To Become a truck driver in the USA is a very difficult job, we are listing the various technical/physical/age/education requirments for being a owner operator or truck driver.
Truck driving is one of the largest professions in the US, you might be thinking about how many truck drivers there are in the US.
The recent US Census found out that approximately there are 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S.
There is a huge demand for truck driver jobs in the US. In 2019 the industry had a shortage of 61,000 drivers. According to American Trucking, Association estimates a grave shortage of 160,000 drivers by 2028.
Driving a truck is a very good and high-paying job. The average trucker pay in the USA is $68,984 per year or $35.38 per hour. Beginners can get positions that start at $52,000 per year while most veterans make up to $97,500 per year.
You might be thinking how many hours do I need to work to get high take-home salaries in the trucking industry.
There are various mandates that restrict the duty timings of truck drivers. Truckers must be off duty for 10 consecutive hours before joining for duty. Drivers may not drive for all their 11 hours of duty consecutively. Now from 31-Mar-2021, the mandate is that drivers can only drive for 8hours consecutively.
Being a trucker/driver is a great adventure, but you need to know the in and outs of the industry before you dive in and take the wheel of a truck.
- Is truck driving a right fit for you?
- Research & Review Requirements of Truck Driving in the US
- Finding A Good Driving school For Training:
Is truck driving a right fit for you?
Are you pondering over this question, Is trucking the right career for you? You need to research and see the in and outs of the industry. Better find out early that the industry doesn’t match your mental and physical makeup before it’s too late to quit without losing money or time. You need to find your skill set before it’s too late or before you are on the road driving.
Research on the web:
You can find a lot of data, articles, videos or interviews, etc if you try a google search. You can get to know the insider perspective of the industry by reading or watching these resources on the internet.
Chat with a truck driver:
One of the easiest ways to find if you have got that spark in you to be a truck driver is to chat up with a trucker. Truck drivers will be able to shine a light on the realities and requirements of driving a truck, drivers can tell you if you got the right qualities to be a successful driver.
We are talking in detail about how to become a truck driver in the USA?
Research & Review Requirements of Truck Driving in the US
Educational requirements to become a truck driver in the US:
There are no educational requirements for truck driving no college degree or graduate diploma is needed, although a high school diploma or GED is typically needed. It’s extremely helpful in your driver hiring process to have a certificate of completion from an accredited truck driving school.
If you want to become a professional truck driver, it all starts with getting your Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP), followed by obtaining your Commercial Driving License (CDL).
We are also explaining how to become a truck driver without experience in the USA?
Most inexperienced drivers who start a career need CDL.
A commercial driving license (CDL) is an important requirement without which you can’t go into driving trucks. After completion of truck driving and safety competency courses, certain states can only issue CDL.
Certain jobs require doubles or HAZMAT certification in addition to a CDL.
To take a vacant position in trucking, many companies have their qualification and training programs, which you as a driver need to pass to get the job.
For every trucking job, educational requirements vary but the above are various basic requirements you need to have.
Being a trucker in the USA starts with passing your Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP), followed by obtaining your Commercial Driving License (CDL).
Few trucking schools may require GEDs or high school diplomas from their students – but not all of them.
Track Record Requirements to become a truck driver in the USA :
Track records without blemishes are essential to becoming a truck driver owner operator.
A driver carrying costly cargo needs to have a spotless driving record without accidents or problems. The cost of the cargo dictates the stringent requirements for potential drivers.
Most carrier companies conduct a background check to see if there are any major charges or criminal records for the driver in the picture.
The motor vehicle record is searched to see if your record is relatively clean and accident-free. If you have an accident-prone record you won’t be entrusted with costly cargo. Your ability to hold a stable job is checked by looking at your employment history.
The candidates are supposed to verify that they have an up-to-date physical with the Department of Transportation.
The candidates should also pass a pre-employment drug screen with the DOT to obtain the position.
Also, you need to have a GED/high school diploma, you will need to meet the following requirements:
Be at least 18 years to drive in-state lines, 21 years old to drive state to state
- A clean driving record
- Proof of state residency
- A social security number
- Proof of insurance
- Pass periodic drug tests and medical examination(s)
- Pass a background check
Obtain a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) For Truck Driver :
Obtaining a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) is a very essential part of applying for your CDL. Your state of residence gives an authorization called CLP to you. CLP helps you to acquire the skills required for getting a Class A CDL. You can have the CLP exam with your local DMV, you can prepare thoroughly and take the exam online and pass CLP with flying colors
Getting Your CDL Licence:
After getting a CLP you need to find a driving school in your home state who teaches you CDL training. Getting a CDL opens up a great opportunity for someone looking for truck driving as a career path. And your instructors will teach the right steps to get CDL so that you get it quickly and comprehensively as possible.
Going through a truck driver training program or CDL program costs between $3,000-$10,000. You will also get tuition reimbursement programs from employers and driving schools due to the high demand for driver training programs.
