Driving is one of the most common skills that every American has. There are about 282 million licensed drivers in the country. These drivers are allowed to drive on almost any road in the country and are allowed to own a vehicle of their own. However, only a few licensed drivers can become professional drivers.

According to the American trucking associations in the United States, only three million professional truckers are on the road. This doesn’t include the 3.8 million rideshares from Uber. So combining that amount, there are only around 10 million professional drivers in the country of over 300 million. So suffice to say, being a professional driver is in demand. Here’s how you can start and advance your career as a professional driver.

Become a truck driver

Truck drivers are the most common type of professional driver, and to become a truck driver, you must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). You can obtain a CDL by passing a written exam and a skills test. The skills test consists of two parts: the pre-trip inspection and the road test. The pre-trip inspection tests your knowledge of the vehicle, and the road test is precisely what it sounds like  you drive on the road with an examiner in the passenger seat.

Once you have your CDL, you can apply to truck companies. There are many trucking companies, from small regional carriers to large national fleets. Some companies specialize in hauling certain types of freight, such as food or hazardous materials. Other companies hire drivers to haul loads for different customers.

Some trucking companies require experience, while others are willing to train new drivers. If you have a clean driving record and are eager to work hard, you can find a job as a truck driver.

Drive for a ride-sharing service

Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft have become popular in recent years. These services allow people to request a ride from their phone and pay using the app. Drivers use their vehicles to transport passengers to their destinations.

To become an Uber or Lyft driver, you must be at least 21 years old, have a valid driver’s license, and pass a background check. You also need a car that meets the requirements of the ride-sharing service. Uber and Lyft both have different requirements, so be sure to check before you apply.

Once you are approved to drive, you can start picking up passengers. You will be paid based on the fares that passengers pay. The more rides you give, the more money you can make.

Drive for a delivery service

Delivery services like Amazon Flex and DoorDash allow people to order items from their favorite stores and deliver them to their doorsteps. Drivers use their vehicles to pick up and deliver orders.

To become a delivery driver, you must be at least 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license. You will also need a car, truck, or van that meets the requirements of the delivery service. Amazon Flex requires drivers to have a mid-sized sedan or larger vehicle, while DoorDash has no vehicle requirements.

Once approved to drive, you can start picking up and delivering orders. You will be paid based on the number of deliveries you make. The more you provide, the more money you can make. You can also be a food delivery service for these companies.

As more professional drivers start hitting the road, you’ll need a bunch of skills to separate yourself from the rest. If you want to excel in your career, here are a few options.

man inside a car

Learn Defensive Driving

Defensive driving is a set of driving skills that help you to avoid accidents. It is a great way to improve your safety on the road. You can take a course if you want. However, if you don’t have the time for it, consider applying for an affordable online defensive driving course. The online course only takes a few hours to complete. It will still teach you the basics of defense driving alongside the essentials when avoiding accidents on the road.

Learning defensive driving is a great way to start if you want to advance your career as a professional driver. It will show potential employers that you are dedicated to safety and willing to learn new skills.

Get Certified

There are many certification programs available for professional drivers. The most common one is the Certified Driver Training Instructor program offered by the National Safety Council. This program trains instructors to teach defensive driving courses.

Another option is the Truckload Carriers Association’s Certified Professional Driver program. This program trains drivers to become instructors for their trucking company.

There are many other certification programs available. These are just a few examples. Getting certified shows employers that you are willing to learn new skills and improve your career.

Join a Professional Organization

Joining a professional organization is a great way to network with other professional drivers. It can also help you to find job opportunities and advance your career.

The drivers’ most popular professional organizations are the American Trucking Associations, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, and the National Association of Small Truck Fleet Operators. These organizations offer many benefits to members, including networking opportunities, job postings, and educational resources.

There are many ways to start and advance your career as a professional driver. By following the tips above, you can start such a career with little to no hassle. Dedication and hard work can achieve success in your career as a professional driver.

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