Truck Driving FAQs

If you’re thinking of becoming a professional truck driver, you probably want to know about pay, training, and what it’s like to work on the road. You might be surprised to see how easy it is to get started. Check out our Frequently Asked Questions to find out more!

Truck Driving FAQs

If you’re thinking about becoming a professional truck driver but have questions about the process, that’s okay! It’s good to get some answers and have some knowledge before jumping right in. Here’s a list of 21 of our most frequently asked questions and answers that can help you know what to expect, and decide if this is the right career path for you!

What Is a CDL?

CDL stands for commercial driver’s license. A commercial driver’s license differs from the standard one needed to drive a car in the United States. It is a requirement for anyone driving a commercial motor vehicle and shows they have met the required standard to be a safe and competent driver. Examples of commercial motor vehicles are large delivery trucks, buses, tankers, and tractor-trailers.

If you are looking for a career as a professional truck driver, you need to have the appropriate CDL license. The type of license you need depends on the vehicle you plan to drive. For the best training, enroll in a hands-on truck driving school that prepares students to obtain their Class A commercial driver’s license.

What Is a CDL Driver?

A CDL is a commercial driver’s license, and in the United States, a commercial truck driver must have this type of license. A Class A CDL driver is qualified to drive a motor vehicle with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, with the towed vehicle heavier than 10,000 pounds. A Class A CDL is vital to access the truck driving industry in the United States. Roadmaster is a hands-on truck driving school helping to prepare students to obtain their Class A CDL.

What Do You Have to Do to Get a CDL?

You can only get a state-issued CDL license when you have completed both a written exam and skills test which show that you meet the minimum requirements for licensure. In addition, you will need:

  • Theory and practical training on the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles
  • Proof you are a citizen of the United States or legally authorized to be in the United States
  • Proof of state residency
  • Social Security number / Federal work authorization
  • A basic driver’s license
  • Meet the minimum age requirements
What Are the Differences in CDL Licenses?

CDL stands for commercial driver’s license. In the USA, all drivers of commercial motor vehicles need to pass the applicable CDL exam.  A Class A CDL shows employers and other organizations that you have the ability to legally operate various types of commercial motor vehicles. The license covers commercial motor vehicles like tractor-trailers, flatbed vehicles, and truck and trailer combinations. A Class B CDL covers non-articulating commercial motor vehicles or “straight trucks”. Examples include garbage trucks and delivery trucks.

How Do I Get a Class A License?

To get a Class A CDL, you need to complete the required training program at an approved school. You have to be an American citizen or lawful permanent resident and have residency in the state where you plan to get your license. You also need a Social Security Number or a valid work visa, be in good general health, and meet the minimum age requirements. You must pass the exam to get the license. You should also keep your general driving record clean because it can affect whether training schools and employers take you on.

Is Being a Truck Driver a Good Career?

Truck drivers can earn a good income while maintaining work flexibility. Some truck drivers work for national carrier companies, while others operate independently. As a truck driver, you get to see the country from your cab. You can work for first-class companies, and you can get great rates of pay. Once you have the training and qualifications behind you, your career can be whatever you want it to be in the truck driving world.

There are opportunities to diversify in highly skilled areas such as hazardous waste transport or truck driver training operations. With a shortage of Class A CDL truck drivers, the potential for higher salaries and ongoing work is high. Roadmaster students are not contracted or bound to any carrier. Instead, we focus on preparing students to be competent and confident entry-level professional truck drivers that they can be.

Is Becoming a Truck Driver Worth It?

Truck driving has many rewards besides financial benefits. Being a truck driver is a professional qualification that can take you anywhere in the United States. You can also have a sense of job security from knowing you are working a high-demand job. No two days are the same. You get to see America from the cab of your truck and will probably see sights you only ever dreamed of seeing.

What Is the Best CDL Training School?

When you start training for a career as a professional truck driver, you need to aim for the best. The best training schools have programs that support you to reach the required standards and obtain your CDL. The best schools also go the extra mile. They have support programs in place, so if you want to be a professional truck driver, you may be able to access financial aid if you qualify.

Training schools also have connections with commercial trucking companies that provide job placement assistance and tuition reimbursement while working for the trucking companies. These initiatives make it easier for people to access a training program.

How Do I Become a Truck Driver?

Becoming a truck driver may not be as hard as you think it will be. Your first step is to get a regular driver’s license. You need that to progress to commercial truck driving. You need to be at least 18 years old to drive intrastate and at least 21 years old to drive interstate. If the cost of training is a concern, keep in mind that you may get some money back—trucking carriers that recruit from Roadmaster offer up to 100% tuition reimbursement after graduation while working for the carrier.

You’ll need to pass tests and meet the required standards as a commercial truck driver, and they will expect you to know applicable rules and regulations. Truck driver schools offer job placement assistance to help get your career on the move and the practical training to help you progress in your job.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Truck Driver?

Training for your Class A CDL takes about four weeks, and then you need to pass the Class A CDL skills test. By enrolling with a training school like Roadmaster you can get support with training, get access to pre-employment job placement assistance, and achieve that all-important qualification. Roadmaster helps students get pre-qualified for available jobs before they graduate. With a truck driving school, you gain the support and training you need to prepare for your Class A CDL. By taking the steps to get licensed, you can be on the road faster than you think.

