There are many career opportunities in the trucking industry. If you’re looking for a challenging and rewarding job, becoming a trucker may be the perfect choice for you. This guide provides simple instructions on how to get started in the trucking business. So, if you’re ready to hit the open road, keep reading.
Trucking is a great industry to get into for many reasons. Here are some of the biggest advantages:
- Flexible schedule – there’s no set work schedule. Truck drivers can choose when they want to work and how often. You have complete control over which jobs you accept or decline.
- Freedom – being on the road gives you the freedom to travel all across the country. During your free time, you’re not tied down to one place. Instead of visiting new cities and experiencing different cultures, you get to see it all first-hand from the comfort of your truck cab.
- Good pay – it’s one of the highest-paying jobs you can get without a college degree. You can earn up to $62,000 or more per year. Many trucking companies even offer bonuses and benefits like paid time off, tuition reimbursement programs, health care plans, uniforms, and much more.
- Work-life balance – truck drivers usually work 10 to 14 hours per day during weekdays. On weekends, you can enjoy some free time by taking short breaks or heading back home. This gives you plenty of time for rest and relaxation each week.
If this sounds like an exciting opportunity for you, here are some simple steps on how to become a trucker.
How much money can I make?
As a truck driver, you will have the opportunity to choose how much work you want to take on. Trucking companies are always in need of drivers, so they will be willing to offer attractive pay packages that include benefits and bonuses. On average, new truckers with little experience start off making about $35,000 annually, while experienced professionals can earn up to $62,000 per year or more.
The amount you will get paid depends on several factors such as your experience level, routes taken and types of deliveries completed.
What skills do I need?
Before you can even apply to become a truck driver, there are some basic skills you will need to get the job. You will need excellent driving skills since truck driving is a lot different than driving a car. Many companies will require you to take and pass a training course, which covers everything you need to know about driving an 18-wheeler.
You will also need good customer service skills as well as good organizational skills. Being able to properly plan out your deliveries and obligations is very important in succeeding as a trucker.
Get the right training
In order to get a commercial driver’s license (CDL), you have to pass a written knowledge test and a skills test. The written test includes questions on road rules, basic control, and operating a commercial vehicle. The skills test requires you to perform the basic operations of the truck like backing up in a straight line, making three-point turns, proper stopping distance behind other vehicles, and parallel parking.
Passing both tests will earn you your CDL which is required for any person intending to drive commercially, either in interstate commerce or intrastate commerce.
The training courses offered by most truck driving schools are approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT), so you can be certain that they prepare you for passing all tests needed to get your CDL. These courses typically take 10 days but some last longer than others depending on how much time you need to learn.
If you want to go the extra mile and show potential employers that you’re serious about becoming a trucker, enroll in a state-approved commercial driving school where they will train and prepare you for the above tests. Most of these courses last around two to four weeks and will teach you all the skills and knowledge you need in order to pass your exams. After that, you’ll be ready to apply for jobs and earn your commercial driver’s license.
Get some experience
It’s always a good idea to get some experience in the trucking industry before applying for jobs. You can start by taking on driving gigs with family or friends to gain hands-on experience and familiarize yourself with the road. Many companies like Schneider National, JB Hunt, Werner Enterprises, and Roehl Transport offer new driver programs that allow you to train and work as a team with an experienced driver until you’ve built up enough hours and skills to be able to go out on your own.
Once they’re qualified, truckers use load boards as an online marketplace to connect shippers and freight brokers with potential carriers for their loads. This benefits both sides as carriers can keep their trucks full while shippers are able to shop around for good deals on haulage. As a trucker, functionality is the name of the game when it comes to load boards. To get the right experience, you need to first understand how to use these online systems.
Learn about the equipment
To become a trucker, you will need to understand the different types of trucks and equipment that are used.
You’ve most likely heard about big rigs before but may not know what they entail or how they work. These 18-wheelers are very common on the road and usually have two trailers attached for carrying cargo. The cab is typically located at the front right side of the trailer with an extended sleeper behind it so the driver can rest while still staying connected to his truck. Due to their large size, tractor-trailers require a lot of power to accelerate and maintain speed which is why diesel engines are usually used.
If you feel like becoming a trucker is the right career choice for you, enroll in a driving school and get your commercial driver’s license as soon as possible. Then, start looking for work online by using load boards to match yourself with jobs that fit your schedule and help secure your future as an employed trucker.