To work as a heavy truck driver, you typically need to:
- have a high school diploma or equivalent;
- complete a formal training program;
- complete short-term, on-the-job training;
- be at least 18 years old (for in-state driving) or 21 years old (for driving across state borders); and
- have a commercial driver's license (CDL).
Education after high school
Most new drivers learn their skills through formal programs. Many private and public vocational schools offer tractor-trailer driver training programs. These programs typically award a certificate or diploma and last less than one year. Completion of such a program should help you get a job as a trainee. However, you should check the school's reputation with area employers before enrolling.
Some states require you to complete a basic truck-driving training program if you have not attended a formal training program. This often is a requirement for a commercial driver's license. These programs usually take a few months to complete.
Many people work in other jobs before becoming heavy truck drivers. Operating equipment or driving light trucks is good background for this occupation. Some drivers begin as assistants. They drive part of the time and help the driver load and unload cargo.
Once hired, you may work with an experienced driver for a short time, lasting up to one month. You may ride along and observe for a period of time before getting your own assignments. You may also receive training in special cargo, such as hazardous materials.
Some branches of the military train people to be vehicle drivers. Training lasts seven to eight weeks, depending on your specialty. Further training occurs on the job.