If you like road trips and you get excited by the idea of earning money while living ‘life on the road’ then trucking is for you. Trucking is one of the biggest industries in the world and extremely important for the survival and efficient function of an economy. As such, trucking not only helps support the economy, but also helps build it. At the moment around 6% of all the jobs available in the U.S are in the trucking industry with more than 7 million people working in the industry right now. The number is growing each year as dependency on trucking increases.
That sounds like an industry where the future is secure and employment guaranteed if you are good at the job. Sounds good right? It sure does but before you can get anywhere near a truck you need to fulfill some obligations like getting a license, choosing a trucking company, and more. Follow the steps below to get started with your stint as a truck driver.
Make Up Your Mind
It is extremely important to get yourself mentally ready before even thinking about getting a license. Trucking sounds exciting but the job is mentally and physically taxing. At times you are required to sleep at truck stops, in cheap motels, or inside your truck’s cabin. There aren’t many decent places to take a shower and you will eventually run into some dirty truck stops. You may also meet some rude people which will definitely test your patience. Most importantly, you are away from your family for lengthy periods. Therefore, never decide in haste. Sit down and think about it but once you make up your mind do not look back as only excitement and adventure come ahead.
Apply for a CDL
The first step on the road to becoming a truck driver is to get a commercial driving license (CDL). The CDL is divided into three main categories in North America:
If your goal is to become a big-rig driver then you need a Class A license. To get that you need to enter into a trucking school. This institute is much like a driving school except in a trucking school you are taught advanced methods of driving a large vehicle. There you will be required to practice and hone your skills both in the classroom and on the field. Generally, trucking school starts at $3,000 for a beginner program. You may avoid paying the whole cost of the trucking school by availing of some financial aid options. If you sign with a carrier before graduation, they may cover some of your educational expenses. Some schools in areas with trucker shortages may also offer scholarships to its students. You are eligible to apply for a Class A license once you have completed at least 160 hours or roughly 10 weeks of training.
Once you have that many hours under your belt simply go to a state-mandated testing facility, pass your test with flying colors and you are good to go. Afterward, you need to go to the licensing authority in your state where you will be required to show your identification, proof of state residency, your Social Security Number (SSN),and proof of passing the CDL exam. The training program for a CDL can last for 3 to 4 weeks so if you are motivated you can get started with your trucking career within a matter of months.
Pick A Trucking Company
The next step in your road to becoming a truck driver is choosing a good trucking company. There are many good local and national companies across America. That is a good thing because you have the power to choose and differentiate between various trucking companies. As such you should always look for renowned companies that have a good name in the industry. The last thing you want is to end up in a trucking company that is not financially stable and that doesn’t provide you with job perks.
A good company may provide you with health insurance, life insurance, paid vacation, sick leave pay, and more. So choose wisely but don’t waste too much time stalling!
Accept the First Good Job
Most newcomers in the trucking industry waste time by waiting for the right opportunity, the “perfect route”. But that is not advisable. You are a fresh trucker who has just gotten his/her license. It is better to get some and any experience under your belt as soon as possible. Ultimately, the number of hours you spend driving will help you in the future to move up the ladder to better trucking companies. That can also lead to better job perks, better opportunities as a trucker, and a handsome salary. If you wait, a very good trucking contract may come your way but that is a rare possibility. By then, your peers would have moved further up the ladder on to greener pastures while you start late and experience the grit of a newcomer in a tough industry.
It is not very hard to get into the trucking business if you have the right mindset and you are motivated. Yes, you may face financial burdens in the beginning but seeing that the average trucker makes $50,000 – $60,000 per year the initial burden might not feel a lot to bear. However, you would have to spend time away from family but in the end, all of this is worth the effort. The trucking industry is here to stay and you can make the most of it while having a grand adventure and enjoying the magnificent views in your big rig!
By Aldous Aldwin