Truck drivers carry food, cars, and other items throughout the country, making them an essential element of the supply chain. Truck drivers moved 11.8 billion tons of freight in 2019, according to the American Trucking Associations (ATA). In 2020, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated over 2 million heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers with an average income of $48,710.
Training to become a truck driver is available via various sources, including community institutions, private driving schools, and transportation corporations. Companies typically pay truck drivers by the mile. With high school graduation or equivalent and a commercial driver’s license, you can start working at 21. (CDL). However, Under one expert, the profession isn’t for everyone.
Almost every business requires things to be moved and transported. Truck drivers play an essential role in ensuring that commodities are delivered correctly and that everyone on the road is safe. In Texas, becoming a truck driver might allow you to earn a solid living while also helping others. Obtaining a position as a truck driver necessitates obtaining a specialized license and demonstrating your ability to drive safely, and truck driver limitations and training services to ensure safety and correct operations.
What is a truck driver?
A truck driver is a qualified professional who transports products and resources safely from one area to another by driving massive trucks and cargo. Drivers may repeat the same routes or navigate different ways regularly. Many truck drivers drive huge, heavy-duty trucks and loads weighing more than 26,000 pounds. An individual license and the ability to follow state or federal rules, safety standards, and regulations must become a truck driver. To safeguard the safety of everyone on the road, truck drivers learn and practice operating heavy trucks in all situations.
Steps to Becoming a Truck Driver
Before you start your journey to suit a truck driver, keep in mind that you must be at least 18 years old and be at the age of 21 to operate a commercial motor vehicle lawfully.
A learner’s permit can be acquired as early as age 18, and specific government-controlled pilot projects and military programs enable younger drivers to work.
Step 1: Pass The Texas Regular Driver’s License Exam
Before you may get a CDL, you must have a valid driver’s license in your state. You might be able to start your employment driving delivery trucks while studying for your CDL if you have a conventional driver’s license. Driver’s license costs in the United States range from $20 to $90.
Step 2: Complete High School or get a GED
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports (BLS), most long-haul firms require candidates to have a high school certificate or GED. In most jurisdictions, you can get your GED for $80 to $140 in four months.
Step 3: Start Professional Training
CDL training programs are offered at community colleges, private truck driving schools, and trucking businesses, preparing you to take the CDL exam. You must understand your state’s BMV or DMV laws because several states have audit and accreditation procedures.
A year-long driver training program is possible. The cost of private schools and community college programs can vary from $1,000 to $10,000.
Students enrolled in truck driving programs may be eligible for financial help from community colleges. Some schools may even offer a one-year degree in truck driving or the commercial freight industry. This is not required to begin driving, but it might be beneficial if you wish to pursue a college education.
Most company-sponsored programs run for four to six weeks and cost roughly $6,000. Graduates who continue with the organization for a specified period of time sometimes receive discounts, financing alternatives, and even complete reimbursement.
Step 4: Earn Your CDL and Other Relevant Endorsements
A CDL is required at the very least. Different CDL classes (A, B, and C) are available based on the size and weight of your vehicle. For heavy freight drivers, the CDL-A is the most adaptable.
Your driver’s license may additionally require an endorsement code. Endorsements specify what you may transport lawfully and are necessary for specialized vehicles such as school buses and tankers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) explanation of the multiple classifications and endorsement codes. You should still check with your state’s BMV or DMV.
Many states’ BMV or DMV systems will charge you a fee for your CDL application, test, and license. The licensing fee, which ranges from $20 to $120, will be the most expensive.
Step 5: Find Job Placement Assistance
Job boards and career advice are available at certain truck driving schools. Associations for truck drivers also assist members in connecting with employers and mentors. The American Trucking Association, Women in Trucking, and others are among these organizations.
Step 6: Complete Your Employer’s Finishing Program
Newly licensed personnel are usually required to undergo an in-house training program. These training courses, also known as driver finishing programs, expose you to the company’s trucks, materials, and equipment. The program might last three to four weeks and include supervised driving time.
Career Paths for Truck Drivers
Build a record of safety and reliability
It’s critical to have a spotless driving record, especially when starting. Driving recklessly might result in the loss of your CDL. Work to build a track record of dependability with your company and clients.
Developing excellent relationships may help you secure your next position or more coveted routes or shifts early in your career.
Gain specialty experience
Occasionally, businesses must carry extra-wide goods or dangerous commodities. Companies are seeking relevant endorsements and expertise in these situations.
These occupations also pay more for drivers. According to Payscale.com, the average yearly salary for tanker truck drivers is $64,810.
Become an industry educator or ambassador
Conferences, events, and advocacy opportunities are all offered by industry groups. Many organizations have an ambassador program, and women in Trucking’s Women to Watch list and the North Carolina Trucking Association’s Road Team Captains are two examples.
Start a fleet or shift careers.
