Truck drivers are responsible for hauling food items and other goods across the country, making them a vital part of the supply chain. According to the American Trucking Association, truck drivers moved around 14.2 billion tons of freight in 2020 in the U.S. alone. Also, truck drivers made an average of $48,710 during 2020.
A Truck Driver’s Job:
Trucking isn’t easy and is not everybody’s cup of tea. A driver should be over the age of 21 and possess a commercial driver’s license. But that’s not it; drivers have to perform a very tough job and live a solitary life for the most part, which can sometimes take a toll on them.
Steps To Become A Truck Driver:
As we’ve mentioned before, drivers need to be above the age limit, but some programs allow a learner’s permit at 18. These programs are mostly federally run pilot programs or military ones.
Step 1: Pass Your Driver’s License Exam
You must have an authentic driver’s license of the state you’re planning to work in. This will help you in obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Also, you can begin your career by driving delivery trucks while you prepare for your CDL exam. The fees cost between $20 – $100.
Step 2: High School or the GED Certificate
This is a pre-requisite put forward by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that most long-haul employers need applicants to obtain at least a High School diploma or GED. You can also get your GED privately within 4-months by paying a fee ranging between $80 to $140.
Step 3: Start Professional Training
Truck driving programs are being offered by many community colleges, private driving schools and trucking companies that help you pass your CDL exam. Some states have different accrediting programs so before joining a program, be sure to check out your state’s BMV or DMV regulations.
These training programs can last up to a year and cost anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000. Some community colleges provide financial aid to students as well. This is not a critical step but is an excellent option for those of you who want a college degree on your hands.
Paid driving schools usually offer programs that last around four to six weeks and cost you $6000 or less.
Step 4: Earn Your CDL and Other Relevant Endorsements
The minimum requirement for you to become a truck driver is obtaining a CDL. CDLs have different classifications depending on the size and weight of the vehicles you drive, but CDL-A is the most diverse for drivers looking to haul oversized freight.
You also might need an endorsement code. This entails what goods or materials you can legally transport. Mostly, endorsements are essential for specialty vehicles.
Step 5: Find Job Placement Assistance
Some free and paid driving schools offer career counselling and job placement programs. There are also truck driver associations that you can join to connect with mentors for job applications.
Step 6: Complete Your Employer’s Finishing Program
Most employer’s want newly licensed employees to finish in-house training. These sessions are called driver finishing programs and introduce drivers to company vehicles, equipment and protocols.
The training may last for 2-3 weeks, and then you can enjoy the status of a professional truck driver.