Working in the trucking industry can be highly rewarding, both for your finances and your personal freedom.
If you are thinking about becoming a commercial truck driver, you need to understand the basic requirements for getting your Commercial Driver’s License or CDL. These requirements cover many variables, including age, physical fitness, and basic knowledge.
Requirements for Becoming a Commercial Truck Driver
The first and obvious step to becoming a commercial trucker is to obtain your commercial driver’s license. You will likely want to get a copy of your state’s CDL Manual, which is available at field locations or can be downloaded online through each state’s DOT website. This manual will outline the specific requirements, such as age, driving history, and experience required for each type of CDL. (For example, requirements for driving hazardous materials are stricter than general shipping.) Study the trucking industry, talk to experienced truck drivers, and determine if you have what it takes to be a successful trucker.
Each state will have various requirements for commercial drivers, but the federal government also has universal regulations for interstate shipping. To drive interstate cargo in the United State, you must be 21 years or older. This requirement applies not only to cargo that you haul across state lines, but cargo that will eventually move across state borders, whether you’re the one moving between states or not. However, if you are not involved in interstate transport, the CDL age requirement for many states is 18.
Medical and Physical Standards for Commercial Truck Drivers
In order to secure and maintain your CDL, you have to pass basic physical requirements. This examination must be passed under the supervision of a medical examiner, who will test for factors including blood pressure, vision, and neurological factors. The examiner will also check your spine for deformities, perform a hernia check, and listen to your heart and lungs. If you pass the physical, you must carry the medical certificate with you while driving.
Most drivers will have to complete a physical every two years, although drivers with medical conditions, such as high blood pressure or heart problems, may have to go through the physical more often.
Commercial Truck Driver Skills Tests
To become a fully licensed commercial truck driver, you will need to go through CDL training, culminating in a skills test, which is usually divided into three specific categories: vehicle inspection, basic controls, and a road test.
The vehicle inspection will quiz your knowledge on basic parts of the truck, including hoses, fluid reservoirs, engine belts, and gauges. During the basic controls test, you will have to demonstrate the ability to perform common maneuvers, such as off-set backing and alley docking.
Finally, the road test will make sure you are capable of safely driving a truck and trailer through streets and highways. During this test, you will drive a route determined by the instructor, making all the necessary turns and shifts in a clean, safe manner. While there are minor allowable mistakes during the road test (missing a shift, for example), there are also mistakes that could cause an automatic failure, including not checking your mirrors before a lane change or rolling backwards before accelerating from a stop.
High-Quality Truck Driving Jobs for Excellent Truckers
If you meet these basic requirements to be a commercial truck driver, we have postings for a number of truck driver jobs that may meet your needs!
Browse the Classifieds section from CDLjobs.com to find a rewarding position in the trucking industry.