How To Become A Truck Driver In The USA?

Topic 13990 | Page 1

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Emre D.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi everyone,

I hope I am writing this in the correct section and if not, sorry in advance. I just signed up as a 21 year-old guy living in Turkey (so far away from the States!), looking forward to seeing if I can have a shot at this industry. This message is not a "Should I be a truck driver?" type but more like, "Is it possible and viable for me to do this in the USA?" instead. Please do not hesitate to ask me any questions about the issue to have a better picture of things, in case I may forget anything.

My main question is pretty straightforward: As a young lad without any savings, is it possible for me to come to the USA, get the relevant license and start driving a truck? As far as I know, there have been a shortage of truck drivers in the USA in recent years and I'd assume the government would be happy to recruit young workers - however, I just have no idea if this is the case and if it is, what I should do in order to be accepted.

At the moment, I am a freshman at college, studying Italian Language & Literature. However, in August, I will move to Ukraine to study English Language & Literature. While staying at school and getting a diploma is a cool thing, I just don't see a future for myself there. Five or six years spent on school, graduation at the age of 26 at best with no particular skills but only some literary information... I don't know. I feel very concerned about my future and everything in trucking seems to be perfectly fitting for me: It has been a dream for me since my childhood, but in my country, being a truck driver pays no good money and it's generally frowned upon, sadly. The only concern I may have as a truck driver in the USA is missing NHL games on the road! Apart from that, life style and pay is awesome: Traveling through the USA, being in charge of a truck, not having to deal with typical daily stuff and having a good paycheck both to save for yourself and provide huge support for the family (mom and siblings) in Turkey? I would definitely be in that. To be honest, I have always been one of these shy guys who constantly dreams of getting away and feeling irritated around people, haha.

So, I would like to learn what I should do if it's possible for me to chase a trucking job in the States... Even though it's not perfect, I have a thing going on here - you know, moving to a new country, starting a new school, already having an online job which pay quite good enough for a student... Leaving for the USA would mean a definite END for all these, so while I am fond of trucking and would be very happy to become a truck driver, I do not want to screw up things forever by destroying my chances both as a driver and a guy with diploma.

I need your valuable information and life experience on this. I am by no means asking for money, scholarship or such. I just need a way, a light from which I can take on.

Rick S.'s Comment
member avatar

First you have to get here - on a WORK VISA.

Not easy to get.

Next - most companies & states, require you to have a regular US drivers license for a year, before you can be issued a CDL.

So the hardest part is GETTING HERE - and be AUTHORIZED TO WORK.

Rick

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Emre D.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the reply, Rick.

The most challenging part is having to have owned a regular driver's license in US then, as it means I have to spend at least a year there with probably low-paying jobs as an unqualified person. Does it help if I have a regular driver's license or even the one needed to drive trucks in another country? Would that help and/or (do the requirements) change from state to state? I am wondering if being granted a Green Card may help in this case.

PvtJoker's Comment
member avatar

Welcome, Emre! Excellent English, by the way.

While I can't help too much with the logistics of entering the US, I'll try my best with other topics.

Mario V.'s Comment
member avatar

Emre

a work visa takes years to get, i know from experience, also hazmat endorsement requires you to be either a USA citizen or a permanent resident, work visa doesn't give you either status so you will be limited a bit. it wont be an easy road but if you do everything the legal way eventually you will get there. Best of luck

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

40 Ton Land Captain's Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the reply, Rick.

The most challenging part is having to have owned a regular driver's license in US then, as it means I have to spend at least a year there with probably low-paying jobs as an unqualified person. Does it help if I have a regular driver's license or even the one needed to drive trucks in another country? Would that help and/or (do the requirements) change from state to state? I am wondering if being granted a Green Card may help in this case.

As-salāmu ʿalaykum / Selamün aleyküm!

If you can get a "green card" then you are a perm US resident. Then you can do almost any job in the USA anywhere, anyplace. But you either need family in the USA to sponsor you or try to win a spot via the green card lottery. I am not aware of any visa category for truck drivers to come to the USA for work. However, Canada does have such visas in place. You should take a look at getting employment and a visa for driving a truck in Canada. Also, Canadian truckers can deliver and pick-up cargo from the USA, so a job in Canada would also allow you to possibly enter the USA as a trucker but you would still be unable to legally work in the USA.

Options like the J-1 student visa are often for low-wage, unskilled jobs for a limited time and the H2-B visas tend to be issued for foreign experts such as IT workers.

Look into Canada, they have a much simpler and better immigration system than the USA does. You might need to become a truck driver in Turkey or the EU first, but it is possible to get work and a visa for truck driving in Canada.

Good Luck!

Belluavir's Comment
member avatar

Uscis.gov is where you want to go for info about US immigration.

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