After working for a retail or transportation firm, you may opt to work for yourself. Owner-operators are independent contractors with a single truck or a small fleet, and having a fleet needs a big financial commitment. Working for yourself may be gratifying, especially if you can accept the lifestyle.
A new profession may fit you if you determine that the long hours, stress, and lengthy travels aren’t for you in the long run. You may use your route planning and customer service skills for non-driving logistics positions. Experienced drivers are occasionally hired into administrative positions by transportation and logistics organizations.
Texas Truck driver salary and job outlook in Texas
Working as a truck driver allows you to make a solid living while requiring little education or experience. According to Indeed Salaries, the average income for truck drivers in Texas is $74,266 per year. Your actual wage and earnings will vary based on your experience, region; hours worked, company, and route.
Many truck drivers also get business incentives such as paid time off, health insurance, life insurance, retirement packages, and parental leave. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national job outlook for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers is expected to improve by 6% by 2030, with around 231,100 job vacancies. State-specific forecasts and job growth are possible. Click on the linked link(s) for Indeed’s most up-to-date* wage *information.
Skills for truck drivers
Working as a truck driver necessitates the development of skills and knowledge to ensure the safety and efficiency of your transport and routes. Soft skills and technical understanding required of truck drivers can help mitigate the dangers and concerns that can arise from poor driving or delivery. The following are some of the most popular truck driving skills:
- Time-management: Truck drivers often follow a pickup and delivery schedule based on their route when delivering resources and commodities to an organization. Managing your time effectively guarantees you can provide supplies on schedule while accounting for external issues such as delays, traffic pauses, and road conditions.
- Communication: To arrange load capacities, route directions, and delivery timetables, truck drivers communicate with internal and external management and specialists regularly. By assuring correct loading, scheduling, and guidance, practical communication skills may improve the productivity and safety of your truck route.
- Safety knowledge: The capacity to comprehend and apply safety regulations for truck drivers can help protect the safety of the items transported and other road users. Safety and efficiency are improved by following driving hours, speed restrictions, and correct vehicle handling laws.
- Problem-solving: As a truck driver, you always deal with difficulties like road closures, traffic, diversions, and vehicle breakdowns. Solid and practical problem-solving abilities enable you to manage challenges safely and efficiently, allowing you to keep your schedule and fulfil deliveries on time.
Courses in Truck Driving Programs
Your training will include both theoretical and practical driving experience. Typically, programs begin in the classroom and progress to road driving.
- Classroom instruction
- In a safe setting, practice driving (like a private lot)
- Road driving under supervision
The following are the essential course kinds and subjects covered in training:
- Understand the rules governing license classes and endorsements.
- Study the traffic laws.
- Get ready for the state test.
- Study transportation technologies.
- Determine mechanical problems.
- Learn how to plan a vacation, track your mileage, and interpret maps.
Practical Driving Skills
- Develop skills and techniques for driving at night and in harsh situations.
- Practice truck movement and control.
- Perform mechanical examinations
- Practice shifting, rigging, and speed management skills.
Requirements for a CDL in Texas
To get a CDL in Texas, you must have a clean driving record. You will be ineligible to apply if your license has been suspended.
The minimum age to drive intrastate (inside Texas state boundaries) is 18.
You must be 21 years old to drive interstate (over state and international boundaries).
You will be issued a Commercial Driver’s Permit if you have completed all of the application criteria and passed the written exam (CLP).
This permit allows you to practice driving for at least 14 days under the supervision of a CDL holder. After that time has passed, you can sit for your CDL skills exam and receive your license.
Applying for a CDL in Texas
You must provide the following credentials to your local DMV to apply for a CDL in Texas:
- Proof of US citizenship is required (birth certificate, passport, resident card)
- Card of Social Security
- Two evidence of Texas residence are required (mortgage statement, valid voter registration card, Texas motor vehicle registration)
- Identification (Texas driver’s license)
- Medical status self-certification
- A certificate from a medical examiner
- Verification of Texas commercial auto insurance and proof of Texas car registration
After that, you must pass a written CDL test and any endorsements you desire to add to your license.
You must also pay an application fee, submit your fingerprint, pass a vision exam, and have your photograph taken.
The CDL Exam
The CDL exam’s knowledge section consists of multiple-choice and matching questions.
It’s also worth noting that it’s not possible to take it online. It contains the following items, which must be taken in the next order:
- Texas Commercial Rules
- General Knowledge
- Combination (for Class A only)
- Air Brake (if applicable)
Before a permit is awarded and the skills exam is performed, you must adequately answer 80% of the test questions.
You must also schedule the skills test, which is divided into three parts:
- Vehicle Examination
- Inspection of the air brakes
- Exam while driving
Finally, you’ll be judged on your ability to start, back up, parallel park, stop quickly and smoothly, and change lanes. All tested are upshifting and downshifting, merging, stance, right-of-way, awareness of traffic signs, and turns.