How Long Is Truck Driving School?

It is possible to complete training at a truck driving school in four weeks or so. You need a basic driver’s license to start. If you have that already and are 21 you can start your training. Some people attend the four-week training program and are ready to take the CDL exam, but others may require a bit longer to obtain the necessary skills.

Additionally, truck driving schools can help students get pre-qualified for jobs before they graduate from school. Roadmaster has relationships with several national trucking companies through its job placement assistance and many carriers also reimburse students for their training fees while working for them.

What Will Disqualify You from Getting a CDL?

Professional truck drivers are subject to employment, random, reasonable suspicion and post-accident drug tests by all carriers, so being a professional truck driver = no illegal drug or alcohol use. If you test positive, you will most likely lose your ability to drive commercially for a period of time. You also need to be in good health. If you don’t pass the mandatory USDOT physical exam, you cannot get your CDL license. Additionally, it is important to make sure you attend an approved training school, so your knowledge and training provide you with the skills needed to get started in trucking. Some companies will not hire someone who has not completed a training course even if they have a license. 

What Skills Do You Need to Be a Truck Driver?

Truck drivers need a wide range of skills with a focus on safety. Training with a truck driving school will give you the practical, entry-level training and support you need to drive commercial trucks and prepare for the Class A CDL exam. You’ll also learn about road safety, truck maintenance, and federal laws and regulations. Many drivers diversify by learning specialized skills so they can work on jobs that need specific types of qualifications and training, such as carrying wide loads.

How Much Do First-Year Truck Drivers Make?

The rate of pay for a truck driver is determined by mileage and other factors. On average, a truck driver in the United States earns $0.27-$0.40 per mile. When looking at it from an annual pay angle, first-year truck drivers can make around $50,000. That means you can expect to make up to $950 weekly, or $1,900 bi-weekly as a Class A CDL truck driver.

Additionally, there are lots of ways you can increase your pay. Show your new employer that you are reliable, professional, and have a positive attitude in the workplace. That will help you get jobs in more lucrative areas and assignments. You can also focus on an area where truck drivers are in short supply, so you attract more work.

How Do Truck Drivers Get Paid?

Truck driving is unlike most careers where there is a defined salary. When you work as a truck driver, you get paid based on mileage, but other factors do come into account. Experience and training can get you a higher rate of pay. There is a shortage of Class A licensed truck drivers right now, and some companies are willing to pay higher rates because they value the driver’s expertise. Once you have a Class A CDL (licensed truck driver qualification), you can start earning a living as an entry-level commercial driver. Although you may start on an entry-level pay range, it is easy to increase your earning potential as you gain knowledge and experience.

How Much Do Truck Drivers Make Per Week?

A weekly salary will depend on the distance traveled by the truck driver. Based on the average truck driver pay of $0.27 to $0.40 per mile and clocking between 2000-3000 miles a week, a Class A CDL licensed truck driver may earn up to $950 per week, on average. Getting the qualifications through a recognized training school for truck drivers is vital to earning higher rates of pay and getting more lucrative jobs.

Roadmaster Drivers School offers a hands-on truck driving program to prepare students to obtain the Class A CDL.

How Much Money Do Truck Drivers Make?

Truck Drivers are typically paid by the mile—not the number of working hours. On average, a truck driver gets paid $0.27 to $0.40 per mile, but you might find some companies that pay more for highly skilled drivers. Class A licensed truck drivers may command higher rates because of the current shortage of skilled Class A truck drivers. Each driver usually clocks between 2000-3000 miles a week, so the average annual pay is around $50,000 for the first year. It will be more for those drivers with additional qualifications and experience.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a CDL?

You can actually start your training to become a commercial truck driver with relatively little money out of your pocket upfront. Companies like Roadmaster offer in-house financial assistance to those who qualify to assist with the cost of tuition. Trucking carriers that recruit from Roadmaster offer up to 100% tuition reimbursement after graduation while working for the carrier. With this type of support in place, becoming an entry-level commercial truck driver can be easier than you imagine.

How Much Do Truck Drivers Make Per Mile?

Instead of making an hourly, weekly, or monthly wage, truck drivers are paid by the mile. While the average pay per mile is $0.27 to $0.40, other factors could influence the amount of payment. Once you consider experience, training, and other safety, fuel efficiency, and on-time delivery bonuses that may be available, that same mile could be worth a lot more than the basic rate. As a truck driver, your earning potential per mile may increase as you gain knowledge and experience. 

What Type of Truck Drivers Make the Most Money?

Truck drivers who make the most money are those that have a Class A CDL and have specialized skills. There are also higher rates of pay for those drivers working longer distances or who drive regular interstate routes. Drivers working directly for larger companies can get higher pay and attract other benefits such as retirement contributions. If you are a reliable and professional driver, companies may pay more to have you work for them. Drivers in areas where there are significant shortages can also get paid more.

How Often Are Truck Drivers Home?

It all depends on the job position you have and the company you work for. Truck drivers are typically home on a weekly basis instead of a daily basis. So not being at home every night is something to think about.