Ever wanted to be a truck driver? Maybe you’re not sure and are just reading up on the topic to see if it’s a career for you. Truck driving is one of the largest areas of employment in the United States. There are approximately 3.2 million truck drivers in the US. To become a truck driver you must earn a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). In this article we will discuss what you need to study and how to get a CDL.
The most common place to earn a CDL is at a community college. Community colleges often offer a complete truck driver training course. If you choose this option rest assured that there are adequate staff and resources on hand to help you earn your CDL. The qualifications you earn studying to become a truck driver at college can be used as the foundation of your education to move into more advanced degree if at some time you wish to do this. But community college truck driving courses can be the longest course to take so if your wanting to take a fast route I wouldn’t recommend a community college. But if you want to be a truck driver and there is a community college truck driving course nearby this might be an option to consider. There is financial aid offered to lower earning households to help with the cost of tuition fees and resources, you will not receive this sort of support at other truck driving schools.
There are different classes of CDL’s which are class A, B and C. Class A is the best type of license to have as it will allow you to drive any of vehicle with a weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds (11,793 kg) given that the vehicle being driven is in excess of 10,000 pounds (4536 kg). A class B license will let you drive any single vehicle with a weight rating of 26,001 pounds just like class A but this vehicle cannot tow an excess of 10,000 pounds, and finally a class C license will let you drive any vehicle or any combination of vehicles that doesn’t meet the definition of class A or class B but is made to carry 15 or more passengers excluding the driver and is placarded for hazardous materials.
During your CDL training you will learn how to read maps, plan trips and manage log books which all help for a better journey. Then for the practical aspect, you will learn how to drive in reverse, turn in tight conditions, and couple and uncouple a trailer. They will teach you shifting, general road driving and they will also teach you how to perform pre-trip inspections. All the basic necessities needed to get by and have safe trips when driving a truck.
The test to earn a CDL does not require any formal training as such. A driver needs to pass a written test of safety when on the highway and then pass a test about different parts of a truck, there are possible 30 or more questions on this test and to pass this test you must answer 80% or more of the questions correctly. The practical side involves performing a set of maneuvers on a track and the test is taken in the vehicle that the driver wishes to operate.
There are many rules and regulations regarding truck drivers and proper conduct within workplaces etc. Most of the regulations are related to the Commercial Driving License (CDL) as there are three classes of the CDL, class A, B, and C each with its own set of rules.
The CDL classes cover all vehicles over 26,000lbs. Class A enables you to drive a vehicle which has a mass of 26,001lbs or more given that the vehicle is being driven in excess of 10,000lbs. The class B license is the same as a class A license except you can drive anything above 26,001lbs without an excess of 10,000lbs. Both class A and B licenses permit you to deliver hazardous goods. A class C license will allow you to drive any vehicle that does not meet the criteria of a class A or class B license but the vehicle must be made to seat 15 passengers excluding the driver.
When coming to apply for a truck driver training course there a few requirements you must meet. You must be physically capable of driving the vehicle for which you seek to license, the person must be 21 or older and must have proficient English skills. There are no formal education requirements set by the state, but a driver must be commercially licensed and have passed a qualifying road test. The CDL must be received from a single state. A driver must also pass a controlled substance test before entering his new job. However if you have any convictions for excessive moving violations or Driving under the influence then you are automatically disqualified from becoming a truck driver with absolutely no exceptions.
Laws state that while driving a driver must refrain for drug or alcohol use and he may be required to submit random drug and alcohol tests and the driver must inform his manager of any therapeutic drug use. A driver must maintain regular driving logs. The driver must adhere to federal regulations which permit a driver to drive for a maximum of 11 hours after 10 hours off duty and it prohibits a driver from driving more than 60 hours in a seven day period or 70 hours in an eight day period.
