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5 Simple Steps: How to Become a Truck Driver & More Tips

The best kind of job aligns with your passion. If you like to build, becoming an engineer or architect is a great option for you. However, if you like traveling and adventure, and want to have flexibility in choosing when and where you want to work – driving a truck, commercially, will suit you the best.

A lot of people desire to be a truck driver for this reason. The freedom that comes with driving on the road is unmatchable. 

But how do you become a truck driver? Matrack brings a precise and excellent guide with five simple steps to becoming a truck driver. Read this blog to get an idea about how things work in this domain and what tips to follow so that you stay ahead of the competition. 

Let’s begin the discussion.

5 Simple Steps on How to Become a Truck Driver

Meet Basic Qualifications

First, one should be 21 or older (or 18 sometimes). Drivers aged 18 to 21 can get a commercial driver’s license (CDL) but may only transport goods within their home state. To transport loads across state lines, drivers must be 21 or older. 

Secondly, pass a Department of Transportation (DOT) approved medical checkup. Before taking the CDL tests, show proof of your DOT physical with a medical examiner’s card or waiver.

Additionally, get your regular driver’s license. Before getting a commercial driver’s license (CDL), you need a regular one. In the US, getting a driver’s license costs between $20 and $90. Sometimes, you may start driving delivery trucks and gain experience with your regular license.

Pro-Fact: Have a high school diploma or GED. Many trucking companies prefer employees with at least a high school diploma or GED. If you don’t have a certificate, you can get a GED. Depending on your state, it usually takes 3-4 months and costs $80 to $160.

Get a Commercial Driver’s License

Get a CDL and a commercial driver’s license to become a real trucker. If you haven’t driven a truck before, get some training. Learn to drive a stick shift if you haven’t, although some companies now use fully automatic trucks.

Once you are comfortable with the controls, it is time to earn your CDL. The time it takes may vary between states. Delays happen because your state’s DMV is busy, meaning you might have to wait a few months.

While waiting, practice more and take a class at a driving school to feel confident driving an extensive fleet. Remember, trucks carrying tons of cargo differ from any large vehicle you have caused.

Before you start, understand what’s involved. To get your CDL, you must meet these requirements:

  • Have a regular driver’s license.
  • Be at least 21 years old (though drivers can sometimes be between 18 and 21).
  • Have a social security number.
  • Pass background checks.
  • Keep a good driving record according to your state’s rules.
  • Have a high school diploma or GED.

Remember, the requirements may vary by state, so check what your state needs for you to get your CDL. Several programs will help you pay for your CDL

Pro Tip: Prepare by studying. Many websites offer practice tests with questions directly from the DMV. It is helpful to get a permit before starting school.

Get Certified and Registered

The truck driving school you attend will mainly focus on helping you pass the CDL exam. Remember, the exam requirements vary by state. Securing a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) while working towards your CDL certification is essential. In addition to passing the CDL test, another crucial step is to pass the exam from the Federal 

Motor Carrier Safety Regulation (FMCSR). Once you complete these exams and obtain the necessary certifications, you will be ready for your first job as a professional driver. This ensures that you are well-versed in all the duties and responsibilities of a truck driver.

Pro-Tip: During your training, you acquire different qualifications and certifications. Choose the ones that match the specific trucking role you aim for. Examples include certificates for tanker truck driving, school vehicles, hazardous material loads, and semi-truck driving.

Sign Up For Employment

After getting certified, your next move is to secure your first professional truck driving job. The truck driving school you attended might assist you in finding a job, and you may also explore job boards from your local truck driving association.

If you got your CDL through a company training program, you will likely have a job right after finishing your training. However, if you go to a truck driving school, it is time to apply for jobs. Many companies offer sign-on bonuses and other benefits, so looking around is a good idea. 

Pro-Tip: You may also use a Google search for truck driving jobs. Search engines gather information from various sources, making it a quick way to find quality jobs with top trucking companies.

