What Qualifications Do You Need to Become a Professional Driver?

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If you’re like most Americans, you’ve probably never given much thought to becoming a professional driver. Whether you want to earn your living behind the wheel of a vehicle hauling loads across the country or driving a private car for clients, this career is the perfect job for anyone that loves to drive. What qualifications do you need to become a professional driver? Here are some tips for achieving your goal:

Skills

To work as a professional driver, you may need to be skilled at operating heavy machinery. The specific vehicles you can drive will depend on your state’s licensing requirements. For example, in some states, you may be allowed to drive over-the-road 18-wheelers without additional training or experience but not school buses. In other states, you may only be allowed to drive smaller passenger vehicles until you have worked for several years and then passed an additional driving test in order to move up into higher classes of vehicle.

Education

The education you need depends on what kind of driving jobs you would like. School bus drivers, for example, will typically need a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Those with a CDL can drive multiple types of vehicles that may include semi-trucks and trailers. If you want to be an international driver, things get more complicated. You’ll need your class A Commercial Drivers License (CDL) which requires more training and is more expensive.

Experience

In most states, you need to have several years of driving experience. You will typically also need a clean driving record and pass both written and physical exams. Additionally, many training schools require that you are at least 18 years old before applying for any positions. Class A CDL training programs can cost anywhere from $2,000-$4,000, depending on how much of it is covered by your employer and whether or not you’re eligible for financial aid.

Certifications

Truck drivers are required to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) from their state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. To get your CDL, you must pass both written and road exams. You must also have proof of your identity and U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency status. Once you have passed both exams, check with your state DMV to determine how many hours of driving experience you will need in order to be eligible for an actual license. In most states, those just starting out will be required to complete at least 50 hours of behind-the-wheel training before they can sit for either exam.

A career as a professional driver could be right for you if you have the right combination of skills, experience, and training. With proper planning and dedication, you can make your goal to become a professional driver a reality.

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