If you are thinking about becoming a professional OTR or CDL truck driver, you should probably make an informed decision before simply leaving your career behind and getting started. Knowing what you let yourself in for is one of many steps before you can join the rest of the road heroes and start enjoying your new career as a professional truck driver. There are a lot of steps involved before you can start earning money, so make sure you have enough saved up to survive while you are qualifying.
In this article, we will guide you through the whole process, from start to finish. So, for those of you who want to become truck drivers, but not sure where to start or what to expect, this one is for you.
Do some research
Before you want to quit your job, you need to ascertain whether changing career paths is actually what you want to do. Find out as much as you possibly can from whatever reliable source you can find – whether it is a truck driver friend or sources on the internet, try to find out what the hard facts of the matter are. Things to pay attention to is what is expected from truck drivers, what the salary would look like when you start out, and of course how to get qualified. On average, a professional and experienced truck driver makes about $50,000 per annum. Knowing all the facts will allow you to weigh up the pros and cons and getting to an answer on whether this would be a good career choice for you.
Specific things to take into consideration are:
Depending on the type of truck and cargo you drive, you will earn anything starting at $25,000 per annum as an inexperienced truck driver. If you have more experience, you could earn some more.
Some freight transportation companies offer handsome employee benefits such as dental and health insurance or even life insurance. Shop around and make sure you choose a package that suits you and your family’s needs.
Truck drivers drive approximately 500 miles per day, which means you might end up behind the wheel of a big rig for anything up to 12 hours. You will also have very little time to spend at home with your family, depending on whether you have a regional or local job.
One of the pros of becoming a CDL truck driver is the fact that it doesn’t take too long to complete training and receive your license, and a lot of freight transportation companies also offer in-house training to help you on your way.
Once you have made your decision to become a professional truck driver, you should start working on getting your qualification and papers in order.
Get a CDL Manual and Study
Before getting your license, you will be required to write a general learner’s test. In order for you to be able to pass this test, you need to study up a bit on general rules and need-to-know facts on driving big rigs. In the CDL manual, you will learn everything about getting your CDL license, what it would cost, and where you can go for training. Remember, every state has its own rules with regards to CDL licensing, even though they do correlate, there are minor differences.
Getting your Qualification
Firstly, after you have studied the CDL manual, you will have to ensure that you meet the minimum requirements. As mentioned earlier, this can differ from one state to the next, but a general guideline is:
- You have to be 21 or older
- You need to pass a drug screening test
- You must have a clean driving record (that means no speeding fines or prior accidents)
Once you have ticked off all these boxes, you need to get qualified, certified, and licensed in order for you to drive a big rig legally.
As far as truck driving training schools go, there are more than enough to choose from. Keep in mind that this will cost a bit of money, but totally worth it at the end. If you find a freight transportation company that has bursaries,however, you are able to do your training through them and be employed right after you are qualified.
Some truck driving schools offer an added service of job placement, which is a plus. Make sure to shop around to find the best option for you before enrolling only to find out there were much better options elsewhere. While training you will be taught theory as well as engage in practical lessons where you will be required to start driving a big rig. All with the assistance of your trainer, of course.
Once you have completed the training, you are required to complete three tests, a written exam, a practical exam out on the road, as well as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation exam. Once you have passed these, you are ready to apply for a job. If you fail, you are able to re-write after a while, at an extra cost to you, of course.
Joining a Freight Transportation Company
Now that you are qualified, you are ready to start. If you completed training at a company, you should not have a problem but those who have to start job hunting don’t have to worry either. As there is a very high demand for truck drivers, there are loads of positions posted and advertised frequently. Be sure to sign up fora lot of truck driving forums or job listing sites like this one to be notified of new job openings.
In a nutshell, it takes little effort to get started, the hard work begins when you start driving OTR or CDL trucks. We wish you all the best in your new career as a professional truck driver.