Are you looking for your next opportunity, one with long-term stability and growth? Are you intrigued with the thought of traveling for your job, but also having a lot of freedom in your role? Are you ready to take control of your destiny?

Choosing a career as a professional truck driver is the first step on a path of finding your passion over the road. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when discovering this career path and trying to figure out how to make this career move possible. Here are 4 important facts about the trucking industry and 4 steps on how to become a driver.

Before signing up for your CDL license, it is best to fully understand the trucking industry and what a driving career entails. Here are 4 important pieces of information to know.There are different types of trucking jobs

1) There are different types of trucking jobs.

    • Dry Van Drivers
      • Dry van drivers transport the large single trailer vehicles you see that are filled with dry goods and non-perishable items.
    • Flatbed Drivers
      • Flatbed trucks sit a bit differently than trailers, and the goods must also be secured in different ways. Since you need to have good knowledge of what you are transporting, and be educated in tying down goods, this job often comes with a higher pay level.
    • Tanker Drivers
      • Transporting liquids is fairly difficult, and those who are in charge of a tanker truck must be ready to act fast in case of an emergency. This type of job may involve transporting hazardous or non-hazardous liquids, depending on the needs of your trucking company or client.
    • Refrigerated Freight Drivers
      • Many of the goods that are transported via truck must be kept at a specific temperature. This includes medical goods, food, body products or parts, and meat. Professionals that transport refrigerated freight, also known as reefer drivers, must know how to set the truck temperature, check it on a regular basis, and properly store items for optimal refrigeration and temperature maintenance.
    • Freight Haulers
      • Freight haulers transport any type of goods that are not covered under dry van transportation. This job title simply refers to the fact that you are expected to transport oversized, liquid, or hazardous goods as part of your job.
    • LTL Freight Drivers
      • LTL stands for “less than truckload.” This means that LTL drivers transport smaller shipments. They may drive shorter distances and make several stops throughout the course of a day. Typically, LTL drivers must unload their own trucks.
    • Local/regional/OTR Drivers
      • These job titles refer to how far you drive as part of your job. Local driving requires you to stay in or near your city, while a regional job may involve driving around your state. OTR drivers may drive anywhere in the country.

    2) Truck drivers often sleep in their sleeper trucks

      • Most over-the-road (OTR) drivers, like Chief Carriers, have sleeper trucks that have a twin sized bed in the back of the cabso drivers can sleep wherever they can park. Chief Carriers runs Freightliner Cascadias and Peterbilt 567 & 579 trucks. These trucks include build outs for:
        • Up to a 26” television
        • A cabinet with securing straps for a microwave
        • Factory installed refrigerator/freezer

    3) Truck drivers on average can earn over $80,000 a year.

      • Some drivers are paid by the hour, while others are paid by the mile. Drivers can be paid a variety of ways, the most common is to be paid by the hour, by the mile, or by a percentage of the load. The average driver for Chief Carriers earns over $80,000.
      • Another key factor that can go into a driver’s pay is whether they use a company truck or if they own and operate their own. Which routes drivers are open to driving and how long they are out on the road can also play a large role in their yearly income.


    4) Truckers are limited to the amount of time they can driver during one stretch.

      • Truckers are limited to a total of 11 hours of drive time during each 14-hour period, and they’re required to have 10 or more consecutive hours off between each 14-hour period. The 14-hour window begins when any kind of work starts, even if it’s not actually driving.

    Now to the big question, how does one become a truck driver?

    To become a commercial truck driver, you’ll need to get a commercial driver’s license through your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Before you can pass the required exam, you’ll probably need to enroll in a truck driving school, which typically takes about 4-8 weeks. Depending on whether you want a Class A or Class B license, the cost can range from $3,000 to $7,000. Generally, the more time you have to spend training to earn your chosen license, the more you should plan to spend on tuition. You may even qualify for financial aid to help with the cost of truck driving school.

    Step 1: Meet the requirements to become a professional truck driver.

    • To drive a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) and be hired by a professional company, you will need to meet certain requirements.
    • Be at least 21 years old.
    • The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires all professional truck drivers who drive across state lines to be at least 21 years old. You can obtain a CDL at the age of 18, but you will be limited to driving intrastate and most trucking companies only hire CDL holders who are 21 years old and older.
    • Have a clean driving record and solid work history.
    • Most truck driving companies do background checks prior to hire to look for a clean driving record and solid work history.
    • Check out your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website to become familiar with commercial driving rules and regulations.

    Step 2: Obtain a CDL.

    Step 3: Get a truck driving job.

    • Once you have your CDL, you will have access to a huge variety of truck driving jobs. Most employers require related experience. Experience can factor into total earnings for long-haul or semi-trailer drivers. On the road experience can foster networking with fellow drivers on job openings, learning tips, and equipment improvements.

    Step 4: Stay up-to-date with industry trends

    • The transport industry is focused on increasing efficiency by reducing costs, improving transport means, reducing fuel consumption, increasing capacity, and using new technologies. Today’s truck driver is tech-savvy and relies on real time information to make their routes most efficient. Here are the top 10 rated podcasts recommended in the industry:
      • Ask The Trucker “Live” w/ Allen Smith
      • An American Trucker
      • Trucker Dump
      • Talk CDL
      • Big Rig Banter
      • Red Eye Radio
      • What the Truck?!?
      • Let’s Truck
      • The Lead Pedal
      • The Trucking Podcast

    Truck driving continues to be a growing career opportunity, and it requires a relatively small investment of time and money to get started. If the freedom of the open road is calling you, maybe it’s time to answer.

    Visit Chief Carriers to learn more about job opportunities and apply online.