yellow semi-truck

From high tuition costs to wasting money on classes you will never use in real life, the idea of going to college isn’t for everyone. Since you were young, people have told you that in order to find that dream job and make a decent living you need to spend years of your life and thousands of dollars to get a degree.

However, a lot of people choose not to go the college route. So, how can you make a decent living without having a piece of paper with your name on it? Are there even opportunities for high paying jobs that don’t require a college degree or experience?

The answer is YES.

High Paying Jobs Without Degree or Experience

The New York Times had a recent article on jobs that don’t require a college degree and the metropolitan areas with the highest share of well-paying jobs for workers without a college degree.

A group of researchers has set out to find employment categories and places where workers without a four-year degree could find a job at the national median wage or even better.

Among the areas studied the top five areas with the best locations offering high paying job opportunities that don’t require college degrees are:

  • Toledo, OH – (34.0 Share)
  • Anchorage – (31.5 Share)
  • Des Moines – (30.8 Share)
  • Birmingham, Alabama – (30.6 Share)
  • St. Louis – (30.3 Share)

In those locations, the researchers at The New York Times looked at job opportunities and “want ads” that did not require a bachelor’s degree from a College or University.

The top five job opportunities that researchers found that had a well-paying salary were:

  • Registered Nurses
  • Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers
  • Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks
  • Maintenance and Repair Workers
  • Carpenters

Now in order to do some of these jobs, you still will need to have some form of education. They just don’t let anyone be a registered nurse. The same applies to carpenters or other trades work. You have to work your way up from being an apprentice to a journey man. That alone could take years.

So, if you don’t have the time or interest to pursue those types of careers there is one well-paying job that always in need of new employees and has plenty of spots open…The Trucking Industry.

How To Become A Truck Driver

Now, becoming a truck driver doesn’t exactly happen overnight, but the time that is required to learn and become certified is so much shorter than the other jobs listed in The New York Times.

The process for becoming a truck driver is as follows:

  1. Pass Your Driver’s Test
  2. We are starting here at ground zero. It might seem like a no-brainer but the first step in becoming a truck driver is to pass the basic driver’s license test for your home state. Without your main license, you will not be able to go on to get your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Which takes us to step two.

  3. Meet All Your Requirements
  4. Most long-haul employers, moving companies, etc., require at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with that, you will need to obtain your CDL through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to even be considered. It is also recommended that you enroll in a truck driving school or complete some form of job training. Although it may not be required, it is nice to have that added to your resume and these classes will prepare you for your CDL exam.

  5. Earn Licenses, Certifications & Registrations
  6. All truck drivers must pass the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) exam. This exam tests your physical sight and hearing to measure whether you are physically fit to drive a commercial vehicle. During this phase, you may also obtain a Commercial Learners Permit (CLP). If you already have an in with a truck driving company, this will allow you to operate a vehicle under the supervision of someone with a CDL.

  7. Apply For Truck Diving Jobs
  8. The last step for becoming a truck driver is to just go out and apply for open positions. As stated earlier, truck driving jobs are always in high demand. Search the internet for companies hiring. Don’t even wait, there are plenty of job openings now. Apply to be a truck driver now!

How Much Do Truck Drivers Make?

Now, the biggest question and main reason why you are here is that you need a well-paying job! After spending money on taking the courses and obtaining the licensing you need to know if the salary you are going to make as a truck driver is even worth it.

Truck driver salaries range all over and these are the basic factors that play a role in how much money you will actually make:

  • Mileage
  • Obviously, the longer and further you are willing to drive the more money you are going to rake in over time. Although shorter distances may seem more convenient when trying to maintain a balance between work and leisure, they tend to pay less. The further you are willing to drive the more money you will make.

  • Experience
  • Like most jobs, you have to earn your pay. However, over time the job can become exhausting which is why there is such a high turnover rate for trucking companies. But if you stick with it you can end up making a lot more money in the long run.

  • Location
  • Where you plan on working is also a factor. There are certain regions in high demand for truck driving jobs.

  • Overall Education and Licensing
  • Tying into the overall experience, the more licensing and education you gain as a truck driver will increase your salary. Your CDL is your ticket to begin making the big bucks.

This is what you can expect to make over the course of your life as a truck driver:

  • Entry Level Salary: $28,000/year
  • Student truck Drivers: $41,000/year
  • CDL Truck Drivers: $66,000/year
  • OTR (long-distance) CDL Truck Drivers: $82,000/year
  • Team (taking turns with other drivers) Truck Drivers: $71,000/year

Overall the national average salary for a truck driver is around $43,464. But depending on the type of truck driver what fits an individual’s skill set and lifestyle will be the determining factors in the truck driver pay.

The Truck Driver Lifestyle

The truck driver life is not for everyone. However, it is a well-paying job if you don’t have a degree or any previous experience.

Truck drivers’ days can begin early and go very late into the night or even the next day. Depending on the route you choose it is not uncommon to work 70 hours over an eight-week period and sometimes even longer.

The downside of being a truck driver is the fact that you typically won’t know how much you actually make until the end of the year. That is because most truck driving jobs pay based on the number of miles you drive. However, that doesn’t mean truck drivers don’t have a solid estimate for how much they are making when on the road.

This type of job is seen as life on the open road with plenty of truck stops in between. It presents the opportunity to be free and see the country at your choosing. There is a culture that most truck drivers adopt that you won’t find within other career paths. You gain friends and have a sense of camaraderie during your time.

No matter what, you always will have a destination, whether it be to a drop off point or to your home and back to your family.