English English Italian Italian Korean Korean Spanish Spanish

How to Become a Truck Driver

Truck drivers play a very important role in the global supply chain and the job outlook continues to be bright. However, driving semi trucks might not be for everyone, especially because it often requires long shifts. In fact, 84% of truck drivers report working more than 40 hours per week. 

But if this has not deterred you and you are still interested in becoming a truck driver, keep reading!

You can start working as a truck driver at age 21 if you have a high school diploma or equivalent, a commercial driver’s license (CDL), and proper training. There are many different ways you can obtain this training, including programs at community colleges, private driving schools, and transportation companies. From start to finish, it can take a few weeks to a few months to become a truck driver. Your training will include more than the rules of the road. It will also include information about how to inspect the safety of your vehicle, how to plan and manage long routes, and how to properly secure freight.

short haul trucking

Truck Driver Job Description

Before we talk about how to become a truck driver, let’s go into more detail on what a truck driver does. Each specific truck driver job description will be different depending on the company and the specific job opening. However, there are some aspects you can expect to see in most truck driver job descriptions

Here is a sample job description you might see: 

A truck driver is responsible for the safe transportation of all different kinds of goods. 

Responsibilities include:

  • Transporting goods via truck to and from manufacturing plants or retail and distribution centers
  • Inspecting your truck for mechanical and safety issues and performing preventative maintenance if applicable
  • Planning driving routes and promptly meeting delivery schedules
  • Complying with truck driving rules and regulations as well as adhering to company policies and procedures
  • Maneuvering trucks into loading or unloading positions
  • Swiftly reporting defects, accidents, or violations

transportation rate

Steps to Become a Truck Driver

If the truck driver job description sounds appealing to you, then you’ll want to know how you can become a truck driver. As we stated earlier, it is important to note that there is an age requirement to become a truck driver. You must be at least 21 years old to legally operate commercial vehicles. If you meet that age requirement, then you can follow the next steps.

Pass Your Regular Driver’s License Exam

Before you can obtain a commercial drivers license, you need to have a regular driver’s license. In the US, driver’s license fees usually cost between $20 and $90.

Complete High School or GED

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, most employers of long-haul drivers expect their employees to have at least a high school diploma or GED. If you have not obtained this yet, you can usually earn your GED in about four months for $80 to $140.

Start Professional Training

Next, you’ll want to take part in a truck driver training program that will qualify you to take the CDL exam. You can look for programs from local community colleges, private truck driving schools, and even trucking companies. However, keep in mind that some states have their own way to audit and accredit these programs. Make sure you check your state’s BMV or DMV regulations before you enroll in a program. 

These programs can last up to one year and the cost can vary quite widely. For example, enrolling in a community college program can cost from around $1,000 to as much as $10,000. Still, you may be able to obtain financial aid if you enroll through community colleges. In addition, some of these institutions may offer a one-year degree in truck driving or commercial freight business. While this isn’t necessary to become a truck driver, it could be a great option if it is important to you to obtain a college degree.

A training program sponsored by a company will typically be much quicker than through a college or truck driving school. These programs usually last just four to six weeks, but they can cost you around $6,000. Again, many companies will offer discounts, financing options, and even full reimbursement if graduates stay with the company for a set amount of time after graduating. 

Earn Your CDL and Other Endorsements

You will of course need a CDL if you want to become a truck driver. Note that in most states, you will incur a fee for your CDL application, test, and license. There are three different classifications for CDLs – A, B, and C. It is up to you which classification you want to obtain. However, the CDL-A is the most versatile for drivers who will be transporting large freight.

You may also need an endorsement code on your license, which show that you can legally transport goods. They are also essential if you want to drive specialty vehicles like school buses or tankers. Before obtaining any endorsement code, it is recommended that you consult with your state’s BMV or DMV. 

Find Job Placement Assistance

Some of the schools you can obtain truck driving training from will also offer job boards and career counseling to help you find a job after you get your CDL. There are also some truck-driving associations that can help its members connect with potential employers as well as mentors. Some examples of these associations include the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and Women in Trucking.

Complete Your Employer’s Program

Once you have gotten a job, there may be one more step required before you can drive semi trucks for them. Many companies require employees who recently obtained their CDL to complete an in-house training program. These are often called driver finishing programs and are important because they introduce you to the processes of that specific company. For example, you’ll learn about the vehicles, materials, and equipment that the company uses in particular. This training often lasts between three to four weeks and also includes a certain period of supervised driving. 

Intermodal drayage

What Background Do I Need to Become a Trucker?

Truckers come from all different backgrounds. They may be older adults looking for a career change or young adults looking for a stable and rewarding career. The good news is that you will never be without work in this career path. You also have different options for how you want to work. You could be an independent contractor or find a company for full-time employment.

If driving semi trucks sounds appealing to you, you can take the steps above to get started. Once you’ve obtained your CDL and completed your training, you might even want to consider driving for Heavy Weight Transport. We’d love to speak with you about the opportunities available at our company!