Truck drivers transport goods and materials to different destinations on a local, regional, or national scale. Drivers operate many different types of trucks, from small delivery vehicles to expansive tractor-trailers. In order to get a truck driving job, a person is usually required to complete a training program, pass written and practical licensing exams, and drive under supervision for a certain period of time. Specific requirements to obtain a truck driving job vary between locations, employers, and the type truck to be driven.
In the United States, a prospective truck driver is generally required to obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL) to operate a large vehicle. A CDL is necessary to drive trucks that weigh more than 26,000 pounds (about 11,800 kg) or those that pull trailers weighing more than 10,000 pounds (about 4,500 kg). If a driver has access to a large truck, he or she can obtain a CDL independently by passing a state-administered written exam and driving test. A person looking for his or her first truck driving job, however, probably does not own a truck. He or she can enroll in courses at a truck driving school, which grants students the opportunity to take CDL tests upon completion of the program.
Truck driving schools provide classroom and practical instruction to new drivers on safety procedures, general operations, records keeping, and other essential knowledge for being successful in a truck driving job. Most schools thoroughly prepare students for their CDL exams and allow them access to school trucks so they may take the tests. In addition, many programs help students get started in the professional world of truck driving by offering job placement services and important resources for new drivers. Depending on the school, programs can take from three to twelve weeks to complete.
A graduate who finds work at a trucking company is typically required to undergo additional training and work under supervision. Companies commonly offer short training programs for new drivers to orient them to their routes and explain specific policies and procedures. New truck drivers might be supervised on the road by established truckers for a few weeks or months to ensure their proficiency.
A person who wants a truck driving job operating a smaller vehicle, such as a package delivery truck or light cargo van, does not usually need to attend driving school or obtain a CDL. A clean license and driving experience are often sufficient for employment. Many new truck drivers begin their careers operating smaller vehicles to gain experience and earn enough money to pay for truck driving school.