Working as a Truck Driver can be an exciting and profitable job choice. The pay is usually good, you have a certain amount of job security and you won’t be stuck in the 9 to 5 grind of an office cubicle. Every day seems different with new challenges, expectations, sights and sounds only found on the road. The life of truck driving can be one of the greatest experiences as you can get see the country from behind the wheel.
|Quick Facts: Truck Drivers|
|2015 Median Pay (Annual)||$40,260|
|2015 Median Pay (Hourly)||$19.36|
|Entry Level Education||Post-secondary certificate|
|Recommended Education||Post-secondary education (certificate or degree)|
|2014-2024 Projected Outlook||5% growth (as fast as average)|
|2014 Number of Jobs||1,797,700|
|2014-2024 Estimated Employment Gains||98,800|
Truck Driver FAQs
If you are looking for more information on how to start a job in Truck Driving, you have come to the right website. We have compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to this job path to help you better understand. We have researched the topic to provide you with reliable information on how you can get started in this industry. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, just contact us via email.
What is a Truck Driver?
A Truck Driver is a licensed professional in charge of transporting goods from one place to another. Most trucker drivers are long-haul drivers, also called Over the Road (OTR) drivers that can travel across the country with a load of goods. Some truckers only travel in their state or locally with their deliveries.
Essentially a Truck Driver is considered the backbone of the American economy by delivering commercial goods and other loads to stores, businesses and residents. They spend a lot of time on the roads of this country driving from one destination to another while living a semi-free lifestyle that is rarely seen in most occupations.
It can be a stressful job. It can feel lonely. But for most drivers, it is not only a way to make a living but also a way to live. Seeing the sights and sounds of the country from behind the wheel of a big rig.
How to Become a Trucker?
Quick Info: How to Get Started as a Truck Driver
• Need to get a Commercial Driver’s License permit via written exam
• Have a clean driving record
• Earn your high school degree or get a GED
• Courses can be found a public or private schools and commercial carrier education centers
• Truck driver instruction may take 6 weeks or longer
• Growing number of employers are looking for drivers with formal education
• Safety is the most important skill you can learn
• Pass the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation (FMCSR) exam
• Pass the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) physical exam
• Pass the CDL exam
Working as a Truck Driver might be easier than you think. There are just a few steps you will need to complete before you can start looking for a job that takes you on the road. So get yourself in gear and get ready to push the pedal to the metal, a new job as a trucker can be just around the corner.
Step 1- Licensing
Before you can really get started learning to work as a Truck Driver, you will need to get a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) permit. This CDL permit can earned through a written exam at a state department of motor vehicles. The exam is made up of general driving knowledge along with an air brakes test and a combination vehicle test.
Along with your permit, you will be asked if you want to take a few of the endorsement tests in tankers, double and triple trailers and hazardous materials. These Truck Driver endorsements are optional but are very popular as it will allow you greater flexibility when it comes to finding a job. We highly recommend that you also test for these endorsements to better your employment opportunities.
Once you receive your CDL permit, you will be able to drive a rig as long as you have CDL-licensed Truck Driver in the passenger seat. CDL Permits are only valid for six months so if you plan on attending a training program, it should be done before your permit expires. The CDL permit is one great way to get experience in driving a truck even before you take the next step.
Step 2 – Education
The next step you will need to take is to enroll in an instruction program. Truck driving programs are typically taught both in a classroom and behind the wheel of a real truck or a simulator. You will learn the roles of this job from A to Z through a series of courses taught by experienced instructors. Even though you can earn a CDL without a formal Truck Driver education, you will find that a number of employers prefer employees who have gone through it.
There are basically three types of truck driving programs to choose from. These are private schools, public institutions and commercial carrier training centers. We will recommend that you look first for a private school or a public institution such as a vocational school or a community college. These training programs rank much higher than the turn-and-burn commercial carrier centers.
There are two main goals of a good Truck Driver school. The first one is to help create safe and responsible truck drivers. The second one is to give the right education and know how to pass the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) exam. A CDL is necessary to work in this industry.
