How an Indian citizen can become a truck driver in USA?
How an Indian citizen can become a truck driver in USA?
The trucking industry is the leading force behind the booming economy of United States said American Trucking Association president, Chris Spear. In 2017, the trucking industry brought about $700.3 billion in economic activity as reported by ATA.
According to Los Angeles Times, there are about 3.5 million truckers in the US. Among these truckers are Indian-American Sikhs. CBS Evening News has reported that in two years there were more than 30,000 Indian-American Sikhs entered the trucking industry. Seeing the industry’s business potential, some already started their own trucking companies.
With the increasing demand for trucking services, more drivers will be needed. So, how does one land a job as a trucking driver?
If you are a foreign national who wish to work in the US, you will need a working visa. For you to be able to apply for a visa, you will need a job offer and an employer to sponsor you.
Your employer will be asked to submit a temporary labor certification for H-2B workers and Form l-129. The US Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) further states that your potential employer will need to verify your work experience, submit a proof that there is a shortage of available US workers and will need to verify your work experience. The wage you will receive from the job will also be compared to the prevailing wage for truck drivers in the place where the company is located.
Once needed paper works are accomplished by your employer, you will need to apply for a visa or admission at the US embassy or consulate in your home country. Look for the United States Department of State (DOS).
Once your visa is granted, you will need to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License.
Obtaining a CDL comes with its own set of requirements. In addition to your driving license from your home country, an International Driving Permit (IDP) may be required from you in some states. So, it is important to contact the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in your state since procedures and requirements vary.
The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 specifies the classifications of license. For drivers who will be using any combination of vehicles with Gross Vehicle Weight Rating/Gross Vehicle Weight (GVWR/GVW) of 26,001lbs or more, you will need a Class A license. Class B is for any single type of vehicle with a GVWR/GVW of 26,001 or more pounds. If Class A or B is not met, Class C is for any singe or combination of vehicles that transport 16 or more passengers.
To acquire a CDL, you will need to do the following:
Finish Required Hours of CDL Training
This training aims to help future truck drivers pass the pass the CDL knowledge and skills tests. Laws and regulations about truck driving will be taught to you in the classroom. Advanced driving techniques are also taught in CDL trainings.
It is possible to pass the CDL exam without the need to enroll in a CDL school. However, most companies look for certification of training in a commercial driving school.
Choose a school which offer training in the use of manual and automatic transmissions. Some trucks still use manual transmissions nowadays. Look at the school’s trainer and student ratio. Aim for a school that has a trainer for at least 4 students. Check the length of the program.
Some companies require at least 160 hours of training from its employees. Schools offer varied types of programs where the duration of each program varies. Some programs may be finished within a month to ten weeks. However, there are programs that can last for twelve months.
Mind the trainer’s qualifications. Trainers with former trucking driving history surely know the how’s of driving trucks. CDL training can be costly.
So, search for schools that offer financial aid programs. One more thing is to check the school’s policy on failed licensing tests. Ask whether test can be repeated once it has been failed for the first time.
Have a Good Record of Driving and Work History
A person with a good record of driving and work history has more advantage as compared to another whose record shows varied driving-related offenses. Not only employers, but schools also look on minor violations such as parking tickets. It may be difficult to enter any CDL trainings and trucking jobs if you have been convicted to any major traffic violations.
Must be of Legal Age
A person must be at least 18 years old to be given a CDL. The Department of Tourism requires truck drivers to be older than 21.
Undergo Physical Examination and Pass Alcohol and Drug Test
Truck driving may involve long hours of drive and may disrupt sleep. That is why it is important for truck drivers to be physically fit to be able to meet the demands of the work.
Since road accidents are in the rise. It is important for a truck driver to have a good vision. Driving also require that people behind the wheel must stay focused while on the road. So, it is important to stay sober while driving.
Prior to receiving a CDL, the future truck driver must have undergone physical examinations from a licensed physician. Alcohol and drug test must have been passed by the student also.
Reading the commercial driver’s manual may help. You can ask for a copy from a DMV office near you. You may also download a digital copy online. Some state DMV websites have them.
The manual will help you know more about the processes of obtaining a CDL. It may also inform you about fees, classes and restrictions. As traffic laws can change at any time, it is important to check if you have the latest edition.
Talking with established truck drivers may also help you as they can share about their experiences.
Becoming a truck driver in the USA is not impossible as long as you follow and comply with the regulations.