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Date of publish: 07/03/2024
Author: Vitaliy Avramenko
An American commercial truck driver stands beside his truck.

Embarking on a career as a professional truck driver can be both exciting and lucrative, offering opportunities for independence and travel that few other jobs can match. If you are exploring how to become a truck driver, Commercial Driving Academy, LLC is committed to guiding you through the journey. We pride ourselves on setting future drivers on the path to success with rigorous CDL training courses and programs that fully prepare you for the road ahead.

Understanding the Role of a Truck Driver

Before diving into the requirements and steps to become a truck driver, it is important to understand what the job entails. Truck drivers are responsible for transporting goods and materials over short or long distances. While this might sound straightforward, the role requires high levels of responsibility, attention to detail, and adherence to safety regulations.

Truck drivers must be proficient in handling large vehicles under various traffic and weather conditions and should be comfortable spending long periods alone on the road.

The Appeal of Truck Driving

Many are drawn to truck driving for the freedom it offers—being on the open road and the flexibility of working hours. Additionally, the job comes with the potential for substantial earnings, especially for those who drive long distances or manage special cargo.

However, prospective drivers should also be prepared for the challenges of the job, which include irregular hours and the physical and mental demands of long-haul driving.

How to Become a Professional Truck Driver

Meeting the Basic Requirements

The first step in becoming a truck driver is to ensure you meet the basic qualifications. Requirements may vary by state, but generally, you need to:

  • Be at least 21 years old to drive interstate and 18 for intrastate.
  • Have a valid regular driver’s license.
  • Possess a clean driving record, with no DUIs or serious violations.
  • Pass a physical examination, which is required to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

Some trucking schools and employers also require a high school diploma or GED, although not all do. It is important to check the specific requirements of the schools or jobs you are interested in.

Obtain the Proper Education and Training

Once you meet the minimum requirements, the next step is to enroll in a professional truck driving school. Commercial Driving Academy, LLC offers comprehensive courses that not only teach you how to operate heavy trucks but also prepare you for the CDL exam through both classroom instruction and hands-on driving experience. A good training program will cover everything from basic vehicle operation to advanced safety protocols and logbook maintenance.

Choose the Right CDL

There are different classes of CDLs, each allowing you to drive different types of vehicles. Class A CDLs are the most comprehensive, permitting you to drive trucks with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more and a towed vehicle weighing more than 10,000 pounds.

This is the best choice if you intend to drive tractor-trailers or other large trucks. A Class B CDL allows you to drive straight trucks, large passenger buses, segmented buses, box trucks, and dump trucks with small trailers. Deciding which CDL to pursue will depend on the type of driving you plan to do.

Passing the CDL Exam

After completing your training, the next step is to pass the CDL exam, which consists of both a written test and a skills test. The written test covers a wide range of knowledge including traffic laws, safety rules, and trucking regulations, while the skills test will assess your ability to operate a commercial vehicle safely. It is essential to prepare thoroughly for both parts of the exam to ensure you pass the first time.

Gaining Endorsements and Additional Certifications

While a CDL will qualify you to drive a commercial truck, obtaining additional endorsements can expand your employment opportunities and potentially increase your earnings. Endorsements are special authorizations on your CDL that allow you to transport various types of cargo or passengers. Common endorsements include:

  • Hazardous Materials (H): Allows you to carry hazardous materials that require placarding.
  • Tanker (N): Permits you to drive tank trucks that carry liquids or gases.
  • Doubles/Triples (T): Qualifies you to tow double or triple trailers.
  • Passenger (P): Needed if you plan to drive a vehicle that carries 16 or more passengers, including the driver.

Each endorsement requires passing an additional knowledge test, and for some, like the hazardous materials endorsement, you must also pass a background check by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Finding Your First Truck Driving Job

With your CDL and any chosen endorsements in hand, the next step is finding employment. This can be an exciting but daunting task. Here is how you can approach it:

  • Use the Resources of Your Training School: Many truck driving schools, including Commercial Driving Academy, LLC, offer job placement assistance. We have connections with various trucking companies looking for new drivers and can help you find positions that match your qualifications and preferences.
  • Networking: Connecting with fellow graduates and instructors can lead to job opportunities. Attend trucking industry events, trade shows, and seminars to meet potential employers and learn about the industry.
  • Online Job Boards and Company Websites: Many trucking companies post job openings on their websites and popular job boards. Regularly check these and apply to positions that fit your qualifications.
  • Local Trucking Companies: Do not overlook local opportunities. Smaller, local companies often need drivers and may offer a good starting point for new drivers.
  • Consider Various Types of Driving: Truck driving includes more than just long-haul routes; there are also regional and local driving jobs. Local jobs may offer more home time, which might be important if you have family commitments.

Navigating Your New Career

Starting a new job as a truck driver can be overwhelming. Here are a few tips to help you navigate your new career:

  • Understand Your Role and Responsibilities: Each company will have different expectations and routes. Take the time to understand your duties, route details, and any specific company protocols.
  • Stay Organized: Keeping track of your schedules, routes, and necessary paperwork is crucial. Being organized will help you manage your time effectively and meet your deadlines.
  • Prioritize Safety: Always adhere to safety protocols and traffic laws. The safety of your cargo, yourself, and other road users is paramount.
  • Maintain Your Health: Long hours on the road can impact your physical health. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and taking proper breaks can help mitigate these effects.
  • Continuous Learning and Development: The trucking industry is always evolving. Stay updated with new regulations, attend refresher courses if necessary, and consider pursuing additional certifications or endorsements.

Building a Long-Term Career

As you gain experience, you might consider paths to further your career in trucking, such as becoming an owner-operator, moving into logistics and fleet management, or specializing in a particular type of cargo. Each of these paths requires different skills and knowledge, so it is important to:

  • Research: Understand what each career path entails and what additional skills or certifications are needed.
  • Plan Financially: Some paths, like becoming an owner-operator, require significant investment in a truck and equipment.
  • Seek Mentorship: Learning from experienced professionals can provide insights and guidance as you consider different career paths.

The journey to becoming a professional truck driver is filled with opportunities for growth and advancement. At Commercial Driving Academy, LLC, we are dedicated to providing you with the knowledge, skills, and support needed to succeed in this rewarding field.

Remember, your career is not just about driving—it is about safely and efficiently connecting communities and businesses across the country. Whether you are just starting out or looking to advance, each mile on the road is a step toward achieving your career goals.


Professional truck driver training in South Carolina, Oklahoma, Georgia and Illinois