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Traits of a Good Driver Trainer/Mentor

Knight Transportation truck driver trainer Anthony Evans

Due to the independent nature of the trucking industry, along with its tranquility and solitude, many drivers are drawn to this profession. Therefore, a common need within the industry is well-trained and experienced drivers who are willing to train the next generation of drivers as professional truck driver trainers. The following are some characteristics that indicate an individual might be a good fit for this particular aspect of the profession:

What is a Truck Driver Trainer?

Before looking deeper into the topic of what makes a good truck driver trainer, it’s helpful to understand the scope of the job from the outset. To put it simply, a truck driver trainer works for either a trucking company or a school to provide on-the-job training to new drivers, teaching them how to operate a variety of vehicles safely. The duties can also include working with students in a classroom setting to ensure they know the rules of the road and how to begin the process of becoming a successful professional truck driver.

The key difference between an instructor and a trainer is that an instructor gives instructions on developing a specific skill, whereas a trainer is responsible for training someone on a job, activity, or exercise routine. Both instructor and trainer are job roles that mainly involve teaching practical skills to new drivers.

Qualities of a Good CDL Driver Trainer

If a person is considering becoming a truck driver trainer, they should have the following qualifications to be a great one:

  • Expertise and Experience: Obviously, trainers can’t teach what they don’t know personally. Therefore, it is extremely helpful for a trainer to have a great deal of experience and expertise within the industry so they can help new drivers navigate the system and succeed in their careers.
  • Attention to Detail and Organization: Much of what makes a good driver a good driver is the details. Therefore, when training a driver, the trainer must also pay attention to each and every detail of the learning and training process, not minimizing any aspect. Take time to plan your training materials and delivery carefully. Well-organized lessons and materials help you to remain focused on the topic at hand, instead of jumping around. This prevents facilitated sessions from becoming dragged out and losing the audience’s attention.
  • Patience and Active Listening: In many cases, drivers will try and fail to successfully operate a truck. This is especially true when they are first learning the skill and haven’t yet mastered various training aspects in practice. This means that a driver trainer must be a patient person, working with students until they grasp the concepts necessary to move to the next step. Students can’t be rushed through the process before they have mastered each element.

    The ability to listen, ask the right questions, and understand the needs of the learner are at the top of this list of qualities of a good truck driver. A talented trainer is able to listen so closely to what their audience thinks they need, that they can clearly see what they actually need.
  • Passion for Helping Others: Not every good professional driver is cut out to be a good truck driver trainer. In fact, these individuals must have a passion for helping others that allows them to in essence help new drivers get their start. There’s a lot of return on investment when you become a trainer; you get the satisfaction of watching others win as well as your own financial reward that comes with it. You’re more than a trainer— you’re a mentor.
  • Value Safety: Trainers must be especially focused on safety matters on the roadway, ensuring that new drivers stay safe as they are learning and mastering their skills. Even when safety protocols seem overdone, a good trainer will insist on doing this just the right way to instill these habits into their new drivers.
  • Prize Lifelong Learning: The best trainers constantly ask themselves: “what makes a good trainer?”. Because who better to deliver training than someone who is constantly learning themselves? That’s why lifelong learning is one of the important characteristics of a good trainer. Trainers who regularly undertake their own learning are more in touch with the struggles and triumphs of the everyday adult learner.
  • Analyze and Improve Again, and Again, and Again: Self-improvement is one of the most impactful qualities of a good trainer. Great trainers are not only focused on developing their learners but also on developing themselves. You can improve your performance by taking advantage of surveys and other forms of feedback. Don’t shy away from constructive feedback but take it as an opportunity to re-examine your methods and do better the next time around.
  • Encourage Engagement: The best trainers encourage learners to ask questions, get involved in activities, and be active in their learning rather than passively consuming the material. For skill development to really happen, learners need opportunities to share their ideas, answer questions, and practice what they’ve learned.

“The best driver trainers love to see others win.”

– Ivan Orona, Director of Driver Training at Knight Transportation

Each of the qualities of a good trainer can make a huge difference in the success of the program and the engagement of learners. Trainers who invest their time in developing these qualities, and put them into practice too, are bound to see their course evaluations and learner results improve.

What to Expect When Becoming a Driver Trainer?

When a driver decides to become a trainer, they can expect the following changes to happen as they move into this new career path:

  • Sharing Their Cab: They will open up their truck cab to new drivers, welcoming them into this new and exciting career path.
  • Additional Work: It’s much of the time easier to do something oneself than to teach someone else to do it, so trainers must be ready for the additional work it takes to get a new driver up to speed.
  • Earn More Money: Becoming a trainer is a great way to expand a trucking career and offers additional means to making money. The average annual pay for a trainer is $70,000 to $80,000 per year, whereas the top performers make more than $100,000 per year.
  • Job Satisfaction: Helping new drivers succeed and find their way into a successful trucking career provides a great deal of satisfaction.

Consider all the aspects of the above information as you consider if becoming a truck driver trainer is the move for you!

Interested in driving for Knight Transportation? View Trucking Jobs

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