Auto Service World
News   March 20, 2023   by Auto Service World Staff

Training Manual For Truck Drivers Starting Their Career

Starting a career as a truck driver can be exciting, but it’s also important to understand what it involves. 

This training manual covers everything you need to know to begin your journey as a professional truck driver, from understanding the demand for drivers to obtaining your commercial driver’s license (CDL), choosing the right training program, and managing the financial aspects of training—we’ve got you covered.

Understanding the trucking industry

The trucking industry is an important part of the economy. In this section, we will look into the dynamics of the trucking industry, shedding light on its demand for drivers, the diverse individuals who pursue careers in trucking, the impact on family life, and the secrets to success in this challenging yet rewarding profession.

Is there a demand for truck drivers?

Currently, there is a significant demand for truck drivers, making it an opportune time to enter the industry. However, despite this high demand, trucking companies need help in filling job vacancies due to factors such as an aging workforce and industry growth outpacing the rate of new entrants.

Who are the people that become truck drivers?

Truck drivers come from diverse backgrounds and are motivated by various factors. While some are drawn to the freedom and independence of the job, others are attracted by the stability and competitive pay. Successful truck drivers often share traits such as responsibility, reliability, and a strong work ethic.

The impact on family life

One of the significant challenges truck drivers face is the extensive time spent away from home. This lifestyle can profoundly impact both the driver and their family members. It is crucial for individuals considering a career in trucking to have open discussions with their families about the potential challenges and to establish strategies for maintaining communication and connection while on the road.

Secrets to success

Becoming a successful truck driver goes beyond simply obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL). It requires a combination of essential skills, including effective communication, time management, and adaptability. Setting clear goals, continuously seeking opportunities for learning and improvement, and prioritizing safety and professionalism are key factors in achieving success in the trucking industry.

Getting started with your trucking career

Starting a career in trucking can be really exciting, but it’s important to plan ahead and get everything in order. Let’s take a look at all the information and tools you need to start your journey in the trucking industry with confidence.

Training and education 

Starting a career as a truck driver requires good training and education to handle the job well. Here’s a closer look at how you can get the right training.\

  1. Truck driving schools: These schools teach you everything you need to know about driving trucks. You’ll learn in the classroom and practice driving on the road with experienced instructors.
  2. Online training programs: If you prefer learning online, there are courses available for you. You can study at your own pace, but make sure the program is legit and helps you get your commercial driver’s license (CDL) and learn essential survival things like truck repair.
  3. Apprenticeship programs: These programs combine classroom learning with on-the-job training. They last for a few months to a year and provide you with a lot of support and guidance.
  4. CDL prep courses: If you already have some driving experience or prefer studying on your own, CDL prep courses can help you prepare for the CDL exams. They focus on what you need to know to pass the exams and get your CDL.

Get your CDL and endorsements

Getting your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and endorsements is very important if you want to be a truck driver. Here are the steps to get your CDL and endorsements:

  1. Find out CDL requirements: First, determine what you need to get your CDL in your state. It depends on the type of truck you want to drive and what endorsements you need.
  2. Meet the requirements: Make sure you meet all the requirements set by your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You usually need to be a certain age, live in the state, and be healthy.
  3. Study for written exams: Study for the written exams by reading the CDL manual for your state. It covers traffic laws, how to drive the truck safely, and handling dangerous materials. You can also take classes or study online.
  4. Get a learner’s permit: Go to the DMV and get a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP). You need to pass written tests for the type of CDL and endorsements you want. The CLP lets you practice driving with a licensed CDL holder.
  5. Take CDL skills training: Enroll in a good CDL training program or driving school. They’ll teach you all the skills you need to know, like driving the truck and doing safety checks.
  6. Pass the CDL skills test: Schedule a time to take the CDL skills test at the DMV. It includes checking the truck, driving in different situations, and doing maneuvers. Practice a lot so you can pass the test and get your CDL.
  7. Get endorsements (if needed): If your job needs special skills, like carrying dangerous materials or driving passengers, you’ll need endorsements on your CDL. Study for these and pass the written tests.
  8. Apply for your full CDL: Once you’ve done all the tests and training, go back to the DMV to apply for your full CDL. Pay any fees and give them the paperwork they need. Then you’ll get your official CDL card. 

Costs of the career

Starting a career as a truck driver means thinking about how much money you’ll need to spend and where you can get help paying for it. Here’s a simple breakdown of the costs you should know about.

