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Women truck drivers? Yes! How to become a truck driver in 5 steps in 2023 (no experience!)

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While men continue to dominate the trucking industry, the number of women truck drivers is on the rise — and for good reason. 

“This is one of the only industries that pays equally for men and women,” says Kayla Chavez, a truck driver whose handle on TikTok, @iamkaylachavez, has nearly 20,000 followers. 

According to the Truck Driver Institute, a vocational training company, truck drivers are typically paid on a standard per-mile or hourly basis, so there’s not likely to be a discrepancy based on sex. Furthermore, the average truck driver salary with only one year’s experience or less nationwide is $72,571, according to Indeed.com.

Chavez, who previously worked in other industries and was dissatisfied with her schedule and pay, says trucking has given her more money and more freedom. 

“I used to be a banker,” she says. “I quit that job to become a flight attendant, and it wasn’t paying well — $19 an hour. I was working two jobs, overwhelmed and broke.”

At first, when her boyfriend’s uncle suggested she get into trucking, Chavez was skeptical. But she soon took a leap of faith, and it has paid off. 

“I thought, I’m 5’3”; these trucks are huge; I don’t know if I can handle this job,” she admits. “But I looked on YouTube [for inspiration], and …three months later, I got a grant from my state (Nevada) to get trained.”

After working for a megacarrier for six months, Chavez started her own business delivering dry goods with her own truck, which she affectionately named “Riggie Smalls.”

She and her boyfriend travel together with their dog, regularly making 4,400-mile trips over several days. The pair take turns driving and sleeping in their truck, where they also cook microwave meals. On their days off, they book hotel rooms and sample delicious foods all over the country. They shower at rest stops, do their laundry at laundromats, and make a point to exercise at gyms along the way.

If you’re looking for a high-paying and unique career, keep reading to learn how to become a truck driver:

Women truck drivers? Yes! The trucking industry is recruiting more female drivers

According to the Women in Trucking Association, 13.7% of long-haul drivers are now female, compared with 10% in 2019. The trucking industry is making an effort to recruit more female drivers amid national driver shortages, fueled by early retirements and trucking school closures that happened during the pandemic.

The organization was founded in 2011 with the goal of:

  • Raising awareness of women’s issues
  • Promote career opportunities for women
  • Improve conditions for women working in the industry
  • Increase the number of women drivers
  • Increase the number of women in leadership positions in the industry
  • Gather data about women working in the trucking industry

Women in Trucking offers $1,000 scholarships for women truck drivers upon completion of an approved training program. The Foundation is supported by the Women In Trucking Association, is led by a board of directors and is a 501(c)(3) organization. 

AllTrucking.com, which provides resources for people in the trucking industry, also has a $1,000 tuition scholarship for women truck drivers.

Check out the president of Women in Trucking talking about efforts to recruit women truck drivers: 

What does a truck driver do? 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers transport goods from one location to another, often spending days or weeks at a time on the road.

How to become a truck driver with a Commercial Drivers License: 5 steps (no prior experience required!)

While you don’t need any prior experience to become a truck driver with a CDL, there are some prerequisites and required training: 

1. Get a driver’s license. 

You’ll first need a standard, non-commercial driver’s license, which will later be upgraded to your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). 

2. Get a high school diploma or GED. 

Most companies will require you to have a high school diploma or GED, but, as Chavez points out, no other education is necessary. 

“You can earn so much and not have to go to college and get into debt,” she says. 

3. Enroll in truck driver training. 

Though larger companies advertise their own training, Chavez suggests choosing an independent training program so you aren’t contracted to drive for the company that trained you. 

“The megacarriers will hire you quickly, but you tend to be just a number to them,” she says. “My school lasted two months, and then I could drive for anyone.”

4. Get a commercial driver’s license. 

While requirements vary by state, you’ll likely have to apply for a CDL permit by passing a series of written exams and taking a vision test. Then, you’ll have to wait a specified period of time and pass a skills test to obtain your CDL.

Commercial driver’s licenses come in three different classes. Here is a breakdown of the three classes, what they mean, and which vehicles they allow you to drive:

Class A: Enables you to operate any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (also known as GVWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, provided the towed vehicle is heavier than 10,000 pounds. 

What you can drive: Class A covers tractor-trailers, which are also known as semis, big rigs or 18-wheelers; truck and trailer combos; tankers; livestock carriers; and flat beds.

Class B: Required for a vehicle that isn’t hitched to a trailer — some commercial trucks that have an attached cab and cargo area with a combined weight greater than 26,000 pounds — or a truck with a towed cargo vehicle as long as it weighs less than 10,000 pounds. 

What you can drive: Straight trucks; large buses, including city buses; box trucks (such as furniture trucks); and dump trucks with small trailers.

Class C: Allows you to operate a single vehicle with GVWR of less than 26,001 pounds, a vehicle towing another vehicle that weighs less than 10,000 pounds or transporting 16 or more passengers, including the driver. 

