In a modern economy with global commerce expanding quickly, more and more consumers want their favorite things quickly, and they want those things delivered to their door. To meet this demand, startups are popping up in cities across the world that provide delivery of food, goods, and services.
To get those items delivered, companies need delivery drivers. Delivery drivers are in high demand, and luckily the barrier to entry for the profession is lower than ever. No longer do you need a commercial truck driver’s license to be considered for delivery driver jobs, as more and more jobs are opening up for delivery specialists with a standard driver’s license.
In this article we’ll talk about what it takes to work as a delivery driver, what you need to apply for jobs that require a commercial driver’s license (CDL), where to look for jobs, and highlight some startup companies that are looking for non-CDL drivers.
Working as a Delivery Driver
“Delivery driver” is a broad term that can apply to any number of jobs that require many different kinds of licensing and training. A delivery driver can be someone who operates heavy 18-wheeler rigs transporting hazardous materials safely; it can also be someone who gets a pizza to your door in 30 minutes or less.
Delivery drivers can work in long haul, but for the purpose of this article we’ll focus on more local driving.
Jobs in this field tend to follow one of two paths. There are route delivery drivers, who tend to work regular hours following a set route. Often full-time positions, these package delivery drivers often work for companies like UPS, FedEx jobs, or the United States Postal Service. (Route delivery drivers can also deliver meal prep kits for restaurant groups, newspapers, and a lot more.) If you’re a route driver, you will cover wide areas of a city, hitting multiple addresses until all your packages or products are delivered.
The other popular form of delivery driver job is a more on-demand delivery service, where drivers tend to respond to individual orders and bring items directly to consumers. These tend to be more part-time, independent contractor positions, and are hired by companies like Postmates, Instacart, and others like that. (More on those companies shortly.)
Requirements to Become a Delivery Driver
Many delivery driver jobs just require you to have an active driver’s license and a clean (or mostly clean) driving record, but there are some positions that require a CDL, or commercial driver’s license.
What Is a CDL?
A CDL is a commercial driver’s license, and is necessary for drivers to operate large commercial vehicles in the United States. A CDL delivery driver is licensed to drive vehicles over a certain weight, and depending on the class of the license, can also be certified to drive hazardous materials.
The class system of licensing works like this, per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:
“Any combination of vehicles with a GVWR/GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating/Gross Vehicle Weight) of 26,001 or more pounds provided the GVWR/GVW of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.”
“Any single vehicle with a GVWR/GVW of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR/GVW.”
“Any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that does not meet the definition of Class A or Class B, but is either designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is required to be placarded for hazardous materials.”
How Can I Get a CDL License?
Like driver’s licenses, CDL licenses are issued by state. The process for applying for one varies depending on where you live. Many states have a permitting process that allows you to operate with a learner’s permit before you schedule a driving test, though again, that varies by state.
That being said, there are certain requirements in place that you’ll need to meet to apply for a CDL license no matter where you are. According to driving-tests.org, you will need to:
“1. Be at least 21 years of age (18 to 20 years of age to drive intrastate)
2. Submit your state’s CDL Application and pay the appropriate fee
3. Provide identity and social security number verification (check your state’s requirements)
4. Provide proof of state and US residency
5. Submit a completed Medical Examination Report Form and Medical Examiner’s Certificate Form
6. Pass a vision test
7. Pass a knowledge exam”
At that point you will be able to acquire a learner’s permit, which you will need to have for two weeks to a month before you can schedule a road test. Pass a road test, and you’ll be good to hit the road.
What If I Don’t Have a CDL License?
Have no fear, there are a growing number of non-CDL delivery driver opportunities that are available. While the United States Postal Service, UPS, and FedEx can require a CDL, especially when moving packages long distances, local mail and package drivers often don’t require a CDL.
Same with most on-demand delivery services, which often ask that their drivers simply have a valid driver’s license, a clean driving record, and are United States citizens. Most of these companies hold excellent customer service in higher regard than any special qualifications when it comes to driving.
Some businesses ask that their drivers have a high school diploma but experience is usually more important than education level. If you have driving experience and a clean record, that’s often all they’re looking for.
Where to Look for Jobs
Most online job boards will have a robust listing of delivery driver jobs in your city. Sites like Jobs.com and Monster.com will let you search jobs by job title and job type, review job postings, set job alerts, and filter results by location, education requirements, salary, and more.
For local results, Craigslist is actually a strong depository for delivery jobs for a local market. Some quick links:
- Craigslist Chicago
- Craigslist Dallas
- Craigslist Houston
- Craigslist Louisville
- Craigslist New York
- Craigslist SF Bay / San Jose
- Craigslist Phoenix
- Craigslist Washington, D.C. (includes greater D.C., Maryland, and Virginia locations including Alexandria and Norfolk)
Companies That Need Non-CDL Delivery Drivers
CDL licensed delivery drivers are always high in demand, but for non-CDL licensed job opportunities, here are some companies that are often looking for drivers.
Postmates is an on-demand food delivery service that lets users order from their favorite local restaurants and get their meal brought right to their door. They pride themselves on making life easy for their delivery drivers, offering instant payouts whenever drivers want them, easy sign-up, and heat maps to help drivers find the times when the demand (and pay) is highest.
Seamless and Grubhub are partners and share ownership. While they have two apps, they share partner restaurants and the same delivery workforce, and essentially act as one company. The companies promote flexible work hours and easy payouts. They do require that drivers are at least 19 years old, have a working smartphone, and pass a simple background check.
Instacart is a grocery delivery service that pairs users with a personal shopper who not only brings them their food, but shops for it in the grocery store. They promote flexible hours and encourage drivers already working other jobs to consider bringing in extra money by working with Instacart.
Caviar is a newish, higher-end food delivery service that connects diners with some of the best restaurants in their city. They advertise up to $25 hourly for their delivery drivers, with quick deposits and a guarantee of receiving 100 percent of customer tips.
Amazon Flex drivers work delivering for Amazon Prime Now, Amazon’s on-demand service for Prime members, which offers same-day delivery of items from Whole Foods and other stores in local cities. Working as an Amazon delivery driver can earn you $18–$25 hourly, plus give you the freedom to set your own schedule.
Find a Career as a Delivery Driver
Delivery drivers have never been more in demand. It’s also never been easier to become a delivery driver. With a host of new companies offering delivery service, they are constantly on the lookout for qualified drivers with or without CDL certification. If you’re looking for a way to bring in extra money and have a valid driver’s license and a clean driving record, it could be a career for you.