An interstate truck driver is a great job for someone who enjoys driving. It also pays reasonably well, with an average annual salary of $73,000 as of 2015. If this sounds like the job for you, here are the six steps that you need to take to become an interstate truck driver.
1. Read the Commercial Driver’s License Handbook
Your first step in becoming an interstate truck driver is to read the Commercial Driver’s License, or CDL, handbook. You can find a copy of this at your local DMV. The laws associated with commercial truck driving can change, so make sure you’re reading the most recent edition of the CDL handbook.
2. Meet the Minimum Requirements for the Job
While you do eventually need to be licensed to drive a commercial vehicle, actually getting that license will be impossible if you don’t meet the minimum requirements for a truck driving job. The qualifications may vary from one state to the next, but for the most part you will need to be at least 21 years old, have your GED or high school diploma, and have a clean driving record. You will probably be fine if you only have a few minor traffic or parking violations on your record, but not if you’ve been convicted of a DUI or you have a history of reckless driving.
3. Complete the Necessary Training
The training to become an interstate truck driver usually involves taking classes in a truck driving program. Several colleges across the country offer these programs, and there might be some dedicated truck driving schools near you. Some of these programs are relatively simple and can be completed in less than ten weeks, while other more intensive programs could last for up to a year.
4. Complete the Licensing Exam
The licensing exam to become an interstate truck driver consists of a written portion and a practical portion that tests your skills on the road. Each state has its exams and requirements, and you can take the test for multiple licenses if you want to drive other commercial vehicles as well. If you wish to take the test to be able to haul hazardous materials, you will need to pass a background check with the TSA.
5. Complete the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation Exam
In addition to your licensing exam, you will also need to complete the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation, or FMCSR, exam. Like the licensing test, the FMCSR exam consists of a written portion and practical test. The written portion only needs to be completed once, but the practical exam will need to be completed every two years.
6. Get Hired
Once all of your exams are completed, it’s time to start looking for work. Most truck driving schools offer job placement programs, so that is always a right place to begin your search. You can also contact truck driving companies yourself and see if there are any openings. You will need to complete the necessary orientation and training period required of any company who hires you, and this will vary from one employer to the next.
These are the most basic steps to getting a job as an interstate truck driver. There will always be some minor differences, so don’t hesitate to look into the job yourself and speak to someone in the know if you have any other questions.