You become an adult at 18, so why is it so hard to find a trucking job before you turn 21? Part of it is regulatory — federal law sets the age to drive a commercial vehicle in interstate commerce at 21. Part of it is insurance — insurance rates are generally much higher for trucking companies employing drivers under 21.
But don’t lose hope. There are many trucking jobs for 18-year-olds — most are intrastate instead of interstate. Some you may want to consider for the 2-3 years until you turn 21 when driving opportunities expand considerably; some could become a long-term career option. Either way, the sooner you start your driving career, the faster you can grow in it!
Top 7 trucking jobs for 18-year-olds
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is currently running an Under 21 Pilot Program for Reserve and National Guard members ages 18, 19, and 20. The results of this pilot could determine if federal law lowers the interstate driving age to under 21.
1. Under 21 Pilot Program Drivers
You could join the program that helps usher in this change to the industry if you meet the Under 21 driver requirements.
2. Local Delivery Drivers
Since you’ll be staying close to home and won’t need to cross state lines, local delivery jobs are a great starting point for trucking jobs for 18-year-olds. You can hire on with a last-mile delivery company or connect with specific types of retailers with regular large deliveries, like furniture or appliance stores, office supply warehouses, farm suppliers, and beverage distributors. Some parcel delivery companies hire drivers under 21 years old as well.
3. Dump Truck Drivers
You also don’t see many dump trucks on interstates, which means you can stay local by moving building materials, dirt, garbage, or other freight that can safely be transported via short-haul distances with an open truck bed. Some companies may still require you to be 21 for insurance reasons or general company policy, but smaller companies may consider you for the opportunity.
4. Construction and Lumber Delivery Drivers
Master some of the skills you could employ at a larger company when you turn 21 as you secure loads, work with large equipment, and work with a variety of delivery environments (homes, construction sites, etc.). Construction suppliers or lumber yards often offer full-time and part-time work options for 18 to 20-year-olds.
5. Oil Field Drivers
Of course, these jobs would be limited to oil-producing areas, and even though there’s a natural boom-and-bust nature to the industry, you can earn some great money and experience in a short time. That could certainly put you ahead of the pack when you turn 21 and explore interstate driving jobs and explore the best freight to haul more long-term.
6. Tow Truck Drivers
Towing and recovery driving can quickly earn you real-world skills and demonstrate a strong work ethic. You may recover wrecked vehicles or work out of an impound lot, but no matter what, you’ll get rewarding mechanical experience as well that could come in handy down the road if your interstate tractor-trailer needs a tow.
7. Livestock Delivery Drivers
Speaking of a strong work ethic, drivers hauling livestock will have a strong resume line later. It can be dirty work and you’ll be cleaning lots of trailers, but if you live near farms, animal auctions, or slaughterhouses, there may be plenty of local work to keep you close to home and give you a rewarding driving experience that can prepare you for any kind of freight you may haul later.
Why wait until 21?
The bulk of driving opportunities may not become available until you’re 21, but there’s no reason you can’t get a head start on a rewarding driving career. Explore trucking jobs for 18-year-olds and across every age, then take the first step and apply to trucking jobs!
Schneider has been a leader in the trucking industry since 1935, offering a wide variety of truck driving jobs throughout the country that allow you to pick your freight type, number of drivers, and driving style. Schneider offers a multitude of pay packages, benefit offerings, home time configurations, leading equipment, and military-specific benefits.