Today, more and more people are leaving their jobs to become truck drivers. Becoming a professional trucker is a highly rewarding opportunity, the pay is great, you get to travel for work, and you meet all sorts of interesting people. In addition the career gives you the opportunity to work as an independent contractor, sign up with a company or even start your own businesses. If you are interested in becoming a truck driver, here’s what you need to do.
Is Becoming a Truck Driver Right for You?
The first step towards becoming truck driver is to make sure it’s really what you want to do. Trucking is not a just a job, it’s a lifestyle. In addition to all of the positive aspects, there are also several negative aspects of the job. For example:
- Time away from family and friends – many truckers spend a lot of time on the open road, away from their homes, families and friends. In fact,. it’s not uncommon for a trucker to earn just one day of home time for every week out on the road. a week at home. Plus, there is no guarantee that you will be home on a specific day either. That means you may miss important days, holidays and other special events.
- Inconvenience – as a truck driver you will be using public restrooms and showers on a regular basis as trucks do not come with a toilet, shower or kitchen.
- Stress – being a truck driver is a very stressful job. You will have to deal with everything from deadlines and traffic, to incompetent dispatchers and loading.
- Irregular sleep patterns – as a trucker you will be expected to work pretty much any hour of the day seven days a week. There are times that you may have to be driving all night, all day or half and half. This demanding schedule effects your sleeping patterns.
- Limited truck parking – unfortunately there are way more trucks out there on the roads than there is parking spots. This can be extremely frustrating especially when you are exhausted and short on the hours you can legally drive.
Do You Meet the General Requirements?
Before you invest in getting your CDL, be aware that there are certain requirements you must meet to become a truck driver. First of all you must be over 21 years of age in order to to drive a truck across state lines. You also must undergo a “DOT physical” and meet specific medical requirements that are put in place by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration).
You also must be able to pass a written test in order to qualify for a CDL. And you won’t even be able to get a CDL if you don’t have a clean driving record. In addition, when it comes to be hired on with a company, you must be able to pass a background check and a drug and alcohol test. Plus, having a criminal record may be a problem for some, but not all, employers.
Find CDL Training
Once you know you can pass all of the general requirements for becoming a truck driver, your next step is to find training so you can get your Commercial Drivers License or CDL. There are two ways you can go about this.
The first way is to enroll in trucking school. Trucking schools typically teach you how to drive trucks as well as learn the regulatory details needed to pass licensing exams. Trucking schools do require tuition which on average can range from a few thousand dollars up to $10,000. However, these trucking schools make the process of getting your CDL and becoming a truck driver much easier. Plus many will help you find a job once you have completed the program.
The second way you can go about getting your CDL is through company sponsored training. This is where you sign a contract with the company that trains you for at least one year to two years. One benefit of company sponsored CDL training is that you will have no upfront costs in order to get your CDL.
Obtaining Your CDL Learners Permit
Before you get your CDL, you will be required to get your CDL learners permit. While this step can vary depending on the state you reside in, most CDL permit tests consist of a series of written tests. Some of the topics covered on these tests include:
- General commercial vehicle knowledge
- Combination vehicle knowledge
- Air brakes
- and more
Obtaining your CDL
After obtaining your DOT medical certificate, CDL learners permit and attending a truck driving/CDL school you can then take your final driving test to get your CDL. While there are some federal guidelines for CDL requirements, each state has its own set of rules. Check with the Department of Motor Vehicles to find out what the specific laws are in your state. In general, most CDL driving tests will consist of a written exam about laws and equipment, as well as a pre-trip vehicle inspection and a demonstration of your driving skills.
Apply for a Job
Once you have completed all of the CDL license requirements and you have your license, it’s time to begin looking for a job. Luckily the demand for truck drivers remains pretty constant. There are many large trucking companies that hire inexperienced and new truck drivers every week of the year.
Keep in mind, Federal and state regulations are very strict in regards to hiring drivers and the trucking industry as a whole. Therefore it is very important that you fill out your applications accurately and honestly.
Get an ELD Device
Once you get accepted for a job as a CDL driver, you’ll have to become compliant with the FMCSA ELD mandate. This means buying an ELD device to track your hours of service and electronic logs. By doing so, you’ll avoid hefty fines and violations. Not getting an ELD device can mean being shut down or being put out of service. After the ELD mandate rule was passed in 2017, all commercial truck drivers were required to obtain such devices. However, not all devices are created equal. Some ELD devices don’t have all the features you may need for compliance. Samsara ELD, for example, is a favorite among drivers and fleet owners. To learn more, read Samsara ELD reviews by BestELDDevices.com and remain compliant today.
If living on the road, traveling the country, seeing the sites, and meeting people from near and far appeals to you, perhaps it’s time that you consider becoming a professional truck driver.