You’ve heard plenty about the truck driver shortage. And yes, it is still ongoing. This means that there are jobs out there for anyone looking for a fun, sable and potentially lucrative career in trucking. But do you know what to look for?
As a professional truck driver, you would be the face of your company. This means that trucking companies are going to look for someone who fits with their company’s image when they are hiring. They also look for candidates who are qualified based on specific federal regulations and trucking company policies.
What Are the Regulations?
Specifically, Parts 383 and 391 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) specifically address truck driver qualification and disqualification. According to section 391.11 of the FMCSRs, you must pass a physical exam, be in possession of a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) and be able to pass a road test.
The fleet that hires you will be required to maintain a driver qualification file on you. The regulations surrounding how the file is to be maintained, from drivers’ logs to drug and alcohol testing, can be found in section 391.51 of the FMCSRs.
Once you become a CDL holder, certain offenses can disqualify you from operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), whether they are committed in the CMV itself or in a passenger vehicle. They could include anything from reckless driving to drug and alcohol offenses.
What Are the Job Qualifications?
When a fleet recruiter is looking for a truck driver, they aren’t looking for just anyone. There is a certain amount of responsibility that comes with operating a Class 8 big rig.
When a recruiter is looking for someone, they generally look for the following:
- A general knowledge of the types of vehicles used in the trucking industry;
- A basic understanding of different vehicle systems and components;
- A cursory understanding of the paperwork and regulatory requirements required in trucking;
- The ability to safely operate a CMV;
- A basic understanding of how to handle cargo, and;
- A basic understanding of the techniques and skills associated with operating a CMV.
Though not as critical, but just as important, an employer is looking for someone who has a positive attitude and shows an active interest in the job. They want someone who is mature, enthusiastic and not quick to shoot from the hip. After all, safety is about more than just CSA scores.
What is the Company Policy?
All motor carriers operate under federal and state regulation, but they also have their own specific company policies that operators must follow. Some of these policies may vary from carrier to carrier, but always remember that you must operate your vehicle both safely and legally.
It is illegal for an employer to compel you to operate in such a way that would violate federal, state or local laws or regulations.
When considering what to look for in a trucking company policy, keep the following things in mind:
- Work hours;
- Safety rules;
- Inspection and maintenance requirements;
- Road trip rules, and;
- Customer relations.
Can I Advance?
There are always opportunities for advancement in the trucking industry. Experience plays a big part in the hiring process, but as you put in both time and a safe driving record, opportunities make themselves apparent.
Completing a full truck driver education program is the first step in reaching your truck driving career goals. Many an experienced truck driver will tell you their first job was in the yard and not in the cab. Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom as you work your way to the top.
Always be the first to put your best foot forward, show enthusiasm and strive to do a good job, and a career in trucking may be just what you’re looking for.