Do you enjoy being behind the wheel? If so, a career as a commercial driver may be the perfect fit for you. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that career opportunities for delivery truck drivers will increase by 11% between now and 2031, a rate that’s much faster than average.1 Opportunities for tractor-trailer drivers are expected to increase by 4%, which is about average.2
Whether you want to drive a bus, tractor-trailer, or delivery truck, here’s what you need to do to become a commercial driver.
Know the Requirements
Driving a truck can be physically demanding, and you’ll need to meet certain requirements to qualify.
To be a truck driver, you need to pass a vision test. Tractor-trailer drivers must have at least 20/40 vision in each eye and a 70-degree field of vision. They also must be able to tell the difference between the colors on a traffic light.2
Delivery truck drivers must also pass a state vision test to earn their license.1 If you’re concerned about your vision, see an optometrist to learn more about your options for correcting it.
Hearing is another important skill for truck drivers. US law requires tractor-trailer drivers to be able to hear a whisper from five feet (using a hearing aid is acceptable).
Some medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, can make it challenging to drive a truck long distances and may rule out becoming a long-haul, tractor-trailer truck driver.
To become a commercial driver, you must first earn a high school diploma or GED. Many training programs, including employer-sponsored programs, require candidates to be high school graduates or GED holders.
Decide What Type of Vehicle You Want to Drive
You have options, and the option that appeals to you most will determine your path toward becoming a commercial driver.
Option one is to become a tractor-trailer driver. To be a tractor-trailer driver, you need a Class A license.
Option two is to become a delivery truck driver or bus driver. If you choose this option, you need a Class B license.
Each option has its benefits and drawbacks. As a long-haul, tractor-trailer driver, you’ll get to see the country. Delivery drivers and bus drivers typically stay closer to home.
Tractor-trailer drivers can work long hours (though there are hour restrictions for safety reasons). Delivery drivers can also work long hours and may have to start their days early or work late. Both professions have high rates of injury.
Complete a Training Program
Once you’ve decided on the vehicle type, the next step is to enroll in a training program. Orange Technical College has two programs for aspiring commercial drivers.
Our Commercial Class B driving program is for people who want to become bus drivers or delivery truck drivers. The program lasts 150 hours or about 4 weeks. It provides commercial truck driver safety training and teaches you the basics of operating a commercial vehicle. Once you’ve completed the program, you’ll be ready to take and pass the exam to earn your class B driver’s license.
Our commercial vehicle driving certificate program is for students looking for tractor-trailer training. During the course, you’ll review the Florida Commercial Driver’s License manual and learn how to operate large trucks. Once you’ve completed the 320-hour (8-week) course, you’ll be ready to take and pass the exam to earn a Class A commercial driver’s license.
Maintaining Your License
Once you’ve earned your commercial driver’s license and have started working as a driver, you’ll need to maintain licensure. That means passing an exam every two years and maintaining a clean driving record for drivers who operate tractor-trailers or buses.
If you’ve decided to become a bus driver or to operate other passenger vehicles, you may need certain endorsements on your license, such as an “S” if you’re going to operate school buses. Earning endorsements requires additional training.
Orange Technical College can help you get on the path to a career as a commercial driver, whether you want to operate a delivery van, tractor-trailer, or bus. Contact us today to learn more about our commercial driving programs.