How Long Does It Take to Become a Truck Driver? What Are the Requirements?

Over 3 million Americans are truck drivers and it’s no surprise.

Commercial truck driving is a rewarding career especially if you love spending time on the road. There’s great job security, a steady paycheck, and a flexible schedule

If you’re interested but wondering “how long does it take to become a truck driver?”, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s everything you need to know.

What Is a Truck Driver’s Role?

Before discussing how to become a truck driver, it’s important to understand what the job entails.

Truck drivers transport goods in a large truck. It’s a trucker’s responsibility to guarantee safe delivery within schedule and without any problems.

How to Become a Truck Driver

“Should I become a truck driver?” You ask. If you’re on the fence, here are the necessary steps to make trucking your career. 

Do Your Research

If you want to become a truck driver, research the average salary and qualifications necessary. Create a “pros and cons” list so it’s easier to arrive at a firm answer.

Talk to different truck drivers who have plenty of experience so they can give you an honest opinion. Discuss the job, their daily routine, what they like about the role, and what they don’t

You may also wonder how much money a trucker makes. A truck driver’s salary depends on the state, jurisdiction, establishment, and employment requirements but the median is between $40,000 to $60,000 a year.

A trucker’s salary also depends on how much they’re compensated for work. For instance, some trucking companies pay truckers for every hour worked, others pay per mile.

You must also consider what the job outlook is for truck drivers. The industry is expected to grow around 6% by 2026, which is as fast as other occupations in the U.S. 

Because households and businesses are consuming more, there will be a higher demand for truck drivers. Once you’re 100% certain you want to learn to drive a truck, it’s time to get the qualifications.

Qualify For the Job

The requirements to become a truck driver vary from state to state, but there are basic ones you must have. For instance:

  • You must be at least 21 years old to cross state lines
  • You will have to pass a drug and alcohol test
  • You must pass a physical exam
  • Clean driving record

Many truck driving schools will want you to have a high school diploma or GED and some truck driving companies won’t hire you without one. 

Plus, if you don’t have a driving license, you must get a regular one first before earning a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

You must pass your CDL exam and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation exam which tests your sight, hearing, federal traffic laws, and other driving knowledge.

Attend Truck Driving School

You must sign up for a truck driving school and take an appropriate program. Each course has its own tuition and fees and the timeline varies.

If you’re wondering “how long is truck driving school?”, know programs may finish between 30 days to 10 weeks depending on the intensity of the course. In-depth courses, for example, can last up to a year.

In the classroom, you’ll learn about laws and regulations relating to truck driving whereas practical lessons will give you guided practice to handling commercial vehicles.

Once you pass both of the licensing exams, you must take the state CDL exam. This varies between states but you will need to pass a written and a road skills test.

The written exam determines your knowledge of the different laws and safety regulations concerning truck driving. On the other hand, a road skills test requires you to drive a commercial vehicle under the supervision of a state-licensed examiner. 

You can also take an exam on more than one type of commercial vehicle endorsement. For instance, a “combination vehicle” endorsement lets you drive a semi-truck.

Once you pass these, you can start your first trucking job within 30 to 60 days.

Get Hired

Many truck driving schools have close connections to local, national, and regional companies, so ask around. 

You can also contact trucking companies directly and ask about potential openings. Apply for entry-level positions that match your qualifications and career goals.

Once you’ve landed your first job, you must attend a three to five-day orientation. Here, you’ll fill out paperwork, pass a drug test, and a basic physical exam.

You’ll then have a training period for several weeks where a mentor will teach you about company routes, paperwork procedures, and insurance for truckers.

Once you’ve had a year of trucking experience, you can apply for other truck driving jobs across the country.

Advance Your Career

Most truck drivers start with long-haul trucking but after several years of experience, you can advance to other positions. For instance, you can eventually qualify as a driver trainer and receive a better salary.

Or you may start your own truck driving business.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Truck Driver? Now You Know

Now you know the answer to “how long does it take to become a truck driver?”

You must have a clean driving license, be over 21 years old, and pass a drug/alcohol test. Budding truck drivers must pass a CDL exam before getting hired by their first company.

After a year of trucking, you can move to another trucking firm and advance your career. Good luck!

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