Are you thinking about changing jobs? Are considering trucking as your new career? Maybe you got tired of your routine or never found it particularly interesting, to begin with. Or maybe you have always fantasized with the idea of driving for a living, enjoying the road, the freedom, the life on the move. It could also be that you just finished school and need to take a serious look at career choices.
It doesn’t really matter why you are considering a career in Trucking. All that matters is how to achieve your dream goal. So, when facing a life-changing decision, you want to be as well informed as possible about the path you are choosing.
If you are lucky enough to personally know a truck driver to help you navigate the first steps towards becoming a trucker yourself, you might not need this post. But, if you don’t know where to begin, here is a small summary of the next steps required to get you behind the wheel as soon as possible.
What education do you need to become a Truck Driver?
Everything starts with this question. And, since you will need to put all your documents together, be sure to have all of this in mind.
A High School Diploma
This is basic for most jobs nowadays and most people already have it. If you do, you don’t need to worry about this one! If you don’t, maybe you would like to consider getting your GED or attending night school. You might also want to check with specific companies that might not require this one particular certificate.
A Class “D” Driver’s License (for Straight Trucks)
Depending on the kind of truck you wish to drive, you might want to consider the different kinds of driver’s licenses. A Class “D” license will allow you to drive straight trucks and Class D vehicles which are those under 16,000 pounds with passengers included.
A Class “A” Driver’s License (for Articulated Trucks)
This type of driver’s license will allow you to drive articulated trucks, which are used among many industries for the transportation of goods. If you want to make a career in driving, you will definitely need this one!
Endorsements and Certifications
You will also need to think about the specific endorsements or certifications that you might need. They all depend on what you are transporting or what interests you most. Nonetheless, if you want to keep your doors open to any possible job offer, there are some basic ones that you might want to consider as almost mandatory. For example:
The Air Brake Endorsements (for vehicles equipped with said brakes)
The Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) Certification (for hazardous products)
On the Job Training
You also must remember that truckers usually receive on-the-job training. So, you don’t need to worry about the specifics of a particular job. Usually, and even more if you are a newcomer, they will invest some time forming you so you can perform at your top level.
Finally, but most importantly, if your goal is to be a commercial driver, you will need a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). This one is a must if you want to make a living as a truck driver, and it will allow you to work for any commercial-transport company.
How do you get your CDL?
If you want to get your CDL, you will be required to do some training, pass a test and obtain medical certification. Depending on the state, laws about the particular requisites might vary. So, always make sure to check and make sure that you are ready to get your CDL in your specific state.
Some things that may vary are the number of hours required for in-classroom and on-the-road training. And remember that you will need to pass a written test on highway safety and a driving test in which your ability maneuvering must be proved. You will basically need to show that you are more than able to manage a truck, even in the most unexpected situations. You never know what awaits you on the road!
How do you find the right trucking school?
If you have made it this far, you are probably serious about your trucking career and time has come to find the right trucking school for you to get your CDL.
Now, there are a number of factors to take into consideration when looking for the right CDL school for you. Pay attention to this list to be sure you are making the best decision for yourself.
First of all, you will need to try and find a school that is conveniently close to you and to which you can attend regularly. Some states might have different requirements so always make sure you comply with yours and be sure which state is the one issuing your license. They should match the state in which you are attending school!
Length of School
Usually, a CDL program can take from 4 to 10 weeks of training classes. So, don’t hesitate to ask schools for their program’s length and schedules. Organization is key! Then, make sure to free your schedule during the whole length of the program, as this should be your top priority.
Cost of Training
One of the most important parts of the process and the one that may worry one more is the cost of the training. After all, you haven’t started your career yet!
Usually, a program of this kind costs about $3,000 to $7,000 at independent schools. If they charge you more, it surely is a scam!
If you find yourself short on money or don’t want to spend that much on obtaining a license, you can also find many free programs at company-sponsored schools. This kind of schools, though, require you to sign a contract with the sponsor company in order for them to cover your tuition. And if you quit before your contract is up, you will be charged for said tuition.
Swift Transportation, Stevens Transport and Schneider National are some of the main companies that offer CDL training.
Quality of Training
It is not only about getting your license but about learning the most. After all, you are putting your time, efforts and money on this. It better be worth your while!
It is a great method of research to look for their teaching curriculums and specific classes and teachers. You can also get great information by reading the comments and reviews previous students wrote about their experiences.
And don’t forget to check online for the best schools in your area or state!
Finally, all of this work is not for nothing! Let’s not forget the ultimate goal is to get a job as a trucker. So, when choosing schools, you should always value which one may offer the best chance to make contacts or impress recruiters with your CV. This important aspect to take into consideration will come in handy when your training is over and the real work begins!
Staying up to date
If you did your training a while ago or wish to stay up to date and keep learning about trucking and your job as a truck driver, you can always sign up for the many seminars that each state holds often. Some will even be free!
For example, if you live in California, you should check the California Trucking Association webpage to find everything you need to know about seminars and continuing your trucking education.
Now you are ready to take on the next steps to get your trucking certifications and start the career path of your dreams. Work takes you far, but a truck even further!
What did you think about our post? Did it solve your questions and inquiries about starting a career in the trucking business? Don’t forget to leave your comments in the section below!