Before entering a contract with an employer a driver must show his employer evidence of his driving record which includes any violations and citations. Also specific security clearance and addition training for the haulage of hazardous goods may be required. When under contract one of the criteria states that mobile phone use is strictly prohibited without a hands-free set. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations test (FMCSR) a driver must keep a record during every 24 hour work period which can be done in two ways. Drivers can log it on a grid like form provided by the FMCSA or drivers may use an on board recording device that is set to a certain set of criteria which must be met. Drivers must specify what they were doing wither it be working, driving, eating or any other activity and they must state when and how long they were doing this activity for. Every time a status change occurs the driver must state the geographical location of where this change occurred.
There are many trucking companies all around the world. In this article I am going to summarize the 5 biggest trucking companies in the United States. All of these companies are well known in America and some are known worldwide. I will list them from smallest to biggest.
#5 Yellow Transportation Inc is the largest trucking company in its geographic area but the smallest in our top 5. It was originally founded as the Yellow Cab and Transit Company. Originally this company was made to serve central Oklahoma. Yellow Transportation inc is well known for its orange vehicles with contradicted the yellow which was port of their name. The reason for this was after a study was carried out Yellow Cab and Transit company found that Orange was the color that could be seen from the furthest distance away and therefore was one of the most profitable colors they could use. Yellow Cab and Transit Company takes advantage of delivery truckers which make up most of their workforce on the road. Although this company is not a trucking company like you have in mind it is still classed as a courier as it delivers people from A to B. Click Here to open Yellow Transportation Jobs
#4 Roadway is a full service Traditional Trucking Network comprised of around 349 service centers with 32,119 Trailers and 8,426 Tractors. Roadway regularly delivers 49,000 shipments a day and employs over 23,000 people. Roadway package systems was bought out by FDX Corp in 1998. Roadway is now known as FedEx Ground. Roadway merged with Yellow since this article first came out. Click Here to open YRC Transportation Jobs which is Yellow and Roadway
#3 Schneider National is the largest privately owned truckload carrier in the United States. It is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Schneider National was founded in 1938 by A.J. Schneider. Schneider is well known for its successful record of securing the supply chain. Schneider employs over 12,780 drivers and independent contractors and has over 18,000 associates. This type of company takes advantage of short and long distance heavy truck drivers as well as delivery and route truckers. Click here to search Schneider National Jobs
#2 FedEx is a shipping giant and the second biggest trucking company in our list. It was created due to a market niche with the help of a new bar code system was introduced. FedEx took advantage of the newly developed material handling and computer technology system. FedEx was created in 1973 and since then has grown immensely, now generating an annual revenue of $35 billion. FedEx employs more than 140,000 people worldwide and delivers to more than 220 countries. They have many headquarters but the worldwide one is based in Memphis, TN. FedEx mainly hires delivery truckers and route drivers. Click here for Fedex Trucking Jobs
#1 United Parcel Service or UPS is the biggest US based trucking companies. The UPS headquarter is in Sandy Springs, Georgia where it plans the delivery of more than 15 million packages a day to 6.1 million customers in over 200 countries around the world. This company wasn’t started like another big Trucking company Fedex was, UPS was created in 1907 by 2 teenagers, they decided to name it the American Messenger Company and capitalized the start up with a $100 loan. UPS is now a $49.7 billion corporation. UPS Driver and Mechanic jobs can be searched here.
Truck drivers are responsible for transporting goods and items from one place to the next. The goods delivered must be delivered safely and on time if you want to be a successful truck driver. Truck driving jobs are categorized by the weight of the truck, the frequency of the journeys and the distance of the journey.
Short distance heavy trucking is a type of job where the truck driver drives a vehicle which weighs more than 11.6 tons from one place to another. If thus journey can be completed during the course of a working day then it is seen as a short distance journey. These trucks drivers may travel the same route more than once or perform different journeys each day as required. The average pay for a short distance heavy truck is $12.17 an hour. The highest 10% of short distance heavy truckers made more than $21.00 an hour.
