Truck drivers see the US and provide a needed service but there aren’t enough of them. As a result, if you are looking for a job, in a few short months, you can be a truck driver, have a meaningful job, and make a great living.
In fact, trucking companies need drivers so badly that they may even send you to truck driving school. Find out more about driving a big rig and join the knights of the road.
Types of Drivers
There are three classifications of truck drivers and each category is in short supply.
Heavy and Tractor Trailer Truck Drivers drive truck over 26,000 tons of gross vehicle weight (GVW). Most are long haul drivers, traveling interstate. You must have a CDL (commercial driver’s license) and high school diploma or equivalency degree. You will need to attend a professional truck driving school. The 2017 median wage is $42,480. Employment outlook is expected to be good and growing at 6% a year.
Delivery Truck Drivers drive trucks under 26,000 tons GVW. The median pay is $31,450. You must have a driver’s license and high school diploma or equivalency degree. Employment outlook is expected to be good and growing at 4% a year.
Construction Equipment Operators drive the heavy equipment used in mining and construction. The median pay is $46,080. You must have a driver’s license and high school diploma or equivalency degree. Most learn through vo-tech schools or on the job. Employment outlook is expected to be good and growing at 12% a year.
Earning a CDL
Since earning a CDL will open a lot of doors, we are going to focus on heavy truck drivers. The federal government sets the base standard for CDL and commercial learner’s permits (CPL) and each state may have additional requirements.
To apply for a CPL or CDL, you must:
- Have a regular driver’s license
- Be at least 18
- Be at least 21 to drive interstate or haul hazardous materials
- Have one to two years of driving experience
- Must be a citizen or lawful resident of the state you are applying in
- You must present a Social Security card, or proof of the number plus birth certificate or green card or similar documentation
- Pass background screens
- You must list all states where you have had a driver’s license in the last 10 years
- Have no active license suspensions or revocations
- Be able to speak and read English
- Have a Medical Examiner’s Certificate (DOT card)
You cannot have a driver’s license or CDL in more than one state. Once you receive your CDL, you will surrender your regular license.
Truck Driver School
Some trucking companies provide a truck driving school for qualified candidates, or an online search will uncover many in your area. When you are choosing a school, look for:
- A comprehensive training program – you need a combination of classroom, range and on-the-road training.
- A high job placement record
- Avoid “free training.” Good education cost money. If your school is offering free training, find out what you are agreeing to before signing up.
Your school should prepare you for the three parts of the CDL exam. These are the pre-trip inspection, basic vehicle control, and on-the-road skill demonstration.
If you have the military version of a CDL, you may be able to be fast-tracked into a civilian CDL.
Paying for Trucking School
Truck driving school costs between $3,000 and $7,000 and takes about 7 weeks. There are many ways to pay for trucking school including student loans, grants, and veteran’s education benefits. You may be able to use workforce assistance funds. Some schools allow an installment plan.
If you sign up with a trucking company before graduation, they may reimburse all or part of your training. For instance, Schneider Trucking offers a tuition reimbursement program up to $6,000.
If driving a heavy truck and making a very decent, sometimes 6-figure, salary plus benefits and perks sounds good to you, start a search today for a truck driving school near you. Talk to different trucking companies. And you can always find a trucker to two at a truck stop to talk to about the lifestyle and for hints about driving school.
Where will you be in seven weeks? Start an internet search for a truck driving school near you.