Learn More About Trucking

Once you've selected a mentor, they will help educate you on the different career paths available and help you navigate these steps to getting hired in the trucking industry.

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Steps to get into the industry

There many different career paths in the trucking industry. Perhaps the best way to break into the industry is to start as a professional driver, because you will learn all aspects of the business, opening doors to all areas of the business. Here are the steps to get started.

1. Learn About Industry & Select a Carrier
Learn about the trucking industry by talking with your mentor, watching the videos below, and reading the additional resources. Then, select a carrier that matches your career ambitions and personal preferences.

2. Sign Pre-Hire Letter & Enroll in a Driving Academy
Sign a pre-hire letter so that you can be certain a job is waiting for you when you complete your trucking education. Then, get help from your carrier to enroll in a Driving Academy.

3. Attend a Drving Academy & Graduate
Attend a certified Driving Academy for classroom and driving work, which takes less-than 160 hours in most states. After graduation, you will test for and receive your Commercial Drivers License (CDL).

4. Start Job & Continue Training
Start your driving job and continue ongoing training with your carrier. It is important to pick a carrier with a good post-hire training program to properly prepare you for a successful long-term career.

Another great way to get into the industry is as a professional mechanic. Here are the steps to start your career as a mechanic, you'll notice that they are very similar to entering as a professional driver.

1. Learn About Industry & Talk with Carriers
Learn about the trucking industry by talking with your mentor, watching the videos below, and reading the additional resources. Once you've decided to be a professional mechanic, talk with a few carriers to see which matches you best. Some carriers pre-hire their mechanics, others hire right out of mechanic school.

2. Apply & Enroll in Mechanic School
After you've chosen which Mechanic School you would like to attend, fill-out their application and apply. When you have been accepted, enroll into their training program. Most training programs last about 9 months, and some schools offer help with VA Benefits.

3. Attend Mechanic School, Hiring Fairs, & Graduate
Attend a certified Mechanic School, receive your mechanic's certifications. Before you graduate, work with your school's career services department to find a job or attend career fairs to find the carrier right for you.

4. Start Job & Continue Training
Start your mechanic job and continue ongoing training with your carrier. It is important to pick a carrier with a good post-hire training program to properly prepare you for a successful long-term career.

Most prominent people in the trucking industry started their careers in either a truck or in the shop. But there are a few who entered the industry from the office or management side. Talk with your mentor to learn more.

Here are some potential career paths for the trucking industry:

1. Specialized Professional Driver
A specialized professional driver is a truck driver who moves specialized equipment or cargo. They could move space ships, tanks, circus animals, and any number of specialty items that require unique skills to handle and haul.

2. Owner-Operator
An Owner-Operator is a truck driver who owns his own truck and trailer. They are small business owners who can earn approximately 75% or more of the revenue from each delivery they make.

3. Fleet Owner
A Fleet owner is a truck driver who owns multiple trucks. This is someone who has built their small business up from one truck to many. Fleet owners have the ability to spend less time on the road, if they value hometime.

4. Sales & Dispatch
The core of carriers office personnel are sales and dispatch. Sales obtain the shipments that the carrier moves, while dispatch manages the pickup and delivery of those shipments. Both career choices have a very large range between average and maximum pays, and most people who started out in a truck, tend to excel in these areas.

5. Management
There are different career paths in management one could take. You could work in operations, safety, recruiting, training or even human resources. These are important aspects of a trucking company, and those who come from a truck tend to execute these jobs more effectively. These jobs vary in pay, depending on both experience and level of the position.

6. Carrier Owner
A Carrier Owner is someone who owns a trucking company itself, and not just the trucks like a fleet owner. While the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 made it easy to start a trucking company, it takes significant experience to run a successful trucking company. Again, starting in a truck is a good option to learn the business, and some former drivers, JB Hunt for example have built extraordinary organizations, 3rd Party Logistics, Brokerages, and Consulting companies.

In recent years, many companies have had extraordinary success in 3rd Party Logistics, Brokerage, and Consulting. Think of these companies as "Middlemen" that manage and improve the shipping process. Like other areas of the business, practical experience in a truck is a great place to start.

Many service members do not know that their military driving experience can "count" for civilian experience. More specifically, some military driving experience allows you to get your CDL much faster.

Provided by:

For Instance, the Commercial Drivers License (CDL) Military Skills Test Waiver allows service members who are or were employed in a military position in the last 12 months to be exempt from taking the driving portion of the CDL skills testing. In addition, the waiver verifies the service member's trucking experience, which can translate into as much as $10,000 to $15,000 in higher starting salaries. Here are a few military vehicles that could qualify for the waiver:

Here are some frequently asked questions around the CDL Military Skills Test Waiver:

1. Does the Military Skills Test Waiver apply to all states?
Yes, every state now accepts the Military Skills Test Waiver.

2. How do I apply for the Military Skills Test Waiver?
To apply for the experience waiver, simply fill-out the Application for Military Skills Test Waiver, have your commander sign, and turn into a Commercial Driving School or your State Driver Licensing Agency (SDLA). Click here to download the Military Skill Test Waiver.

3. Is there a deadline to complete the Military Skills Test Waiver?
Yes, the deadline set by the Education Testing Service (ETS) varies by state. They range from 1 to 2 years from discharge. This means that the Military Skills Test Waiver must be completed and turned into a CDL School or State Driver Licensing Agency before that date. Click here for a complete state list.

4. How do I know which license I am qualified for?
Depending on your experience in the military you may qualify for a Class-A, Class-B or Class-C license. Click here to see a CDL License Matrix that shows the vehicle characteristics, required testing, and endorsements/required testing for each of the 3 types of CDL Licenses.

According to the Commercial Drivers License Division of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), since November of 2013 there have been nearly 90,000 eligible participants for the CDL Military Skills Test Waiver. However, only 6,000 total waivers have been issued for Class-A, Class-B, and Class-C licenses. Of those, only 3,000 were Class-A, or in other words, "big rig" drivers. In addition, only 1 in 5 veterans or active duty service members we've been in contact with said they were aware of the CDL waiver. Also concerning, many eligible candidates we've counseled have incomplete or incorrect information on the waiver. Our goal is to help educate veterans and active service members on Military Skills Test Waiver and help as many veterans as we can pursue a great career in the trucking industry.

FASTPORT would like to thank for providing this valuable information for our military veterans to ensure they will receive proper industry credit for their military driving experience.


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