When the economy took a downward spiral the america trucking industry seemed to be stable and people looked into becoming a truck driver. So many who lost their jobs turned to commercial truck driving, including my husband. He was a CST IV Surveyor and had worked in the same civil engineering field for over 20 years. He was the main bread winner of the family and our family had to do a little adjusting. We were thankful when we found out the trucking industry was hiring.
So, are you sure you are interested in becoming a truck driver?
Are you sure you are interested in becoming a truck driver? In our situation, it was not ideal. We have a family with two toddler boys. This is what being an over the road trucker means:
- Becoming a truck driver means long stints away from your family. They tell you 3 weeks at a time. For us, it has been more like 5 to 6 weeks at a time. Something always happens; the truck breaks down, you don’t get a load, the load is to far, your hours are almost up, and on and on and on.
- Becoming a truck driver means varying pay. They tell you that you get a certain cents per mile; but what they don’t tell you is that they always don’t have the miles to give you or they route you wrong. For example, if they send you on a 200 mile trip and once you get there, they don’t have another load until 2 more hours. Then you get to go a few miles, then stop, so you do not go over your allotted hours.
- Becoming a truck driver means you are confined to small spaces. Even with the largest trucking company, trucking is not a luxury job. It is hard long hours in a small space. You can touch the ceiling and all four walls of your new home while standing still. Your bed is a cot-type in size and mattress. If you are on a team or a trainer, you get to split that space in half.
- Becoming a truck driver means you get lack of sleep. You move when they call you. That means if there is a load that needs to be delivered and you are sleeping, you wake up even at 3 a.m. My husband has not had a good night sleep since he left. Then when he comes home, he is tired and sleeps.
- Becoming a truck driver means you eat truck stop food=weight gain. Think about it. No longer do you get to eat what you want, where you want, when you want it. You eat what is around, or what you can fit into a cooler. You do not stop at stores and go grocery shopping. That would be wasting drive time. Truck stops have, well truck stop food. While some of the diners are delicious and well-known, the majority are not.
How to become a truck driver:
This is what my husband did. He searched for the trucking company schools in our area, before becoming a truck driver, that had trucking cdl training and applied. We live in South Florida, so Jacksonville and Miami both had good options. We went with Jacksonville for the payment plan. You can also find free truck driving schools.
Requirements to be a truck driver – Are you qualified?
- All drivers must comply with Federal and State regulations before becoming a truck driver. Most State regulations have more stringent requirements.
- A truck driver must have a driver’s license issued by the State in which you reside.
- A clean driving record is a plus, but not always a deal breaker. It will be hard to find trucking companies that will work with you however.
- A CDL (Commercial Drivers License) must be obtained from the state in which you reside to operate trucks that have loads of 26,000 pounds which includes most straight trucks and tractor trailers.
- If you wish to operate trucks transporting hazardous materials, a CDL with a hazardous material endorsement must be obtained, regardless of truck size.
- For everyday trucks, light moving trucks and vans, a regular driver’s license is sufficient.
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require drivers to be at least 21 years old and to pass a physical examination once every 2 years.
- A physical examination must be passed which includes blood workup, hearing test, drug test, 20/40 vision with glasses or corrective lenses with a 70-degree field of vision in each eye. Drivers can not be colorblind.
- A felony conviction involving the use of a motor vehicle; a crime using drugs; driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol; or hit-and-run driving that resulted in injury or death is immediate disqualification.
- Drivers must be able to read and write English to read road signs, prepare reports, and communicate with law enforcement officers and the general public.
- Drivers must take a written examination on the Motor Carrier Safety Regulations of the U.S. Department of Transportation before becoming a truck driver.
- A written test on the rules, regulations, and commercial truck safety must be passed to qualify for a commercial learner’s permit.
- A national databank, Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) permanently records all driving violations incurred by persons who hold commercial licenses. A State will check these records and deny a commercial driver’s license to a driver who already has a license suspended or revoked in another State.
- Information on how to apply for a commercial driver’s license may be obtained from the US Department of Transportation.
Many trucking operations have higher standards than those described. Many firms require that drivers be at least 22 years old, be able to lift heavy objects, and have driven trucks for 3 to 5 years. Many prefer to hire high school graduates and require annual physical examinations. Companies have an economic incentive to hire less-risky drivers because good drivers can increase fuel economy with their driving skills and decrease liability costs for the company.