Truck driver posing beside a red truck

3 Things Every Aspiring Trucker Needs to Know

The trucking industry is facing a crisis. It’s experiencing a shortage of professional people behind the wheel. Estimates suggest it needs at least 63,000 by 2018. This number can double very soon. It explains why there’s a long list of truck driving jobs over at staffing agencies such as Centerline Drivers.

If it’s your first time to work in this field, though, it’s vital your expectations meet reality. Here are three things to know about American trucking:

1. Kinds of Driving Licenses

There’s a difference between personal (or private) and commercial driving licenses. The latter is necessary if you want to engage in commerce or employment. It’s also mandated by law according to 1986’s Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act. There are three of them: A, B, and C. They differ when it comes to gross combination weight rating (CGWR):

  • You need a class A license if the GCWR is at least 26,001 pounds. It already includes the towed vehicle with a weight of no less than 10,000 pounds.
  • You need a class B license if the GCWR is at least 26,001 pounds, but the towed vehicle should not exceed 10,000 pounds.
  • You need a class C license if GCWR doesn’t fit any of the descriptions above.

If you’re planning to drive interstate, you need a class A license. For those who are driving small vehicles such as a van, a class C license may be what you require. For couriers and local delivery drivers, get a class B.

The class C license can be somewhat complex to understand. It’s possible for the DMV to issue it for non-commercial vehicles.

Regardless of what type of license you have, the federal regulations restrict you from having more than one. This is to prevent drivers from hiding their potential bad driving records.

2. Age

Driver in a silver truckYou need to have a non-commercial driver’s license before you can take a commercial vehicle. For that, the minimum age can be between 16 and 18 years old, depending on the state. If you want interstate travel, though, the youngest age is 21. Some states may already allow you to work as a commercial driver earlier, but you can only do so within the area.

3. Health and Lifestyle

One of the biggest issues with truck driving is the long and sometimes erratic working hours. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) revealed the hour-driving limit depends on whether they are transporting passengers or property.

Ideally, truck drivers work for a maximum of 11 hours with a rest period of 10 consecutive hours. Around this time, they are considered as off-duty. The minimum sleeper berth period is 30 minutes. Despite the time cut-off, they tend to have more extended working hours than the average Americans. The latter follows a 9-6 job with an hour of lunch break.

Obesity is also another growing health issue among truckers. In 2014, they ranked first among all types of workers when it comes to this problem. The good thing is there are different ways on how to reduce one’s stress and maintain health even when on the road.

For many Americans, being a truck driver is the quickest way to get a job. It doesn’t require a college degree. Due to the shortage, employers are willing to pay higher salaries and offer more benefits. Like any other job, it has standards and hazards. Knowing these can help you prepare for the tasks ahead.

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