If you are looking for how to become a truck driver, you are in the right place. In this article, we will guide you on the whole process of becoming a professional truck driver by covering the training process, job opportunities in the industry, payments and other important information.
To start with, you need to understand that the trucking industry is enormous. Besides, it is continuously growing. In 2023, an estimated 3.5 million truck drivers are employed in the US alone. And there is still a big demand.
First things first. Let’s have a look at the duties of a truck driver.
Understanding the responsibilities of a Truck Driver
The task of truck drivers is to safely transport cargo in semi trucks across different regions of the country. These trained experts handle the weather and terrain while arranging plans to guarantee the goods arrive at their location in top shape.
So what would be your daily duties when you become a truck driver?
Truck drivers’ daily duties
Well, in addition to doing safety checks on their vehicle, as a truck driver you have to coordinate with dispatchers regarding routes and delivery schedules. Also controlling the process of loading the goods in the truck is part of the job. As expected, truck drivers spend time on the road to do the actual deliveries, while ensuring to be on time and get the delivery confirmed. Any damage to the vehicle or some maintenance required? Hopefully not! If so, simply pass that information on to the fleet manager or maintenance department.
Let’s face it: being a good truck driver can be a demanding job. But for many, the freedom of the open road and the satisfaction of ensuring timely deliveries make it worth the effort.
Basic Requirements, Qualifications and Skills for becoming a truck driver
Now let’s go over the main requirements for those who want to become a truck driver. Overall, your future employer will pay attention to age, driving skills, background history and previous employers’ verification.
First, let’s speak about the age requirements. As a truck driver for Over The Road position, you’ll need to be at least 23 years old. In some states truck drivers can get a CDL A (Commercial Driver’s License class A) at 21 but will be limited to intrastate driving only.
Now let’s have a look into what kind of education you’ll need to be a truck driver.
Well, if you want to become a professional truck driver, it all starts with obtaining a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP), followed by a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Research is key here. Make sure to choose an option that will meet the requirements of the job offer. To simplify the process, if you share your educational background with us, our team will contact you to discuss personalized options for you.
Skills and Attributes
Do you have what it takes to do well on the road? The following skills definitely will fit the profile of a good truck driver: The necessity of delivering goods in time will require you to bring good time management skills.
Since you’ll spend most of the time on the road, it’s a big plus to have good navigation skills. Of course, you’ll rely on your GPS navigating you safely to your destination. But having a good sense for understanding maps and the ability to plan routes can save you hassle on the road.
Encountering a traffic jam? Some other delays show up? “Patience is key,” they say. As in most other professions, being able to deal with minor annoyances or delays in a professional manner is a good skill to have.
Imagine being responsible for loading or unloading loads as well as enduring long driving hours on the road. Those tasks require some physical endurance. Now, you won’t need to hit the gym every other day or become a world-famous body builder for that sort of work. But being able to endure physically demanding situations will help you get along with the job in the long run.
Some form not filled out fully? The cargo isn’t completely loaded but you’re told to head off? Attention to detail and common sense can help you navigate situations like those and certainly are skills looked for in truck drivers.
How do you get paid?
So far you’ve read about some essentials for the job, some requirements and what skills you should have to become a truck driver. “What’s in it for me?” you might ask. Truck drivers get paid in different ways, including pay per mile, hourly, percentage of the gross or by salary. There are also opportunities to earn a percentage of the revenue on loads. The specifics depend on the contract and the agreements made with the company or client.
Additionally, certain payments can be earned for extra duties such as loading and unloading trailers, operating forklifts or pilot jack, making deliveries outside of normal hours and so on can add to your income. Some businesses will even pay for your miscellaneous expenses, such as accommodation and food, up to a certain limit (so called “per diem pay”).
As you can see, income depends on various factors. But let’s get to the point and give the income a concrete number.
So how much do truck drivers make?
Truck drivers frequently ask about their salary before enrolling in CDL courses. They also wonder if their pay will be enough to support themselves and their families. Can you earn a decent living while on the road? Those are all natural questions for people who are thinking about how to become a professional truck driver. Let’s get to it.
The typical commercial truck driver makes about $25-30 per hour, while the US Bureau of Labor Statistics notes a slightly higher average income of $31-33 per hour.
Keep in mind that as a new driver you can expect to earn less than truckers with more experience. Pretty much like in most other jobs. But don’t forget about the possible extras mentioned above which can add to your income at the end of the month.
How about job safety? Well, due to the ongoing need for transporting goods, truck driving provides good job security, even during economic changes.
4 Steps to start a career as a Truck Driver
Let’s keep it simple. Here are the mandatory steps to get started for your career as a truck driver.
- Obtain a Regular Driver’s License & meet the age requirements
You’ll first have to obtain a regular driver’s license. Don’t forget about the minimum age required either as mentioned above.
- Enroll in a truck driving program
Find a school that provides classroom and hands-on training. You will learn the laws and regulations on driving a truck and gain practical experience operating a commercial vehicle under guidance. Some programs can be completed in as little as a month or 10 weeks, while others take a whole year. Some employers offer company-sponsored programs and may cover expenses if they hire you.
- Obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
A CDL is mandatory for anyone who wants to drive a commercial vehicle. That’s what they’re here for. The CDL exam consists of a written and practical part.
- Seek Job Placement or Employer Training Programs
Ok then. You’ve made it that far now. You got your CDL. Congratulations! What comes next? Well, new drivers typically start by seeking entry-level positions or joining an employer’s training program. Such programs help new drivers to acclimate to company-specific vehicles and procedures to get that little extra knowledge for the specific company they work for.
Career Growth & Alternatives
Truck driving offers many opportunities for career growth. With experience, drivers can specialize in hauling certain types of loads, such as hazardous materials or oversized loads.
These loads require additional certifications and skills, but often result in higher pay.
With enough experience, truckers can also become owner-operators by purchasing their own truck and working independently. This option offers more control, but requires additional responsibilities such as managing business operations and maintaining the vehicle.
Another option is to move into administrative positions in the industry, such as dispatching, accounting, safety department or managing fleets.
If a truck driver decides that long hours on the road aren’t sustainable in the long run, their skills are transferable. Their expertise in route planning, customer service, and logistics can be invaluable in other industries.
Challenges of Truck Driving
If you want to become a truck driver, it’s important to understand the challenges you’ll face before you hit the road. Here are some of them:
OTR (over the road) truck driving jobs usually involve extended periods of time away from home. You must be mentally prepared for this and find ways to maintain personal connections. It’s not an impossible task. Just something to keep in mind.
Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly is somewhat crucial to avoid health issues in this profession, such as obesity or sleep disorders. Long-distance travel can be isolating, which can cause distress. To maintain your mental well-being during travel, it’s essential to connect with friends and family using technology. This is again where good time management skills will help you to maintain a good work-life balance.
FAQs: Answering Common Questions about how to become a Truck Driver
What’s a CDL A license, and why is it important?
A CDL A, or Commercial Driver’s License, is a must-have for those who want to pursue a career as a truck driver. It proves your proficiency in operating big and heavy vehicles, and it is a prerequisite for most truck driving occupations.
How is an OTR truck driver different from other drivers?
OTR driving means “over the road driving”. An over-the-road truck driver usually drives long distances within 48 states, and spends extended periods away from home.
How can I get a truck driving job?
Many firms and truck driver recruiting agencies, such as Global Fleet LLC, can connect drivers with potential employers. Having the right certifications and a clean driving record can make the process simpler.
What is the average pay for a truck driver?
Truck driver wages usually vary between $58,000 and $96,000. The average salary of a truck driver is $72,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, this amount fluctuates depending on location, experience, and specialization.
How long does it take to become a truck driver?
To become a truck driver, the duration of the program relies on your preferred choice. Typically, most truck driving programs span from four weeks to a year and the majority can be finished in under twelve weeks. This time frame may increase if pursuing specific certificates or endorsements.
Is driving a truck a good career option?
Trucking can be a fulfilling career for those who enjoy traveling and the independence it brings. With a steady need for transporting goods, job stability is somewhat high. Additionally, as you acquire more experience and certifications, you have the chance to earn more money and pursue more specific job positions.
Are there different types of truck driving jobs?
Absolutely! There are different OTR positions such as tanker, heavy haul , Dry Van, Reefer drivers and those who specialize in carrying specific goods with Double, Triple or Hazmat endorsements. Your CDL class A endorsements and specializations might enable you to explore these diverse opportunities in the truck driving industry.
What is the current status of automation in the trucking industry?
Although there is talk of automated trucks, the truth is that complete automation is still most likely years away. When it finally comes, CDL A drivers will remain essential in supervising these vehicles.
Conclusion: Your Final Destination in the Trucking Journey
Navigating the truck driving world may feel like a lot, but with proper steps and guidance, it is a journey with great opportunities and growth. Learning about how to become a truck driver goes beyond obtaining a commercial license class A or enrolling in a driving program. It involves grasping the responsibilities, challenges, and advantages of being a professional truck driver. From the complexities of being an OTR truck driver to the advantages of getting a truck driving job, the trucking business provides a path full of opportunities.
If you’re eager to experience the adventure of the open road, a recruitment agency for truck drivers like Global Fleet can help you out. Becoming a truck driver is not only employment; it’s a vocation. If this profession speaks to you, contact us and take the next significant step toward success!
Take the Next Step with Global Fleet LLC
If you’re drawn to the lure of the open road and want to be a truck driver, the moment has come to step forward. With the correct insights and a partnership with companies like Global Fleet, you can transform your goal into a real-life accomplishment.
Do you require additional details or assistance in starting your career as a truck driver? Some questions are crossing your mind? Or perhaps you’re already an experienced truck driver searching for a new job opportunity? Contact us at Global Fleet. We’re devoted to aiding you throughout every mile of the way. Let’s kick-off on the road together!