Viral TikTok trucker argues industry is great alternative to a four-year college degree: 'Golden ticket job'

'Alex the Trucking Guy' has built a large following on social media detailing his life on the road as a trucker

As student debt mounts, Americans are looking for lucrative alternatives to a four-year college degree and trucking is proving to be a promising path for many. 

A 24-year-old social media sensation, who goes by "Alex the Trucking Guy" on social media, has built a large following detailing his life on the road as a trucker for Variant in America. Since the start of the pandemic, Alex has garnered over a million and a half followers across TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, allowing viewers to come along with him as he documents the job of a trucker traveling cross-country. 

Alex, who didn't reveal his last name, told Fox News Digital he first learned about the trucking industry from another YouTuber, "Riding with Dave," whose channel he discovered during the pandemic.

"Everyone was at home watching movies and just videos in general. . . . One day, I came across his YouTube videos 'Riding with Dave,' and he just showed the life of a truck driver and, I just said to myself, 'Like, why not? I'm just that type of person,' I just think, ‘I have nothing to lose, you know?’" Alex explained. "So, I just went for it, and it turned out to be just the best decision, honestly, that I could have ever made." 

"Since I made that decision to become a truck driver, I started posting videos, first on TikTok and then YouTube and then Instagram Reels," he added. "I started posting behind-the-scenes contents of the life of a truck driver, like who we are and really putting a face to these giant machines that you see on the road, really humanizing the job."

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Alex said he tried to get his associates degree, but eventually dropped out. 

"College wasn't for me," he said. "Honest answer, my parents wanted me to go to college, but it wasn't a thing for me to be in an office all the time, for 40 years. That wasn't the path that I had in mind, with my dreams, and so, I just dropped out [and] I took it upon myself just to take control of my life." 

Alex the Trucking Guy

Alex the Trucking Guy (YouTube / Alex the Trucking Guy)

He ended up working in a cheese factory, but when the COVID pandemic hit, his life took a turn. At the time, he was living with his mom and grandma, and he didn't want to risk getting them sick, so he quit his job and stayed home. That's where "Riding with Dave" came along and inspired him to get into the trucking industry. 

Now, he said he can't believe how successful his social media channels have become and the interest that his trucking content generates. 

In 2021, "as I was packing my bags to go to CDL school, the trucking school, to learn how to drive a semi truck, I wrote down on my goal board with my marker, three different goals for YouTube," he said. "One was to get at least a 5% click-through rate on each video, get at least a thousand views for a video and make $10,000 in ad sales by 2022 . . . and it's far surpassed anything that I even set for myself."

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"My life has just gone to a level beyond what I dreamed of. It's incredible," he added. "Sometimes I feel like I can't believe that I'm doing what I'm doing, and I mean that in a good way. The social media platforms that I've been able to build out just mind-boggles me to this day."

Alex said there are plenty of trade jobs that people can qualify for by taking classes or getting certifications that don't require a college degree or exorbitant amounts of student loan debt. 

"Then after you're done with that, you live out a much more financially stress-free life, because you don't have that $50,000, $100,000 student loan you have to pay back," he said. 

In 2022, over eight million people were employed in jobs that related to trucking activity, and 3.54 million truck drivers were employed in 2022, a 1.5% increase from 2021, according to data from the American Trucking Association. 

He said that trucking specifically allows a certain level of freedom, because truckers don't have to go to the same place or into an office every day. 

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"The pay is also great," he said. "A big benefit is you technically don't have to pay for housing, because your company will supply the semi-truck. I just drive the truck. My company bought the truck. If anything breaks on the truck, I call them, they pay to repair it."

"So there's that level of financial freedom that you're setting yourself up for, as a benefit," he added. 

He did admit that there can be downsides to the job, especially if a trucker has a family, since they will be away so much. But Alex said that trucking is a "golden ticket job" for someone in their early 20s, like him.

"By the time you're 30 with no mortgage, no rent and you're in a high-paying job, you're building yourself to be in a great position," he said. 

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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics listed the mean annual pay for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers at $53,090 as of May 2022. However, that was significantly down from 1980, the New York Times noted, as one analysis found average pay was roughly double that at the time, when adjusted for inflation. 

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