How To Be A Trucker May Be Your Answer to a Better Future
How to be a trucker has been on your mind for quite some time now as you watch the
big rigs headed down the interstate headed out to who knows where.
The lure of adventure and wanting to see the country is very appealing to
Even more important is the possibility of making steady money and maybe even being
the owner of your own truck where you can make even better money.
Big Rig Trucking may be ideal for you but it is not for everybody.
Trucking is a tough business that breaks many people who enter the
The hours are long and the annual average pay according too many truckers is not
enough for the amount of hours required each week to make a living as a trucker.
Trucker's Tribute - Reflection On Dangers
With that said about the hours and pay and you're still interested in learning how
to be a trucker, let’s look at the pros and cons of being a big rig driver before we discuss how to be a
What other profession allows a person with no or only a high school diploma
enter a 2 week intensive training program that lets you start making an average of $35,000 working as a company
driver the first year out with the possibility to make $50,000 a year or more after a few years of over the
According to many truckers, the annual pay examples are
too low to be called "good pay" considering the large amount of hours you are required to work each
week to make that annual amount of pay. Good pay according to one trucker who sent us comments would be making
$75,000 or more a year. We can't disagree with his idea of what annual good pay would be to make a good
You have the potential to make over $100,000 a year as an owner operator once
you get established?
Driver demand for the trucking industry is at an all time
Unlike construction; you will still get your hours and your paycheck even if
the weather is bad.
Everyday is a new adventure
You are not stuck in a cubicle for the next 30 years with the boss watching
you every minute of the work day.
You can choose to see the continental United States even Canada and
Mexico if you desire that destination. Where many people spend their life only dreaming about seeing
the mountains, Grand Canyon, the oceans and many points in between; you can be out there living the
The Negatives About A Trucking Career
The annual average pay of $35K to $50K, according to truckers we have heard
from, is too low considering the amount of hours required each week to make that annual average
Driving a truck means a big lifestyle change. No more being there for each
little league game, school play, or hanging out with friends. Over the road means you will be out on the road
for days at a time. Many individuals and families have adjusted well to the lifestyle change. Can You and Your
It can be lonely if you allow it to be that way. One driver we know uses his
layover time to work on being the writer of the next best seller in addition to being a photographer capturing
the beauty of the United States.
One big surprise and definitely a big frustration many new drivers discover
is the amount of hours you might have to spend on the dock waiting to get the load that still has to be
delivered as scheduled. You have to stay visible and close on the dock to hear when they tell you the load is
ready. The big frustration comes in because you know if the truck is not rolling you are not making money since
you are paid by the mile.
Expect to be away from home anywhere from one week to 4 weeks. Many companies
trying to combat the driver turnover actually try to get you home for the weekend but few guarantee this
Expect driving an average of 2500 miles a week.
Expect to work 10 hour work periods.
If You’re Still Reading at This Point:
You have the desire and potential to learn how to be a trucker to start making a
"Is the Pay Good?"
You'll have to make that personal decision based on your needs.
You may decide the pay is good enough to get you off the unemployment line, out of
an even lower paying job that doesn't make this much even with overtime, out of a dead end job you hate, or to give
you a change in life.
Keep in mind that trucking is not just a career change. How you live your life now
will be dramatically changed!
For whatever the reason; you’re here seriously trying to learn how to be a
trucker. Big Rig Central.com wants to give you information below that can be helpful as you pursue a career in
being a big rig trucker.
How To Be A Trucker
You can have a trucker career one of three ways:
Choose to be a local driver who is usually paid by the hour, home every
night and loads and unloads the product during the course of a typical 10 hour workday. An example
would be a driver hauling concrete in a mixer truck. Expect the pay to be less than what you would make
being a short haul or long haul trucker.
Become a short haul big rig driver for companies that deliver LTL (less
than truckload) goods for companies like Federal Express, UPS, and Roadway.
Expect to be paid hourly or by the mile and
definitely expect the competition and selection for these types of trucking jobs to be greater because you are
usually only away from home one or two nights a week. Over the road (OTR) experience of at least one year will
be required before you are even considered for a position.
Be an Over-the-Road (OTR) driver hauling freight in any of the 49 states,
Canada and someday Mexico. You can be a coast to coast, regional or a dedicated big rig
Expect to be paid by the mile with driving an average of 2500 miles a week and
to get delayed at freight docks at times.
Expect to adhere to U.S. federal transportation regulations that allow you to
work a maximum of 70 hours in an 8 day period. In that eight day period, you can work /drive a maximum of ten
hours each day before you have to take a mandatory 8 hour break. Note: Truckers for the most part dislike the
intrusion of the federal government telling them when they can drive especially when they feel rested and ready
to get back to work.
Meeting Certain Federal Requirements
and Any State Requirements to Obtain Your Class A CDL License is Required
There are three levels of CDL license but you will need the Class A commercial
license to drive big rigs.
While you can try to pass your knowledge and skill test to obtain a CDL license
without attending school; you will need to have access to big rig trucks (i.e., a licensed CDL driver who helps you
train after you get a permit). The skills test will have to be taken in a big rig. However, you will still need to
take and pass a hazardous materials course at a 3rd party training (trucking schools) facility to get the
endorsement on your CDL License.
