So, you want to be a truck driver. Congrats! Becoming a truck driver can be an exciting and rewarding career move.
But, before you dive in and fully commit to this adventure, there are some things you should know and do before you can get behind the wheel of a semi-truck.
1. Research the Job & See if it Would Be Right for You
Before you jump in and start pursuing a career as a truck driver, it is important to do your homework, and research the in’s and out’s of the job. You may find that truck driving isn’t for you—and that’s okay! But it is better to find that out early on in the process rather than after you have gotten on the road.
The quickest way to find information about truck driving is to do a simple Google search. There are dozens of blog articles, lots of YouTube videos, and other resources that will give you an inside look at what it’s like to be a truck driver.
Talk to a Truck Driver
One of the best ways to find out the real and honest job description of a truck driver is to talk to one! Truck drivers will be able to explain the realities of the job to you and chat with you about whether or not you have the qualities needed to be a great truck driver.
2. Review Requirements
There are a few requirements that many companies require you to have before you can drive for them. First, you must be 21 years old to drive across state lines. Some companies may have locations that have local positions, which would allow drivers who are between the ages of 18 and 21 to be a truck driver.
Second, it is easier to become a truck driver if you have a clean driving record. Many schools and employers will overlook minor traffic violations, but if you have been ticketed for reckless driving or received a DUI, you may not be able to go to driving school.
Third, some companies require that you have specific endorsements with your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Be sure to research companies you may be interested in or that are in your area to find out what endorsements they will require you to get along with your CDL.
Finally, some driving schools required that you have a high school diploma or GED before attending. Many schools don’t have that requirement, but it is a good thing to look into when finding a driving school.
3. Find a Driving School
Choosing a driving school can be one of the most important parts of starting your truck driving career. You want to be sure that the school you attend will give you all the knowledge you need to start your new career successfully.
Take it from one of our driver trainers, Jeremy.
“Don’t go with a skinny school or a light course. Pick a good course. Pick one that will teach you everything you need to know. If you come to us and you’re not prepared, I’m not letting you on the road until you’re safe and ready to drive. So it will expedite everything if you come with more knowledge from a professional school.”
If there is a particular company you are interested in working for, many of them will have a list of driving schools they partner with. For example, Dot Transportation, Inc. (DTI) has a list of driving schools in the majority of the areas where they are located that they partner with and tend to recruit from. It is always a good idea to reach out to these employers and see if they partner with schools in your area.
4. Go to Truck Driving School to Get Your CDL A
Once you have decided which driving school you want to attend, the next stage is to go to school and complete your classes and training.
Pay for Truck Driving School
One thing to take into consideration is how you are going to pay for truck driving school. There are quite a few employers out there who will help you pay your way through school. But it is very common for companies to offer reimbursement programs—meaning you pay for all of the schooling up front, and then your employer will gradually pay you back over a specified time period.
Pass Your State’s CDL Written & Skills Tests
All drivers must pass a written and a road test before they receive their CDL license. Requirements may be different from state to state, so we recommend reaching out to your driving school or your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get more information.
Get Your D.O.T. Medical Card
Drivers must complete a physical, sight, and hearing test by a D.O.T. physician to make sure you are healthy enough to be on the road.
5. Get Hired
As we mentioned before, many companies have connections with driving schools near them. This makes it easier for student drivers to learn about different trucking companies and find Class A CDL jobs. It also helps companies recruit students right out of school.
Many schools will also have job placement programs or offices that can help you find a job in your area. They are a great resource to use when looking for job opportunities.
6. Complete Your Employer’s Training & Orientation
Most trucking companies aren’t just going to let you out on the road behind the wheel of their trucks without some sort of training course. Training program lengths vary from company to company—but, for the most part, you can expect that they will be at least a few weeks long.
We are excited that you are considering a career as a truck driver and hope you consider DTI as your future employer. We would love to have you!