Some truck driving programs can be completed in three to six weeks, depending on the structure of the classes. You should expect to spend around 104 hours in the classroom and at least 44 hours of actual driving. Some of the topics you should expect to learn about include:
- Basic operation of trucks
- Safety practices
- Maintenance and servicing trucks
- Advanced operating procedures
- Personal and professional management
- Record keeping and legal responsibilities
Step 3 – Get Your CDL
After Truck Driver school, you will need to get your CDL from your state’s department of motor vehicles. You will need to take and pass the CDL exam. Each state follows the same basic format for the exam which is both written and performance based. You will need to show that you have knowledge and skills to drive a truck safely.
Besides passing the exam, you will need to meet the other requirements to obtain a CDL. Some Truck Driver requirements may be different state to state so it is best to contact your department of motor vehicles to get a complete list. Some of the most common requirements are:
- At least 21 years old to drive over state lines, 18 to drive in state
- Clean driving record
- High school diploma or a GED
- Pass U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) physical examination
- Be able to pass drug and alcohol screening
- Fluent in English
Getting Started as a Truck Driver
Quick Info: Personality traits of a truck driver
|Some of the traits that can make truck driving a successful profession|
• Work independently
• Strong stamina
• Good communication
• Handles stress
• Mechanically inclined
• Clean and organized
A job as a Truck Driver isn’t for everyone. It can be a tough life being on the road most of the year. Relationships are harder to keep since you are gone for so long. Plus the stress of making your deliveries on time can be brutal to your health. Before you decide you want to live the life as a trucker, you should honestly take a good look at yourself and see if you have what it takes.
Know What You Are Getting Yourself Into
Being a truck Driver can be a really rough job for you and your family. You will be gone for long periods of time and work long hours. This can put a substantial strain on your relationships. Talk with friends and family about all of these issues so they are aware of what could be in store if you take this sort of job.
Long Periods of Being Alone
If you are a people person or need constant interaction with others, you may be in for a shock if you become a trucker. Most of your time will be behind the wheel alone zig-zagging across the country to meet your expected delivery times. If you get bored to be by yourself just driving to the other side of town, you may not be ready to be a Truck Driver.
You Have To Like To Drive
Driving is your job. Sounds simple but you may be amazed on how many people who want to work as a Truck Driver are frustrated that all they do is drive. This isn’t a vacation drive to the Grand Canyon or to Wally World. You are given some cargo that must be delivered on time so there you really won’t have time to stop and see the world’s largest ball of twine.
You have to be a patient person to work as a Truck Driver. You need to keep your cool in traffic even if it becomes bumper to bumper. Same goes for truck stops where you might have to wait in line to gas up. You may be surprised on how much time a trucker spends waiting at loading docks or for their haul to be get ready for travel. Lots of waiting to be done in this job, so patience is a virtue.
Safety is a Big Concern
Safety should be one of the top concerns for truck drivers. Trucks can be very dangerous to yourself and other drivers if not handled properly. Keeping alert and safety conscience should always be at the top of mind since it might save a life or two.
You Have to Be Motivated and a Self-Starter
Unlike a lot of other jobs, you typically won’t have a time clock to punch in and out. You need to have a good work ethic and proud of what you do. This means that after a long 12 to 14 hour day of driving, you will need to wake up early the next morning to move on down the road. Meeting your delivery times on schedule is all up to you.
Somewhat Physically Fit
Surprisingly enough you need to be in somewhat decent shape to drive a truck. No, you don’t have to do CrossFit or look like a weight lifter, but be in good enough shape to do your job. This is a job where you may have to climb around your truck, help move some freight along with the coupling and decoupling of the trailer.
Where Can I Find Truck Driving Schools?
Quick Info: Tips On Finding The Right Truck Driving School5>
|The following factors can help you find a good driving school|
• Cost of tuition
• Distance to school
• Accreditation of program
• Amount of time behind the wheel
• Instruction quality
• Knowledgeable and experienced instructors
• Job placement program
Finding a Truck Driver school isn’t that hard if you know where to look. We suggest a simple search on the internet which will give you a wide range of schools and training programs that offer the type of classes you may be looking for. You should find a number of private and public schools that offer instruction as well as some commercial carrier training centers.
