How to Become a Truck Driver
Do you want to become a truck driver? If you’ve found yourself asking that question – you’re in the right place.
Truck drivers are responsible for transporting more than 70% of goods in the United States – making CDL Drivers a vital part of the American economy. There is also an incredible market demand for professional drivers. As a result, truck drivers are able to earn competitive salaries and routes that offer a great work/life balance.
If you’re ready to hit the road, start a new career, make a substantial income and become a truck driver – here’s what you are going to need to do.
Truck Driver Requirements
If you’re looking to become a professional truck driver, it all starts with getting your Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP), followed by obtaining your Commercial Driving License (CDL). Some trucking schools may require GEDs or high school diplomas from their students – but not all of them. Be sure to do your research and choose an option that will take into account the skills required for the job.
In addition to your GED/high school diploma, you will need to meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years in order to drive in state lines, 21 years old to drive state to state
- A clean driving record
- Proof of state residency
- A social security number
- Proof of insurance
- Pass periodic drug tests and medical examination(s)
- Pass a background check
Obtain a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP)
A Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) is also a prerequisite before applying for your CDL. The CLP is an authorization given to you by your state of residence. A CLP allows you to get the skills required for a Class A CDL. You can take the CLP exam at your local DMV, and there are online options to help you prepare for and pass the CLP exam on the first try.
Getting Your CDL License
Once you have obtained your CLP, you’ll need to find a school in your state that offers CDL training. Your instructors will teach you all the right steps and help get your commercial drivers license so they can show how great of an opportunity it could be for someone looking into their career options.
Obtaining your CDL and going through a truck driver training program costs around in the $3,000-$10,000 range. Due to the increasing demand for drivers, many employers and even truck driving schools will offer tuition reimbursement programs to help future drivers like yourself get CDL certified.
The time it takes to get your CDL requirements depends on the school you choose, as well as what type of commercial drivers license you want. Most programs take around three to seven weeks, but Class A programs are more thorough and usually take longer than other license programs because they require more in-depth training.
What Are My Options for CDL Licenses and Which One Should I Choose?
Another important consideration you should make when pursuing your truck driver training and CDL requirements is which class of license you need. There are three classes: Class A, B, or C.
The type of license you choose will largely depend on what kind of work you plan to do as a commercial vehicle operator in the future.
- Class A: Professional drivers know that Class A is the perfect option for heavy duty vehicles. It’s not just about tractors and livestock carriers, you can operate tankers too! Class A gives you access to many types of commercial trucks, including tractor-trailers, and flatbeds. This type of license is considered to be the most comprehensive option, and many employers seek out Class A certified drivers for their versatility.
- Class B: Class B operators are the people that keep everything moving in a city. They drive school buses and public transit vehicles. If you’ve seen trucks driving around town delivering goods to various businesses, or picking up trash at construction sites – you’ve seen a Class B driver.
- Class C: If you’re looking to operate a more compact vehicle, this is the option for you. It accommodates passengers and cargo in smaller packages while still maintaining safety features like airbags.
A Class A CDL is a great choice for individuals looking to make a career out of commercial vehicle driving. Not only can you operate the big trucks, but a Class A license also certifies you to drive Class B and C vehicles. Contrastingly, if you obtain a Class B license, and then decide you wish to operate a flatbed, you would need to go back to school to get your Class A.
What To Expect After Obtaining Your CDL License
You’ve overcome a lot to get here. The dream now is closer than you think! Once the CDL training or program and license acquisition process finishes, here’s what awaits:
- Competitive Salaries: Many new drivers can expect to earn salaries up to $60,000 a year in their first year – that averages out to be around $1,200 weekly. Much higher than the average U.S. salary. It’s also worth noting that wages vary by region and other factors such as level of experience. In addition to competitive pay, employers may also provide you with health insurance (something most Americans need), in addition to other benefits.
- High Demand for Drivers: In a world where economic growth is reliant on the transportation of materials, we need more drivers to transport goods. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 6% employment growth in heavy and tractor-trailer driver positions from 2016 through 2026.
- Flexible Hours: Truck drivers have a wide range of schedules that can adjust with their lives, as well. You may be able to work traditional hours or choose an alternative schedule. If you don’t mind being on the road for extended periods, OTR routes are a great option and will also allow you to earn a higher income as these routes are often more difficult to staff.
- Travel Around the Country: Some long-haul truck drivers enjoy the opportunity to see the country while driving on open roads. Some distribution routes even include international travel into Canada or Mexico, giving you a chance to explore other parts of North America as well!
Are You Ready to Become a Truck Driver?
With our help and training, your dream can become reality. From obtaining your CLP, to becoming an experienced driver fit with benefits and great pay – we are here to help. To learn more or start your education today, check out TransForce’s professional truck driving schools, The CDL School.