There are almost two million truck drivers working in the U.S. right now.
But believe it or not, there's still a huge need for truck drivers throughout the country. There's a massive truck driver shortage that has swept through the trucking industry in recent years. And as a result, many companies are willing to pay top dollar to those wishing to become truck drivers today.
Would you like to help fill this need? If so, you should take the time to learn how to become a truck driver before launching your new career. It's not as difficult as you might think to get behind the wheel of a big rig.
Here's a guide that will help you better understand how to become a truck driver.
Find Out What It's Like to Work as a Truck Driver
Before you start making any moves towards becoming a truck driver, you should try to discover more about what it's like to actually work as one. The last thing you want to do is become a truck driver only to find out that you don't enjoy driving trucks all day.
You can learn about life as a truck driver by:
- Talking to current truck drivers and asking them about what their days are like
- Reading blogs about truck driving to get a better sense for the career path
- Attending job fairs designed specifically for truck drivers
You should also spend some time learning about the salaries for truck drivers. You'll likely make anywhere from $40,000 up to $75,000 when you first start out, depending on where you decide to work.
Make sure you're going to be able to live and support your family on a truck driver's salary before proceeding any further.
Pick Up a Commercial Truck Driver's Manual
If you spend time learning about becoming a truck driver and decide it's the right path for you, your next move will be to learn the steps you need to take to become a trucker.
One easy way to do this is by heading down to your local DMV office and picking up a copy of a commercial truck driver's manual. This manual will lay out the things you'll need to do in order to get your hands on a commercial driver's license, or CDL, which is something you'll need to have to drive trucks for a living.
You can start studying for your CDL using some of the information that you'll find in your commercial truck driver's manual.
Make Sure You're Qualified to Become a Truck Driver
There are a few minimum requirements that people need to meet before they become truck drivers. They are as follows:
- You need to be at least 21 years old in most states
- You need to be eligible to work legally within both the U.S. and your specific state
- You need to have a clean driving record (in particular, you can't have any DUIs or reckless driving charges)
- You need to have either a high school diploma or GED in most cases
As long as you meet these basic requirements, you shouldn't have any problem moving on to the next step.
Enroll in Truck Driving School
While you don't need any college education to become a truck driver, you do need to attend a truck driving school to learn the ins and outs of working as a trucker.
Search for the best truck driving school in your area and sign up to take classes. Classes at a truck driving school could last anywhere from just a few weeks to an entire year, depending on the school's specific approach to teaching.
Regardless of which truck driving school you choose to attend, they should provide you with a blend of both classroom learning and on-the-job training that allows you to climb inside of a truck and learn.
Obtain Your CDL
After you've worked your way through truck driving school, it will be time for you to take an exam in an effort to obtain your CDL.
Each state operates a little bit differently when it comes to administering CDL exams. But generally speaking, you'll need to take both a written test and a road skills test to prove that you're prepared to drive a truck on a daily basis.
Once you've aced this test, you'll also need to take the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation exam. This test includes a written exam as well as a physical exam that will make sure things like your vision and hearing are good.
Start Looking for a Job as a Truck Driver
At the end of all this, you'll be prepared to start working as a truck driver!
But before you can do it, you'll obviously need to find a job. There are several ways that you can go about doing this. You can:
- Check with your truck driving school to see if they offer job placement services
- Scan through classified ads for truck drivers
- Contact truck driving companies in your area to inquire about open positions
Regardless of which approach you decide to take, you'll likely be asked to prove yourself to whichever company hires you. You'll often need to take tests before you start driving trucks for them. You'll also be subjected to a training period and receive regular evaluations at the beginning.
But once you get your feet under you, you'll start to see how rewarding it can be to work as a truck driver.
Now That You Know How to Become a Truck Driver, Go Get Started
If you've been thinking about how to become a truck driver, what are you waiting for?
Follow the steps outlined here and you can become one in less than a year if you really commit yourself to it. You'll love the freedom that truck driving has to offer and wish you had made the move to truck driving much sooner.
Just make sure you find out everything you can about trucking before turning it into your career. Read our blog for more information on living life as a trucker.