  1. Training program costs: A truck driver is required to enroll in a training program, which can vary in cost. Tuition fees typically range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on factors such as the duration of the program and the type of instruction offered (classroom, behind-the-wheel).
  2. Out-of-pocket expenses: In addition to tuition fees, aspiring truck drivers should consider other out-of-pocket expenses associated with training. These may include transportation to and from the training facility, accommodation if overnight stays are required, and the purchase of study materials or equipment.
  3. Lease purchase opportunities: Some trucking companies offer lease purchase programs where drivers can lease a truck with the option to buy it at the end of the lease term. While this can provide an opportunity for ownership, drivers should carefully review the terms and conditions of such programs to understand the financial implications and responsibilities involved.

Financial aid options

It’s important to know about different ways you can get help paying for your training. Here, we’ll talk about the different programs that can assist you financially as you learn to drive trucks.

  1. Grants, scholarships, and loans: Financial aid programs offer grants, scholarships, and loans specifically designed for individuals pursuing vocational training or career development. These programs aim to provide financial assistance to students who need help covering the costs of their education.
  2. Employer-sponsored training programs: Some trucking companies offer employer-sponsored training programs that cover some or all training costs. In exchange, participants typically agree to work for the company for a specified period after completing the program. This can be mutually beneficial for both the driver and the company.
  3. Veterans benefits: Military veterans may be eligible for education and training benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Programs such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program provide financial assistance for training and educational expenses related to truck driving.
  4. Workforce development programs: State and local workforce development agencies may offer funding assistance or tuition reimbursement programs for individuals seeking vocational training in high-demand industries like trucking. These programs aim to support workforce development and address skills shortages in key sectors.
  5. Employer tuition reimbursement: Some trucking companies offer tuition reimbursement programs as part of their employee benefits package. These programs allow drivers to receive reimbursement for some of their training expenses after completing a specified probationary period or meeting certain milestones with the company.

10 useful advice before you begin your career

As a truck driver, make the most of your training period. This time lays the foundation for your career, teaching you the skills and habits you’ll need on the road. Here are ten pieces of advice to help you navigate your training effectively and prepare for the challenges and opportunities ahead in your trucking career.

  1. Focus on safety: Safety comes first in trucking. During your training, focus on learning road signs and following safety rules. This includes checking your truck before driving, driving defensively, and knowing what to do in emergencies. Knowing your surroundings and managing risks can help prevent accidents and keep everyone safe.
  2. Master vehicle operation: Use your training to learn how to operate a commercial truck. Get comfortable with the controls and practice driving skills like shifting gears and parking. Simulator training and practice driving sessions will help you improve your handling of different situations.
  3. Strong communication skills: Good communication is key in trucking. Practice talking clearly with dispatchers, other drivers, and customers. Make sure you can use communication devices like radios and phones while driving.
  4. Develop time management techniques: Time management is crucial for truck drivers. Learn how to plan your routes efficiently and deliver goods on time. Using tools like GPS can help you plan your trips and make smart decisions on the road.
  5. Stay informed: Trucking is always changing. Stay up-to-date by reading industry news and attending training events. Knowing the latest rules and trends will help you stay compliant and adapt to changes.
  6. Good problem-solving skills: Trucking can throw unexpected challenges your way. Use your training to practice solving problems quickly and effectively. Critical thinking skills will help you handle whatever comes your way.
  7. Prioritize health and wellness: Taking care of your health is important in trucking. Eat well, stay hydrated, and get enough rest, even when you’re busy. Exercise and stress management techniques can help you stay healthy on the road.
  8. Demonstrate professionalism: Show professionalism in everything you do as a truck driver. Be on time, reliable, and honest. Being professional will earn you respect from others in the industry.
  9. Seek mentorship: Learn from experienced drivers by asking for advice and guidance. Mentors can offer valuable insights and help you grow in your career. Be open to feedback and learn from others’ experiences.
  10. Continuous learning: Your learning doesn’t stop after training. Keep improving your skills and knowledge throughout your career. Stay curious and open to new ideas to become the best truck driver you can be.

Good luck with your trucking career

Starting a career as a truck driver is an exciting journey with its own set of opportunities and challenges. By focusing on getting the right training and education, new truck drivers can set themselves up for success in this rewarding field.

Remember, the skills and knowledge you gain during training will not only help you get your commercial driver’s license (CDL) but also prepare you to drive safely and effectively on the roads. 

With determination, persistence, and a commitment to continuous learning, you can start a fulfilling career journey in the dynamic and vital trucking industry.