You see trucks on the road all the time, but most people never think about how vital they really are. Without truckers, America wouldn’t be able to operate. In fact, trucking transportation is one of the most important and largest industries in the entire country, making up 5.8 percent of the entire American workforce.
You may be seeking a job with more freedom, flexibility or higher pay than your current position. Truckers can elect to run only a few jobs a year, but for millions of people, it’s a lifelong career. You don’t have to sacrifice your entire life to be a truck driver either. Many truckers are also parents and spouses and have active social lives when they’re not on the road. If you’re interested in becoming a truck driver, here are three things to put on your to-do list.
Research the Career to See if It’s for You
Real experience from actual drivers is the best way to get an idea of what you could expect behind the wheel. Trucking can be a fantastic position, but it requires dedication and a passion for driving. Reaching out to real drivers is the best way to get a feel for the industry. Look for online forums, make a post on r/trucking and converse with truckers who live this career every day.
You should also make sure that you can meet the requirements. To become a licensed truck driver in the United States, you’ll need to hold a valid driver’s license and be at least 18-years-old. You must also be able to pass a physical exam, have a clean driving record, and earn your CDL (commercial driver’s license).
Prep for Your CDL
To get a valid commercial license, you’ll also have to pass the Federal Motor Vehicle Carrier Association’s medical exams. The Department of Transportation physical exam assesses each potential driver’s ability to safely operate a commercial truck and tests for conditions including heart disease and high blood pressure. Each medical exam is valid for 24 months.
You can take a truck driver trade school program to learn everything you need to know about the field. You’ll get to prepare for the exam, learn the rules and regulations that govern the industry, and get comfortable operating a big rig. This is the ideal entry-level training for someone with no prior experience. You will get to work one-on-one with experienced drivers, receive personalized instruction and feel confident when you take your exam.
Start Looking for Jobs
Once you’ve gotten your CDL license and passed all your exams, it’s time to start looking for your first jobs. You can search for CDL truck driver positions that suit your preferences and ambitions; it’s okay to start small and work your way up. Many newcomers run short, local hauls before expanding to cross-country deliveries. In fact, this is a great way to build a resume, gain experience and familiarize yourself with the day-to-day operations.
A trucking career can open up doors to build a life that runs on your terms. Instead of being trapped in a 9-to-5 job, you get to set your own hours and choose jobs you truly want to do. Take your time to research, and have fun while learning all you need to know to get started. The training will go by faster than you think. Before you know it, a full-time truck driving position with a great carrier will be your norm.