The trucking industry is one part of the job market that consistently offers positions for drivers. This is because trucks are an essential part of the dynamic in today’s economy. Order something online and a truck takes it part of the way to you. Go to the store and the things you buy were brought by a truck. Eat at a restaurant and the food came by truck. Many trucks equals a need for many drivers, and you can be one of them if you get the training.
There are four options in truck driver education, but some are better than others. Here is a short overview of your choices:
- DIY — You have that uncle who drives a truck and he will let you come along on a few trips to learn how to shift. You are good at teaching yourself and can study for the CDL and pass the test. It sounds like a good deal until you try to get a job. Most companies need their drivers to hold certifications from accredited schools along with 160 hours of instruction/driving time. A lot of state DMVs do, too.
- Be a military veteran — You can use your experience driving in the military to take advantage of programs designed to help vets with CDL training and employment. In some cases, military drivers don’t need to take the CDL test. But even vets without truck driving experience are eligible for financial aid and educational benefits. Vets have proven they have many of the same qualities employers look for in a good driver, like situational awareness, ability to deal with stress, and teamwork. There are many veterans on the road because the trucker lifestyle appeals to them.
- Company-sponsored training — Many companies will train you in an apprentice-style program if you qualify. Usually, this means having a valid driver’s license, a high school diploma or GED, and proof of citizenship. Sometimes, you need to have your CDL learner’s permit. In return for your training, there will be a signed commitment to work for that company a specific period of time. If you don’t have any other options to pay for truck driver training school, this might be what you are looking for, but make sure you understand the contract before signing.
- Private truck driver training school — There are a lot of private truck driver training schools around, so do some research before deciding on one. The advantage of a good school will be the support you have before, during, and after training. Look for financial aid, hands-on experience, certifications, and trucks that meet the requirements for CDL testing. Make sure the material covered includes safety, driving techniques, and proper emergency procedures. Check to see if instructors are certified and if there is on-site CDL testing. Many schools are able to connect you with trucking companies that will reimburse you for your tuition. Good schools also will provide lifetime employment assistance to their graduates.
As you can see, there are some options for getting your truck driver education. Which route to a good job will you take?