Commercial truck drivers haul and deliver goods across the country, making them vital parts of the global supply chain. In 2019 alone, truck drivers transported 11.8 billion tons of freight worldwide. The work can be dangerous and difficult, but they are compensated well for it—truck drivers earn as much as $80,000 annually, with a median rate of $48,310 in 2021. 
Driving schools, transport companies, and even community college programs offer training for anyone who wants to become a truck driver. Many companies are happy to hire anyone as long as they have a commercial driver’s license and a high school diploma.
But do you have what it takes to do the job?
What Commercial Truck Drivers Do
Commercial truck drivers operate massive vehicles and drive for long hours to deliver goods from warehouses to commercial establishments. They sometimes work as independent contractors, but many work as part of a fleet or are employed in a company.
Being a truck driver is not just driving from one point to another; commercial truckers have a massive responsibility for their cargo and the companies they work for. They load and unload cargo, record deliveries, refuel and clean their vehicle, report road incidents and accidents to their dispatcher, inspect their trucks for possible issues, and follow state traffic laws.
Truck Driving as a Career: An In-Depth Guide
Starting a career as a truck driver does not happen overnight. You need to learn many things, including state traffic laws and regulations, vehicle maintenance, securing heavy freight and cargo, and managing long trips on the road, among others.
Truck drivers also need skills in customer service as they often deal with clients, company representatives, and warehouse managers. Communicating with dispatchers and customers who receive the delivery is part of the job, so anyone who wants to become a good commercial truck driver will do very well if they have top-notch communication skills.
Long hours are part of a truck driving career; fortunately, House Service Regulations (HOS) limit shifts to 14 hours maximum, with only 11 dedicated to driving. Drivers can perform other duties within those 14 hours, but they can only be on the road for 11 of them. This mandated hard limit ensures all drivers are at their optimum capacity when driving such massive vehicles and do not endanger themselves or anyone else on the road. 
Steps to Become a Commercial Truck Driver
Like any job, commercial truck driving has an age requirement. If you want to legally drive and operate a motor vehicle, you must be at least 21 years of age.
In the United States, you can get a learner’s permit when you are 18, and there are pilot programs funded by the federal government and the US military that allows younger people to operate trucks.
If you are 21, here are the steps to follow to pursue your truck driving career. 
Step 1: Get A Driver’s License
Passing your state’s driver’s license exam is required before getting a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Some people operate smaller delivery trucks with only a regular driver’s license while preparing for their commercial driver’s exam.
Step 2: Get a GED or High School Diploma
Many companies and commercial fleets require truck drivers to have a high school diploma or a GED credential.
The GED is an exam you can take if you do not complete your high school education. You can earn your GED credentials in four months, and they can cost from $80 to $140.
Step 3: Training as a Professional Truck Driver
Community colleges, private company programs, and even truck driving schools provide training for all the skills you need. When you finish these programs, you become eligible to take the CDL exams.
Note that some states have their own auditing and accreditation methods related to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) regulations, so check your state’s rules on licensing and CDL examination requirements.
Training programs for truck drivers vary in rates; some could cost as much as $10,000 a year. Choose an accredited driving school or training program within your budget to get the certification. For example, you can get a one-year degree in truck driving or commercial freight business management at a community college and apply for financial aid.
Step 4: Get Endorsements
Commercial drivers are classified depending on the size and weight of their vehicles (A, B, C). These classifications allow the license owner to drive specific vehicles, with CDL-A as the most versatile. 
You also need endorsement codes on your license; these indicate what goods you can transport in your vehicle and what specialty vehicles can carry (such as buses and tankers). It’s best to check with your local DMV or BMV.
Step 5: Find a Job
Once you have all these requirements, you can apply to companies looking for the kind of services you offer. If you complete a course in a community college or truck driving school, they may have placement programs to help you start your truck driving career.
You can also join a truck drivers’ association once you get your CDL and endorsements. These trade associations help people connect with employers, meet other truck drivers who will act as mentors, and give you access to job boards and career counseling that will jumpstart your career.
On the Road to a Driving Career
Driving is not just a hobby or a skill; it is a profession that helps millions of companies deliver their goods, services, and products to people across the nation and all over the world.
If you want to pursue a life on the road, just follow the simple steps in this guide and learn about your local state requirements. Soon enough, you’ll have everything you need to jumpstart your career as a commercial truck driver.