Truck driving is a great profession for people who like to drive, who don’t mind being away from home, and who don’t mind spending a lot of time on their own.
There are many different types of truck driving jobs, some that allow the driver to return home at the end of each day, and others that require the driver to be away for days at a time or longer. Drivers can hunt around for a job that suits their preferences and needs, but before anything they need to complete a few requirements and follow a few steps.
1. Personal requirements
Before education or any other training can occur, potential truck drivers must satisfy a couple of requirements. First, they must be at least 18 years of age in Canada or 21 years of age in the United States. In addition, many trucking companies won’t hire drivers under 25 because of the insurance premiums that come with hiring younger drivers.
The driver must also have a fully graduated license, proving they have experience driving, and their driving record must be clean. A couple of minor infractions won’t raise red flags, but records of driving while intoxicated, dangerous driving, or multiple infractions show companies that the driver may be problematic.
2. Medical exam
A medical examination is required for a couple of reasons. One, trucking is a very difficult and stressful job. Sitting all day is not good for the body, and carrying big loads worth a lot of money, especially in bad weather or heavy traffic can be hard on even the best drivers. The medical examination ensures that the driver’s body is up to the challenge.
This examination also tries to ensure that drivers will not have any health issues that may affect their driving and cause an accident. Any problems the examiner may find do not necessarily mean the person can never be a truck driver, it simply means that the problems must be remedied before he or she can do so.
3. Driver training
Driving a big semi is not the same as driving a little car or even a pickup truck. There are many different skills and manoeuvres needed for big trucks to be able to drive on regular city streets. Truck driver training will make sure potential drivers know how to successfully manoeuvre a big truck on the roads, as well as teach them about the trade, the rules that are in place for truck drivers, and other valuable information that will help them in their future careers.
Once the driver is done training, they must complete two exams. One is a written exam, which tests the driver’s knowledge on certain industry rules, regulations, and topics. The other is a driving exam. This exam consists of four parts including a pre-trip inspection, attaching and detaching the trailer from the truck (also called coupling and decoupling), ninety degree backing manoeuvres – a method used for backing the trailer into tight spots, and a drive around regular city streets.
After passing these exams, the driver is ready to find work. If they do not pass the exams, they may try again, but may need to seek out further training before doing so.
5. Start working
At first, new truck drivers will probably be assigned to shorter trips to prove themselves, and it may be difficult to even find a first job. Then, once hired, the company will use the first few trips as an opportunity for the driver to prove themselves, and then start giving the driver more responsibility once they are sure the driver can handle it.