How to Become a Truck Driver
So you have decided to become a truck driver. What comes next? To become a truck driver, your first step should be a trip to your nearest DMV office to obtain a commercial driver's manual. This book explains the requirements for obtaining a commercial driver's license (CDL). It also covers the different endorsements and serves as your study guide for written examinations.
You may also want to talk to a few truck drivers at a truck stop. You may learn from their experiences--both good and bad--and may even pick up a few referral cards.
How to Become a Truck Driver: Truck Driving School
After securing a copy of your commercial driver's manual, the next step is to contact a truck driving school in your area. The goal of truck driving schools is not to just train drivers, but to teach drivers how to be safe truck driving professionals. Instruction includes both classroom and hands-on driving sessions. The central goal of both sessions is to teach you how to operate a very large commercial vehicle safely. With the safety of the general motoring public at stake, the truck driver carries numerous responsibilities. The results of an accident involving a large commercial vehicle may be devastating and expensive.
Classroom sessions also cover laws regulating the trucking industry, such as hours of service, vehicle inspections, log books, safety procedures while backing a vehicle, and more.
In addition to your classroom sessions, you also get to spend time in the driver's seat. When you first sit behind the wheel it may seem very intimidating. You look in the mirror and it looks like the trailer is several blocks long. Remember, you are going to be the professional driver and all those people in cars out there are counting on you to do the right thing.
Learn more about finding a trucking school.
How to Become a Truck Driver: The Testing
After graduation you have to pass a series of CDL exams--a written and skills/road test. The school typically provides a vehicle and arranges the road test. Depending on your goals, you may test on as many endorsements as you desire. It is recommended to get as many endorsements as possible as each endorsement may open new doors to job opportunities.
Endorsements may include:
- School Bus
- Air Brake
- Combination Vehicle (Semi)
- Tank Vehicle
- Doubles Triples
- Hazardous Materials
Since 9/11, you must go to a TSA office, be fingerprinted, and pay for a background check to obtain your hazardous material endorsement.
How to Become a Truck Driver: Starting Your Career
No discussion of becoming a truck driver would be complete without explaining the different types of trucking. The most common starting point for recent graduates is in long-haul trucking. Trucking schools might offer job placement services, so your first job might involve an orientation (typically 3 days) where you may learn about the company and its policies. You are then assigned a driver trainer who helps hone your skills and teach you routes, how to handle paperwork, and more. After your training period you must pass a road test before you are assigned your own truck.
Most local and specialty trucking jobs may require some experience. Later, after you get this experience, you may choose another truck driving specialty or like so many others you may stay on the road and enjoy the freedom and independence of the open road.