How to Become a Truck Driver

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The primary job of truck drivers who drive heavy trucks or tractor trailer trucks is to transport goods. This often takes place across state lines, a job referred to as long haul trucking. These types of truck drivers are required to have a Commercial Driver License (CDL). Employment as a truck driver is on the rise, with the Bureau of Labor predicting a 21 percent increase in jobs by the year 2020. This means more than 330,000 new jobs are expected to be added.[1]


Flickr: marksontok
Education High school diploma[2]
Starting pay $24,730[3]
Median pay $37,770[2]
10 yr growth Faster than average[2]
Related professions Delivery truck driver, bus driver, subway and streetcar operator[4]
Author Allison Hughes

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Truck Driver Job Overview

Truck drivers spend a significant amount of time alone on the road.[5] Some of their duties include:[1]

  • Transporting cargo over long distance
  • Loading and unloading the cargo
  • Communicating to dispatchers about any road related problems
  • Logging activities
  • Reporting mechanical issues
  • Making sure the truck is in good condition

Truck Driver Education

Truck drivers don't typically need educational experience to get hired, although some companies may want their drivers to at least have a high school diploma. Companies that hire truck drivers usually want applicants to have two years of prior experience, driving a delivery truck, bus, or a motor coach.[6]

Truck Driver Training

There are two main types of training for truck drivers. The first one involves going to a truck driving school. Here, aspiring truckers learn how to handle trucks and back trucks up in congested situations. They also learn about rules and regulations for interstate truck driving. The Professional Truck Driver Institute, or PTDI, certifies some training programs. The institute is the first non-profit organization to set standards for the industry, encouraging focus on training, professionalism, and proficiency.[7] PTDI certifies 58 schools located in 20 U.S. states and one Canadian province.[8]

The second method of training involves company training. Once a truck driver is hired, they are usually expected to partner up with a seasoned driver for training. Depending on the company, this can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.[9]

Truck Driver License

All truck drivers must have a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) in order to operate a long-haul truck. States may differ slightly in their requirements, but most individuals have to take both a driving test and a knowledge-based test. Depending on what a truck driver is transporting, he or she may need an endorsement on the CDL. For example, drivers carrying hazardous materials, which are referred to as HAZMAT, must receive a hazardous materials endorsement, which is listed as a H on the CDL.[6]

In order to remain a licensed commercial driver, individuals must meet certain standards. This means they cannot receive a felony violation with a vehicle or be cited for driving with drugs or alcohol in their system. In addition, while on the job, truck drivers are required to submit to random drug and alcohol tests. If any of these are violated, a driver's CDL will be revoked. Additionally, if a driver receives a suspended CDL in one state, another state may refuse to issue him or her a CDL.[6]

Becoming a Truck Driver

Highlights of a truck driver's job

Also See: How to Become a Bus Driver, How to Become a Chauffeur, How to Become an EMT, How to Become an Auto Mechanic, How to Become a Police Dispatcher


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