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Truck drivers urgently needed to move the US economy

Right now, as you’re reading this, the United States economy is rushing all around you. It flows throughout the nation, from bustling cities to remote hamlets. Silicon Valley and Wall Street may stand out as major financial centers, but in our hyper-connected world, much of the economy lives on the road.

Forget the office. The seat of American commerce is in the cab of a tractor-trailer truck.

Truckers are in high demand

Heavy and tractor-trailer drivers have topped the list of most in-demand jobs on CareerBuilder several times in recent months. Companies need truckers not just to transport the goods they make, but to ship raw materials used in production. Truckers are a vital part of the supply chain that keeps stores stocked and businesses open. And as the rise of e-commerce continues to expand our shopping horizons beyond physical stores, businesses will need to hire enough drivers to avoid a shortage and meet consumer demand.

The trucking industry is not for everyone. Most of us don't have a workplace that crosses state lines on the daily. The road can be a lonely, difficult place. But for professional truck drivers with impeccable skills and a sense of adventure, it's also a place to make a great living. So let’s take a look at the job that quite literally keeps the economy moving. What’s it take to be a good long-haul trucker? What are the skills and qualifications you need to get behind the wheel?

10 most in-demand jobs. Truck drivers rank 1st and 9th, based on jobs posted last month.


What’s it like to be a truck driver?

If you like a consistent, conventional, 9-to-5 schedule, stop reading this article and browse different jobs. The transportation and shipping industry, or at least long-haul trucking, is not for you.

If, on the other hand, you feel claustrophobic in an office, stifled by the same routine day after day, or like the bustle of an average workplace prevents you from exploring your own thoughts, you might feel right at home with a CB radio in hand.

Truckers often spend days or even weeks away from home at a time. It's hard work, with plenty of challenges and long, odd hours watching miles tick up on the odometer. But for die-hard professional drivers, the downtime between runs, the opportunity to travel and the peace of solitude make it all worth it. Oh, and the compensation, of course. The national average salary for heavy and tractor-trailer drivers is $59,500. Use CareerBuilder's Salary Search to find out how much truckers make in your area.

How to become a truck driver

1. Education

Trucking companies typically require heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers to earn a high school diploma or the equivalent. New drivers often enroll in a professional truck driving school, either at a private institution or a community college, where programs typically last three to six months.

2. Licensing

You can’t work as a professional truck driver without a commercial driver’s license (CDL). You’ll need to pass a knowledge test and driving test, as well as complying with your state’s individual rules, to earn your CDL. It’s your ticket to the trucking life.

3. Professional training

You won’t head for the open road alone right away. New drivers usually spend a few weeks with a more experienced driver riding shotgun, someone who can tell them everything they need to know about driving their particular vehicle and shipping their particular cargo.

Important skills for truck drivers

The steady hands and sharp eyes of truck drivers don’t just get cargo from point A to point B — they keep our roadways safe. Here are a few important skills to develop if you want to find a job as a truck driver:

  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Sharp vision and strong hearing
  • Encyclopedic knowledge of traffic laws in every state where you drive
  • Excellent navigation skills
  • Basic math competency

More advice for prospective truck drivers

Still building your work experience? Browse all our driving jobs to find your next opportunity.

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