You might wonder if a driver’s license is all you need to start a new career as a semi-truck driver. After all, most of your workday will revolve around driving around the country on our nation’s interstate highway system. But in fact, there are several truck driver requirements you’ll need to satisfy if you want to hit the road behind the wheel of a semi.
Truck Driver Requirements
First of all, yes, it’s true that you’ll need a standard driver’s license to get started. Chances are you’ve already got this one in the bag!
Minimum Age Requirement
Age requirements vary by state and company, but the law states that interstate truck drivers must be 21 years old or older unless they are in the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program. Here at BLC Transportation, we have a minimum age requirement of 23 years old and require at least one year of experience on the road.
No Prior Disqualifying Criminal Offenses
Some criminal felonies may disqualify you from applying for a commercial driver’s license (CDL). In addition, each company will have different rules regarding criminal records. Reach out to the company you’re hoping to drive for to learn their specific requirements.
Complete CDL Training
Most new CDL applicants must complete an entry-level commercial driver training program. This applies to all of the following:
- Anyone applying for a new Class A or B CDL
- Anyone upgrading an existing Class B CDL to a Class A
- Anyone applying for a first-time passenger (P), school bus (S), or HAZMAT (H) endorsement
Some CDLs require you to complete this training program after getting a learner’s permit but before taking the CDL skills exam. Others require you to complete this training before taking the written knowledge exam for your learner’s permit. Be sure to review the truck driver requirements for the specific CDL/endorsement you’re seeking.
Obtain a Commercial Learner’s Permit
When you apply for your permit, the FMCSA requires you to provide all the following:
- Current driver’s license
- 10-year driver history (you can request a copy from your local DMV)
- DOT physical form (to prove that a qualified medical professional has verified that you’re physically able to operate a commercial vehicle)
In addition, some states (including Missouri) will ask you to provide a document proving you have legal residency in the United States.
You will also need to pass a knowledge and skills test. Test requirements vary by state, but the federal minimum requires that this test has at least 30 questions and a passing score of at least 80 percent.
Once you have a commercial learner’s permit, you must hold it for a minimum of 14 days before applying for your CDL.
Secure Your CDL
Once you’ve completed your training and held a permit for at least two weeks, you can apply for your CDL. You will need to pass the CDL skills test, which includes a vehicle inspection test, a basic controls exam, and a road test. Since you’ve already completed your commercial driving training course, you should have the knowledge necessary to pass this test and secure your CDL.
If you wish to add an endorsement to your CDL (if you plan to drive trucks carrying hazardous materials, for example), you will need to complete additional steps.
Again, requirements will vary from company to company, but most companies will prefer that applicants have no accidents or tickets on their record.
Looking to begin 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!