Q: How much does the average truck driver in America earn?
A: Information about truck driver pay and benefits is covered in our Members section.
Q: What does it take to get started in the trucking field?
A: First, you must get a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). You can apply for a CDL at your local department of motor vehicles. Your doctor will need to certify that you are in good health and you do not have any medical conditions that would make it unsafe for you to drive. You must also have a clean driving record and be able to pass a basic background check.
Q: What if I don’t want to spend all my time on the road?
A: If you like trucks but don’t want to spend your life behind the wheel, you could become a diesel mechanic or pursue a career in logistics. TruckingJobFinder has detailed information about these career paths, too.
Q: What if don’t like the first trucking company that hires me?
A: If you want to continue driving, but you just don’t like the first company you work for, try to stick it out for one full year before you switch. If you change jobs too many times in the first year, future companies might see you as someone who is likely to be unhappy anywhere. If you just can’t stand driving, consider another related career field, like diesel mechanic, loading dockworker or package handler.
Q: What are the prerequisites for trucking schools?
A: Trucking schools will accept candidates who can qualify to hold a CDL. You should be 21 years old if you want to drive from state to state, and be able to pass a physical exam. You must have at least 20/40 vision (it’s fine if you need glasses or contacts), and be able to read road signs and communicate in English.
Q: What are the typical steps required to become a professional driver?
A: First, go to your state’s department of motor vehicles and ask them for all the forms you need to get a CDL. They should give you a form for your doctor to fill out and a test preparation manual for the CDL written test. (Your state might not require a written test before you get your instruction permit, but you will have to take one to get your full CDL). Get your physical, take the written CDL test, and get your instruction permit. Spend a month learning how to drive a tractor-trailer. Most people choose to go through a CDL school. Then return and take your skills test. Once you pass the written and practical tests, you will have your full CDL and can start driving.
Q: What do you learn in trucking school?
A: You will learn everything you need to know to pass the CDL skills test, including how to inspect your vehicle before each trip, special laws and regulations that apply to truckers, how to handle the equipment safely and how to drive a combination vehicle. You will spend time both in a classroom and behind the wheel.
Q: How long does the training take?
The training takes about four to six weeks.
Q: How much will training cost?
According to the Professional Driver Training Institute, the average cost of an accredited driver-training program in 2009 was $5,000.
Q: What if I can’t afford driver training school?
A: There are several options available if you don’t have enough money on hand for driver training school. TruckingJobFinder explains many of the options in detail in its Members section.
Q: What do the Teamsters have to do with trucking?
A: The Teamsters are a union. Less than 20% of truck drivers are union members. Some companies are “union shops,” which means anyone driving for that company must join the union. The Teamsters negotiate contract terms on behalf of their members. In general, union jobs have higher wages and better benefits than non-union jobs.
Q: What if I don’t want to join a union?
A: Since less than 20% of drivers belong to a union, you should be able to find a non-union driving job if that is important to you.
Q: What is the role of the FMCSA?
A: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is a part of the Department of Transportation (DOT). The FMCSA creates the regulations interstate commercial truck drivers have to follow, including the number of hours you are allowed to drive without a break or a rest period.