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Truck Driving School: Truck Driver Jobs and Training

Trained and qualified truck drivers may offer professional services throughout the country. Trucks and deliveries are an important part of the nation's pickup and delivery system, and truck driving jobs are abundant. Truck driving schools offer behind-the-wheel experience to give students the confidence, skills, and resources to become successful in the long term. Truck drivers may choose jobs in a variety of careers with the majority found in commercial vehicle transportation.

Job Description and Responsibilities of Truck Driving School Graduates

Graduates of truck driving school, and those that pursue truck driving jobs are generally required to:

  • Work a variety of shift schedules
  • Verify appropriate working conditions of their trucks for safe travel
  • Operate their vehicle under strict guidelines and standards
  • Be aware of potential hazards and learn to become vigilant drivers
  • Work with dispatchers and agents to coordinate deliveries
  • Receive important information from company headquarters
  • Make a full report of the vehicle's condition after the end of every shift or delivery run

Career Options for Truck Driving School Graduates: Truck Driving Jobs

Truck drivers have various options when pursuing a truck driving career. They may choose truck driving job opportunities in:

  • Long-distance driving

  • Heavy truck and tractor-trailer driving

  • Route sales

  • Regional and local deliveries

Long distance truck drivers generally operate trucks greater than 26,000 pounds, and their trip may include loading or unloading cargo, carrying specialty cargo, transporting heavy furniture, automobiles, or warehouse goods. The U.S. Department of Transportation is the regulating body for long-distance truck drivers, and limits work periods to 60 hours per 7 day period with a mandatory rest of 10 hours for every 11 hours of driving.

Heavy truck and tractor-trailer driving may involve transportation of automobiles, manufacturing equipment and supplies, and even mobile homes. Tractors, farm equipment, and products are other standard items for drivers in this category. These truck drivers often work with teams of loaders and equipment handlers at each destination. They are often in regular communication with the dispatch office or company headquarters.

Route sales and local delivery drivers generally undertake shorter routes and work within a specific region. They are responsible for picking up and delivering merchandise, speaking with local representatives, and completing assigned deliveries under quick turnaround times. Customer service is a priority for route sales drivers, and each type of business or industry has different requirements. Most local and regional truck drivers are responsible for loading and unloading their own trucks. The U.S. Department of Transportation is the regulating body for local and regional truck drivers, limiting work periods to 50 hours per week.

Truck Driving School and Training

Acquiring a CDL (Commercial Driver's License) or becoming a truck driver is simpler after taking a driver-training class. A variety of truck driving programs are available throughout the country, and these courses are offered at both public and private technical and vocational schools. At a truck driving school, students learn how to:

  • Ensure vehicles, equipment, and cargo meet federal and state regulations

  • Safely operate vehicles in different situations

  • Operate specialized trucks and receive guided instruction

  • Understand how sales and product training works

Students may also obtain certification through the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). This certificate helps train tractor-trailer drivers according to the guidelines and industry standards of the Federal Highway Administration.

Truck Driver Job Qualifications

Federal and state regulations vary across the nation, but there is a basic standard for truck drivers. These regulations may require that the driver:

  • Obtain a resident state-issued Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

  • Possess a standard driver's license (some states)

  • Demonstrate an ability to safely drive a commercial-sized vehicle by passing a written examination

  • Be at least 18 years of age; the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation board requires drivers to be at least 21 years old

  • Adhere to all age requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of Transportation

  • Pass the U.S. Department of Transportation's Motor Carrier Safety Regulations examination

  • Be sufficiently proficient in written and spoken English, and be able to communicate with law enforcement

Drivers must also pass a series of physical tests to ensure proper health. They must:

  • Pass a biannual physical examination

  • Have good hearing

  • Possess a 70 degree field of vision in each eye and 20/40 corrected or uncorrected vision

  • Not be colorblind

  • Have normal use of their limbs and normal blood pressure

  • Only use controlled substances as prescribed by a licensed medical doctor

  • Be tested for alcohol and drug use

Truck Driving School Graduates' Earning Potential and Employment Prospects

As the demand for freight transportation grows, employment prospects are attractive for truck drivers. Employment is expected to grow through 2012 as the need for truck delivery and pickup services increases. Long-distance drivers are regularly required to transfer perishable goods that cannot be transported by flight or ships. Improved working conditions and innovative vehicles make truck driving an attractive and competitive industry.

In 2002, heavy truck and tractor-drivers earned a median hourly wage of $15.97. The top 10 percent made more than $23.75, and hourly wages fluctuate based on shift, number of hours worked, and whether the company was a public or private firm. Self-employed truck drivers earn significantly higher wages, but must also manage the finances and common expenses for freight truck drivers.

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