Hiring Process For Truck Drivers:
What Do You Need To Know?
How to Get a Job as a Truck Driver
Truck driving is an in-demand career that offers job stability, the ability to travel, and a competitive salary. With the country currently facing a shortage of truck drivers, getting your commercial drivers license (CDL) and applying for work as a truck driver can help you attain job security in a career that you can love. Truck driving is one field that pays a decent salary without requiring a significant amount of post-secondary education, and it can help you establish yourself for your adult life. Here is what you need to know about the hiring process for truck drivers.
Truck Driver Qualifications
To become a truck driver, you will need to meet the following qualifications:
• Be at least 21 years old for interstate truck driving (18 for intrastate)
• Have and maintain a clean driving record
• In most cases, obtain a high school diploma or GED
• Have a valid Social Security number
• Be able to prove your state residency with a government-issued ID
• Have proof of insurance
• Be able to pass a background check
• Obtain a Class-A commercial drivers license plus any endorsements you might need
Most drivers complete truck driving school to gain the skills and experience they need to drive commercial trucks. You will need to get a commercial learners permit to acquire the skills you need before you can apply for a commercial drivers license. You can take the written test to get your commercial learners permit at the local division of the Department of Motor Vehicles where you live.
Complete Truck Driving School and Get Your CDL
Completing truck driving school costs between $3,000 and $10,000. However, many employers offer tuition reimbursement to cover the costs of training for recruits. Completing school and obtaining your CDL typically takes between three and seven weeks. This will depend on whether you just plan to obtain a Class A CDL or also need to get additional endorsements such as those for transporting hazardous materials, driving passengers on a bus, or driving a tanker truck.
Pass Your Department of Transportation (DOT) Physical
Truck drivers must undergo a DOT physical before they can drive a commercial vehicle. The DOT physical must be
conducted by an approved and certified medical examiner who is on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners and approved by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). You will need to complete a detailed history form about your medical and health history. The DOT physical is much more comprehensive than a regular physical and includes checks of the following:
• Vision - Must have visual acuity of at least 20/40 in both eyes (with or without correction) and peripheral vision of at least 70 degrees
• Hearing - Must be able to hear a forced whisper from 5 feet away with or without hearing aids
• Blood pressure and pulse rate - Testing to rule out high blood pressure or an irregular pulse
• Thorough physical examination
• DOT drug test to screen for recent use of amphetamines/methamphetamines, marijuana, phencyclidine (PCP),cocaine, and opiates
If you pass the DOT physical, you will need to retake it again in two years. You must pass both the DOT physical and the DOT drug screen to work as a commercial truck driver.
Submitting a Truck Driver Application
Most trucking carriers provide online applications. Once you complete and submit the application, it will be reviewed. If you meet the requirements, you will be contacted for an interview. If a company wants to hire you after your interview, you will undergo a pre-employment background check. The background check will look at your criminal history, employment history, driving record, and the status of your CDL.
While having a criminal conviction on your record wont necessarily prevent you from becoming a truck driver, having major traffic convictions such as DUIs or vehicular manslaughter could cause the loss of your CDL and prevent you from getting a job as a truck driver. The most important thing is for you to tell the truth on your application and during your interview. As long as you are honest and trustworthy, pass the DOT physical, maintain your CDL license, and have a safe driving record, you should be able to find a good job as a truck driver.
If a trucking company decides to hire you, you will be sent for the DOT drug test at that time. If you haven't already taken and passed the DOT physical, your employer will send you to complete that as well and provide the forms you need to take to the laboratory performing the drug test and the certified medical examiner performing your DOT physical.
Once you have been offered a job and have accepted it, and have passed the background screen, DOT physical, and DOT drug test, you will be scheduled for orientation with your new company. This process typically lasts from two to four hours. You will need to complete onboarding paperwork with human resources. You will also receive brief training about the company's policies, procedures, routes, customers, and other information that will be important for your job.
Another way to establish yourself as a truck driver is by networking with other professionals in the industry. Consider joining online forums for truckers to make connections with professionals in the industry, which can lead to potential job opportunities and helpful advice.
Once you have completed all the steps for becoming a truck driver, have found a job, and have completed orientation, it will be time to head out on the road. Your employer will assign your routes, and you will check in with the dispatcher during your shift. Once you are employed as a truck driver, you will need to adhere to all FMCSA regulations for truck drivers, including the hours of service rules, mandatory breaks, avoiding alcohol and drugs, and submitting to inspections.
The hiring process for truck drivers is fairly involved because trucking carriers must make sure the drivers they hire are fully qualified and safe. If you dream of becoming a truck driver and have a great driving record, this career path could be lucrative and provide you with the opportunity to travel across the United States. Depending on your company, you might also be able to drive into Canada or Mexico and broaden your horizons even more.