Transitioning from the Military to Trucking



The transition from the constant preparation for the battlefield to regular civilian life can be slightly jarring for veterans. Many veterans do not have a solid backup plan for employment after their military service and may find themselves at a loss for what to do once their active duties are over. While the lack of certifications and licenses may hold you back from most civilian jobs, your physical strength and skills gained from military experience can also give you an edge in careers like trucking.


We will give a quick overview of the process of transitioning from military to trucking as you prepare to start a new career journey.


What Military Skills Can Be Useful for Trucking Career?


Trucking is an ideal alternative career for veterans as their existing skills can be quite valuable on the road. Some of the main skillsets and traits include:

  • Physical health is crucial as trucking involves driving for long hours and distances. As a result, trucking employers prefer hiring veterans with high strength and long-lasting stamina.

  • Operating heavy equipment is common for veterans who’ve used guns, machinery, and other technologies while in service. Navigating and steering a heavy truck becomes easier for veterans who have previous experience in this field.

  • Focus is an essential skill required for both jobs. Military missions are high-alert and high-risk tasks, and the same can be said for driving huge vehicles like trucks. Any distractions on the road can lead to serious incidents and injuries.

  • Timely response to emergencies is another critical skill for both careers. The military provides the necessary instinctual training to deal with unexpected emergencies. Having this trait can be useful on the road to avoid accidents or promptly deal with other unfortunate circumstances.

Physical Exam Requirements for Trucking


Applying for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) requires a mandatory medical exam. Many physical and mental health conditions can automatically disqualify you for CDL, so it’s important to consider the criteria before deciding on this career path.


How Does Having Military Driving Experience Help With CDL?


Trucking is officially regarded as one of the best career choices for individuals who’ve completed their service. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) endorses veterans transitioning from military to trucking and has introduced three programs to help make this process easier.


1. Military Skills Test Waiver Program

If you have a minimum of two years of experience in handling heavy military vehicles, you can be granted CDL without going through the driving skills testing. This exemption applies in all states. However, you may still have to take a knowledge exam.


2. Knowledge Test Waiver (Even Exchange Program)

The Even Exchange programs allow experienced military drivers to skip their CDL knowledge test. Currently, 13 states allow waiver from the knowledge test, and more states are considering following this rule as well.


3. Under-21 Military Driver Program

This is a fairly recent pilot program designed for service members between the ages of 18 and 21. According to this program, those with a military driving license to work as civilian interstate drivers if they have sponsorship or employment proof from an approved company.


The Path to the Future

The skillsets and official programs make trucking one of the most accessible career choices for veterans to transition to once they are relieved from active duty. Additionally, the pay disparity between the two careers is also not that significant unless you were employed as a higher rank in the military.



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