Hamrick-SchoolIf you are looking to get into the trucking industry, chances are good that you’ve heard that there is a driver shortage. The trucking industry is facing a 100% usage rate among its drivers, which means they are all more or less operating at capacity.

The average age of a truck driver according to recent data is approaching 50 years of age. That means that the current shortfall is only going to get worse over the next 10-15 years, as the “average” driver reaches retirement age. The current tide of onboarding drivers—that is, the drivers graduating from trucking school and getting their commercial driver’s licenses—is not going to be able to keep up with the demand created by outgoing workers.

We can delve into and debate the causes for the shortfall—the long hours—sometimes days and weeks at a time—on the road, the upswinging economy improving at too swift a rate, or the pay offered by trucking companies—but as an onboarding truck driver you want to know how this impacts you, right?

Well, one thing it doesn’t mean is that your road will be easier coming into the trucking industry. With more than 2.5 million drivers, there is still quite a pool of workers to choose from, so you will still have to pay dues, to be certain. It doesn’t mean you will be able to land a choice trucking job any easier than before.

It also doesn’t mean you can slack off in trucking school. It’s more important now than ever to be fully qualified if you’re getting into trucking, and don’t think the companies don’t notice; with fewer potential employees to choose from, they’re becoming, if anything, more choosy with whom they select.

As an incoming truck driver, you should be looking more at the opportunities the current shortage can afford you in the future. From the employee perspective, a driver shortage today in the massive trucking industry in the short term means more competition between trucking companies for established veteran drivers. That means current truck drivers with a good driving record will be in higher demand, which means trucking companies will be competing for their services.

That leaves their old jobs up for grabs, which is where you, the young, untested driver, come in. You have the opportunity to take those jobs. This may give you greater entry-level opportunities, but that’s not the end of your potential gains.

That comes in the future, as employment levels off, and supply rises to meet demand. That will leave you in the catbird seat for a promotion. Not only will you have access to the superior trucking jobs, but you’ll be primed for a leadership position. Your entry into the industry today places you in a potential position of prominence tomorrow.

So the ultimate takeaway of all of this? You, the student driver, are the future of the industry, and have an important part to play in the future of the industry. Just don’t equate “driver shortage” with “easy road to a job,” because you will still need to put your best effort forth if you want to find success in your industry.