Finding a great career that pays well is challenging, but getting a job as a truck driver is a great start to a great career. With the current truck driver shortage, there’s no end of great jobs available for hard-working and willing drivers. It’s estimated that by 2025 the truck driver shortage will be as many as 170,000 unfilled jobs. You can help fill that gap and make some good money while you do it. The current and expected driver shortage also means increased pay and incentives for new drivers entering the field. Learn what it takes to complete your truck driver application and your DOT driver application requirements, so you can find the best truck driving job for you.
Before you can get behind the wheel of your own rig and explore the open road, there are a couple of steps you need to take. Trucking companies require you to fulfill federal and state requirements before you can become a truck driver, and some companies have individual requirements as well. The basic prerequisites for completing your truck driver application process and meeting DOT driver application requirements is to have a valid state driver's license and a clean driving record. For some companies, your driving record holds more weight than a criminal record. Here are a few more qualifications you must meet before you can get a job as a commercial truck driver.
Get Your CDL: Getting your CDL requires passing a written and practical test to show you understand how to operate commercial vehicles. You must be at least 21 before you’re eligible to get your CDL.
Pass a Physical: Truck drivers are required to pass a physical that tests vision, hearing, field of vision, blood pressure, and more. Companies are required to hire healthy drivers who are safe on the road.
Pass a Background Check: All drivers have to undergo a background check. Felonies involving drugs, DUIs, hit and runs, or other felonies involving vehicles are not permitted.
Be Proficient In English: Drivers must know enough English to read road signs, reports, and maps, and must be able to communicate with the public and law enforcement.
Pass a Written Exam: To meet DOT driver application requirements drivers have to take an exam on Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
Meet Company Regulations: Trucking companies often have their own requirements for the truck driver application process. Check with companies you're interested in about their employment regulations.
Complete a Truck Driver Training Program: Before you can work as a commercial truck driver you must complete a truck driver training program. Training prepares you to drive and inspect your truck according to state and federal regulations.
Complete Employer Training: Some employers provide their own truck driver training programs, but nearly all of them require on the job training before you can hit the road on your own. Training usually involves driving with a trainer for a few weeks so you get used to your new position behind the wheel.
This may seem like a long list just to get started, but the reward of having a great career is worth the effort. Make sure you find the right CDL training school to get you started. Different states have different requirements and if you need additional CDL endorsements such as hazmat, you will need to pass additional tests and training.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult for felons to find employment once they get out of prison. Even if your felony is years behind you, you may still feel the repercussions of the past. Thankfully, there are many trucking companies that hire felons and give them an opportunity for a great career. One of the most important things you can do for your truck driver application is to be open and honest with your employer about any past convictions.
Employers are required to run a background check before hiring you for a position, and will find out if you have a criminal record anyway. It’s a lot worse to have your potential employer find out you’ve hidden your criminal record, than to be upfront to begin with.
If you do have a felony on your record, you’ll want to make sure you stand out for the quality work you’ve done in the past. If you’ve been unemployed for any period of time, make sure you can account for it and let your potential employer know. Providing references about your work ethic and behavior at previous jobs may also be useful in helping you stand out on your resume.
Don’t let a felony discourage you from completing a truck driver application or meeting your DOT driver application requirements. There are plenty of truck driving companies that hire felons. Many companies base hiring felons on how long ago the felony took place. The longer ago your felony was, the easier it will be to find employment. Here are a few companies that hire individuals with a criminal record, depending on how long ago it occurred.
These companies evaluate individual applicants on a case-by-case basis. Some companies require experience to hire. Call and check with the companies you’re interested in.
J & R Schugel
These companies hire felons with convictions that are a minimum of five years old.
Paschall Truck Lines
DeBoer Trucking Company
These companies hire felons with convictions that are a minimum of seven years old.
Melton Truck Lines
Interstate Distributor Co.
These companies hire felons with convictions that are a minimum of 10 years old.
Dick Lavy Trucking
JBS Carriers J.B. Hunt
Dutch Maid Logistics
While a criminal record may not keep you from completing the truck driver application process, there are certain felony convictions that will keep you from getting employment with truck driving companies. This includes convictions for felony traffic violations with commercial vehicles, as well as weapons or drug dealing felony convictions.
