You find yourself at a crossroads trying to decide if you should become a truck driver or not. There is no need to panic or get stressed out. The doubt you feel is normal whenever anyone is trying to decide which career is the one. So let’s look at becoming a truck driver.
In this easy to follow guide, we will give you a broad overview of the steps you will need to take to become a truck driver today. We will cut through the nitty-gritty minutia of details and let you see the simple path that most people take to start in this interesting career choice. For some people, this guide will make it easier to quickly digest what it takes to become a truck driver.
You should note, that this page is a broad overview of the common route to become a truck driver. We have included links to our other pages that can provide you with more detailed information, if you want to read it. Right now, though, we are just showing you the steps you will most likely need to go through.
We hope that you will find this article interesting and informative. We would appreciate any feedback (comments, suggestions, questions) you can give us to help improve the information provided. The main focus of this site is to help provide vital information for anyone that has an interest to become a truck driver.
Quick and Easy Guide on How to Become a Truck Driver
Over the past few years, it is has become increasingly more apparent that there is a critical need for more people wanting to become a truck driver. As the U.S. economy continues to improve, the shortage of available and qualified drivers has created a slight problem when it comes to transporting goods and cargo. The overall need for more drivers is near a record high and this is great news for anyone looking to start a new career in this industry.
Throughout this page, we will refer you to other articles or sources of information about the truck driving industry. We urge you to read this material so has to help you form a better opinion if you really want to become a truck driver. The main idea behind this specific guide is to quickly show you how relatively easy and fast it is to get started.
There are some easy steps that most people follow when pursuing this line of work. Click on each tab to see each step.
Before You Start
If you really are set to learn how to become a truck driver, you are going to experience an exciting and amazing career. The monetary rewards are great, training is short and quick. Not only that, but you will part of the backbone of the U.S. economy helping in improve and grow!
At the onset, note that truck driving careers are not for everyone. It can be a tough life since you spend so much time on the road and away from home. Family life can be hard to manage with all those miles between you and your loved one.
If you want to become a truck driver you should do a little research on the job itself. You know basically what the job entails such as driving, dropping off and picking up cargo. You will need to dig a little deeper on what the truck driving career is really like. Here are some quick notes and tips to give you a better idea on what you should try to find out about what it takes to become a truck driver.
- Graduate from high school or at least earn your GED
- Have a valid automobile driver’s license
- Read up on the job description
- Talk with current or former truck drivers for their opinions
- Look at both the advantages and disadvantages of the career
- Take a look at what the truck driver salary is
- Talk to your guidance counselor at your high school
- Learn what it takes to qualify for a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
- Keep your criminal record clean – this includes moving violations also
- Be able to pass a drug screening
- Talk to your family and friends to get their thoughts
- Make sure you take time to think about this career choice before jumping in
Enroll in a Training Program
Finding the right training program can go a long way in preparing to become a truck driver. While it is true you can earn your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) without going through a training program. You may find it extremely difficult to find a job without training.
Typically there are four types of training programs that will instruct you to become a truck driver. In our guide about truck driving training programs you can learn more about the different types of schools including the advantages and disadvantages. The types of training programs you will likely find are:
- Community Colleges
- Private Schools
- Company-Sponsored Training Programs
- Federal And State Laws
- How To Properly Operate Various Vehicles
- Backing Up
- Driving In Different Situations And Environments
- The truck driving program has been accredited, licensed and or certified
- The cost of training is within reason compared to other programs
- Online reviews are generally positive
- Small class sizes help foster individual training
- Up-to-date and well maintained training facilities and vehicles
- Road-tested and experienced instructors
- Plenty of wheel-time to get your practical experience
How to Get Your CDL
The next stop on your path to become a truck driver is to pass the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) examination. A CDL is a federal requirement to be able to legally drive trucks or buses over a certain weight. The vehicles that require a CDL are called Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMV).
The reason you have to get a CDL is that that those driving a CMV will need to be able to driver a higher level than a regular automobile. Drivers need to have more knowledge, skill and experience to create a safe atmosphere on the roadways. The importance of a CDL can be seen in the higher standards that it takes to be able to earn and keep the CDL as some moving violations can terminate your CDL.
CDLs come in three classes (A, B, C). We recommend getting a Class A CDL so that you have more options available for employment. It is also possible to have endorsements for specialized qualifications such as hazmat or triple trailers. In order to earn a CDL or any endorsements, you must pass the written knowledge exam and the three skills test at your local department of motor vehicles (DMV).
There are certain requirements that you will need to fulfill before you are eligible to take the CDL examination. Some of the requirements are:
- Must be 21 years old or older
- Have a valid automotive driver’s license
- Must be able to pass the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) physical fitness examination
- Must have possessed a Commercial Driver’s Permit (CLP) for at least 14 days
- Must be able to speak, write, listen and read English proficiently
- Agree to random drug and alcohol screenings
Where to Find a Job
The next step is what you have been waiting for when you decided to become a truck driver, getting your first job. Unless you have already have a job lined up by going to a company-owned or sponsored truck driving school, you will probably need search for a job. This can be done in several different ways, depending on what you are looking to do.
One way is by utilizing the job placement service through your training program. Many of the truck driving schools have working relationships with trucking companies. This connection can be a fast way to at least get your foot in the door in the industry.
Another way is by simply contacting area trucking companies and filling out applications. We recommend applying to as many companies as you can so you can pick and choose where you want to work. You can start doing this pretty much as soon as you know the date you will complete your training.
The following are some helpful tips that can land you your first job.
- Learn everything you can about the trucking company before your interview
- Stay positive, even if you flub up a question
- Do not leave any questions or the comments section blank on the job application
- Thank them at the start of your interview for considering you for a position
- Send them an email or a letter thanking them for their time after the interview
- If they ask, tell them a specific reason why you want to work for their company – use some of the information from the research you did earlier
- Agree to be on call or to be a substitute driver if there are no full-time open positions
- If you have not heard back from them after a couple of days, contact them to see how the process is going
- We recommend contacting them every other day after too since sometimes paperwork gets lost and you are showing a strong desire to work there
- Try to relate to the values that the trucking company states in their mission statement
- Show up promptly on time for your interview
- Bring a copy of your transcripts, CDL and resume to your interview
- Wear nice clothes, dress to impress – no tank tops, flip-flops and cut-off jean shorts please
Tips to Keeping Your First Job
Once you land your first job and become a truck driver, will want to keep it. So just follow the advice below.
- Always work hard, don’t come across as lazy
- Show up on time, everyday
- Don’t refuse runs as a rookie driver
- Try to befriend office workers like dispatch and the safety crew
- Try to always stay positive since no company wants a cancer in their work place
- Show some initiative and volunteer when possible
- Less complaining, more positives
- Stay up on latest trends and make suggestions
- Be polite and respectful of your clients/customers
- Drive safely, avoid tickets like the plague
- Be responsible and reliable
- Meet or exceed expectations, go above and beyond if possible
- Safety, safety, safety
- Try to Fit in with the company and the culture
Now that you have a general overview of the path to become a truck driver, it is all up to you. Just remember know what you are getting yourself in to and always be prepared. We cannot say this enough, truck driving can be an amazing opportunity to experience the world like no other. If this is what you want, then go out and become a truck driver and drive safe!