Trucking gives you the opportunity to have a rewarding career in an essential industry. As you gain more experience as a driver, you may have the chance to pursue advancement and continue to shape your career to your preferences. One such opportunity is becoming a driver mentor, which may also be called a driver trainer depending on the company. This allows you to use your skills to help new drivers who are just getting started in trucking, while also increasing your pay in many cases.
Here are some signs that you should consider becoming a driver mentor:
1. You’re An Experienced Trucker
Since driver mentors are responsible for supporting and training rookies, it’s important that you have the experience and skills necessary to handle this job. Different companies have different requirements for the specific length of time behind the wheel before you can become a trainer. In addition to looking at the length of your time in trucking, it’s also important to be honest with yourself about your relative experience. If you aren’t confident in your trucking ability, it’s worth taking some more time before considering a mentorship opportunity.
Some qualities experienced drivers should have include:
- You can drive safely in all conditions. Consider whether you are confident that you can handle city streets, busy traffic, rain, snow, high winds, night driving, mountainous terrain, and other less-than-ideal driving circumstances. In addition, experienced drivers are aware of their limits and know when conditions are too extreme for safe travel.
- You fully understand hours of service (HOS) regulations and are able to manage your time without violations.
- You have experience with trip planning and are able to make your deliveries on time. If unexpected circumstances arise, you have a plan for how to handle them and/or can think on your feet to find a solution.
- Even if things are difficult, you are able to stay calm. This doesn’t mean you have to be a robot with no reactions, but you are able to manage your stress and drive safely even if you are frustrated.
- You no longer feel stressed about backing into loading docks or parking spots. The skills that felt daunting in trucking school or when you were a rookie are no longer as intimidating.
- You understand the social side of trucking and are able to communicate effectively with dispatchers, supervisors, loading dock staff, and others you may encounter.
2. You Don’t Mind Sharing Your Truck
As a driver mentor, you’ll go out on the road with a new driver. During part of the training, you’ll be actively supervising their driving and after a certain point, you’ll be trucking as a team. If the idea of sharing your space is uncomfortable, mentorship may not be the best path for you. On the other hand, if you don’t mind the idea of having someone else on your truck and, eventually, driving while you sleep, then training a new driver could work for you.
3. You Enjoy the Idea of Mentoring
It should be fairly self-explanatory that a driver mentor job involves mentoring a new driver. Even if you have a lot of experience and don’t mind team driving, you won’t likely be successful in this role if you don’t like the thought of training someone. Your trainee will expect you to help them and treat them with respect. They are likely going to make mistakes and struggle as they learn, and the best mentors are able to address any issues calmly while still giving trainees valuable information and feedback.
What If Mentorship Isn’t For You?
If you are an experienced trucker but don’t want to be a trainer, there are still opportunities for advancement and higher pay. It’s important to make sure you are truly interested in a training role before pursuing mentorship. The good news is that there are multiple opportunities for growth in trucking and you can find one that matches your unique skills and preferences.
Become a Driver Mentor at DSW
At DSW, we are currently hiring experienced drivers and have a mentorship program you can participate in if you are interested. We also hire new truckers. At every stage of your career, DSW works as hard for you as you work for us.