What you can drive: Tripe trailers; regular buses; tank trucks and HAZMAT/emergency vehicles

You can also obtain one of six endorsements, which allow you to operate specific types of vehicles. These endorsements aren’t required but may help you secure a more specialized and potentially higher-paying job: 

  • (P) Passenger transport (for example, city buses)
  • (S) School bus/passenger transport 
  • (T) Double/triple trailer
  • (N) Tanker vehicle 
  • (H) Hazardous materials 
  • (X) Tanker/HAZMAT combo

5. Apply for truck driver jobs. 

Chavez says Linkedin and Indeed.com are both great places to find truck driving jobs, or you can apply directly through specific brand or trucking company websites. Some top U.S. trucking employers are: 

  • UPS
  • Fedex
  • J.B. Hunt 
  • YRC Freight
  • Old Dominion Freight Line
  • Landstar System
  • C.R. England
  • Swift
  • Schneider
  • Western Express
  • Werner Enterprises
  • Amazon
  • Walmart

How to become a local truck driver: 3 steps (no CDL or experience required!)

1. Get a driver’s license. 

You can drive for Uber, DoorDash, Amazon, or another rideshare or delivery service without a commercial license. 

2. Get a High school diploma or GED. 

Most companies won’t hire a driver who hasn’t completed high school.

3. Pass a background check. 

If you’re driving other people for a rideshare company, you’ll likely have to undergo a background check before you can start working.

Companies that pay you to drive (CDL required)

These are some companies that hire drivers with a CDL (salary information is from Ziprecruiter): 

Food and Beverage 

Coca Cola Driver 

Pay: $46,327 per year average, up to $84,865
Requirements: 

  • High school diploma
  • Class A CDL
  • Clean driving record
  • Expect to work about 45 hours per week, or 10 per shift, with occasional overtime

Frito-Lay Regional Class-A Truck Driver

Pay: $42,289 average, up to $69,500 

Requirements: 

  • High school diploma
  • Class A CDL 
  • At least 100,000 accident-free miles
  • Ability to stand for long time periods 
  • Ability to lift between 15 and 50 pounds
  • Hours vary by location, but expect to work long shifts of about 12 hours

Pepsi CDL Driver

Pay: $46,614 average, up to $71,188

Requirements: 

  • High school diploma
  • At least 21
  • Class A CDL
  • Pass a drug test and physical
  • Day shift can be as long as 12 hours

Delivery

FedEx City Driver or Road Driver

Pay: $35,472 average, up to $48,637

Requirements: 

  • High school diploma
  • At least 21
  • Class A CDL
  • Clean driving record
  • Clean background check 
  • Pass drug test
  • FedEx trains drivers for about two weeks

UPS Tractor Trailer Driver

Pay: $50,465 average, up to $91,318

Requirements: 

  • High school diploma
  • Class A CDL
  • Clean driving record
  • Pass a road test and physical 
  • Drivers work an average of 9 hours per shift, usually overnight

United States Postal Service Tractor Trailer Operator

Pay: $54,795 average, up to $91,318

Requirements: 

  • High school diploma
  • At least 18 
  • Class A CDL 
  • Clean driving record
  • Pass a background and drug check.

Trucking companies

Schneider

Pay: $58,387 average, up to $93,500

Requirements: 

  • Class A CDL 
  • Schneider offers a three-week driver training program 
  • Pass drug and background checks
  • Clean driving record
  • Pass a knowledge exam
  • Expect to work about 10 or 11 hours per shift

Swift

Pay: $88,111 average, up to $178,500

Requirements: 

  • Swift drivers can earn their CDL in the “Swift Academy” 
  • Pass written and road tests 
  • Pass background checks

YRC Freight

Pay: $51,462 average, up to $84,500

Requirements: 

  • Good driving record, 
  • At least 21 years old
  • Class A CDL
  • At least a year of experience
  • For inexperienced drivers (less than six months driving), there’s a training program where you’ll be paired with a veteran driver for 160 hours. 
  • Expect shifts to last between 8 and 11 hours

Companies that pay you to drive (CDL not required)

Coca Cola Delivery/Merchandising Driver

Pay: $33,089 average, up to $58,000

Requirements: 

  • Driver’s license
  • Some customer service experience and/or merchandising experience preferred
  • Expect to work 8-hour shifts and some weekends. 

FedEx Casual Courier

Pay: $46,686 average, up to $78,500 

Requirements: 

  • Driver’s license
  • Courier license for your state, which may involve job shadowing
  • Expect to work between 9 A.M. and 5 P.M. 

