How To Become A Truck Driver In 2023
The transportation sector in the US presents you with some of the most lucrative career opportunities of a lifetime. Becoming a truck driver is one of them. You don’t just have the peace of mind that comes with the safety protocols of the US department of transportation but also the several strict guidelines, rules, and regulations that the FMCSA works day and night to uphold. It is not only rewarding but highly satisfying as well. If you are thinking about becoming a part of the transport and logistics sector of the country, becoming a truck driver could be the best option. Let’s have a look at how you can make a career and an adventurous living out of it, step by step:
1. Understand The Requirements To Become A Truck Driver
- You must be above the age of 18 years if you want to choose this as a career
- According to the Bureau Of Labor Statistics, some states might keep this age at 21 years
- You should also have at least a high school diploma or an equivalent of the same
- There are some physical requirements as well that will be specific to the state and also the organization that you want to work for
- The federal motor carrier safety administration is going to hold a physical examination for you before you receive your commercial driving license
- You must appear for a vision and hearing test and also certain other evaluations that are necessary for the job as a potential truck driver
- You must comply with certain licensing and insurance requirements as well (these are going to be different depending upon which state you belong to)
- There are specific laws and regulations as well in each geographical area across the country that you will have to research
2. Obtaining Your Commercial Driver’s License
After understanding these requirements, the next step for you will be to obtain your commercial driver’s license:
- You will have to enroll/sign up for a CDL course
- You will be able to gain valuable insights into the rules and regulations of truck driving that are prevalent these days
- You will also imbibe hands-on experience behind the wheel
- The American Trucking Association is very particular about the classroom instructions that are given in these courses
- You will have to cover several topics such as safety, hazardous material handling, map reading, trip planning, hours of service, and many other related areas
- Also, make sure that the CDL course you choose is accredited and approved by the federal motor carrier safety administration
- There are several other programs out there as well that offer additional courses and certifications such as trailer endorsements, tanker endorsements, and many more.
3. Testing For Your CDL
How can you obtain your commercial driver’s license without having to appear for the necessary test? The federal motor carrier safety administration would require you to take these two important tests.
- The Knowledge Test
This assessment is going to evaluate you on your understanding of road signs, safety practices, driving practices, traffic laws, and your ability to operate a commercial vehicle without putting anyone at risk. These tests require an extensive preparation period.
- The Skills Test
The skills test is designed to understand just how clever you are with the maneuvering of the vehicle. It also evaluates your ability to drive under stress and extreme weather conditions among many other things.
4. On-The-Road Experience With Professional Truck Drivers
If you want to become an expert truck driver, you will have to work as a trainee under a seasoned professional in the industry. This mentorship program is going to give you invaluable experience and information that can be only derived from the actual handling of a commercial motor vehicle. As a student or trainee, you will be able to understand the micro nuances of the job. Being able to observe how a professional driver drives a vehicle, meandering his way through the chaotic traffic is what gives you the inspiration and motivation to emulate what you see in front of you. The key here is to find someone who has been in the business for at least 5 years. This is recommended by the American Trucking Association as well. It also gives you opportunities to ask the most pertinent questions. You can also gain a lot of knowledge and information about the trucking and logistics industry as a whole.
5. Wrap Your Head Around Trucking Laws And Regulations
Remember, the rules, laws, and regulations related to the trucking industry are always going to be dynamic. They will change probably every year or maybe a little more frequently than that. The federal motor carrier safety administration is going to keep on changing certain limits, requirements, and other rules as per the need of the hour. In addition to this, every state is going to have a few minor details to these laws highly specific to their geographical location and socio-economic composition. You will have to remain updated on all these rules and regulations. It is important to visit the FMCSA website for the latest information on trucking rules and regulations that keep on evolving every year.
6. Invest In Driving Skills And Critical Techniques
When you have obtained your commercial driver’s license and imbibed all the driving skills, it is time to put them to test. This is how you will develop very specific driving skills and techniques. You will learn how to maneuver large trucks and other commercial vehicles. The American Trucking Association always encourages new drivers to practice in empty parking lots and other deserted roads to sharpen their driving skills.
7. Keep Yourself Aware Of Industry Changes
Just like any other industry in the US and the world over, the transport and logistics industry is also going to change and evolve. For example, The National Association of Small Trucking Companies can help you survive the increasing competition. The ATA suggests that you use every resource available at your disposal to make your company profitable and keep yourself aware of the market trends that impact your business and profession directly and indirectly. Go through useful publications both online and offline. Associate with professional organizations and participate in industry events.
Once you become a truck driver, you will realize that it is not only adventurous but a highly responsible job as well. The entire structure of the economy is dependent on these professionals. It is a great opportunity for you to do something for your society, community, and country.