there were over 28 million small businesses and over 22 million people were self-employed across America.
Are you currently happy with your job? Do you want to become an owner-operator if you are currently a company driver? Do you want to grow and expand your business? The life of a truck driver is unique from most jobs across America. You are often not in the same place for very long. If you’re looking to bring your truck driving career to the next level or maybe expand your business in the future, there are ways to gain new skills and knowledge while on the road.
College Courses – Truck drivers don’t need a college degree, which can save you tens of thousands of dollars and put you financially ahead of many of your college graduate friends. However, if you are interested in furthering your knowledge or career then taking college courses might be beneficial to you. Most community colleges and four year universities offer online courses. If earning an associate or bachelor’s degree is something that you really want to do, look into reputable colleges that offer online courses or degrees. If you’re interested in growing your business or transitioning to an owner-operator position then maybe a few select courses in areas such as accounting or computer science might help you develop new skillsets necessary for the transition. College courses can be expensive. Luckily many schools offer alternatives to traditional courses.
Continuing Education or Professional Courses – Many community colleges and universities and even local town adult education programs offer a variety of continuing education or professional courses or workshops aimed at helping you learn and develop new skill sets. These courses are often available online or completed over a weekend at the school. If you’re looking to start your own or expand your business, then taking a few business or computer related courses might help you develop the skills you need to manage a successful business. Many community colleges throughout the country offer short courses or workshops on Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, and even basic computer skills that might help you along the road. Determine knowledge areas that you might be lacking or rusty and research courses or workshops that might help you develop those knowledge areas and skills for a minimum price and time commitment.
Industry Conferences and Meetings – Industry conferences are great events to attend to learn about the latest technology and trends, attend educational seminars, and an excellent place to network with other likeminded individuals. Attending events like the Mid-America Trucking Show or the Great American Trucking show are always beneficial.
Industry Associations – Get involved with a trucking association. Many associations offer a range of membership benefits that will help you as a driver and business owner. Take advantage of their webinars and forums to learn from other owner-operators and network. If you are looking for a challenge, get involved in other areas of the association, such as a leadership position or join the policy committee and advocate for the trucking industry at your local and national level. Not only will you learn valuable skills, but you will be helping thousands of others in your industry.
Free Online Courses – College is expensive and it’s not for everyone. However, maybe college or higher learning is something that you want to participate in, but can’t due to the fact you’re on the road all the time or can’t afford the hefty tuition bill. Many top colleges and universities are now opening their doors and releasing free online courses for anyone across the world. All you need is the internet and the desire to learn. You won’t earn a degree at the end of these courses, but you might learn something new and exciting. Coursera and EDx are two sites that offer free online courses taught by top university professors from schools like Harvard and Stanford ranging in topics from computer programming to medicine to art. Additionally, MIT has created online courses and materials that are very similar to the courses taught in the classrooms on campus. Ever dream of attending MIT? Now’s your chance!
Learn a New Language – Many trucking companies require you to either have the ability or currently hold a valid passport because some of your routes might bring you over the border to either Mexico or Canada. Knowing at least basic words and phrases in either French (if you drive into the Quebec-region of Canada) or Spanish can help you with your job and potentially grow your clientele and delivery routes into new geographic locations. The workforce is increasingly becoming globalized and being able to speak a second language can not only increase your chance of scoring a client and route, but also increasing your pay. Speaking multiple languages might even help you decrease your chance of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia and even improve your English skills! Rosetta stone and Duolingo are both great and fun ways to learn a new language while on the road.
Furthering your career or education while constantly being on the road can be difficult. With the internet and new software and apps being developed on a daily basis, learning new skills and knowledge can be easy. Being a lifelong learner not only will help you further your career, but it can keep you healthy and smart for years to come.
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