You see them on the freeways of America, in big cities and small towns. They make their living hauling the goods that build, feed, and entertain people from coast to coast. Some would say they’re the lifeblood of the country’s economy.
They are professional truck drivers — and you can join their ranks.
According to the American Trucking Associations, commercial truck drivers move more than 71 percent of the nation’s freight. They contribute more than $700 billion a year to the economy. And they work almost everywhere, from small farming communities to the most densely populated big cities.
There’s room on the road for you
So now just might be the right time to pursue the profession if you’ve got a love for driving, enjoy a job that’s both challenging and rewarding, and want to be part of something big (a recent study by National Public Radio found that “truck driver” was the most common job in 29 states).
Here’s how you get there
Two roads will lead you to a career as a professional truck driver. One is a solo journey: the other involves school. Regardless of which path you pursue, you’ll have to get your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), which the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires for anyone operating a tractor trailer.
Earning a CDL requires you to pass a test. You can study for the test on your own, and there are even some online resources designed to help you prepare and pass. But most professional truck drivers attend commercial driving school.
Why commercial driving school is the road most taken
As you might imagine, the truck driving industry is highly regulated. Federal, state and even local government agencies want roads to be safe, so they’re strict about who they let operate the nearly 34 million trucks that travel nearly 300 billion miles each year.
Trucking companies are also interested in safety (in addition to efficiency), so they often have policies in place that require new drivers to have graduated from a commercial driving school.
- Truck drivers who have completed commercial driving school tend to have more experience. Many companies want experienced drivers, but experience can be difficult to get on your own. At a commercial driving school, you’ll put in 160 hours behind the wheel, working on range and road operation. By the time you earn your CDL, you’ll already have plenty of hands-on experience. Employers like to hire people with hands-on experience.
- You’ll be viewed as a safer driver. There are tons of rules and regulations you’re going to need to know before a company is going to put you behind the wheel–and you’ll learn all about them in a commercial truck driving school.
- Employers will be more likely to let you represent them if they know that you know the rules of the road, how to read signs, how to adhere to all of the regulations and how to keep yourself and others safe.
- You’ll be able to demonstrate that you have the skills it takes to succeed, and there are a lot of them. Being a professional truck driver is about more than simply staying between the lines. You’re going to have to be able to inspect your rig for the haul, back up with precision, couple and de-couple a trailer, handle large loads, use proper cargo distribution techniques, keep records and more. These are skills employers look for in new drivers, and they are skills you’ll learn in a commercial truck driving school.
- You’ll get to make and learn from your mistakes without costing your employer a lot of money. Learning to drive a truck isn’t easy, and most people make some mistakes along the way. One of the nice things about a commercial truck driving school is that you get to make mistakes in a secure training area. Then you’ll get to learn from experienced professional instructors who can help you improve.
- Commercial driving school is an investment in your future. Not only is it easier to land a job after you’ve gone through school, but it also makes you a better driver, less likely to be involved in a crash and more likely to advance faster in your career. Sure, you can take the learn-as-you go approach, but it will probably take you longer to achieve your goals.
Ready to hit the ground rolling?
If you’re interested in becoming a professional truck driver, there’s no better way to get there than through a commercial driving school. Connect with the Advanced Technology Institute today and ask about how they can help you learn everything you need to know.