How to Become a Truck Driver
If you enjoy driving, and love seeing big rigs on the highway, then you might like to become a truck driver. Truck drivers are responsible for hauling goods all across the country, and indeed around the world. Currently there are over three million truck drivers in America.
To become a truck driver, you'll need to be prepared to work long hours on the road, without a lot of company. Of course, the other side of this coin is that many truckers meet a whole range of different people in their travels at truck stops and depots. You'll need to be a good driver with a clean record.
Education Requirements to Become a Truck Driver
If you are interested in working as a truck driver, you'll need to complete your high school diploma, or GED. You'll also need your driver's license and a clean record without any driving offenses. If you have a charge like a DUI, or an excessive amount of speeding offenses, then it's unlikely you will be able to get your CDL.
The next step is to get your commercial driving license, or CDL. Speak to your local DMV about the requirements in your state to attain this. This gives you permission to drive larger trucks, as well as trucks that are carting dangerous goods such as fuel.
In some states, you will need to complete a short course to achieve your CDL. In others you will simply take an exam and be granted the license. There are several private schools that specialize in helping people to achieve their CDL, and they operate much the same way as driving schools.
After you finish your CDL, you may be required to participate in random drug and alcohol tests while you are on the job. If you're under 21, it's likely that you will only be able to drive a truck within your own state. After your 21st birthday you will be able to drive past state borders.
The American Trucking Association is a good source of career information in this area.
Truck Driver Job Description
A truck driver transports goods across the country. They maneuver their vehicles through all kinds of conditions, from busy city roads, to lonely country highways. They may work long hours, and spend little time working with others.
Truck drivers may also need to load and unload goods. They may simply be carrying basic goods to a location or depot. Some truck drivers transport goods that must be kept in hygienic conditions, and have special training in this area. Others cart dangerous goods, like gas and fuel.
Keeping a log book of hours driven is required in most places. Truck drivers must also maintain manifests and delivery dockets.
Here are some of the responsibilities of a truck driver:
- Driving a truck
- Loading and unloading goods
- Special treatment of some goods
- Keeping a log book of hours
- Maintaining records of deliveries
- Care and maintenance of a truck
- Communicating with colleagues and clients
Truck Driver Salary and Career Path
When you become a truck driver, it's likely you will begin your career with a lighter vehicle, smaller loads, and also smaller drive distances. As you gain more experience with your truck, it's likely that you employer will trust you with more responsibility.
Some truck drivers buy their own vehicle and work as a contractor, or start their own logistics company transporting goods. Many may work in specialized areas, such as moving dangerous goods, or food products. Some may move onto managerial positions within the transport industry.
Here are some similar roles to a truck driver:
- Bus Driver
- Taxi Driver
- Postal Worker
- Sales Representative
- Warehouse Manager
The median salary of a truck driver is $35,000 a year. Those who drive heavy vehicles, or work with specialized cargo, will attract a higher income.
If the thought of the open road gets you excited, then you may like to become a truck driver. Truck driving can be a lonely occupation, but also one where you will experience things that everyday people only dream about. Out on the road, you'll meet people from all walks of life, but for the most part you will be on your own. Employment opportunities in this industry are good, and for those that are interested in becoming self-employed, there is also the prospect of becoming a contractor, or perhaps even starting a company.
*Salary Information provided by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics