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Home » How to Become an OTR Truck Driver
March 20, 2024

How to Become an OTR Truck Driver

Maybe you’re like me and you’ve enjoyed big rigs since childhood. You stared at them with awe and excitement during family road trips down the highway. You’ve admired the drivers and the way they seem so carefree behind the wheel. Whether a long nose or a cab-over, you love ‘em. And now it’s time to make your own way into a transport truck.

It doesn’t matter if you’re young or…not so young, you can begin your trucking career. Remember, state rules at this time don’t allow drivers under 21 to transport freight outside of their home state, so over-the-road trucking may have to wait a couple of years.


Where to begin

The days of getting your truck driver’s license with a pick-up truck and a trailer without any formal training are long gone. Today’s drivers begin with formal education. Truck driver education can take place in at least two ways.

First, a truck driving school where you attend for a set period of time, take your road test, and you’re free to enter the world of trucking.

Second, get hired on by a large company that offers driver training in-house. These companies often require a dedicated period of service to ensure their investments are maintained with their drivers in the company. These arrangements often see drivers on the road for many weeks at a time. In the beginning, new drivers will be paired with mentors who will work alongside them for weeks or even months at a time.


After training

If you’ve attended a truck driving school and are free to work with any company after completing your program and getting your license, the task of job hunting begins. Consider what you are looking for: local, regional, long haul, dry van, reefer, etc. As I entered the industry I happened to notice a truck that stood out from the rest. I looked up the company online, contacted them, had a meeting, and lined up a job as soon as I passed my test. I was fortunate to have a great first experience.

There are countless companies to work for and to choose from. Be sure that the company you want to work for lines up with your own values, doesn’t cut corners, and has a good reputation. This will go a long way to ensuring a positive entrance into trucking.


Your career

Where you start isn’t likely where you’ll stay. Interests change. You’ll want a different truck, a different run, or different freight. Explore your options and talk with other drivers about their experiences.

I had a friend who drove flat-bed for years before deciding to take day-runs with a tanker truck hauling fuel. He thought being home every night would be the best place for him. Turns out he was wrong. He couldn’t stand it and soon returned to flat-bed work. He’s on the road for weeks at a time and loves his job. Everyone is different so be curious and consider your next steps and new opportunities.


Categories: Trucker Lifestyle

Tags: cdl, compliant, exam, insurance, requirements, technology, tips, truck driver, trucker lifestyle, trucking

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