Once you get your Commercial Driver’s License, or CDL, the next step is the advice you’ve been waiting for – how to be a truck driver.
For trucking students who graduated from a company-sponsored CDL training class, you probably have a job already waiting for you. For everyone else, you need to find a trucking company that is willing to hire you. And that means sending out job applications.
How to Be a Truck Driver – Get Hired
The first step to getting hired and becoming a professional truck driver is to get a pre-hire letter. You should apply to multiple trucking companies, and hopefully you’ll receive pre-hire letters in return.
If you get a pre-hire letter, that means a trucking company may be interested in hiring you. The letter doesn’t guarantee a job, but it does mean you can attend company orientation.
Trucking company orientation usually lasts between 3 and 7 days.
During this time, trainers will let you know all about their company, their policies, and the procedures that truck drivers go through. You may be asked to take additional tests – written and driving -as well.
The trucking company’s goal during orientation is to confirm that you have what it takes to be a truck driver and drive safely for that carrier.
Most rookie drivers find orientation to be pretty easy. If you pass the pre-elimination screening, congratulations, you get hired.
After orientation is over, you’ll probably get a scheduled time and place to meet up with a training engineer and begin on-the-job training. If you don’t get this information immediately, don’t panic. Drivers are typically contacted within two weeks of orientation.
This next period of on-the-job training is a standard process. New drivers pair up with company trainers and drive with them.
On-the-road training gives you the chance to experience firsthand what it is like to be a truck driver while still under the supervision of a designated trainer. This gives you the opportunity to get used to your new position, ask important questions, and learn how to be safe on the road.
Training usually lasts one month, sometimes two. During training, you should expect to get a lower salary than you will get once you’re on your own.
Also keep in mind that if you went to a company-sponsored CDL training program, you will begin to pay the company back (through deductions in your paycheck) around this time.
Driving On Your Own
Once you complete on-the-job training, you’re officially on your own! The freedom is exhilarating.
After hauling freight for a year, you’ve usually paid off your training. You become more marketable and more trusted to drive safely. Companies will give you more opportunities with better freight. At this point, your career becomes an open road ahead of you.