Long distance heavy truckers operate trucks which have a combined weight of goods and the vehicle of over 11.6 tons which they haul over longer periods of time. These types of truck drivers work with a partner to optimize efficiency. They alternate sleeping and driving patterns so effectively the truck is covering as much distance as possible in a 24 hours day. Long distance heavy truck drivers’ jobs are very similar to their short distance counterpart but the journey could be over multiple days and the goods you carry generally tend to be of a higher importance. The average pay for long distance heavy truckers is $17.92 an hour with the top 10% earning over $27.07 an hour.
Light truckers operate trucks which weigh less than 11.6 tons. The average journey can be completed in a working day and the jobs are often short and efficient. They do not drive long distance with light loads because if the truck could hold a lot more goods sending a light trucker on a long distance journey would be a waste of time and resources. The average pay for light truckers is $13.27 per hour with the top 10% earning more than $24.15 per hour.
Delivery truckers work with trucks or vans which weigh less than 11.6 tons. They are responsible for making stop to stop journeys on a daily basis, often to businesses and residences. These drivers are often employed by wholesalers, manufacturers or retailers. The average wage for delivery truckers after commission is $10.70 with the top 10% earning over $21.32
Route drivers are very similar to delivery drivers. They operate a light vehicle and do door to door deliveries to a number of customers. But these drivers perform a service or sales function as well as transporting goods. These drivers often have a second type of job within haulage, many help with stock inventory and accept orders from customers and return unsold products to warehouses. The earnings of a route driver are identical to the wages of delivery truck driver.
In short, the average wage from all trucking jobs in the United States is $38,176 with the bottom quartile earning $34,192 and the highest quartile earning an average of $43,405. Truck driving jobs can be a great way to earn money with a good career path.
Becoming a truck driver can seem like a tedious and scary process to the uninformed. But with over 3 million Americans driving trucks it is not impossible. Others have done it, you can too.
It is one of the best paying professions for those without a college education. To become a professional truck driver you must obtain a Commercial Driving License. To start your adventure into becoming a truck driver you often will need a General Education or High School Diploma (GED/HSD), while this can help it is not vital as around one third of truckers do not have a High School Degree. You must have a clean driving record, if you have any excessive traffic violations and/or have been prosecuted for driving under the influence then you are automatically disqualified from trucking.
You need a Commercial Driving License (CDL) if you want to drive most if not all trucks, however you can become a truck driver without a CDL but you will not be able to drive a truck over 26,000lbs or a truck that transports hazardous materials. With a CDL it shows that you have had the correct amount of training to be a proficient and drive heavier and/or dangerous loads. Getting a CDL can be a tough task but if you can afford it and it’s a feasible option I would recommend you going through the trouble of getting one, this is what this article is about.
A compulsory part of becoming a truck driver is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations test (FMCSR) This consists of a written exam and a physical exam which includes visual and audio tests to check to see if the driver is competent to safely drive on the road. This exam is compulsory and it tests to state wither or not you are safe to be a truck driver. This test must be taken every 2 years to maintain your qualification as a commercial trucker.
We have outlined the process of becoming a truck driver, mentioned the GED and HSD which most people earn from high school, then talked about the CDL which is very important but not vital, without a CDL you are very limited to what you can drive, your pay check will also suffer because of this. Then I have spoken about the FMCSR which is compulsory with no exceptions. The FMCSR is the only compulsory aspect of becoming a truck driver. If you follow these steps like stated in this article then you are well on your way to becoming a truck driver, but you can become a truck driver without a CDL or GED although it is much harder to find an employer and as a result of lack of education you may find the journey very difficult, but still attainable.
In short you do not have to go on a formal truck driver training course to become a truck driver but if you don’t go on a course then you will be severely limited in your options not only of what you can drive but the type of jobs you can do which will have a direct effect on the maximum amount you can earn. There will also be considerably less people willing to employ you. If it can be helped then getting a CDL is your best chance of getting a job even if you study at home and do not take a truck driver training course.