How To Become a Trucker
As big rigs cruise up and down the highway, one usually fails to think about the process the driver went through to become a truck driver. However, the job involves many hours of specialized in classroom and hands on driving training. There are many types of truck drivers including short and long distance heavy truckers, light truckers, and delivery truck drivers. Each type of truck driving position requires a special commercial driver's license (CDL) of a class based upon the vehicle's weight.
Truck Driver Pre-Qualifications
Freight companies hire trained, trustworthy truck drivers with clean driving records. These companies transport several thousands of dollars worth of products in addition to the value of the truck itself. While licensed and insured to operate, freight companies do not typically hire people that they believe are a liability to their company. People who have been convicted of drunk driving, hit and run accidents, or have indications of poor driving habits are usually considered high risk. Freight companies may consider these drivers after many years of clean driving, but the situation does not bode well for these high risk drivers. Since very few companies will hire these drivers, they do not get an opportunity to show good commercial driving habits; improvement to driving habits can only be determined by privately owned vehicle driving. The best thing for anyone considering a long-term career in truck driving is to maintain a clean driving record while driving a privately owned or commercial vehicle.
Choosing the Right Driving School: The First Step To Becoming a Truck Driver
The first step to becoming a truck driver is obtaining the right training. There are many truck driving schools available, and future truck drivers must find one that best meets their career goals. Whether the future driver wants to drive heavy trucks or lighter delivery vehicles, there are truck driving schools available to meet their needs.
Choosing the right truck driving school sometimes brings instant benefits. Some freight companies, which have been in operation for many years, leverage the truck driving expertise of their staff by providing training to new drivers. Depending on the type of training received and the demand for that skill, the freight company may offer the potential new driver free training. Some companies even offer pay to future drivers being trained to drive for them.
Freight companies that offer these perks expect that drivers will work for them; they may expect drivers to work for them for an extended period of time even. Worst case scenarios exist where drivers must repay the cost of their "free" training after becoming professional truck drivers. According to some accounts, drivers forced to quit or who left the company before repaying the organization for its "free" training were still legally bound to repay the debt. Before signing up for training, potential drivers should make sure of the lengths and types of exclusivity agreements generated by the freight companies.
Training and CDL Licensure
After finding the right truck driving school, a future truck driver must prepare to get a commercial driver's license (CDL). Every state's department of motor vehicle is responsible for issuing CDLs for those who pass the state's examination. The CDL exam consists of a written knowledge test and a driving skills test. Upon completion of the written knowledge test, a CDL permit is issued for a definite time period in order for the driver to learn how to drive a truck; the time period is usually six months. During the six month time period, students may drive trucks only with a fully licensed CDL driver in the passenger's seat. Reputable truck driving schools combine classroom instruction and extensive computer based training to make sure that students truly learn the rules of the road pertaining to commercial truck driving.
Public roads as well as private driving ranges are where the driving skills part of the CDL exam takes place. The student will learn truck inspection techniques and how to test the truck's air brakes. Trucking schools teach other basic driving skills such as parking and backing during this time as well. The driving exam may also allow the driver to get more endorsements so that they are able to drive different types of trucks carrying specialized cargo. For example, truck drivers may take a test to receive an endorsement to drive vehicles carrying hazardous materials. The driver's CDL has marked special endorsements.
Rookie Professional Truck Drivers
After receiving a CDL, professional truck drivers are legally able to drive commercial vehicles by themselves. However, many truck driving establishments realize that the driver still may not be ready for solo driving yet. Some freight companies allow new drivers to drive with an experienced driver for a time period to receive more on the job training. During this time, the new driver will receive instruction on the finer points of the driving trucks on the open road. The time period for this type of training varies by freight company policy. The goal is to have a new driver gain experience driving in real life conditions with the nearby help of an experienced driver.
Full Fledged Professional Truck Driver
Properly trained, licensed truck drivers are in great demand by freight companies. Even in difficult economic times, freight companies still need to move products across the country in a safe and efficient manner. If they do not move their products, they do not make money. In this way, professional truck drivers provide a critical link in America's supply chain.