From Cash Register to Cab: Transitioning from Retail to Trucking

For many retail workers, making the transition to a career in truck driving can be an exciting and rewarding experience. With an ever-growing demand for truckers, getting into this line of work can provide job security and numerous opportunities for growth. However, the transition from retail to trucking may seem intimidating at first, as it involves learning new skills and gaining knowledge of the industry.

Recent years have seen people from all sorts of career backgrounds transitioning to trucking, and with good reason. Working on the open road has many advantages, from having more control over your schedule to experiencing the country in a new way. While going from the structure of a retail job to a more autonomous and self-managed career such as trucking can be daunting, with some preparation and research, it is definitely possible, and maybe more quickly than you think.

First and foremost, you’ll need to obtain a CDL as this is a requirement for professional drivers. The good news is CDL training can be completed in as little as 4 weeks depending on where you attend, which is a big difference from joining a degree program in order to change careers. This gives you the ability to change careers swiftly.

Once you’ve passed your CDL test, you’ll want to decide which type of trucking appeals to you (long haul vs short haul, reefer vs dry van, etc.) and there are still several other considerations, all with a variety of options to best fit your specific needs. Additionally, consider what technology you can utilize to make life easier while driving. Your carrier will likely have a great setup and some good suggestions, but it’s always good to be prepared and to research what will work best for you, such as parking apps, or mapping software.

Before diving in, you may also want to scope out the carriers in your area to see if they’re hiring, and if so, what’s their culture like, their pay, their benefits, etc.

It’s worth mentioning that those transitioning from retail work also possess a wealth of transferable skills for a career in truck driving. For example, excellent communication and problem-solving skills can come in handy when dealing with customers or working through unexpected delays on the road. If you’re someone who’s detail-oriented, you may find that keeping track of loads and deliveries is easier than you thought. And if you’re used to working long hours or varying times of day, you’ll likely have no trouble adjusting to a truck driver’s schedule.

Last, if this is a career change you’re considering, take a moment to appreciate some of the unique experiences being a truck driver can offer, such as seeing new places, meeting new people, and nearly unlimited time to listen to your favorite music, podcasts, or audiobooks.