Greenhorn or Professional

Let’s talk about progression of a truck driver for a moment. Everyone has to start someplace and in truck driving we have a couple of titles for those that are new. Greenhorn or steering wheel holder is the first title you earn. But what do they mean? Shall we dig in?

Greenhorn or Steering Wheel Holder

This is the first title you are given as a newly minted CDL holder. The reason behind these is that you don’t know all there is to know yet about driving. The lingo is foreign to you, the actions that you do on a daily basis are foreign to you and most of all, living in a 10×20 box is foreign to you. You have yet to completely master or understand your log books, you aren’t sure what a circadian rhythm is and if you really even want one and where is that beeping coming from.

This is why you hold that title. There is really so much to learn about being new and what it takes to be successful at this job or career that most of us have running in our veins. Just mastering your pre-trip inspection daily is a huge task all on its own. So let’s get to it shall we? How do we go from greenhorn to professional.

Do’s and Don’ts

Please make sure you look at these and see if they resonate with you. Do they seem like common sense or is it something you will have to work at?

Please DO ask questions. However formulate smart questions to ask. Attempt to figure it out for yourself first. You are your own best line of defense on the road. It is just you and that steel horse. Get to know it well, get to know what it sounds like, what rattles, what it sounds like when you shift. Know your truck intricately.

Please DO NOT leave things for others to handle. Know when to pull forward at the fuel pumps, know how to ask the diesel desk in the truck stop for an advance. Do your research and remember what you have learned so that you are not repeating the same mistake over and over again. Do not keep waiting for someone to save you, do it yourself.

Please DO get interested in the field you have chosen. It isn’t for everyone. Mike and I have it running in our veins. It is our lifestyle. We love what we do. We ask questions and we attempt to be the best at it that we can be. Knowing what you can handle and cannot is important, and this career isn’t for everyone and that’s OK.

Please DO NOT think that you know everything on day one. You have no idea what you are in for. Save yourself from the old timers and do NOT tell them how to do their job. DO listen to their stories and know that they have lived those to the core of their being. DO know that truck drivers in the old school are the most loyal and helpful people around. DO NOT assume that all drivers are like the one that isn’t helpful.

The Progression

The longer you are out on the road the more of a sponge you become. Each shipper and receiver is different. For instance, Mike and I drive for one of the major grocery chains. We are not supposed to unload our trucks due to insurance reasons. However, we can assist if we choose. Remember those things as they will come back to help you later. It is knowing your customer, your skills and what you are working with that will help you.

The progression from greenhorn to professional is slow due to the amount of information you need to absorb. While the basics are drilled into you from the moment you entered into school, the nuances are harder to pick up sometimes. However, if you keep your head in the game and your ears on and your mouth shut off, your potential is limitless. The key is knowing your truck, and what it can do and that you only learn in time. Be patient with yourself and know that you are going to make mistakes. Know that the mistakes you make are only big ones if there is damage caused to the load, tractor or trailer. We all make mistakes, just learn from them.

You will not just wake up a professional one day, it will be a progression of knowing the freeways and the people you serve. We keep this great nation running, but being cocky about it isn’t necessary.

So you will want to watch how you interact with people to get to the next stage in your journey.


  1. How do the two differ? I want more insight into what goes into the process of advancing from greenhorn to professional. I feel you touched on that a little, but I am still left with questions.  Could you go into more detail on what a greenhorn and its duties are? As well as go over what a professional and its duties are. 

    1. Thanks for the information! I will certainly create maybe another post that can detail this!! I really appreciate the feedback!!

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