You will want this endorsement because what might not be considered a hazardous
material in a small quantity may be a designated as such in a larger quantity within a trailer. You don't want to
be 2000 miles from home and have to deadhead home because you didn’t take the time to get the hazardous material
If you don’t have access to a big rig truck and licensed CDL driver, you will need
to attend a trucking school to learn how to be a trucker.
Basic qualifications of drivers for Class A CDL – Federal Requirements (Some but
not all of the requirements)
(a) A person shall not drive a commercial motor vehicle unless he/she is qualified
to drive a commercial motor vehicle. Except as provided in §391.63, a motor carrier shall not require or permit a
person to drive a commercial motor vehicle unless that person is qualified to drive a commercial motor
(b) Except as provided in subpart G of this part, a person is qualified to drive a
motor vehicle if he/she—
(1) Is at least 21 years old;
(2) Can read and speak the English language sufficiently to converse with the general
public, to understand highway traffic signs and signals in the English language, to respond to official inquiries,
and to make entries on reports and records;
(3) Can, by reason of experience, training, or both, safely operate the type of
commercial motor vehicle he/she drives;
(4) Is physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle in accordance with
subpart E—Physical Qualifications and Examinations of this part – DOT Physical
(5) Has a currently valid commercial motor vehicle operator's license issued only by
one State or jurisdiction;
(6) Has prepared and furnished the motor carrier that employs him/her with the list
of violations or the certificate as required by §391.27;
(7) Is not disqualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle under the rules in
(8) Has successfully completed a driver's road test and has been issued a certificate
of driver's road test in accordance with §391.31, or has presented an operator's license or a certificate of road
test which the motor carrier that employs him/her has accepted as equivalent to a road test in accordance with
Additional Federal Endorsement Requirements: An operator must obtain State-issued endorsements to his/her CDL to operate
commercial motor vehicles which are: Note - The test could be a knowledge or skill test or both depending on your
(1) Double/triple trailers;
(2) Passenger vehicles;
(3) Tank vehicles;
(4) Used to transport hazardous materials. You must successfully complete a hazardous
materials test or training that is given by a third party (recognized trucking school).
(5) School buses.
Air brake restrictions.
(a) If an applicant either fails the air brake component of the knowledge test, or
performs the skills test in a vehicle not equipped with air brakes, the State shall indicate on the CDL, if issued,
that the person is restricted from operating a CMV equipped with air brakes.
(b) For the purposes of the skills test and the restriction, air brakes shall include
any braking system operating fully or partially on the air brake principle.
To Read the Entire Federal CDL Licensing Requirements:
Each state may have additional rules but they are required to implement the
federal rules and regulations into their CDL licensing state requirements.
Bottom line: Review your state requirements because we know all states usually
have a few requirements of their own.
The requirements vary from company to company since their insurance companies at
many of the trucking companies are now having the last word who they will insure to drive a big rig
Generally, Trucking Companies Require: Note - Some of the larger companies are
more stringent that smaller companies.
Moving Violations: Typically no more than 3 moving violations (speeding,
other moving violations, accidents, etc.) in the last three years
DUI – It varies from company to company but the minimum we’ve seen for a
first offense is no DUI in the last three years. Some companies say no DUI in the last five, seven and even ten
years. Word of Caution: Some states now show DUI’s related to driving boats and wave runners on your driving
record which could get you disqualified from driving a truck.
Refusing to Take a DUI Test: Mandatory disqualification from getting a CDL
License per the federal requirement from one to three years. Refusing testing while driving a hazardous load is
an automatic 3 year disqualification. State penalties may vary.
Criminal Record and Felonies
Some of the larger trucking companies are more stringent than smaller
No felony on your record (This doesn’t necessarily mean you are out of luck but it
does depend on the felony. Drugs or theft felony convictions are steep hills to climb but some trucking companies
receive a tax write off for hiring a person with a felony as part of helping Department of Corrections with their
re-entry into society program). You will need to do your homework on this one.
Do know federal requirements concerning an existing CDL License holder states
this: (9) Using the vehicle in the commission of a felony involving manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing a
controlled substance - Life
disqualification-not eligiblefor 10-year reinstatement.They are referencing any vehicle not just big rigs so be
If you do have a felony and are fortunate enough to become a big rig driver in the
United States, you will have to get a Canadian Waiver to enter Canada. They will seize the tractor trailer and
arrest you without the required waiver if you try to cross the border in your big rig.
You can see the federal penalty disqualification time frames for individuals
already with CDL license who violate traffic and criminal laws at CDL Drivers Federal Penalties
This does not include state penalties that may be assessed if laws are
We are not attorneys. As far
as how any personal tickets or felonies impact your chances of being a big rig driver in your state, consult with
an attorney before signing up and paying any money to a truck driver training school. Once the
contract is signed; you may be required to pay for the training even if you can't get a CDL license.
Many schools will pre-qualify you for their program. It is your choice how to
Are you one of the lucky ones without major hills to climb and still ready to
learn how to be a trucker but don’t have someone with a big rig to help you?