Opinions differ about the profession of truck driver. This is not necessarily a criterion for exclusion, because not every profession triggers such impressive emotions. Hardly anyone would have special feelings about a typical office job, for example. The idea of making a living as a trucker is not appealing to everyone, but it has a strong appeal to certain target groups. How attractive is the job of truck driver really? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this occupation and what can truckers expect when the adventure they aspire to has become their everyday life?
The road as a metaphor for life
In order to understand the fascination for the profession of truck driving, it is worth looking at the film genre of road movies. In a road movie, the protagonists are on a long journey. Their wealth of experience is enriched with such impressive sensations that they grow as a personality or even experience a biographical turning point. Those who travel can come to realisation. The road as a metaphor of life is stuck in social nowhere and the journey is the destination.
Something liberating emanates from every journey that awakens deep longings, because the laws of civilisation with its fixed routines, obligations and rules are largely unhinged, so that the journey offers the opportunity to find oneself. Not every trucker may come to the realisation right away. However, all truck drivers have a treasure trove of intense experiences that help them grow as a person and last a lifetime.
What are the advantages of being a truck driver?
The mindset is right for the job and the advantages of freedom and the desire to travel weigh heavily. Truckers get around a lot and drive through many countries in the course of their professional life. Here they get to know the country and its people from a more authentic perspective than is possible for most tourists in their ivory towers. Part of the freedom of working life is that you can go about your work unsupervised by your boss and also don’t have to worry about colleagues in a social microcosm like a company.
Truckers have a lot of time for themselves and time to think about the world. Oslo photographer Line Ørnes Søndergaard, who spent a lot of time with truck drivers as part of her studies, noted that many truckers have become “true philosophers”. There is also the technical component, because a truck driver is usually interested in technical processes around the car. A truck is even more interesting and sitting behind the wheel of a Gigaliners is a dream that many a trucker can fulfil in the course of his career.
Truckers have long practised the ideal of the car as an extended home, which is emerging in the course of digitalisation. They make themselves comfortable in their truck and decorate the cabin as if it were their living room at home. No matter how unpleasant the weather outside, it is always warm and cosy in the cabin.
What are the disadvantages of being a truck driver?
The reputation of truckers has suffered in the wake of the green energy transition, and truck drivers are now seen by many as climate sinners who pollute the environment and take space away from motorists. They need not hope for sympathy and understanding, and conflicts with fellow human beings are more likely to be the rule than the exception. The police and the customs authorities are also not letting their guard down, so that truckers complain about constant controls, which they sometimes consider harassing.
The constant driving and sitting is anything but conducive to good health, so compensatory activity during breaks at rest areas is advisable. Working away from home for weeks at a time is particularly serious. Truckers have to be prepared to live separated from their families for long periods of time, unless the job has made it impossible to start a family or have another partnership.
Behind the wheel, one is unobserved by the boss, but the company can still exert strong pressure with tightly scheduled appointments, forcing one to work overtime, which in turn violates German labour law. The long travelling time, combined with overtiredness, makes accidents very likely. Getting sick far from home is no fun either, as it is hard to just go home. In addition, truckers are almost the only occupational group that faces legal penalties such as driving bans, points in Flensburg and fines in case of misconduct.
If long traffic jams occur, every journey becomes a nightmare, and even the night at a rest area is anything but a comfort zone, despite the heating, especially since the danger of a robbery at night hangs over the scene like the sword of Damocles. Colleagues can be a curse and a blessing. If you are sociable, you will miss your colleagues and be overcome by feelings of loneliness.
The prerequisites for the profession
Those who want to become a trucker must complete a three-year dual training programme to become a professional driver. As part of this training, they acquire a class C driving licence for trucks and a class CE driving licence for large towing vehicles with trailers. Further learning contents of the training are dealing with customers, knowledge of loading and loading as well as the processes in the forwarding business and in logistics. Many employers require an ADR certificate, which entitles the driver to transport hazardous goods.
Chances of acceptance and earnings
The chances of being taken on as a truck driver after passing the training are excellent. If you pass the training, you will also become a trucker, because there is a desperate need for them. The reason for this, apart from the meanwhile bad reputation of truckers in the public, is seen by sociologists as a change in values of the “Generation Z”, who no longer want to be completely absorbed in their job, but strive for a healthy work-life balance.
In this way, far too few truckers are coming up, while the warhorses behind the wheel are gradually retiring. Many vacancies and good prospects for self-employment are the rewards that beckon after completing training as a professional driver. Earnings for truck drivers range from 2,500 to 3,000 euros gross per month, with the sky being the limit when it comes to self-employment. (prm)