Choosing commercial truck driving as a career can be a rewarding choice if you have always enjoyed driving and are looking up for a little adventure away from home.
While the procedure isn’t time consuming, it’s important to know the requirements beforehand to ensure you are ready to take the job and enjoy the amazing benefits that come with it.
If you are choosing this as a career to start with or considering a switch from your current workplace, the trucking industry looks promising. Not only it is in great demand but the benefits associated with this profession have improved too.
It may not sound like the most glamorous job you can take up, but only when you become a part of the industry you realize why this can be a lucrative career option.
To help you make your decision easier, here’s everything you need to learn about becoming a truck driver and how the benefits can help you put your career on the fast track right away!
Before you jump to the requirements, here are two important considerations you must take into account.
Keep Realistic Expectations
Just because truck drivers are in demand, it is fair to assume that truck drivers earn a lot. While that can be true based on your experience, the work you do, and the company you work for, it isn’t always going to be a positive scenario at first.
That said, most truck drivers earn quite a decent salary and can make up to $30,000/year. The salary may increase as you continue to gain experience in the field. Switching to better companies with time will also ensure an increment in your pay and better benefits.
It is important to do your research as some companies will offer more. However, compare it with the volume and type of work they require from you to do a proper cost-benefit analysis.
Speak to Someone Already in the Industry
If you have gained your inspiration from a truck driver you know, use that opportunity and talk about their experiences for better insights.
This will give you a clearer idea of what a truck driver career would be like and what to expect from it in the long run. In case you know no one, look in your social circle for mutual connections. You can even consider talking to drivers at truck stops.
This also gives you an opportunity to get a few referrals or recommendations for your first job. You can even seek their help in preparing yourself for the initial requirements. Use these connections to find work if you can.
Read the Commercial Driver’s Manual
You do not have to qualify as a driver to access this manual. Just visit your local DMV office and ask for a copy. You can even find online copies available on the DMV websites.
This manual holds important information about how you can get your commercial driver’s license (CDL) according to your state. Look for details on fees, restrictions, classes, and other requirements. The content will tell you a lot of various safety and traffic laws associated with commercial driving.
Make sure you get your hands on the latest manual to get all updated information.
How to Become a Truck Driver
The key is to meet the minimum requirements set by your state to get started with this career. Here’s everything you need to know:
Basic Legal and Physical Qualifications
Before you are ready to attend school or claim your CDL, you need to get your basic qualifications.
Most states require that the applicant is at least 21 years old for the job. Authorities will also check your driving record to consider it eligible. Minor traffic violations are often overlooked but if you have a record of reckless driving, several accidents, or you are convicted for DUI, your chances to qualify for the requirements will reduce or nullify. Make sure you check your own record before signing up.
Some schools have a prerequisite for a diploma before applying. This is because many companies do not hire truck drivers without a diploma or GED.
Enroll in a Truck Driving School
Look for a suitable program and enroll in a school nearby. This is an important step you cannot miss. You will have both textbook and practical education for best results. Most programs last between 30 days and 10 weeks. You may, however, opt for an extended program if the school offers.
Clear Licensing Exam
After you are done with the driving school, take the CDL exam. The exam procedures vary according to state but every exam has two parts: written test and practical test.
While the written part will test your knowledge on different safety rules and regulations related to commercial truck driving, the practical test will evaluate your road skill, where you are required to drive a short distance under the professional supervision of a state licensed examiner.
It is important to note that you can take the exam for different commercial trucks – including the ones that carry hazardous materials. However, in that case, you should also go through a background check by the state authorities.
Clear the FMCSR Exam
FMCSR or Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations exam is also divided into two components: written and physical. The writing exam will evaluate your knowledge of federal traffic laws while the physical exam would test your hearing and vision.
Once you are done with this, you can acquire your commercial driver’s license and look for a job.
Why Becoming a Truck Driver is a Lucrative Career Option
The steps above will help you get your CDL and access a huge variety of truck driving jobs. Always weigh the pros and cons of any job opportunity you get to pick the best one. Regardless of which job you find suitable, there are a few benefits associated with this profession that you cannot ignore.
If you need the final push for why you should become a truck driver, here are the top benefits to consider:
1. Good Pay
As mentioned earlier, a truck driver may earn as much as $30,000 per year at the start of their career depending on the job opportunities they land. There are hardly any other jobs where you can make as much money even though the requirement for experience and training isn’t too high.
Your career is on the fast track because with experience, you can almost double that pay within the first few years. Due to a shortage of drivers right now, some companies will pay a higher salary to attract skilled and good drivers. Others would offer better job security and other bonuses for hitting targets. In short, it is the perfect time for drivers to get started in the business.
2. Job Security
This is one industry that never faces a halt. Regardless of the business, freight is always on the move and companies will require more freight movers with time. Interestingly, The American Trucking Association estimated that almost 50,000 jobs go unfilled. With the fluctuation in the supply of truck drivers, there will always be the need of filling the gap.
No matter which state you are in, truck drivers enjoy great job security. There are, in fact, there are many job opportunities that drivers can switch to.
3. Added Benefits
Some companies offer benefits along with good pay. This is true for companies that deal with hazardous content. They offer health benefits like medical insurance, vision insurance, and even accidental coverage insurance. Sometimes, you can even find opportunities with paid vacation benefit and retirement plans.
These measures are taken to retain maximum truck drivers with great skills.
4. Get Paid for Traveling
The change of scenery is a great benefit for people who enjoy driving and visiting new places. While you will move for work, this is a great way to travel around the country and also get paid for it. Since the job also allows a certain level of freedom to the drivers, truck driving career is a great way to see new places and try out new things.
5. More Flexibility
Many trucking companies offer a flexible driving schedule to truck drivers. They are given the opportunity to pick the hauls they would like to cover. They also get a chance to decide between cross-region runs, long-distance runs, and local runs.
If you are giving a serious thought to your career and wish to put it on the fast lane where you can enjoy what you do and earn good money for it, it’s time to make the change.
Since the profession offers great compensation and benefits, becoming a truck driver is a great move for your career in the long run!