Hey, want to make $50 grand? Ever wish you had dozens of different employers fighting for the chance to give you health insurance? Do you hate getting haircuts? Why not try trucking?
Hey guys, Jon with The Rideshare Guy here. It’s been awhile since I appeared on this channel because I’ve been busy driving this semi truck for the past year. When Harry asked me to make some content about truck driving, I got really excited because I do like this job a lot better than rideshare and then I got sad because I haven’t seen my family in weeks. Then I’m starting to forget what they look like. Trucking life is full of trade offs.
Take a look at Jon’s video, and scroll to the video transcript below to see the points he covers.
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The 5 things you need to become a commercial truck driver
First, you’ll need time. Getting a commercial driver’s license can take several months, and most entry level trucking jobs keep you away from home for multiple weeks at a time.
Second, you’ll need a good driving record. At fault accidents and DUIs can reduce the number of truck driving jobs you qualify for. Lately, companies have been getting a lot more lenient, but the best companies still require that you have a really clean record.
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Third, you’ll need to be in reasonably good health so you can pass a basic physical. You’ll also need to be at least 21 years old and a 100% sober. It’s illegal to have any alcohol in you or in the truck, and the government requires that trucking companies perform random drug tests.
Fourth, you’ll need determination. When you get started trucking, you’ll be living and working with other people for months on end without a moment to yourself.
And once you get your own truck, you’ll be living and working and eating all by yourself. Both of these extremes can be rough on the old meat computer.
And lastly, you’ll need money. Anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand depending on how you obtain your CDL. To drive a big truck around the country, you’ll need an interstate class, a CDL, and before you get your class a license, you’ll need a class, a learner’s permit.
Getting the required permits and licenses
Getting the permit is simple. Just take a few multiple choice tests on the computer at your local DMV. The tests ask a lot of technical questions about how trucks work, and they can be a little tricky. You’ll need to prepare by studying your state CDL manual and taking online practice tests to turn your learner’s permit into a full license.
You’ve got two options for getting your full license. You can either go to a CDL school or you can get trained by a trucking company.
There’s pros and cons to both options, and there’s good and bad instructors in both camps, so be sure to do your research before you sign on the dotted line. Standalone CDL schools or vocational programs give you more flexibility. You can keep living your life while you learn and you can pick which company you want to work for once you graduate.
Demand for truck drivers is (still) huge
Here’s a fun fact. Industry analysts say that America needs tens or even hundreds of thousands more truck drivers over the next five to 10 years in order to keep up with demand companies, we’ll be fighting over you like jealous lovers. That is until they dump you for a robot, but that’s always yet the downside to a standalone school is that although you will graduate with your full class a license, you’ll still need to experience, so your job options will be limited to companies that hire folks directly out of school.
How to get your first trucking job
You’ll probably have to drive around with a trainer for a few weeks and you’ll also need to come up with tuition money up front, usually between $2,000 and $6,000. Company training allows you to jump in with both feet and get started faster. You’ll travel to a central location where you’ll stay in a dorm or hotel with other trainees while you learn the basics.
Then you’ll hit the road with a trainer asap. The tuition fee is usually deducted from your paychecks once you hit the road. I chose to do my training with Millis Transfer Inc that gave us about three weeks of hands on and classroom training, followed by six weeks of living and working on the road with a trainer. During my time with the trainer, I got paid their full starting wage of 42 cents per mile, so after about four to five weeks, I had my first paycheck at nine or 10 weeks after starting the program, I had a truck all to myself.
The downside to company training is that you may be on the hook for some tuition money if you quit before it’s all paid off. You may also have some knowledge gaps. For example, Millis only trains using automatic transmissions, which means that when you take the CDL test, you’ll have a restriction on your license. If you want to drive a manual truck, you’ll have to retake the whole test. You can read more about my training experience with Millis in this article
Do your diligence! Read reviews of trucking companies and schools
Choosing where to train is really important. Be sure to check out reviews of whichever companies and schools you’re considering. Truckers report is a great place to find reviews of various companies and a quick Google or Youtube search helps too. Don’t believe everything you hear from company recruiters. Find out what the drivers themselves are saying. No matter where you get trained, you’ll eventually have to take the CDL test.
The three parts of your biggest test
Just turn your learner’s permit into a full license. There are three parts to the test. There’s the pre-trip inspection, the backing test, and the road test. The pre-trip inspection involves memorizing over a hundred different parts of the truck that must be checked each day to make sure it’s safe to drive. During your test, you’ll have to point to each one on the truck and describe what you’re looking for. Most people consider this the hardest portion of the test.
The backing test requires you to back into parking spots in various ways without demolishing any traffic cones. This part is the second hardest. The simplest portion is the road test where you’ll drive around with the examiner. Follow laws, avoid curbs, and pay attention to road-signs. Once you’ve passed all three portions, you are legally a trucker. A CDL can drastically increase your earnings power, especially if you stick with it for a few years.
The average truck driver earns around $70,000
More experience equals more money. According to Indeed.com the average truck driver earns about $70,000 a year, and most trucking companies offer pretty good benefits, including family health insurance and retirement plans. You can often make even more money by getting endorsements that allow you to transport liquids, hazardous materials, and other specialized cargo.
Depending on where you live, you can also switch to a or regional job and go home every day or every weekend instead of spending multiple weeks inside the track. Becoming a truck driver is a big commitment. I’m not gonna lie and say that it’s easy. It’s a long and stressful process, but it does pay pretty well and you’ll never have to deal with the drunk Uber Pool passenger.
For more information about how to become a truck driver, check out this article and check out my next video about what it’s like to be a truck driver. Thank you so much for watching. Drive safe!
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