Kroger Delivery Driver

Pay: $37,642 average, up to $65,000

Requirements: 

  • At least 21
  • Driver’s license
  • Good driving record
  • Good communication skills, 
  • Ability to lift boxes up to 50 pounds

Frito-Lay Delivery Specialist (Local Driver)

Pay: $42,289 average, up to $69,500

Requirements: 

  • Driver’s license
  • Good driving record

Pepsi Driver Merchandiser

Pay: $32,353 average, up to $58,000

Requirements: 

  • At least 18
  • Driver’s license
  • Insurance and your own vehicle
  • Positions can be full-time or part-time

UPS Package Delivery Driver

Pay: $35,168 average, up to $56,577

Requirements: 

  • Driver’s license 
  • Expect to work longer shifts, between 8 and 12 hours

UPS Personal Vehicle Driver

Pay: $46,486 average, up to $79,000

Requirements: 

  • At least 21
  • Driver’s license and a car 
  • Ability to lift boxes up to 70 pounds

United States Postal City Carrier 

Pay: $41,788 average, up to $74,000

Requirements:

  • U.S. citizen 
  • Valid driver’s license 
  • Pass a written exam
  • Shifts are typically 8 hours

HyreCar reviews: Can you make money renting out your car?

Apps that pay you to drive (CDL not required)

AmazonFlex

Pay: $43,009 average, up to $64,500

Requirements: 

  • Midsize vehicle or larger
  • At least 21
  • Driver’s license
  • Smartphone

DoorDash

Pay: Doordashers make between $15 and $25 per hour, depending on mileage, delivery fees, and tips.

Requirements: 

  • At least 18
  • Car and driver’s license (you can use a bike or scooter) 

GrubHub

Pay: Similar to DoorDash, you’ll be paid based on mileage, delivery fees, and tips, but most drivers make an average of $18.28 per hour.

Requirements: 

  • At least 19
  • Driver’s license
  • Car (or a bike in some places)
  • Smartphone

Instacart

Pay: $27,018 average, up to $46,556 per year

Requirements: 

  • At least 18
  • Car and license
  • Smartphone
  • Able to lift 50 pounds. 

Shipt

Pay: $42,900 average

Requirements: 

  • At least 18
  • Car newer than 1997
  • Smartphone
  • Driver’s license
  • Ability to lift 45 pounds
  • Valid mailing address

Uber and UberEats

Uber pay: $42,257 average a year

Ubereats pay: $48,645 average a year

Requirements: 

  • At least 19 years old
  • Car newer than 15 years
  • Pass a background check 

Where to find a job as a woman truck driver

WomenInTrucking.org career center

WomenInTrucking.org posts trucking industry jobs, as well as career-related advice. You can sign up for email alerts related to your keywords and filter through your search by location, position title, and job functions. 

Indeed.com

One of the most popular job search sites, Indeed allows you to search keywords, locations, salary and more, plus sign up for email alerts. Create a profile with a resume and cover letter, and you can easily apply to multiple jobs in one sitting. 

ZipRecruiter

Ziprecruiter walks you through questions about your job search and gives you estimates on what salary you can expect to make and shows you matching jobs.

FAQs about becoming a truck driver

Is it worth it becoming a truck driver?

Yes! Because truck driving doesn’t require a college degree, you can make money without paying back hefty loans, Chavez says. 

“Even if you don’t have a diploma, just get a GED. No other education is required,” she says. “You can earn so much and not have to go to college and get into debt.”

Chavez does her best to encourage the women who reach out to her on social media and says that a career in truck driving can be a great opportunity. 

“I get questions and messages on Instagram since TikTok doesn’t allow much communication,” Chavez says. “I message the women back, and if they are interested [in truck driving] I tell them to get a grant to pay for the training. It’s still a man’s world right now, but I feel like once more women get into it, like it, and become confident, they'll love it as much as I do.” 

Is truck driving a good career for a woman?

Although the field is still dominated by men, the number of women in the field is growing, from 10% in 2019 to 13.7% in 2021. 

“I’ve talked to so many trainers and so many people in HR who say that women are better at driving commercial vehicles,” Chavez says. “We’re diligent and careful. I think if more women are interested, that’s a good thing. There’s no micromanaging or corporate ladder to climb.”

What is the percentage of female truck drivers?

According to the Women in Trucking Association, 13.7% of long-haul drivers are now female. 

What to expect for a female truck driver’s salary?

The average truck-driving salary in the United States is about $66,667 for less than one year of experience.

Is it hard becoming a truck driver?

No. The only thing you need to get started is a driver’s license and a diploma or GED. If you want to drive larger trucks and semis, you will need to go through a brief training program and earn a commercial license. 

How do I get started as a truck driver?

Enroll in a CDL driving school — either an independent one in your state or one through a major carrier. Make sure you have a diploma or GED and regular license. 

Can you make a living by being a truck driver?

Absolutely. The average salary for drivers with a year’s experience or less nationwide is $66,667.

Truck driving not for you? Check out these other job posts:

Denise K. James is an independent writer and editor based in the Southeast. She holds a master's degree in English from the College of Charleston and has lived in multiple Southern cities, with Atlanta as her current home. Denise has written for a variety of websites and publications, including Homelight, Celebrate Hilton Head, Grand Strand Magazine, Birmingham Lifestyle, Edible Northeast Florida, Southern Flavor and many others. In her spare time, Denise enjoys exploring Atlanta, taking road trips, watching the birds and squirrels out of her window and reading great works of literature.

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