Drivers of the world, you know who you are. You proudly passed your license exam the day you turned 16, you’re everybody’s favorite person when it comes time for road trips and you can quote every line from The Fast and the Furious.
In the real world, you don’t need a bright orange Supra and help from Ludacris to launch your career as a driver. Getting by and making good money requires hard work and dedication, just like any other career path. You can leverage your skill behind the wheel in several ways — and pay the bills doing it. Here are four potential career paths for professional drivers.
1. Factory Test Driver
The world’s major automakers can’t release just anything to the public and hope it works. Like any product, cars must be tested in real-world scenarios before they hit the market. Those of us who are “blessed” with a heavy foot might see this as a glamorous role a-la Lamborghini’s Valentino Balboni, quite possibly the world’s only celebrity factory test driver. The truth is, this job is important and involves much more than going fast.
New cars have to perform when they’re asked to do mundane things like getting groceries. Even extreme things that seem mundane—like starting when it’s two degrees outside—must be rigorously tested. If upwards of $70k per year and never dealing with people sounds good, this may be the job for you!
2. Shuttle Driver
If you’re comfortable behind the wheel of a larger vehicle, a role as a shuttle driver might be a good fit for you. You’ve probably ridden in a shuttle while traveling. Shuttles are large vans or buses that transport people along a set route. You’ll need to be punctual and organized, and it helps if you’re comfortable working with a variety of different personality types.
Driving a shuttle is an excellent foot in the door to a career as a driver. It could also lead to opportunities for the airport or parent company that runs the shuttle.
3. Highway Patrol Officer
If you’ve always wanted an excuse to speed without the fear of getting a ticket, have we got a job for you! Jokes aside, the nation’s Highway Patrol officers help keep our roads safe and spend countless hours at the helm of a patrol car or motorcycle. Much like the test driver job, this is a role that is equal parts glamour and blue-collar blood and sweat.
To be a good fit for this job, you’ll want to have a strong educational background. In some locations, you’ll need a degree in Criminal Justice or Law Enforcement. You’ll also need to be in shape and have the physical stamina and strength to handle challenging situations. It’s no cake walk, but for the right person, it can be a rewarding and dynamic career.
4. Truck Driver
Call it old-fashioned, but commercial trucking is responsible for bringing much-needed goods to your town and towns across the country. Much of the mystique that used to surround driving trucks overland has worn off since the glory days of the 1970s, but for those who seek a profession where they can define their own schedule and manage their own workload, truck driving offers an alternative to life behind a desk.
Overland trucking disciplines break down into several different niches, with the annual pay ranging from around $50,000 for an entry-level fleet driver to upwards of $100,000 for drivers who haul special loads or brave difficult conditions. Discovery Channel aficionados — that means you! Don’t jump in at the deep end if you’re new to trucking, though. Operating an 18-wheeler is no small task, and it’s best to start things off slow.
Follow Your Instincts to Choose Your Driving Career Path
The roles covered here offer a variety of different ways to build a career around your passion for driving, many more are out there. Maybe you’ve dreamt of being a race car driver, private chauffeur or delivery driver. Whatever it might be, there’s money to be made for the skilled wheelmen and women of the world.