Nearly anyone can be a truck driver! That may sound pie-in-the-sky, but it is true. If you meet the legal, medical, training, and exam requirements, a trucking career may be open to you.
Here at Southwest Truck Driver Training, we’ve trained people from all different backgrounds. Let’s dig into why you can become a truck driver.
What Are the Requirements to Become a Truck Driver?
Generally, if you meet these standards, you could qualify for a commercial driver’s license. A few of the requirements to become a truck driver include the following:
- Passing a DOT physical
- Meeting age minimum
- Completing a commercial driver’s license (CDL) training program
- Passing CDL exams
- Having an acceptable criminal history, including a satisfactory driving record
- Passing a drug test
- Being able to speak, read, and write English at an acceptable level
- Having citizenship or being a permanent resident in the US.
Is There an Age Limit to Become a Truck Driver?
There is no maximum age limit for truck driving careers. If you meet the age minimum and all other requirements, your age is just a number.
In fact, truck driving is often a second career. We’ve had tons of people enter our doors after their retirements asking to be trained. Our oldest trainee was in their 70s.
What’s the Age Minimum for Truckers?
Truckers typically must be at least 21 to drive a truck across state lines and 18 to drive within their state. You may need to be older for certain high-risk specialties, even if you work in your own state.
You must be at least 18 to enroll at Southwest.
Truckers’ Levels of Education
Truck drivers come from various educational backgrounds. According to CareerOneStop, as of 2023, just under half of heavy truck drivers have a high school diploma or equivalent and no further education. Only 16% haven’t completed high school, and 37% have some college or a degree.
At Southwest, we’ve trained people from all academic backgrounds. We even had a former medical doctor join us. In our classroom, all educational experiences are valued.
Trucking as a Route Out of Homelessness
If you do a quick Google search, you can see heartwarming stories of people who used truck driving to get out of homelessness. Here at Southwest Truck Driver School, we welcome people from all backgrounds—including those who don’t have a permanent address upon enrollment. If you’re unhoused and looking for a trucking school, you won’t be our first student in that situation.
Worried about paying for our program? Reach out to us to talk about your Southwest financial aid options.
Veterans in Trucking
Military veterans may find that trucking is a great civilian career. In 2019—the last time this information was put together—the US Census reported that one in ten truck drivers are veterans. As trucking grows, the number of veterans in trucking is expected to grow with it.
Women in Trucking
The number of women truckers is on the rise. In fact, currently they make up 12.1% of all truckers. And if you want to start in trucking and later move to management, this is a field where about one-third of the “background” workers are female.
At Southwest Truck Driver Training, we pride ourselves on inclusivity—and that may be why we tend to have a higher-than-average number of women graduating from our trucking program.
Lots of people think trucking isn’t for them because they have a family. Still, there are many ways to stay close to your family while pursuing a trucking career.
If you want to stay close to home, consider careers in local or regional driving, bus driving, or at worksites (such as dump truck driving). Some of these require CDL endorsements, but many don’t.
Local driving often gets you home at the end of the day, as does worksite driving. Regional routes go farther, but you’re usually home every week. For bus driving, time away from home depends on whether you drive a city, school, or a long-distance bus, but with any of these, you’re home often.
You may also be able to take your spouse or kids on the road after you’ve worked for a trucking company for several months.
Truckers With Disabilities
Some disabilities and illnesses ban people from a trucking career, but not many—and not always the ones you may imagine.
The most worrisome illnesses and disabilities for the Department of Transportation (DOT) are any that could result in loss of consciousness. They keep a special eye out for diabetes, seizures, and high blood pressure. If you prove your condition is well-managed, you may be subject to more frequent testing but allowed to drive.
Other issues, like limb loss, may not harm your driving ability if you show you can perform all truck driver duties without issue.
In other words, if you can pass the DOT medical exam, you could be on your way to a trucking career. To avoid wasting your time and money, try getting your DOT physical within a few days of starting your Southwest training.
Trucking With a Criminal Record
If you have a criminal record, you may still be able to become a truck driver. This could be true even if you were convicted of a non-violent felony—though multiple violent felonies can prevent you from earning your CDL. You could also face difficulty qualifying for a trucking career if you have a spotty driving record.
In some cases, you might be able to argue your case and have your conviction lifted from your CDL. However, in this case, the state decides rather than a school or trucking company.
If you think you may qualify for truck driver training, contact Southwest Truck Driver Training today!