Do you crave the freedom of the open road? Would you like to travel around the country and explore new places? Are you looking for a job that provides both independence and stability? You might want to explore hopping behind the wheel and forging a new career path as a truck driver. Scroll down to learn how to become a truck driver.
How to Become a Truck Driver
Review the requirements.
First, it’s important to understand that all tractor-trailer driving jobs require a commercial driver’s license, or CDL. States issue CDLs, not the federal government. So, when you’re ready to get started, look up your state’s CDL requirements. Common minimum requirements for obtaining a CDL include the following:
- You must be at least 21 years old to drive commercial vehicles over state lines.
- You must have a current driver’s license.
- You must have at least one or two years of driving experience (depending on the state).
- You must provide proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency.
Enroll in a CDL program.
Next, you will need to enroll in a commercial driving class to learn how to drive commercial motor vehicles. Typically, these classes are a few weeks long and will qualify you to take the CDL exam. You won’t just learn the rules of the road; you’ll also learn how to inspect your vehicle for safety, how to plan long routes, and how to secure freight. By the end of the class, you should feel confident scheduling your CDL exam.
Practice with a CLP.
Practice makes perfect! Before you try for a CDL, you’ll need to pass a test to obtain a commercial learner’s permit (CLP), which will allow you to practice driving commercial vehicles like trucks, tractor-trailers, and buses. Use this period of initial training to develop the skills you’ll need to secure a CDL. Keep in mind that you must have your CLP for at least two weeks before you’ll be allowed to take your CDL driving test.
Get your Medical Examiner’s Certificate.
To prove that you’re physically capable of safely operating a commercial vehicle, you must also obtain a Medical Examiner’s Certificate. A doctor will check your overall health, including your eyesight, hearing, blood pressure, blood sugar, and more.
Pass the written exam.
Before you take your skills and driving test, you’ll need to pass a written exam. Though you’ll learn the information on the test in your CDL class, you should also secure a copy of your state’s CDL manual for studying. Typically, you can grab a hard copy at the DMV or a PDF online. Study hard so that you can pass with flying colors.
Pass the driving test to secure your CDL.
Once you’ve passed the written exam, it’s time for the on-road test. The three sections of this test are designed to test your newfound skills as a commercial vehicle driver:
- During the pre-trip inspection test, you must prove that you know how to examine your vehicle for safety issues. You will need to check the engine compartment, the tires, the suspension, the braking system, and more.
- For the basic control skills test, you must maneuver your vehicle as requested by the examiner. Typically, the following skills must be performed: straight line and offset backing, parallel parking, and alley docking.
- During the road test, the examiner will judge your overall command of the vehicle and your awareness of the road. They will monitor your use of mirrors and turn signals, your ability to break and accelerate safely, and more.
You may choose to add endorsements to your CDL as well, to increase your opportunities in the trucking industry. An endorsement allows you to operate different kinds of vehicles and haul specific types of freight. Common endorsements include class H, also referred to as HazMat (which allows you to haul hazardous materials), and class N, which allows you to operate any vehicle with a tank attached to it.
Find a job.
Once you have your CDL, you’re ready to apply for a job. Congratulations, you’re officially a truck driver!
Looking to further your career as a truck driver? Contact BLC Transportation today. We have opportunities for both company drivers and lease-purchase drivers. With our lease-purchase program, you can make 90 percent of the line haul while driving new trucks that provide comfort, fuel efficiency, and reliability. Plus, we offer bonuses and incentives, a health insurance subsidy, a friendly passenger/pet policy, assistance with registering for an LLC, and more. Join our team today!