How to Become a Truck Driver

A truck driver is responsible for the transport of goods from one location to another. He oftentimes navigates through different cities, even through different states. Interested in pursuing this challenging career? Then read on to learn more about how to become a truck driver.

Job Description

As it has been established, a truck driver is in charge of delivering freight from one area to another. At times, he has to pick up the goods as well. Depending on his job description, a truck driver might be tasked to load the truck he operates.

In most cases, it is the driver’s responsibility to plan the route he has to take. While spanning long distances, a truck driver is expected to adhere to all traffic laws.

Some truck drivers have to transport chemicals and hazardous materials, so they are expected to take special precautions when hauling their freights.

To ensure the smooth flow of the delivery process, a truck driver is expected to maintain the records of their driving times. He also needs to inspect his truck before and after a trip, apart from maintaining its cleanliness and orderliness. In case he finds any problems, he has to report it to concerned personnel.

Background

As of 2012, the employment rate of truck drivers is at 1.7 million. 34% of the population is employed in generalized freight trucking services, while 13% work for specialized freight trucking industries. An estimated 8% of drivers work for merchant wholesalers.

What it Takes to Become a Truck Driver

Truck driving requires more than just schooling and certification. In order to become a successful truck driver, you need to possess the following skills:

  • Hand and Eye Coordination. Aspiring truck drivers must be able to coordinate their eyes, hands and legs simultaneously. This will give them a faster reaction time while driving.
  • Stellar Physical Health. Federal regulations bar individuals who have medical disorders that might get in the way of driving. Such conditions include hypertension and epilepsy, among many others.
  • Good Eyesight. Truck drivers are required to have good eyesight. As per national regulations, the driver should have 20/40 vision within a 70-degree field, per eye. He should also be able to appropriately tell all the colors of the traffic light.
  • Good Hearing. A truck driver must have good hearing. He should be able to hear a forced whisper in one ear, at a minimum distance of five feet.

How to Become a Truck Driver

Requirements are not too stringent for truck driver hopefuls, but applicants are expected to have a High School Diploma or equivalent.

Apart from this minimal educational requirement, the U.S. Department of Transportation usually requires candidates to attend truck driving schools. Applicants can enroll in community colleges or private truck driving schools.

In such institutions, students are taught on how to drive through freeways and crowded thoroughfares. They are briefed on the laws and statutes concerning truck driving as well.

The course can last from 3 to 6 months. At the end of schooling, the student will be awarded a certificate of completion.

Commercial Driver’s License

Apart from a high school diploma and driving school certification, an applicant is also required to own a commercial driver’s license or CDL. Requirements vary per state, although most involve a written exam and a driving test.

Drivers transporting hazardous materials, on the other hand, are required to have a hazardous materials endorsement.

Training

Once hired, a new truck driver will usually undergo on-the-job training for 1 to 3 months. This will cover the nature of the truck, as well as the materials that need to be transported. The training period also involves trucking with an experienced driver, with the newly-hired employee at the passenger seat.

Work Schedule

Long-haul driving can be physically taxing. In order to prevent accidents and injuries that might stem from these, truck drivers are limited to working for 14 straight hours or 60 hours in a week.

Driving should comprise 11 hours of the workday, with the 3 remaining hours for other activities such as cargo loading/unloading. Between work schedules, the driver should enjoy a good 10 hours off.

Job Outlook

Like most jobs, the truck driving industry is expected to rise at 11% from 2012 to 2022. The high demand is associated with the growth of the economy and the increased need for goods. With the current trends, more and more truck drivers will be needed in the oil and gas industries.