Thirty-year-old Andy Jacobs has been an owner operator with K&J for almost 5 years, and Zac Minder, also thirty, for around 3 years. In an industry that makes it hard to work at all before the age of 23 due to the legalities of insurance and crossing state lines, becoming an owner operator in your 20s is pretty unique. But there are several benefits to starting your trucking career while you're young.
Be a Professional Tourist
As a driver you have an opportunity to see places in the country you might otherwise never see, all while getting paid to do it. In fact, some of our K&J drivers joke that they are professional tourists! Both Andy and Zac mentioned that one of the benefits of trucking was having freedom to travel and see all corners of the country. Before starting his driving career Andy had only been as far west as Wyoming, but now he has been all the way to California and seen 39 other states as well.
You Control Your Schedule
As a trucker you can work as much or as little as you want. Both Andy and Zac mentioned that to make good money, you do need to put in the miles and get out on the road; but even then you can have freedom with your schedule.
In fact, at this stage in his career, Andy has managed to change his schedule and hire a second driver to lighten his work load. "I have my step-dad working for me now," Andy said. "I drive four days a week and he drives the truck two. I make almost the same money, but I'm able to be home more which is nice," he said.
No Degree Required
Trucking is one of the few professions that allows you to make very good money with very little formal education. This makes it a fabulous option for those who don't enjoy school or can't afford to get a degree.
In just three months you can get through CDL school and begin training for a job on the road. Or, if you prefer, you can apply for a CDL and do your own version of "school" with a trainer who can teach you the trade. Andy first got his start with a trainer rather than through formal CDL school. He later trained Zac the very same way.
If you have a CDL, you're a hot commodity. CDL-holding truckers are retiring at a faster rate than they are being replaced, so there is a huge need for more drivers in the US market. Industry security was a big draw for Zac and Andy; and with more and more goods being shipped everyday, the demand for new drivers will only continue to grow in the coming years. Which leads us to our final point.
Make Great Money
The number one thing that attracted both Andy and Zac (And most drivers!) to trucking was the money. Andy did road construction and worked at a golf course before he was recruited by an owner operator to drive for him. A year and a half later, Andy was out on his own as an owner operator.
Now in his second truck, Andy has learned that financial freedom is worth the sacrifice. "I made pretty aggressive payments on my second truck," Andy said. "I don't eat at truck stops and I try to be good with my money when I'm on the road. So I was consistently paying around $750 to $850 a week toward my lease."
That hard work led to a big reward when he was able to completely pay off his truck in less than two years. He had a debt-free business by the age of 30.
Zac has a similar backstory. He was a bricklayer for 12 years before Andy encouraged him to try trucking. After about a year Zac decided to strike out on his own. "I wanted to make more money so I knew I should get my own truck," Zac said.
Zac hasn't looked back since then. "I can't currently imagine myself doing anything else," he said. "I really enjoy being on the road and being able to afford the things I want to purchase."
He is currently leasing his truck through K&J and has appreciated their support of his business. "Everyone at K&J has been great to work with. They give great advice. I can't imagine a better company."
Just Don't Forget to Protect Yourself
Trucking is an amazing and rewarding profession, but if you aren't careful when you get started you can get burned. Andy had some great advice for younger drivers who are just starting out.
"Find somebody that is going to treat you right. Get someone to train you properly or your life will be a living hell. But after your first year you really control your own destiny. I recommend living off a lot less than what you’re making. I’m not always the greatest at saving money, but I learned quickly not to spend money on the road. Don’t eat at truck stops. Don’t shop at truck stops. It is the worst thing you can do. And always work with a carrier you can trust."
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