How Do I Become a Truck Driver?

If you enjoy driving long distances and don’t mind doing physical work, such as lifting and carrying shipments, you might be wondering how to become a truck driver. Truck drivers use heavy and tractor trailer trucks to transport freight over long distances. Sometimes their work takes them across state lines or even out of the country, so they may spend days and weeks on end traveling. They typically plan their own routes to their assigned delivery locations, factoring in time for legally mandated breaks and any restrictions that specific roadways may have on truck usage. Loading and unloading the freight also falls under the job description of truck drivers.

Due to the risk of automobile accidents, safety is an important concern for truck drivers. They must always follow traffic laws and inform dispatchers about any problems that occur while on the road. A truck driver is also responsible for taking care of his or her truck, which includes inspecting all equipment prior to and following each delivery. If the truck driver discovers any mechanical or other defects, he or she must inform company personnel of the concern. When drivers transport chemical waste or other potentially hazardous cargo, they use extra care driving and unloading the cargo. They must be prepared to use the necessary safety equipment should a spill or accident occur.

Because truck drivers learn their trade more though training than formal schooling, they can usually enter the field without a college degree, having earned only a high school diploma. Prior to becoming a heavy or tractor trailer truck driver, they may spend a couple of years gaining experience driving delivery trucks or motor coaches. Drivers may voluntarily receive training from professional driving schools, though there are currently no government mandates to do so.

One requirement that truck drivers must meet is acquiring a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), which is usually attained by passing both a written exam and a driving test. When a truck driver cultivates experience driving a specialized vehicle, he or she can receive what is called an endorsement, which represents the driver’s experience.

The United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates career opportunities for truck drivers to grow by 21 percent during the 2010 to 2020 decade, which is faster than the national average job growth rate of 14 percent. The most common industries in which heavy and tractor trailer truck drivers find employment are general freight trucking, specialized freight trucking, wholesale trade and manufacturing. As of 2010, truck drivers enjoyed a higher than average median annual salary of $37,770 as compared to the $33,840 median annual salary for all occupations.

For those who like to travel and enjoy driving, especially alone, a career path as a truck driver promises the freedom of an open road. Knowing how to become a truck driver can help you get on your way to a new occupation with job opportunities that are expected to grow in the future.

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