How to Become A Truck Driver
Looking for the freedom to set your own schedule and the thrill of unknown roads—all in a day’s work? The team at International Used Truck Center is here to help you become a professional truck driver! Read on for an overview of Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) training options, and how to become a semi truck driver for a professional company. Feel free to follow up with us if there’s anything else you want to know about starting your career!
BECOMING A TRUCK DRIVER: BASIC REQUIREMENTS
Becoming a truck driver begins with getting your professional truck driving certification, but before you can do that, you need to meet be sure that you meet certain requirements. To operate a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) for a professional company, you must meet these basic requirements:
- Be at least 21 years old to drive across state lines, or at least 18 years old for interstate-only driving. Although you can obtain a CDL at age 18, keep in mind that your employment options may be more limited.
- Have a consistent work history and a clean driving record. In addition, many employers will expect you to pass a background check.
- Commercial driving rules and regulations vary by state, so refer to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website for details.
BECOMING A TRUCK DRIVER: COMMERCIAL DRIVER’S LICENSE (CDL) TRAINING
Next, obtain your commercial driver’s license at a truck driving school in your area. After completing your training, you will have the skills and knowledge that employers look for—and you can start applying for jobs!
First, however, take some time to decide what type of truck you’d like to drive and what kind of distance you’d like to cover on the job. This will determine which certification you’ll then pursue; for instance, the process for how to become a semi truck driver will differ from how to get certified to operate a triple trailer or a tank truck.
- Class A CDL – Required to operate vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, with a towed vehicle weighing more than 10,000 pounds. Examples include tractor-trailers, truck and trailer combinations, tanker vehicles, livestock carriers, and flatbeds.
- Class B CDL – Required to operate commercial trucks with an attached cab and cargo area and a combined weight of over 26,000 pounds. A Class B CDL is also required to drive trucks with a detached towed cargo vehicle weighing less than 10,000 pounds. Examples include straight trucks, large buses, segmented buses, box trucks, and dump trucks with small trailers.
- Class C CDL – Required to operate single vehicles with a GVWR of less than 26,001 pounds, a vehicle towing another vehicle weighing less than 10,000 pounds, and transports of 16 or more passengers, driver included. Examples include double/triple trailers, buses, tank trucks, and Hazmat vehicles.
BECOMING A TRUCK DRIVER: HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
The time it takes to become a truck driver can be as little as three weeks and as much as six months or more, depending on where you get your training and how many hours you are able to dedicate. Here’s what to keep in mind about the timeframe for becoming a truck driver:
- CDL skills testing may be provided by your state, government institutions, private training facilities, employers, or other private institutions—and each may offer a different schedule for classroom time and driving time.
- CDL training programs are available on a full-time or a part-time basis.
- If you are able to attend classes five days a week, you may be able to complete your CDL training in as little as three weeks.
- Some programs offer classes on Saturday and Sunday, allowing you to complete training in as little as five weeks.
- After completing your training, you will need to pass a drug and alcohol screening, pass a background check, and complete the proper paperwork before you can move forward as a professional driver.
- Adding an endorsement to your CDL may also increase the time it takes to complete your training and become a truck driver.