How can I Become a Truck Driver?

Shannon Kietzman

In order to become a truck driver, it is necessary to obtain a high school diploma or pass the General Educational Development (GED) test. Although some trucking companies will hire an individual without a high school diploma or GED, the majority of companies prefer someone with this qualification. Aside from completing high school, it is also necessary to keep a clean driving record in order to become a truck driver. Those with several moving violations or convictions for driving under the influence are automatically disqualified from truck driving.

An aspiring truck driver should have a good driving record.
An aspiring truck driver should have a good driving record.

In order to become a truck driver, it is also necessary to obtain special licensure. The licensure is called a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). The CDL allows a person to drive a truck weighing over 26,000 pounds (11,793 kg). It also permits him or her to drive a truck that transports hazardous materials. In order to get a CDL, one must pass a written test as well as a driving exam. Both tests are intended to demonstrate the driver’s ability to drive a commercial truck.

A person must pass a physical exam before he or she is allowed to be a truck driver.
A person must pass a physical exam before he or she is allowed to be a truck driver.

After obtaining the CDL, a person wishing to become a truck driver in the United States also needs to pass the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) exam, administered by the United States Department of Transportation. The person also has to pass a physical exam that includes hearing and vision screenings. In addition, the person needs to take this test every two years in order to maintain licensure.

Individuals interested in truck driving may enroll in truck driving school to help them prepare for required exams.
Individuals interested in truck driving may enroll in truck driving school to help them prepare for required exams.

In order to prepare for the exams necessary to become a truck driver, many individuals choose to attend a truck driving school. While attending a truck driving school, students receive classroom instruction. In addition, students drive under the direct supervision of an instructor.

An individual will need to pass the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations exam in order to become a truck driver in the United States.
An individual will need to pass the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations exam in order to become a truck driver in the United States.

Some trucking firms pay for coursework and examinations for those who agree to be a truck driver for the company for a specific period of time. In most cases, this period of time is one year. Those who leave the company before the agreed upon period of time is complete are obligated to reimburse the company for all or part of the fees.

Truck drivers who transport fuel must be trained in the proper shipping of flammable liquids.
Truck drivers who transport fuel must be trained in the proper shipping of flammable liquids.
Truck driving schools may have job placement programs to help trainees find work.
Truck driving schools may have job placement programs to help trainees find work.

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Discussion Comments

anon294126

I'm an experienced truck trailer driver in the Middle East. Can I get an opportunity to be a truck driver in the US or Canada? And how?

anon106223

does anybody know what is a good trucking company to work for: yellow, swift, roadway, conway, j.b. hunt, or heartland express?

anon102256

I drove for Swift for three years. I left a job that paid 30,000 to do it. I have gone back to my old job (cleaning supermarkets). I can make better money and be home every night.

The jerks I had to deal with at the loading docks were not worth it! They treat you like a dog! The company pushes you to be on time, then you have the law on your tail to be compliant with the law (log book) It's BS! What a crap job! I had rather peck crap with the chickens than to ever deal with some sour-faced dock foreman again.

anon84048

I got a 24 hour probation for half a marijuana cigarette. Can i be a truck driver ever?

Flywheel1

Unfortunately, United States work visas are not currently being granted for truck driver positions.

anon77398

What about the experienced drivers from africa? can they have the opportunities of becoming a truck driver in the usa? and how?

Flywheel1

To #11: One or two non-major moving violations shouldn't be a big problem with some companies. Any DWI/DUI ... forget it.

anon43479

Is it really true that you cannot have any moving violations on your driving record? Or is there a period of time, say three years from the date you apply?

anon38662

i make 1300 a week and i'm a truck driver.

anon35278

To anon35130: Yes you can. Many companies and truck driving schools do not have educational requirements.

anon35130

i don't have a ged or high school diploma can i still be a trucker

semisweet

There has been some discussion lately that the DOT will require the education of future truck drivers at accredited schools and increase the length of the required hours to 120 total hours of classroom and behind the wheel training combined.

Flywheel1

The question: How much money do truck drivers make?

A beginning full-time driver (just out of training) should make upwards of $30,000 the first year. If you keep your personal road expenses under control and don't request large advances for every trip you can make a decent living driving a tractor-trailer over the road.

Flywheel (1973)

anon4390

How much money do truck drivers make?

semisweet

In some states, the local or junior colleges offer truck driving instruction as part of their non-credit vocational classes. These classes usually run the entire length of the semester, and are more comprehensive. There is more study of a variety of laws concerning driving, for instance individual state law variances, US law vs. Canadian law for those who will have to cross the border as part of their job, the DOT rules and regulations, hazmat rules, etc. There is also more behind-the-wheel training.

Students who attend a local or junior college for their truck driving instruction pay less for the education because these schools are state funded, and the students pay only for the school's enrollment fees and their own books and materials. Additionally, the student is not obligated to any one particular company to work for them for a period of time.

When the aspiring truck driver successfully completes the junior college course, he or she is better qualified and more knowledgeable than those who attended a 4-week commercial truck driving school.

The junior college/community college option is one that will take longer to complete, but the cost to the driver is substantially less, and the quality of the education is much higher.

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