If you are just starting out in the trucking industry, you will most likely start with an entry-level trucking job. It’s important to understand what your entry-level position may entail, including any common requirements carriers have, and any extra training that may be offered. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
What Jobs Can an Entry-Level Truck Driver Do?
Entry-level truck drivers usually start with over the road (OTR) positions. These drivers travel long distances, typically across the country. OTR drivers are out for weeks at a time, living in their truck or staying in hotels. This is not the case for all drivers, however. Some drivers start in local or regional positions and stay much closer to home, but these positions are less common for entry-level drivers.
Regardless of your route type, you will most likely have an orientation through your company where they teach you about the job requirements and safety procedures. This may involve training one-on-one with an experienced driver for a few weeks in their truck.
Because you will have less experience, like any job, your initial earnings will be somewhat lower than average. In time, like with any career, you will earn more as you gain more experience.
What is it Like to be a Truck Driver?
Trucking is a lifestyle– it can be a large adjustment for some people. Truckers, especially OTR drivers, spend a lot of time away from home. They can work long and unconventional hours.
Many drivers, however, love the open road, beautiful scenery, and meeting new people. Trucking allows you to see the country, especially parts of the country other people may never see. If you like driving, especially if you like road trips, truck driving is an ideal job for you.
Many truck drivers do not have to unload their own freight, rather, drivers may have to wait to have someone empty it for them. This is called “no-touch” freight. Sometimes the driver will take a trailer with them after dropping off a load. This is called “drop and hook”. Other drivers do unload their own trailers, though this is more common for local drivers.
No-touch and drop and hook are the most desirable types of freight for drivers because, quite simply, they are far easier. Your freight may be a combination of each, or just one type consistently.
As a truck driver you can expect construction, inclement weather, and detours on the road. But, truck driving can offer you a lot of independence, and there is some upward mobility in the industry.
Necessary Qualifications to Become a Truck Driver
You must meet several criteria before you can even start your CDL training program. This includes:
- You must be able to pass a DOT physical to be a truck driver.
- You will also need a high school diploma or GED equivalent to start.
In addition, you need a clean driving record. Some trucking companies will accept a certain amount of moving violations on your record, but it may be more difficult to find a company willing to accept a driver with a DUI or DWI on their record.
How do I Get My CDL?
In order to become a truck driver you must possess your CDL Class A. Fortunately, if you do not have one, many trucking companies will train you and help cover the cost of your training or even pay it in full. The catch is you typically must sign-on as a driver with the company for a set amount of time to have them pay their share of the training. The benefit to this is you are guaranteed a job, but you may be with the company for a while.
You can also attend a CDL training school. These are similar to driving schools you may have attended to get your operator’s license. Recruiters can and will show up at these trucking schools very often to scout for prospective employees and may offer you a job.
How Do I Advance My Career as a Trucker?
Getting experience is the best way to move up in your career. As a truck driver this means driving and delivering loads.
Developing skills like time management, communication, and being able to read maps and navigate will help you become a better truck driver.
You can also earn endorsements for your CDL–like tanker and hazmat. These endorsements allow you to earn more money and put you in higher demand as a driver.
Where Can I Find an Entry Level Truck Driver Job?
CDL Job Now has many opportunities for entry level truck driver positions, including many company sponsored opportunities across the country. We partner with premier carriers across the country that are always hiring entry-level drivers. Find your entry-level trucking job now.