How Do You Become a Truck Driver?
The number of truck drivers in the United States is at an all-time high — and it just keeps growing. More than 3.5 million people are currently employed as truck drivers, and in the current economy, this is good news.
In fact, truck drivers have better job security than most other workers and are less likely to be unemployed at any given time.
Many truck drivers are able to perform their work over a typical 40-hour workweek, although some work longer hours, contributing to pay that is higher than that of many other blue-collar jobs.
For long-distance trucking, the pay is even higher than that for trucking businesses that are regional. Since trucks transport over 70% of the goods in the U.S., there will continue to be a need for people to fill truck driving positions — giving truck drivers a high level of job security.
In fact, some experts speculate that the industry must hire almost a million more truck drivers just to keep up with demand.
Importantly, truck driving is an excellent job that is still open for people with limited education. You don’t need any kind of formal education to get started, although a high school diploma can improve your chances of getting hired.
With long-term employment opportunities and a growing market, truck driving is an excellent career for men and women looking for secure employment.
Ready to find out how you can become a truck driver and get the kind of job security you need in today’s often unstable economy? Read on!
How You Can Become a Truck Driver and Get Access to Long-term Job Stability
Job stability is essential, but there are several other reasons that becoming a truck driver is a great career move. In fact, it might be the perfect career for you if:
– You don’t want to spend a lot of time — or money — on education
– You want to be paid a decent starting salary
– You like to see new places
– You like being your own boss to some extent
If those ideas appeal to you, let’s jump right in and get you started on the path to being a truck driver.
1. Do Your Research
If you are considering truck driving as a career, you want to understand the basics of the position. Salaries run around $30,000 per year for beginning drivers, although some positions can pay more.
Trucking jobs that require working with gas transportation, hazardous chemicals, or other dangerous materials can earn more.
Salary increases with experience, so you will earn more the longer you drive. And driving for the same company often helps drivers earn more faster than if you move from company to company.
Be sure you understand all the elements of your job.
While you have lots of flexibility and good pay, you may have to be on the road for 12 or more hours per day, depending on the company you work for. You may also need to be able to meet very tight delivery deadlines.
2. Review the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Requirements
You will need a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in order to start driving. You can visit a nearby Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office in your state to get a copy of the CDL manual.
This manual will give you all the information you need to know about getting the CDL license in your state, including classes, restrictions, and fees. Be sure you have the latest edition of the manual, as traffic laws are always changing.
3. Make Sure You Meet the Minimum Requirements to Be a Truck Driver
There are some very basic requirements you should meet in order to earn your CDL or attend a trucking school.
– You must be at least 21 years of age
– You must be eligible to work in the United States and within your state of application
– You need a clean driving record — that means no tickets for driving under the influence (DUI), reckless driving, or other violations. Sometimes minor infractions such as parking tickets will be overlooked.
– Some schools and trucking companies want to see a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) certificate, but not all of them.
Check with your potential employer to find out their preferences regarding education and discuss your driving history with your employer or trucking school if you have some minor traffic violations to see if they will still accept you.
4. Attend a Truck Driving School
Now it’s time to get educated! Contact local trucking schools and choose one that has both classroom and hands-on training.
Each school has its own timeline for completion, ranging from 30 days to a full year. Your classroom experience will help you get the knowledge and practice you need for the next step — getting licensed.
Truck driving school tuition ranges from $3,000 to $6,000 and there are opportunities for financial aid, loans, and grants that can help defray costs.
5. Pass the Licensing Exam
After trucking school, you can take the CDL exam, which typically consists of both a road skills exam and a written exam. The written exam will test your knowledge of truck driving safety and the laws and regulations that govern truck driving.
During the skills test, a state licensed examiner will supervise you as you demonstrate how to drive a commercial vehicle.
You can take the exam to be certified to drive more than just semi-trucks. A “combination vehicle endorsement” will allow you to also drive tank vehicles, doubles, triples, school buses, passenger buses, and trucks carrying hazardous cargo.
If you choose to apply for the hazardous cargo endorsement, you must receive — and pass — a background check from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
6. Complete the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Test
Finally, you will need to complete — and pass — the FMCSA exam. There is a written and a physical portion. The written portion tests your knowledge of federal traffic laws and you only have to take it once.
The physical part of the exam includes vision and hearing tests and must be retaken every two years.
That’s it! If you’ve followed all these steps, congratulations! You are ready to be a truck driver.
Now, Find the Very Best Trucking Job with Hermes NVC!
At Hermes, we are always on the lookout for talented, dedicated team members to join our dynamic, loyal team of employees.
We drive some of the newest and finest trucks on the road outfitted with top safety technology and we pair them with outstanding benefits and incentive programs that can help you earn what you deserve.
Ready to take your career on the road with Hermes? Click here to apply now.