What are the First Steps to Become a Truck Driver?
If you’re thinking about a career change, trucking might be right for you. But what does it take to become a truck driver? Here’s what you need to know.
BECOMING A TRUCK DRIVER: THE BASICS
Truck driving is a challenging and rewarding career, and it’s one that can pay off big. However, before you can become a trucker, you’ll have to meet several requirements. You’ll need to:
- Attend a truck driving school
- Maintain a clean driving record
- Be at least 21 years old
- Pass a drug test
- Have a physical exam
- Pass a Functional Capacity Evaluation
Let’s take a closer look at each.
#1. Attend a Truck Driving School
To become a driver, you’ll have to attend a truck driving school. When you go to school, you’ll work toward earning your commercial driving license, or Class A CDL. If you already have a CDL, you may still need to attend a school, particularly if you have fewer than 6 months of experience driving a tractor-trailer. Veriha’s Apprenticeship Program has everything you need to get started in the industry.
#2. Maintain a Clean Driving Record
While most truck driving schools require you to have a clean driving record when you get into the program, you’ll also have to maintain a clean driving record for the duration of your career. In this industry, safety is a priority.
#3. Be at Least 21 Years Old
You must be at least 18 years old to get a CDL – that’s a federal requirement. However, if you want to drive across state lines, you must be at least 21 years old according to 49 CFR 391.11. (You can be 18, 19 or 20, depending on your state’s laws, to drive only within your state.)
#4. Pass a Drug Test
Because driving a truck is a huge responsibility – and safety is on the line – you’ll have to pass a drug test before you can get your CDL. Additionally, CDL drivers must be randomly tested throughout the year to ensure they’re not using illicit drugs that could impair or inhibit their ability to drive safely. There are several other instances in which you could be subjected to drug testing, as well, such as after an accident or when your employer has a reasonable suspicion that you’ve been using drugs.
#5. Have a Physical ExamYou’ll have to pass a medical exam to get your CDL and become a truck driver. During a Department of Transportation physical, your doctor will check your:
- Vital signs (such as your pulse and blood pressure)
- Urine (both for drugs and for things like blood, sugar or protein, which can indicate dangerous health problems)
- Your overall health
DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BECOME A TRUCK DRIVER?
#6. Pass a Functional Capacity Evaluation
Along with a drug test and physical, some trucking companies require you to pass a functional capacity evaluation. This test can look different depending on the trucking company you are apply with, but it’s purpose is the same across the board – make sure you can safely and successfully complete the physical demands of a trucker. Some examples are listed below.
- Slide tandems
- Climbing in and out of the truck
- Lift moderately heavy objects
If you think you have what it takes to become a trucker, we’d love to hear from you. Check out the Veriha Training Academy, the VIP Apprenticeship Program and the CDL Refresher Course if you’re not currently driving, or find out what opportunities are available for experienced drivers today.