You’ve done your research and have decided that the life of a commercial truck driver is just the career you want. So where do you start?
The first step should be to evaluate your health. Certain conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure could limit your possibility of becoming a commercial truck driver. The Department of Transportation requires truck drivers to undergo a physical exam. The exam is valid for up to 24 months. The medical examiner may issue a medical examiner’s certificate for less than 24 months when the client has a condition such as high blood pressure which needs to be monitored.
Educational Requirements: Some companies have specific educational requirements, but others do not. Those that do may require a high school degree or the equivalent G.E.D. They do want you to have reading skills and the ability to follow directions. You will need to be able to read directions sent to you on Quailcomm. You will also need to know how to read bills of lading, and other important documents.
Truck Driver Training: There are various options to explore. There are advantages and disadvantages to each program. Select the option that best meets your needs.
Community and Local Colleges: These are typically the cheapest option. The courses typically are thorough, inexpensive and drivers receive can receive good training. These typically last longer than classes offered by other commercial training centers. An additional benefit is if you are successful in obtaining a CDL you are free to work for any company that will hire you. This allows you to have more choices as opposed to being limited to being hired by a specific company.
Commercial truck driving schools: These schools are more expensive than community colleges and also have shorter training periods. Some offer various payment plan options. One of the problems with these programs is that even if you don’t pass the CDL exam and can’t receive your license you will owe a substantial amount of money to the company.
Trucking company training programs: These are popular with many drivers because many of them provide training with no money down. In return, they require you to work for them once you receive your CDL for a specific amount of time. There is a major drawback to this program and that is if you fail to successfully complete the course you will owe a substantial amount of money to the company. Another drawback is that if you do receive your CDL and don’t like the company you can’t legally leave until you’ve paid back the loan. Finally, your contract with the company that provided your training could prevent you from being hired by another company until the cost of your training is paid back.
Driving Record: Your driving record is important. You should answer all questions on the application truthfully. If you have been charged with drunk driving you should disclose this on your application. Trucking companies and their insurers will request your motor vehicle history. If you have a history of accidents you will not be a good choice for a trucking company.
Drug Test: You must be able to pass a drug test prior to hiring. Additional random drug tests will be required at other times. Some of these are random tests. Others are done if you are involved in an accident.
Criminal Background Check: The majority of transportation companies run at least one type of criminal record history background check on truck drivers. This can be national criminal record searches. These could include state searches and federal criminal district searches. These could also include county-level searches for misdemeanors and felonies.