Truck drivers transport a variety of goods and freight across our great country. Some trips can be short, such as delivering a load of corn from an Iowa field to a grain mill only ten miles away. Other trips involve crossing the entire nation, like picking up lettuce grown in southern California and then trucking it to the northern tip of Maine, for example.
Regardless of the distance, these truckers travel, their mission is to bring us all an abundance of food and products we want and need all year round. The post office may say rain and snow will delay them, but the truck drivers in this country are driven by the on-time standard; they even deliver on weekends.
When it comes to hauling anything, anywhere, an 18 wheeler is the preferred mode of transportation for getting the job done. There are other ways to move products, but trucks can deliver to areas and regions planes and trains cannot. Even if the product begins its trip via air or rail, chances are, it finishes the trek in the trailer of a semi for final delivery.
The versatility of trucks is rather broad. Semi truck trailers come in many shapes and sizes and are designed for hauling dry goods, liquids, grains, rock, boats, houses, lumber, heavy machinery, and even vehicles and other semi trucks.
The trucking industry is constantly growing; therefore, there is a constant need for more truck drivers. With the population booming, and the production of goods on the rise to meet market demands, more of everything needs to be hauled.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the trucking industry is on track to add as many as 330,100 jobs. That’s an increase of 20% from the approximate 1.5 million current trucking jobs. Truckers are well paid, making an average of $37,930 a year according to CNN, with the top ten percent making upwards of $58,000 per year.
Becoming a successful truck driver doesn’t happen overnight, however. To get a commercial driver’s license, or CDL, one must complete a course and pass the required CDL skills and written tests. Most CDL training classes take about eight weeks, and you must be at least 18 years of age to enroll. Even 18 year-olds with a CDL can only operate a semi truck in the state (intrastate) that the CDL was issued.
To drive outside of the state (interstate) in which the license was issued, the CDL holder must be at least 21 years old. Most trucking companies require their drivers to be at least 23 years old and have one year of experience before being eligible for employment, but there are companies that hire new drivers to help them gain the experience needed to move on to bigger and better driving jobs.
The exams to acquire a CDL include a skill and written test. The skill test is a behind-the-wheel style test for the potential CDL candidate to showcase what they learned during the training course they took. Handling a vehicle that large with an attached trailer is rather tricky, and they must be able to show they have the competence and skills required.
The test often covers such things as backing, hooking a trailer, and highway driving. The written test, on the other hand, challenges the student to remember the numerous rules and regulations that every truck driver needs to know and are subject to.
Once an individual passes both of these tests they can begin their new career as a truck driver. But their education and training don’t necessarily end there. If the individual wishes to drive trucks that transport hazardous material or pilot big rigs that haul over-sized loads, they are required to pass additional tests and training to ensure they understand how to safely operate and transport specific equipment.
So, as you’re driving down the highway and see a semi, you may say to yourself “I want to be a successful truck driver.” From field to mill, intrastate hauling, and interstate transportation, truck drivers move the products we need to where they’re needed.
The drivers are strictly licensed and skilled at their profession and make every effort to transport their cargo as safely and efficiently as possible. Truckers help power and sustain our great economy, and by transporting the tremendous volume of goods they carry, they make our lives easier to live.