Truck drivers are very in demand, but it’s a job that comes with a lot of responsibilities and regulatory requirements. You are operating a massive piece of machinery, and everything you do has the potential to mean life or death for other vehicles on the road.
If you’d like to be a truck driver, the company that hires you has a responsibility to make sure you’re going to be a safe employee. Trucking companies have a legal and moral duty to the public to hire only safe and skilled truck drivers.
Not doing proper background checks or failing to check training and certifications can mean the trucking company is legally responsible if a driver is in an accident.
The following are some of the other things to know about a career as a truck driver and what the process to get hired entails.
Is Truck Driving Right For You?
If you’re looking for a new career, you may be wondering whether or not trucking could be a good option for you.
A few things to consider include:
- Do you enjoy driving? It sounds simple, but the reality is that if you don’t like driving and in some cases really enjoy it, you’re going to hate a career in trucking.
- Can you physically and mentally sit still for hours at a time?
- Are you physically able to load or unload a truck because there are often scenarios where you will have to?
- Are you okay with being away from your home and family for extended periods of time?
- Do you have any medical issues that could be risky if you were a truck driving, such as chronic fatigue syndrome or something that could make you drowsy behind the wheel?
There are downsides of a career in trucking, such as the fact that it can be boring and lonely, but there are upsides, including:
- If you like to see the country, being a truck driver is a great way to do it. Some people thrive on being on the open road.
- There’s a lot of job security in trucking, and there’s a shortage of drivers.
- The pay tends to be good, and it’s also steady.
Becoming a Truck Driver
You will need to get your commercial driver’s license (CDL) to get hired as a truck driver. Most truck drivers also have at least a high school diploma or GED although this isn’t necessarily a requirement. The qualifications to get your CDL vary by state, but you’ll have to pass a driving and knowledge test in almost all states.
You can also get endorsements to your CDL that show you’re qualified to drive certain types of vehicles.
A of truck drivers go to driving schools so they can learn how to manage a large vehicle, and they’ll also get an education as far as the regulations and laws that govern the industry.
You’ll have to pass a basic Department of Transportation medical license too.
You need to be at least 21 years old to go to trucking school, and you’ll have to pass drug and alcohol tests. Sometimes you have to pass a physical.
When you’re applying for positions, after you’re licensed in trucking, be aware that the Department of Transportation heavily regulates the industry. Employers have to meet strict standards when they’re hiring new commercial truck drivers.
All commercial drivers who use a CDL must have a background screening process completed on them before they can be hired.
The screening process covers their driving record, drug screening, employment history, and safety performance history.
Specifically, a background check that meets DOT requirements will usually include:
- Motor vehicle records for every state where the driver had had a license in the past three years.
- The Safety Performance History for all DOT-regulated employers the applicant worked for three years before their application date.
- Verification of violations related to alcohol or drugs from the past three years. Employers will have to provide a signed consent with the candidate.
- A DOT drug test which looks for opiates, marijuana, codeine, amphetamine, methamphetamines, and PCP.
Finally, once you are hired, you will probably have to complete an in-house training program, especially if you’re newly licensed. These programs can last three to four weeks. You’ll learn more about things relevant to the specific company, like the vehicles and equipment.
You may be considered a student driver initially, so you might complete on-the-road training with a mentor.