Even new drivers without a criminal record may have difficulty landing a job fresh out of their CDL training and truck driver school, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a great truck driving company to work for that pays well. Some companies are easier for new drivers to land a job with than others. Here are some great trucking companies that have great pay for new truck drivers who’ve completed their truck driver training and DOT driver application requirements.
As America’s second largest private trucking company, US Xpress offers tuition reimbursement and on the job training to new truck drivers and recent CDL students who have met DOT driver application requirements. US Xpress also has some of the newest trucks on the road and provides drivers with the technology they need to get the job done, such as GPS, blind spot cameras, and side trackers. They also offer excellent benefits and bonuses.
A leader in sustainable driving, Werner Enterprises operates 25,000 trucks throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico, which allows drivers to live in any part of the country they’d like. Werner also offers attentive, on-the-job training.
CR England offers jobs for both experienced and inexperienced drivers and is a great choice for new drivers because they have partnered driving schools with no upfront payment required. Once you’ve finished training through a partnered school you’re guaranteed a job.
While you might be a new driver when you start with Roehl, they won’t pay you like one. They offer competitive pay, and tuition reimbursement up to $6,000. And have their own truck driving school. They are known for their safe and speedy delivery times and even offer the opportunity for team driving.
A great company with career advancement opportunities and no previous experience required make Swift Transportation an ideal choice for new truck drivers to gain experience. The average truck is only 2 years old, meaning you’ll have newer equipment to work with as well as a competitive salary in a stable company.
This dry van carrier is still a family-owned company and readily accepts new drivers, especially those who go through their company-sponsored driving school.
While all of these companies have great reputations when it comes to hiring new truck drivers, you should still check around and do your homework to determine which company best suits your needs and wants. Make sure you review the terms of your contract so you know what you're getting into before you accept a position. Once you’ve accepted a job, you have the opportunity to learn about different types of truck driving jobs and gain experience as a truck driver in a career you love.
Once you've found a company you like and applied for the position the next step is to be invited in for an interview. Traditionally, interviews require you to dress in business attire. For men this means a white shirt, tie, dark socks, dark slacks, a matching suit coat and dress shoes. For women a professional blouse, professional skirt or slacks, and dress shoes. However, interviews for blue collar jobs are a bit more laid back. Here are some general guidelines when interviewing for a blue collar job.
Have a clean, neat appearance. Check your clothes for wrinkles, stains, or rips before you wear them to your interview, and double check your clothes before you go in for your interview.
Aim for business casual or smart casual attire. Business smart attire for men typically means a button up shirt, tie, and slacks or khakis. No coat is needed. A smart casual look may include a nice shirt, clean, dark jeans, and a fitted jacket. No tie needed.
Women going for a smart casual look should aim to wear a nice blouse, dark jeans, and dress shoes. For women’s business casual, swap the jeans for a pair of dark slacks.
Avoid showing excessive skin. Different types of clothing are appropriate for different occasions. Low cut shirts, sleeveless tops, and mini skirts are inappropriate attire for women in an interview setting. Men should also avoid tank tops or shorts because they show too much skin and appear overly casual in an interview.
Don’t wear overly casual clothing. T-shirt, statement shirts, or stained work clothes may be regular attire for your daily job, but they are not appropriate in an interview. Try to look like the best version of yourself and put your best foot forward when you interview.
If you're not sure of what to wear, don't be afraid to ask the hiring manager when they invite you in for the interview. They’ll be pleased that you thought to ask and care about looking appropriate for your interview. When in doubt, it's always better to dress up than dress down for an interview.
Paying for CDL training and truck driver training school can get expensive but training is a necessary part of your truck driver application process and meeting you DOT driver application requirements. Thankfully, there are lots of options for paying for CDL training. Check with your state and federal agencies to find out what grants and scholarships you may be eligible for. Some scholarships to consider include:
Women in Trucking Foundation Scholarship
Truckload Carriers Association Scholarship
In order to qualify for financial aid and scholarships there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, make sure you fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA at FAFSA.gov. Second, if there are any essays you need to write for your scholarships make sure you’re clear about your long term goals and how truck driving plays into your career plan. Finally, don't procrastinate, make sure you apply as early as possible for financial aid and scholarships. Some financial aid, like the FAFSA, is distributed on a first come, first served basis so it's in your best interest to apply early.
Completing your truck driver application and meeting your DOT driver application requirements, will help you land a great career in a great industry. Prepare to travel the open road with a community of other drivers who enjoy a great career with lots of benefits.