How to Become a Class A Truck Driver

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No matter the state of the economy, there are always jobs for professional truck drivers. Companies still need people to transport products, hazardous materials and more from one place to another, for both short and long hauls. Being a Class A truck driver offers you the opportunity to travel across the country, meet new people, make a handsome income and have job security. If you want a "recession-proof" career, truck driving fits the bill. Even as a beginning driver, you can earn up to $30,000 and as you gain more experience and build a good reputation, your salary will increase. To get started in this profession, there are certain steps you need to take.

Make sure that you are old enough to be a professional truck driver. If you only want to drive a truck for a local business, you must be at least 18-years-old. If you desire to drive a rig from state to state, you have to be at least 21-years-old.

Get your eyes examined. To be a Class A commercial truck driver, you have to have good eyesight, with 20/40 vision with or without contacts or glasses, in each eye. This is very important, since, as a truck driver, you would have to drive in all kinds of visibility conditions and during nighttime.

Have a spotless driving record. When potential employers hire drivers, they want to find people that they can depend upon. If you have a history of speeding and breaking other rules of the road, chances are that you will have a hard time finding work as a Class A truck driver.

Sign up for an accredited truck driving school or training center. This is where you will learn the basics of professional trucking, which includes reading road maps, driving rules and regulations, how to plan your trips and more. You will also get hands-on instruction, in which you will actually learn driving skills, such as how to shift and maneuver a rig, drive in tandem, understand maintenance responsibilities and the like. Make sure that the truck driving school or training center you choose is officially certified by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI).

Take and pass the Commercial Driver's License (CDL) test to get your Class A license. You must have a CDL to drive a vehicle that weighs a gross weight of 26.001 lbs. or more, like a tractor-trailer. You have to take and pass a written exam on truck parts, safety and regulations, then take and pass a road test that evaluates your driving skills. If you are a student at an accredited trucking school, you may be able to take the licensing test there. If not, you will have to go to your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Get your own rig. While some smaller companies might supply you with a truck for local working purposes, most long distance trucking companies want drivers to have their own trucks, to which loads are attached for hauling.

Start sending in job applications. You can find truck driving jobs in classified ads both online (see the Resources section for a link) and offline or go directly to trucking companies in your local area to let them know you are interested in working for them. Despite the competition you face, your chances of eventually finding a job are high.

Tip

Check out any truck driving school you are considering, to see if it is legitimately accredited.

Be sure that you have no problems being on the road, away from home for days or weeks at a time.

Resources

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