How to Become a Truck Driver

If you really enjoy driving and would like to make a living doing it, you might want to learn how to become a truck driver.

Requirements

You will have to be at least 18 years old to become a truck driver, and if you want to do interstate driving, the minimum age requirement is 21, but many trucking companies prefer that their drivers be 25 years old. You will need to complete high school or get your GED. You’ll also need a good driving record without many moving violations, and no DUI's.

As a truck driver, you will need a commercial driver’s license (CDL) that will allow you to drive big rigs weighing over 26,000 pounds and to transport hazardous materials. To get your CDL, you will have to pass both a written and a driving test. You will also have to pass the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) exam. This will include both a written test as well as a physical exam, making sure you have acceptable hearing and vision.

In order to prepare for these exams, you will benefit from attending a reputable truck driving school. Here you can learn the basics about driving trucks as well as the laws, safety issues, and other regulations you need to know. Try to find a school certified by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) in your state, and if it happens to also be accredited by the U.S. Department of Education, that’s even better. Since you will have to get your license in the state where you live, you want to make sure that the school you attend is following the same guidelines that are required by your state. You also don’t want to get into a program that is less than three weeks long, since it takes some time to learn everything you’ll need to know about driving an 18 wheeler.

There are two advantages to attending a truck driving school. One is that these schools can sometimes assist you with finding your first job. The other is that some companies will pay more to truck drivers who attended driving school.

Pay and Job Outlook

Over 3 million people in the United States drive trucks for a living. Trucking offers great job security and a good income. While entry level truck drivers earn around $30,000 a year, experienced drivers can expect to make over $65,000 annually. And if you own your own rig, you might even make over 100,000 a year.

Truckers who are skilled, trained drivers with good safety records are always in demand. Right now there aren’t enough qualified drivers to meet the need in the industry, so that means that if you become a truck driver, you probably won’t have any problem finding a job.

Most truckers work long hours both days and nights, holidays and weekends. As a trucker, you can legally work 70 hours a week. So you need to get used to an irregular sleep schedule where you don’t necessary get eight hours of sleep in a row.