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What it takes to become a truck driver

8/12/2022

Truck driving can be a great career for many.

Despite the shortage of drivers in the industry, trucking can be a great career. There are plenty of jobs available, there's good pay and the potential for bonuses, it allows for flexibility and working independently, and long as you're aware of what it takes, it can be relatively easy to break into. If you're interested in becoming a truck driver, or you're interested in hiring or helping others get into truck driving, the following is the best way to do so.

Look into the job
Before starting training or investing any money in licensing, a driver should do some preliminary research to see if this job would be the right fit for them. It can consist of long hours away from home and can require a healthy amount of self motivation, so keeping the difficulties in mind are key. The best option is to connect with a current driver to talk to them about their experience. It's also important to make sure they can qualify and meet the requirements of licensing. For example, to obtain a CDL, the license holder needs to be 18 years old. To operate the vehicle out of state, they must be 21 years old. The driver must also provide proof of identity and residency.

Licensing
To become a driver, a candidate needs their Commercial Driver's License (or CDL) and any other relevant endorsements. Individual states issue CDLs, not the federal government according to smart-trucking.com. In order to get licensed, a driver needs their driver's license and to undergo a training course. They will need to pass the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) exam, medical tests, then obtain their CDL learner's permit. With their learner's permit they can go through training. Then they will need to successfully pass the CDL exam.

Among the final CDL tests are a vehicle inspection test, a basic controls test, a road test, and any additional endorsements. There are CDL training courses available in most places, and the classes generally start between 30-80 hours according to CDL-prep.com.

Experience
If a truck driver is just starting out and is struggling to find the work they want, one of the best ways to get started is bus driving or driving for a smaller business. They can then work their way up to over-the-road or nationwide driving. Private fleets often pay the most, so that is a goal of many drivers.

A clean background
Depending on where a candidate is looking to get hired, they may need to go through a background check. This is particularly important if they are being hired by a government entity or anything public-facing. If they have a history of reckless driving, driving under the influence, or any other related offenses, that's a major red flag to trucking employers. A candidate who takes certain prescriptions, has certain health conditions or physical impairments, criminal offenses or felony convictions in the past are all reasons one could be prevented from getting a job in truck driving.

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