Most CDL programs take three to seven weeks to finish. The time that it takes to get a CDL depends on the school you choose and also what type of commercial driving license you want. Class A CDL takes a longer time to get compared to other programs because you have to go in-depth into a training session.
What are the CDL license options and what should you choose?
Another important consideration while going through your truck driving training is the class of CDL you need to run as a truck driver.
You should know which CDL class you should choose. There are 3 classes CDL A. B and C. What work you plan to do dictates the type of CDL you should choose.
CDL A: It’s a perfect option to operate heavy-duty vehicles you can operate tractors, livestock, and even tankers.
CDL A gives a would-be driver access to all types of commercial trucks such as gooseneck, reefer, tractor-trailer, and flatbeds, etc. CDL A is one of the most versatile licence in the USA, most employers seek drivers who have the CDL A license.
CDL A is a good option for drivers who want a comprehensive license. It helps you to make a career in trucking, You can drive not only big trucks but a Class A license also certifies you to drive Class B and C vehicles.
Physical Requirements to become a truck driver in the USA
Truck driving is a very physically taxing job, you need to be physically healthy to be a truck driver.
You need to pass DOT’s physical assessment test which includes a test to check your eyes, ears, and overall well-being.
You as a driver need to endure sitting on the driver’s seat for a long time.
You also should be ready to load and unload cargo in your truck, so you should be at least be capable of lifting 50 lbs.
Drivers are supposed to make many round trips where they will be away from their families for days or sometimes weeks at length.
If you are signing up for a regional delivery service you should ask your trucking recruiter what is the scope of your work, how many days in a week can you be at home? What are you signing up for is a model where drivers are home multiple nights a week or are it a model where it means drivers are out on the road for most of the month.
Requirement of obtaining DOT medical card:
To obtain a DOT medical card, the first step is scheduling a physical exam with a licensed Certified Medical Examiner. Only practitioners who have been qualified with the DOT can perform the physical and issue medical clearance for professional drivers.
Age Requirements to become a driver in the USA:
Companies and DOT set stringent minimum age norms for truckers. One of the biggest hurdles for truckers is to overcome the minimum age limit.
Anyone as young as 18 is allowed by DOT to have a CDL. Anyone under the age of 21 must remain within the state boundaries while handling commercial loads, according to the parameters set by the DOT.
Drivers should have already reached 21years to haul HAZMAT or other heavyweight loads.
Most insurance companies will provide coverage to drivers above 23, because of this many companies, only hire drivers 23 years of age or older to drive commercially for them
Finding A Good Driving school For Training:
As a driver, you need to make sure that the driving school you select will help you master the skills to become a very good driver and give you exposure to driving job opportunities. This is why choosing the right driving school is a very important step in your driving career.
Don’t choose a cheap or light course. Pick a course that teaches you everything you need to know. You should not let yourself on the road until you know, whatever is to be known to keep yourself safe on the road.
You can learn everything you need to know fast if you go to a best-in-class driving school.
If you are interested in starting your career with a particular transportation company, you can approach their human resource division to know the list of driving schools approved by the company picked by you. And if you learn commercial vehicle driving from these partner driving schools you will get a head start from other truck drivers who don’t do this.
What To Expect After Obtaining Your CDL License?
This is what awaits a CDL program-certified driver in the USA.
Very competitive Pay: Many new drivers make 1,200 per week which is about $60,000 a year. Wages and salaries vary according to the region, type of trailer, and work experience of a driver. Truck driver salaries are way more than what an average American makes.
In addition to competitive pay, the trucking companies provide you with good health insurance. They also provide drivers with other benefits.
Drivers are in high demand: The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that in the trucking industry’s ( heavy and tractor-trailer driver position) employment growth between 2016 to 2026 will be at 6%. The world economy needs more drivers to transport stuff to fuel growth.
Flexible working Hours: In trucking, you could be an intrastate or inter-state trucker this means you get to choose which hours in a day or how many days you work.
Drivers have a wide range of schedules if they wanna be with their family more or they wanna be on long hauls they can choose according to their preferences.
If as a driver you don’t mind being on the road for a long time. OTR routes are a great option and will also allow you to earn a higher income as these routes are often more difficult to staff.
We can also pick international routes to Canada or Mexico and trucking long hauls gives you a chance to explore other states in the USA.
Other urgent requirements for a owner operator:
Firstly, there are few operational adjustments an owner operator should make while he/she is in nascent stages of operation. Like enlisting a dispatcher to help you get good and well-paid loads.
Secondly, you need a good insurance agency/provider covering you for various circumstances/policy types. You need to take 3rd party liability, cargo, uninsured motorist, trailer/equipment insurance.
Thirdly, we need to enlist a factor who has competitive rates and above par service quality to make your business financial bottleneck free . This will help you to have a good cash flow and working capital.