Complete Company Orientation and Training

Once you secure your first job, attend your company’s orientation, which typically includes in-house training. Each company usually has its corporate training, which differs from what you learned in truck driving school. These are often referred to as driver finishing programs, designed to refine the skills you have gained in this new career.

The training covers everything relevant to the vehicles you drive, the equipment you use, and the materials you will be hauling. It is a way to enhance your abilities in this exciting new career phase.

Pro-Fact: These in-house training programs may last several weeks, but worry not! You will be paid or reimbursed for the training you receive. 

Skills to Become a Truck Driver

Mechanical Skills

Along with exceptional driving skills, one must have basic mechanical knowledge. This is because it is not always easy to find a mechanic for every minor issue that happens with the truck. It is essential to understand the truck mechanism so the driver can perform basic repair operations during the journey.

Physical Stamina 

It is evident that good physical endurance is needed to cope with long driving hours and life on the road. It is advisable to have a healthy diet to manage the difficulties and lack of facilities during the trip. Read this study to understand more about the health of truck drivers.

Problem Solving and Adequate Knowledge

The most important aspect is knowing about regulatory guidelines and staying updated with government laws. Moreover, the person should have the necessary problem-solving skills to think on their feet and solve problems that may arise during transportation.

Technological Proficiency

The person should be familiar with electronic logging devices (ELDs), GPS systems, and other technology used in the trucking industry. They should also know how to read maps and navigation systems.

Safety Consciousness

The driver should have safety consciousness as it is essential to prioritize your and the fleet’s safety. You should strictly follow traffic rules and complete and update your paperwork promptly. It is also advisable to be aware of HoS rules which protect your work-life balance.

Is Becoming a Truck Driver Worth It?

In one simple word, yes. Being a truck driver is excellent. Driving your extensive fleet across the country is calm and rewarding—no more office drama or climbing the corporate ladder. Plus, you may talk to your boss and get good rewards.

Here is why truck driving jobs are rewarding and worth it:

  • The best benefit is the freedom that comes with it. Cubicle jobs are boring. Going out on the road and experiencing the cool air is the best job.
  • We often worry about job security. No matter which career we opt for, we always wonder: is it secured? Luckily, truck driving offers this job security. The reason is that fleet managers always need it to transfer their goods from one location to another.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that Truck Drivers had a handsome salary of around $49,920 in 2022. This salary experienced a hike in 2023; thus, truck driver jobs offer a good salary.
  • Who doesn’t like to travel? And this job offers an excellent opportunity to earn while traveling plus meet new people. You may also get paid or sick leave. 

Your Best Companion: Matrack Fleet Management Services

Matrack Fleet Tracking Services provides a comprehensive solution for all the needs of a fleet manager or a truck driver. Dashboard, tracker, ELD, and many more.

As an aspiring truck driver, you will significantly benefit from our ELD service. Matrack utilizes Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) for real-time data transmission via Gateway and Driver App.

Our platform ensures efficient Hours of Service (HOS) management, allowing managers to monitor logs and violations on the Dashboard. The innovative DOT Inspection mode enables direct log viewing by DOT officers on mobile devices, enhancing compliance. 

With a 99.99% uptime guarantee and in-house developed hardware and software, Matrack offers reliability and independence from third-party dependencies. The quick plug-and-play installation of Matrack ELD Devices, which are compatible with all vehicle types, ensures a secure transition to a compliant fleet management system.

Wrapping Up

So, now you know how to become a Truck Driver. To ensure a worry-free process, make sure to follow this one-stop guide. Meet the basic requirements, get a CLD, and complete your training. The process might not be straightforward, but it is rewarding. Remember the pro tips so that you have the adequate knowledge required to excel and beat the competition. Opt for Matrack Fleet Management services to get added safety and easily monitor your fleets. Don’t forget to take good care of your work-life balance. Follow this, and you will indeed become a truck master. Good Luck!