Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Truck Driver

To my fellow road warriors, have you ever dreamt of hitting the open road with the wind in your hair and a powerful engine beneath you? It’s time to turn that dream into a reality by becoming a truck driver.

The highway is calling, and Riggy’s has the ultimate guide to help steer the path to your new career. So buckle up as we walk you through how to become a truck driver. 

How Long Does it Take to Become a Truck Driver?

The timeline for becoming a truck driver varies based on individual circumstances, including the type of training program, state regulations, and personal commitment. On average, from the decision to become a truck driver to obtaining a CDL, the process may take anywhere from three weeks to a few months.

Step-by-Step Guide to Become a Truck Driver

1. Obtain a High School Diploma or GED

To obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License), it is typically necessary to get a high school diploma or its equivalent, such as a General Education Development (GED) credential.

2. Choose a Reputable Trucking School

Enroll in a reputable trucking school to receive proper training. Look for schools with experienced instructors, modern equipment, and high placement rates. Training programs typically cover driving techniques, safety regulations, and maintenance basics.

3. Apply for a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP)

After enrollment, it’s time to start your studies and complete the written exam to acquire a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP). With this permit, you can practice driving a commercial vehicle under the supervision of a licensed instructor.

4. Get Behind the Wheel – Training Period

Your training period is where you’ll apply theoretical knowledge to practical driving. Practice maneuvers, master the art of backing up, and gain confidence handling a big rig. This hands-on experience is crucial for success on the road.

5. Pass the Skills Test – Obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

The culmination of your training is the skills test. You must pass this to receive your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). 

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Truck Driver?

Becoming a truck driver does come with some financial investment. The expenses typically include trucking school tuition, licensing fees, and potential costs for additional endorsements. On average, you can expect to invest anywhere from $4,000 to $12,000 in your training and getting a CDL.

Requirements to Become a Truck Driver

Becoming a truck driver requires more than a love for the open road. Here are the primary requirements to become a truck driver:

Age Criteria: To operate a vehicle within the state, you must be at least 18 years old, and for interstate driving (across state lines), the age requirement is 21 years.

Clean Driving Record: A clean driving record is crucial. Driving Under the Influence (DUI) convictions, serious traffic violations, and a history of accidents can hinder your prospects.

Physical Fitness: A medical examination is mandatory to ensure you meet the physical requirements of the job.

Good Vision: With or without corrective lenses, good vision is necessary to drive safely.

Communication Skills: Clear communication is vital for coordination with shippers, receivers, and other drivers on the road.

Background Check: Most trucking companies typically require a clean criminal background.

Drug Testing: Mandatory drug testing is part of the hiring process and may be conducted randomly during employment.

Strong Work Ethic: Truck driving demands discipline, responsibility, and the ability to manage time effectively.

Requirements for Receiving Your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

When earning your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), there are several critical criteria to meet before you can confidently hit the open road. Let’s review the major requirements you must fulfill to receive your CDL.

1. Passing the Written Exam

Before getting behind the wheel of a big rig, you must demonstrate your understanding of the rules of the road and the specific regulations governing commercial driving. The written exam covers various topics, including traffic laws, safety procedures, and the ins and outs of operating a commercial vehicle.

2. Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP)

Once you’ve conquered the written exam, the next step is obtaining your Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP). Consider this your initiation into the world of trucking. With the CLP, you can practice your driving skills under the watchful eye of a licensed instructor. This phase is crucial for gaining hands-on experience and implementing your theoretical knowledge.

3. Training Period

With your CLP in hand, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get behind the wheel. During the training, you’ll apply what you’ve learned in the classroom to real-world driving scenarios. Under the instructor’s guidance, you’ll tackle everything from mastering pre-trip inspections to navigating through traffic with finesse.

The hands-on experience gained during this phase is invaluable, preparing you for the challenges that await during the skills test.

4. Skills Test

Your skills test will include the pre-trip inspection, road test, and backing tests (straight backing, offset backing, alley dock, and parallel parking.). Two are required, and the third is at the tester’s discretion. Completing the skills test is the gateway to obtaining your CDL.

5. Endorsements

While a standard CDL allows you to drive various commercial vehicles, consider obtaining endorsements for specialized skills. These endorsements indicate your proficiency in specific areas, such as transporting hazardous materials, driving tanker trucks, or carrying passengers. 

Depending on your career goals, acquiring endorsements can open up additional job opportunities and increase your earning potential. Remember that endorsements may require further written exams and, in some cases, a separate skills test.


Earning your CDL is a comprehensive process that demands theoretical knowledge and practical skills. From passing the written exam to mastering the skills test, each step is crucial in ensuring you are a competent and confident truck driver. The open road awaits. So sign up, train up, and join a team of seasoned, professional road warriors.