Truck driving is a highly rewarding career. It offers independence and stability, but it can also be challenging, especially for those who are new to the industry.
Being a truck driver comes with a variety of perks, including travel, flexible schedules, and upward mobility. If you enjoy driving and interacting with people, this job is a great fit for you.
But how do you become a truck driver? Choosing a career should be an exciting decision, so it’s good to have in-depth knowledge of all your options. Here’s how to become a truck driver and make a career out of your passion for driving.
Research the Industry
Before making any commitments, it’s important to research the trucking industry and understand what it entails. Get a feel for the lifestyle, job duties, and requirements by talking to truck drivers and researching online.
Research local, state, and federal regulations, both common and less common. It will help to ensure that all required qualifications are met. Read industry publications, and talk to friends, family, and colleagues in the profession.
Online research is a great place to start, as there are many resources available to read more about truck driving. For example, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration publishes a comprehensive guidebook for aspiring and experienced truckers.
Get Your CDL (Commercial Driver’s License)
To get your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), you must meet certain state and federal requirements. You must be at least 18 years or older for intrastate driving or 21 years or older for interstate driving. You must also have a valid driver’s license, valid insurance, and a medical examiner’s certificate.
Additionally, you must pass a written knowledge test and road test. Before applying to take the road test, you must meet CDL qualifications. These include proving you have prior driving experience, a good driving record, and no criminal history.
Consider Getting Additional Training
While obtaining your CDL is the minimum requirement, consider getting additional training from a truck driving school. The best way to do this is through a comprehensive Certified Professional Truck Driver (CPTD) program.
This program will help you to learn the skills necessary to be a successful truck driver. Learn skills such as defensive driving and navigating the highways safely. You may also be able to take additional specialized courses, such as a CDL practice test, hazardous material training, or advanced truck driver maneuvers.
Choose Your Type of Truck
Once you have your CDL, you’ll need to decide which type of truck you want to drive. There are several types of trucks, including tractor-trailers, flatbeds, tankers, and more. Consider your personal preferences, experience, and career goals when making this decision.
Once you have a rough idea of what type of truck you’ll drive and what types of cargo you’ll carry, you can begin researching the particular requirements needed. Research the licenses, permits, and certifications needed, fees, and costs associated. Know the time it takes to complete application and training processes.
Gain Professional Driving Experience
Before obtaining your CDL, you will need to log a certain number of hours behind the wheel. During your CDL training, you’ll have the opportunity to gain hands-on driving experience and build your confidence. Many trucking companies offer internships or trial drives to test out the truck and see how you manage the workload.
Additionally, many trucking companies have a new hire program. This allows you to gain professional driving experience by driving under the supervision of an experienced driver. You should also join professional organizations and attend informational seminars. These are great resources for connecting with experienced drivers and companies in the industry.
Try to take advantage of these resources to better understand the job and the skill set needed. Make sure to practice your driving skills regularly and stay up-to-date with advanced safety protocols.
Find a Company to Hire You
Once you have your CDL and have chosen your type of truck, it’s time to find a company to hire you. Look for companies that offer the type of truck you want to drive, as well as a competitive salary and benefits. Consider reaching out to trucking companies and asking about job openings, or search for job listings online.
Once you have identified some possibilities, compile a list of required credentials, preparing them ahead of time. Once you have your list of potential employers, create a list of questions to ask them during the interview.
Ask about starting pay, route expectations, and on-the-road support. Ask if they offer any more benefits to shorten the duration of long-haul drives, such as rest/sleep time. Be sure to ask what kind of training they offer to truck drivers and ask if they have any specialized courses.
Be aware of any costs associated with obtaining your commercial driver’s license. Some companies may be willing to reimburse those costs in exchange for a long-term commitment.
Invest in Continuous Training and Education
Truck drivers are responsible for transporting goods safely and efficiently. To become a successful truck driver, investing in continuous training and education is essential.
One should research local laws and regulations and take driver safety courses. Pursue more certifications to develop the knowledge and skills to excel in their job. Doing so helps make drivers aware of any new laws or regulatory changes that might affect them.
Additionally, drivers can increase safety by receiving training on the latest technology. These include advanced braking and navigation systems. Taking the time to stay up-to-date on current road conditions and safety measures is also important.
Start a Career as a Truck Driver Today
Becoming a truck driver is a challenging but rewarding journey. With the right training, experience, diligence, hard work, and licensing, you can start your career in the trucking industry. It will help you enjoy the independence and stability that it offers. If you’re committed to the process and have a passion for driving, you can be on your way to a successful career as a truck driver. Good luck!
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