How to Become a Truck Driver

If you’re looking for a stable job with plenty of opportunity for growth, it’s time to learn how to become a truck driver. Here’s how to get started.

Learn how to become a Class A CDL Truck Driver

For you to qualify for your Class A CDL license and readily available truck driver jobs, you will need to pass a few basic qualifications, which we will outline below.

How to Become a Truck Driver

Truck driving jobs are listed everywhere in recent months, and the money you can make as a professional truck driver has never been higher. Currently, there is a significant shortage of Class A CDL licensed truckers, which is causing trucking companies to offer to pay more money to attract drivers. If you are ready to reap the rewards of starting a new career that’s in demand right now, it’s time to learn how to sign up for a training program to become a professional truck driver. Just follow these steps to get started!

Do you qualify to become a truck driver?

To qualify for those readily available truck driving jobs, you first have to get CDL training to get the right license for this industry. But before you can even start a CDL training program, you will need to pass a few basic qualifications, which we will outline for you below.

Education

First, you must have at least a high school diploma or GED to enroll in many training schools. Once you have that, you can sign up for a truck driver training program and prepare to get your commercial driver’s license. Note that while you can get your CDL license at 18 years old and may be eligible for some commercial driving jobs, most trucking companies will only hire drivers 21 and older. This is because you must be 21 to drive a truck that contains hazardous materials or do any long-haul driving across state lines or hauling goods moving in interstate commerce. You’ll have to wait until you turn 21 to get certain endorsements added to your license that let you move up in your truck driving career.

Medical

Certain medical conditions may prevent you from becoming a truck driver due to various federal and state regulations regarding safety on the road. This is why you’ll need to pass a physical examination to get a medical certificate first. This will confirm that you are healthy enough to safely perform the demanding job of a Class A Truck Driver and keep our nation’s roads safe, whether you cross state lines or stay relatively local.

These health conditions are mandated by the federal government and checked for at the required Department of Transportation (DOT) physical. Note that you can’t just get the DOT physical examination from any doctor. A licensed medical examiner listed on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) National Registry must be the one to conduct it before you’re cleared to begin a CDL training program.

To start, you must fill out your health history. This includes information on any surgeries you’ve had, medications you are currently using, specific diagnoses, substance issues, and symptoms. From there, the medical examiner will test various aspects of your health. For example, he or she will test your pulse, blood pressure, vision in both eyes, and hearing.

You must also pass a urinalysis drug test before you get behind the wheel. This is used not only to find and identify any drugs in the system, but also to detect whether there’s blood, sugar, or protein in the urine. During the physical examination, your doctor will check your overall health and each body system, marking it as normal or abnormal. Depending on where you live, the doctor may send the physical form directly to the licensing agency in your state.

Criminal Background

While having a felony or other serious convictions on your record doesn’t affect your ability to get a commercial driver’s license, it may affect your ability to get employed by many trucking companies. Some examples of factors that might affect this include the type of conviction, time since completion of sentence, and whether the felony or other conviction involved the use of violence. If you’re not sure how your background check will affect your chances of starting a truck driving career, consider these factors when you apply for jobs.

Driving Record

CDL training schools and trucking carriers look for truckers who have proven to be skilled and safe on the road when driving motor vehicles, so having a clean driving record is a plus. But while speeding tickets, DUIs, and other traffic violations from the past are important factors when getting a CDL, they don’t automatically mean you’re disqualified for jobs.

Obtaining Your CDL Learner’s Permit

A Commercial Learners Permit (CLP) only authorizes you to practice on public roads with a qualified CDL holder sitting next to you. Getting the permit involves more than just passing all the knowledge tests for the type of driving that you want to do. To make sure that you are eligible, your driving record will be checked for the last 10 years in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Before you can even take the test, you need to bring in the proof that your state requires to show that you are medically qualified to drive a commercial truck. Most types of commercial driving require a DOT medical card, which means you need to have the required physical first. Your state may also require specific documents it wants to see to prove your name and proof of residency before you can get started in the trucking industry.

Train to Be a Truck Driver

Truck drivers are required to hold a Class A CDL license to drive their tractor-trailer during in-state and longer trips across state lines. To get this license to drive a commercial vehicle, you should have a minimum of 160 hours of combined classroom and practical training driving a truck. Truck driving schools like Roadmaster provide training to assist you in obtaining your license in about 5 weeks.

Getting Your First Job as a Truck Driver

Once you have obtained your Class A CDL license, you are ready to apply for entry-level truck driver jobs. If you attend a truck driving school like Roadmaster, a career services associate will help you apply for your first job.

During the first few days of school, Placement Associates will work with you to choose which company roles best fit your needs in that first year. They will review your job applications and help you submit them to potential employers. The placement staff will even follow up with potential employers and notify you of employment offer letters.

If you’re ready to get started training for your career as a professional truck driver, contact Roadmaster by filling out the application form or giving us a call at 1-800-831-1300.