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Get Your Commercial Driver's License and Start Driving Trucks for a Living

To get a trucking job, you must first make sure that you get your commercial driver's license - or CDL. In most instances, you need to be 18 years of age and under federal law you need to be 21 years of age to drive across state lines or transport hazardous materials. You must pass the CDL general knowledge exam as well as any other exams for specific vehicles you're training to drive. There are different exams for learning to drive a school bus, as well as any tanker vehicles or other specialized vehicles, for example.

In most states, you should expect to write an exam, pay a fee and take a skills test made up of three parts: road skills, basic handling skills and learning to do a pre-trip vehicle inspection. You'll save a lot of time and cost if you enroll in a course with a school that has a more thorough program. You'll also need to pass a drug test every two years in order to keep your CDL. Drivers handling international routes between the US and Canada, may find that transportation laws with our Northern neighbor can sometimes be much stricter.

The cost of most truck driving courses ranges from $2,000 to $4,000 and can take anywhere from two weeks to two months, depending on the amount of training per week. The best arrangement for beginning drivers is to apply to truck driving companies and enroll in the training academy attached to that company. That way, when you graduate, you'll be assured of a great job and the company will pay for your training costs, so long as you agree to work off that cost by working for them.

New drivers are usually paired with a more experienced driver who can show them the ropes of long-haul driving as well as all the particular paperwork and other requirements of driving for that company. After about a month of this, the student driver becomes trained enough to be offered their own position as a long-haul truck driver. After a set period of time, the cost of training the student is written off and then the money really starts to roll in for that driver. Remember that not everyone has what it takes to be a long-haul truck driver. Some people simply aren't cut out to stay alert behind the wheel for long periods of time. The matter becomes even more complicated when you drive as a member of a team.

Not everyone can relax and get some sleep while someone else is driving. Trying to sleep while your bed is bouncing and rocking is also something that needs to be learned if you want to be successful as a member of a driving team. But when you're busy and getting paid by the mile, this sort of driving gig can easily get you $750-$900 every week... and that's after taxes!

Most government and industry standard agencies recommend getting at least 44 hours of driving time before you qualify to receive your CDL. Just because a school offers a fast (2-3 week) program doesn't mean that the training you receive will be thorough or even good enough. In most cases, the graduating student from one of these schools will be inexperienced behind the wheel and have few actual driving skills. By taking a more thorough course, the graduating student will have far more useable skills and will be able to get a better paying job, based on this experience, rather than wasting time as an inexperienced apprentice.

The sooner you're on the road and driving solo, the faster you'll start earning the big money. Drivers who keep a good driving record will always find lots more work.

There is a serious shortage of licensed truck drivers in the U.S. and Canada. Find out how to get a commercial driver's license (CDL) and ultimately truck driving jobs on JobMonkey courtesy of writer, Lisa Jenkins. Learn all the CDL requirements and more for free online.

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