Many people consider a career as a truck driver for a variety of reasons. The freedom of the open road, not having a boss supervise their every move and, of course, it pays well. Rookie drivers are earning more than $40,000 and those veteran team outfits are pulling down about $90,000. Consider that trucking school tuition costs a fraction of a 4-year college degree and the industry makes miles of sense.
For those interested in learning how to become a truck driver, this may be one of the best times in history to get behind the wheel. The country is experiencing a massive driver shortage expected to hit 50,000 by the end of 2017. That number has been rising every year and is expected to climb to nearly 175,000 by 2026, according to the American Trucking Association. That labor shortage will undoubtedly drive up truck driver salaries. Becoming a truck driver today will likely position drivers for veteran-level salaries as pay scales spike. Here are the things aspiring drivers need to do to start logging paid miles.
Get A Commercial Driver’s License Manual
Each state publishes a handbook that outlines the requirements for obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Read the publication and consider it a study guide for the driver’s exam. Beyond the handbook, it’s important to talk to some professional drivers. There’s often a gap between what can be learned in a classroom and those that do the job every day. Professional driving happens on the road.
Get Your DOT Medical Card
Because the job has certain physical demands, truckers are required to pass a basic physical fitness exam. The government won’t ask you to run like an Olympic athlete and moderate health issues such as high blood pressure shouldn’t be a problem with treatment. Once you have a medical professional sign off, expect to renew the medical fitness card every two years.
Enroll In A Truck Driving School
There are no requirements that say operators must attend an accredited school to learn how to become a truck driver. Anyone can take the exam and get a learner’s permit just like regular operators. But the benefits far outweigh the cost of tuition in terms of hands-on training and knowledge about the industry. Drivers that attend a trucking school are often a step ahead of those that do not in terms of getting a good-paying job with a company that has an opportunity.
Take The Examinations
Make an appointment to take the knowledge test at the DMV. Once that has been completed, the state will issue a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP). The field test can be scheduled as early as two weeks after passing the written test. For those enrolled in a trucking school, that may work. For others learning under another CDL holder’s supervision or at a trucking company, it’s important to be able to perform the appropriate skills at a reasonably high level before scheduling the road test.
Be Prepared For Drug Tests
Operating a commercial vehicle comes with a serious commitment to sobriety. Drivers should expect drug tests from potential employers and random screenings going forward. Anytime there is an accident, drug and alcohol testing may be mandatory.
Apply For A Truck Driving Position
Those entering the field may want to stop and consider where they plan to apply. Some outfits have limited potential. A company that traditionally hauls just one product may not have a path to a driver getting designations such as hazardous material that pay well. Another important area for drivers to consider is port and rail. The ships keep rolling in and that sector shows tremendous growth.
Consider looking into working with Knight Transportation based out of Phoenix, AZ. Knight Transportation has emerged as an active industry recruiter for a wide range of good-paying positions and also offers truck driver training. Call Knight Transportation at 888-456-4448 to get started.