A driver career is not for everyone. It is very challenging. Trucking often involves being on the road and away from home for weeks at a time and working alone for several hours each day. Some individuals decide they don’t look forward to this type of life. Others consider trucking to be the ideal career for themselves. They love the combination of working independently and traveling across the country. Truck driving is the ideal job for many. Also, the opportunities for drivers to enjoy a successful truck driver career are numerous.
If you are considering becoming a commercial truck driver learn as much as possible about the profession before making the commitment. Go to truckstops and talk to drivers. Ask them about life on the road and what you can expect as a new driver. It’s even better if you’re able to ride along with a commercial driver for a week or two. You will gain a good knowledge of what to expect on the road. Conduct your own research about the trucking industry to decide if this is the right career for you. Don’t make a hasty decision. If you decide trucking is right for you, you can move to the next step which is obtaining the necessary training and license to be able to do so.
The next step is to decide on a truck driving school. Truck driving training is big business and there are plenty of options available. Driving schools as well as many local colleges offer CDL training. The courses can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to complete. Many trucking companies also offer CDL training. Research the various training options thoroughly before making a decision. When you successfully complete your CDL training you are ready to take the licensing exam.
Becoming a commercial truck driver involves much more than getting a commercial trucker licence (CDL) and knowing how to drive the truck. Drivers will be required to have many non-driving skills as well. Drivers must know how to keep accurate log books. Drivers must have good map reading skills or a good quality GPS Unit with specific truck routes. They must be able to adapt to different situations daily. They must know rules of the road and be familiar with weight restrictions as well as how to balance the loads. This oftentimes makes a huge difference especially when hauling heavy freight. Additionally, drivers must know how to and properly secure the cargo.
Drivers must know how to adjust mirrors so that both sides of the truck are visible from the driver’s seat. Drivers must know how to do a pre-trip inspection of the truck and trailer. A few of the items checked during a pre-trip inspection include checking brakes, fluid levels, windshield wipers, tires, etc. Trucking companies have policies and procedures in place for drivers to report any problems with its equipment. Drivers should be familiar with and follow those guidelines.
Drivers must have a CDL and be able to pass criminal background check in order to be hired by a trucking company. Drivers must obtain pass a Department of Transportation Health Exam to be allowed to drive a heavy truck. A person must be at least 18 years old to obtain a CDL. Because trucking jobs are usually plentiful, new drivers often are able to get jobs relatively quickly although their choices of trucking companies may be limited. Drivers under age 21 are limited to (instrastate) driving which limits them to operating within their state of licensing. Major trucking companies require driver applicants to be at least 23 years of age with some experience. Other Companies hire and train new drivers as long as their driving history meets the qualifications of the company.
Properly assessing your needs will help you to choose a company best suited to meet those needs. Do you like long haul driving which involves spending many nights and weekends holed up in truck stops or do you prefer regional routes which allow you to be home more often? Do you have commitments or special family needs which need to be considered? Whatever your needs are make sure the company you choose to work for will allow you to be able keep your commitments.
Once hired work hard and do the very best job that you can. Don’t hesitate to ask experienced drivers for advice should you need help. Make sure that you are alert before getting on the road. Always drive safely.