Every week in the news you hear about how there is a huge demand for truck drivers. Well, that is not fake news you are hearing. The reality is the trucking industry is short about 60,000 drivers right now, a number escalating to 100,000 in the next couple of years. Take advantage of the special driver benefits and bonuses being paid out right now in order to attract new talent. Start with this handy guide on how to get a trucking job.
Find a Driving Mentor
There are many types of driving mentors out there:
- Truck driving school instructors
- Trucking company job recruiters
- Experienced truck drivers
Look for mentors in your community, at career fairs, on social media, or at a truck driver training school. When you find someone who is willing to mentor you, spend time with them on a regular basis. Use this time to ask questions and gain behind the wheel skills.
If the driving mentor owns their own truck, you may be able to drive with them riding along before you get your CDL. This requires you to have your commercial learner’s permit. To get a CLP, you must successfully pass the knowledge test on the CDL exam, which is the written part of the test. A mentor may also be beneficial for letting you borrow their rig when you go to take the road skills portion of the CDL exam.
Research the Truck Driving Job Market and Industry
To be able to excel as a truck driver, you have to fully understand the trucking industry. Start with specifications about truck driving jobs, such as:
- Haul types—flatbed, dry van, refrigerated, tank trailer, railroad intermodal, etc.
- Driving routes—local, regional, long distance, over the road (OTR), cross country, expedited, dedicated, etc.
- Freight types—parcel, less than truckload (LTL), full truckload (TL), oversized load, etc.
- Type of cargo—general freight, heavy equipment, construction materials, glass, fresh and/or frozen food, automobiles, chemicals, propane, dairy products, etc.
Decide which of these fits the type of trucking job you want. For example, do you want to be an OTR flatbed truck driver hauling oversized loads? There is plenty of work for you in a variety of industries including heavy machinery and steel hauling.
One easy way to do this is to go through each of the categories we have listed, and circle each of the types you would go for in a trucking job. For instance, you might be satisfied with handling flatbed, dry van, and tank trailers. By the way, you may have another haul type, driving route, etc. that is not included here.
Go ahead and amend your own list to suit your job needs. Then you have an easy way to search for trucking jobs. Just go to Careers in Gear and look up the keywords that you have circled. All of these can be associated with trucking jobs at Careers in Gear. We make it simple to find them by using our smart search engine.
Contact Trucking Companies
Now that you have searched for trucking jobs at Careers in Gear, the next step is contacting trucking companies. If you apply to truck driving jobs here on our platform, the trucking companies you apply to will contact you. From here, you will want to ask them some questions before proceeding with truck driver orientation:
- Do you offer pay per mile or percentage pay rates for drivers?
- What type of health insurance and benefits do you provide for drivers?
- What kind of home time is available?
- Does the company provide paid CDL training?
- Will the carrier hire you as a student driver?
- Does the trucking company hire military veteran drivers?
You can find these answers and more at Careers in Gear on our trucking carrier profile pages. However, you can also contact carriers and ask for this information.
Get a Pre-Hire Letter for Orientation to a Trucking Company
If the carrier you contact is interested in hiring you, that company will give you a pre-hire letter. This letter is important. It provides you with a ticket to attend the orientation session for new drivers at the company. In other words, you have passed through the first hurdle in getting hired. The next step will be to complete the orientation. However, you will need to get your commercial driver’s license first.
Get a Commercial Driver’s License
If you already have your CDL, you can bypass this step. However, for student drivers and military veterans who don’t have a CDL, you’ll need to handle this stat. You will need to pass two different types of exams for the CDL in every state. You will take these exams at the Department of Motor Vehicles or third-party testing center.
- The first part of the exam is a test of your knowledge that involves a written exam. Once you pass this section, you will have your commercial learner’s permit (CLP). The CLP is going to allow you to train behind the wheel.
- The second part is a three-section road skills test that covers operating the truck, along with air brakes and coupling/backing a trailer. Once you have passed the skills tests, you will have your CDL and be able to operate a truck professionally.
Go to Trucking School
Here is another optional step, but for new drivers, it is a step that should be considered. If you need to train behind the wheel, a trucking school can help you achieve that experience in a safe way. You can also work for a trucking company that offers truck driver training onsite via paid CDL training.
There is also the option of attending truck driver training at a community college or tech school. Professional CDL training is also available independently of colleges for drivers who want a non-traditional learning experience.
By the way, just because you graduate from trucking school that does not mean you will automatically get your CDL. You still have to take those skill tests in order to get your CDL—even if you graduate from CDL school.
Attend Orientation and Start Your New Trucking Job
At this point, you are a professional truck driver ready to start getting paid for your mileage. You will be eligible to put that pre-hire letter to work with a trucking company orientation session. This is the next phase in preparing for your new trucking job.
If you don’t have a trucking job, that’s where Careers in Gear comes in. Our main focus is getting a trucking job for you…and you…and you…and for all of the truck drivers searching for jobs on the internet.