You should try to find a school that has been certified by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). The PTDI only certifies training programs that meets the rigid and strict standards of training necessary in this industry. If you don’t know if one of the schools you are interested in is certified by the PTDI, ask the admissions department or look for the logo on the school’s website.
Besides the PTDI certification, you should look for schools that have licensed by the state and have been accredited by an outside organization. Groups like Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) only picks schools or institutions that have met the criteria of quality education. Accreditation can mean the difference between a good education and one that doesn’t prepare you properly.
One other factor that might help you pick a Truck Driver program is the amount of time you will spend behind the wheel. It is important that you at least get 44 hours of behind the wheel practice, as well as at least 104 hours of classroom instruction. This will help insure that the program you have chosen is on the up and up.
Are There Any Online Truck Driver Schools?
If you search a little you can find some online schools that offer Truck Driver courses. These online programs are typically just like the classroom portion from a traditional on-campus school. In most instances the online program will not offer the hands-on driving that a traditional school offers, however you may find that you can take this portion of the instruction through another school, for an additional fee. Some online truck driving schools are starting to offer hands-on driving, so it is best to ask before you enroll.
Even though most online truck driving schools do not have the hands-on practical experience portion of the class available, online schools can be a great way to start a new job. This is especially true for those who currently have a full-time job, being a stay-at-home parent or other obligations that make it impossible to attend a conventional campus based school. There are number of benefits afforded to those taking online courses, such as:
- Flexible class schedules
- Learn at your own pace
- Possibly lower tuition
- Study from anywhere
- Take courses at any time
- No commute or relocation
- Better balance of time and classes
How Long Does Truck Driving School Take?
Many Truck Driver programs offer at least 104 classroom hours and a minimum of 44 hands-on driving hours. This can be completed in as short as three weeks to six weeks, depending on the program and your participation. So it is true that in roughly a month you can complete your truck driving school.
What is a Good Truck Driving Job Description?
Most people think that all a Truck Driver does is, well, drive a truck. It is true they drive trucks but they also are responsible for a number of other tasks. While the specific duties can vary from load to load or even company to company, below you will find some of the more common jobs of a Truck Driver.
- Keep in contact with dispatcher and reports any incidents encountered
- Inspects truck and trailer before and after every trip
- Helps load and unload cargo
- Keeps records of type and amount of cargo being shipped
- Follows the traffic laws
- Plans routes with GPS or maps
- Monitors road conditions and traffic jams
- If an accident occurs, follows proper procedures
- Maintains an accurate trip log according to Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) regulations
- Properly secures cargo to prevent movement and damage
- Provides preventative maintenance and reports any major mechanical problems
- Makes sure that truck and equipment are working and clean
- Documents weight of truck and cargo
- Conforms to any state regulations
- Collects payments or customer’s signature
- Reads the bill of lading
- Helps service the vehicle with oil, fuel and other fluids
What is the Outlook for Truck Driving Jobs?
The future demand for truck drivers is still on the rise. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) currently projects an increase of 98,800 new trucker jobs until the year 2024. This is a growth of 5% over the next decade which is within the average of all occupations.
The overall demand for truck drivers should continue to increase as the economy continues to improve. This is due in part to people and businesses spending more money which in turn means a stronger demand for goods. Truck Drivers will be the ones in charge of delivering it to the right locations.
What is the Annual Median Truck Driving Jobs Salary?
Want to hear a secret about truck driving? It is one of the top paying careers that does not require a college education. How good is it? The latest salary report from the U.S. Government states that the annual median wage for Truck Drivers is $40,260 which works out to $19.36 an hour.
Take note that the wages mentioned here are the median salary and not a guarantee of your wages. Some factors that often determine your wages include:
- Location of company
- Company you work for
- Type of cargo
Most companies also offer enticing benefits packages to go along with the wages. Benefits packages work should be considered when looking for a job as a Truck Driver in this industry. These benefits vary from company to company but can include:
- Health insurance including dental and vision
- Paid vacations and sick days
- 401K retirement plans
- Stock options
- Tuition reimbursement packages