I’m not Red. I’m someone Red asked to be his expert on dry van trucking. The majority of trucking companies are now using trucks with automatic transmissions. As their older trucks are replaced they will have all auto fleets. The average age of truck drivers in the country is 50 or 55. I would recommend you DO NOT opt to get training just with auto trucks or you will have a restriction on your license. Shifting is much easier than most outsiders assume. It would be best o learn shifting “big trucks” if you had ZERO experience with manual cars. You use the clutch completely differently in a truck than a car. If you have non-truck shifting experience it will make it harder, not easier, to learn truck shifting. You are guaranteed to press the clutch too deep because of your past experience.
My major point is shifting is no big deal. Everybody fears it, inside of a week you will be able to do 90% of the shifting just like you wanted. You will have more trouble downshifting than up-shifting. That’s to say accelerating and shifting is easier than slowing and shifting. EVERYONE has that problem. Get your training and go to a company you really want to work for, especially one near your town. You don’t have to tell them anything about your shifting ability or experience, you will learn it. It’s about 90% certain you will be driving an automatic truck.
The bigger issue, and almost everyone downplays it, is being away from home or not getting home enough and that causing problems with family or your psychology. That’s why I recommend you work for a company with a facility near your town. It makes home-time more likely and frequent and allows the truck to be serviced while you are home instead of you donating an unpaid day sitting around a truck stop while your truck gets preventative maintenance. You are paid for miles, not hours. “If the wheels aren’t turning you aren’t earning”.
Make sure you take the personality profile. f you are a social person you may find the isolation too much. It’s easy to see pretty scenery on YouTube and think that’s what you are signing up for. You will spend a lot of time alone, in dirty crowded cities or industrial parks and people will look at you like a hobo or worse. Your mindset will dictate so much of you succeed in the industry. A lot of outsiders remember a nice long car trip and then think this is a job that pays you to have that experience over and over. It’s long hours where your strengths and weaknesses come out.