If you have watched Highway Thru Hell or Shipping Wars, you are not alone in imagining yourself in a driving seat, busy on the dashboard. Commercial driving is not a simple job. You have to coordinate and calculate a good number of things on the road.
So, becoming a successful commercial driver requires you to meet some mandatory conditions, including health and fitness. In this guide, I am going to tell you the basics, and must-to-fulfill requirements. You will get insights on what the requirements are, how to get trained, how to apply for CDL, and how to get jobs.
Let’s go down the road.
If you are a first-time truck driver, you might have some confusion between the terms commercial driver and truck driver. To a large extent, both are the same.
Basically, trucks are large land vehicles used for transporting heavy and large goods by road. Commercial trucks are the larger ones that are used for transporting heavy-duty industrial goods, construction materials, automobiles, garbage, and livestock. Sometimes you might carry gasoline, hazardous chemicals, industrial machinery, and building parts, too.
Commercial trucks generally include semi-trucks, big rigs, tanker trucks, tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, and more. So as a commercial driver, you have to deal with transporting large, heavy loads in distant locations between states and countries, as well as at local warehouses and businesses.
Let’s talk about the basics.
First, you should have your high school diploma to apply for a commercial driver’s license. It’s not mandatory for the test, but some recruiters might prefer candidates to have it. Or, having a GED, or General Education Development, also makes you eligible.
Then, check your age. In most North American countries, you can’t drive a commercial truck if you are under 18. But that is not enough if you are going to transport goods beyond the borders of your states. 21 is the minimum age to drive between states or countries.
Next, your physical fitness and overall health condition matter most. It’s a major area you must know. But, why is this important?
See, not only you, your truck, or the goods you carry are important. The safety of other vehicles moving on the roads beside you depends on you too. You are driving a very large vehicle, sometimes a 53.5 meter long triple road train, which is also really difficult to control. And needs the fullest attention and energy to take it from one place to another.
Your eyesight should be strong, with 20/40 vision and a 70-degree field of vision in both eyes. A good hearing capability is also a major requirement. For example, you must have the ability to hear whispers from at least 5 feet away. You might have heard about the term hand-eye coordination, which is not only required for fighter jet pilots but also for commercial drivers. (Yeh, that’s true, you should feel the honor.)
The federal rules in the USA do not allow people with some specific health issues, including motor neuron disease, stroke, heart attacks, multiple sclerosis, chest pain, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and more. So you have to have a proven track record of your health, or else the law can get in the way of your hiring.
The easiest way to become a commercial driver is to enroll in a truck driving school. Most hiring agencies and businesses need ready-to-operate drivers with proven certificates. In some cases, you will find companies offering training for their commercial drivers.
You can check with your nearest truck driving school. Visit them and ask the working officers to understand the requirements. Meet with your local drivers.
If you don’t have the time to go, then go online. Search online and read the blog posts on commercial driving tests. If you need to, watch the YouTube videos. You can join online forums and ask your queries.
You can’t be hired with a compulsory commercial driving license. The CDL is a must for driving large and oversized trucks, and you have to pass it. It also has three different classes- Class A, Class B, and Class C. The classes determine the types of vehicles you can drive.
The basic test standards are almost the same between the states, with slight differences based on the state laws. However, it starts with passing the basic driving test. You also have to attend knowledge-based exams about road signs and other necessary traffic guides.
If you are in the USA, bring your social security card to attend the CDL test. If you are not yet a citizen, you can apply for a CDL with your verified residence permit. You have to pass the vision test. As I mentioned above, you must have a medical record without having health issues. Also, you must have a clean driving record.
If you need to learn more about CDL, check out online blogs offering CDL practice exams.
Like other professions, you must check the job opportunities when you opt to become a commercial driver. Think of it as a lifelong career, and then you can deal with it with professionalism.
There are local agencies that hire commercial drivers. Plus, you can try online recruiters, there are hundreds of them.
So, I believe you now know the prerequisites you need to start your career as a commercial driver. I tried to give you an overall idea, but you may still have good questions. As I said, ask your fellow drivers or agencies; they might share valuable working tips with you.
Finally, truck driving is not an easy job to perform. You need to carry your goods and reach them safely, ensuring the safety of all bodies around you.