The transportation industry is rapidly growing. The American Trucking Association reported a 3.7 percent increase in truck driver employment from 2020 to 2021 and expects it to continue growing in the coming years.
If you’re ready to make a career shift or enter the trucking industry for the first time, figuring out where to begin might feel intimidating. We’ve compiled key details you need to know to get started, beginning with licensing.
Obtaining your Professional Driver’s License
A Class A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is the most common type of professional driver’s license. You can get this license at your local Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) or Department of Driver Services (DDS). To apply, you must be 18 years or older, and restrictions are applied to your license until you are 21.
When applying for the first time or upgrading your CDL, you should have a valid Class AP or BP Instructional Permit (CLP). A Class A permit is more common among professional drivers and is the preferred license to drive over the road and haul goods.
A valid Class A or B permit is the first step in obtaining your CDL. In addition, to obtain a CDL, you must also meet the following criteria:
- Pass a written exam, which tests your knowledge of general vehicle information and rules for driving on the open road
- Attend a truck driving school allowing you to sharpen your skills and ensure you are truly prepared to professionally drive trucks
- Pass a physical driving test
How to Choose a Driving School for Training
Many CDL school options are available to educate and train future drivers to earn their Class A CDL, including our training school, Roadmaster. They offer an accredited training program that equips students with the skills to obtain a Class A CDL license and become eligible for entry-level commercial driver positions. With best-in-the-industry instructors, students learn the hands-on, real-life training required for a successful career on the road.
Roadmaster has several locations nationwide catering to up-and-coming professional drivers. For those interested in exploring other options, keep in mind these factors when evaluating driving schools:
- Go for a state-accredited training school with a comprehensive training program
Most trucking companies prefer and prioritize hiring licensed drivers from state-accredited schools. You also want to receive the proper training and become an appropriately licensed professional truck driver whose license is recognized by all trucking companies. Look for a school that offers ample classroom time, range, and on-the-road training to help prepare you for a successful career.
- Consider the location
Accommodation costs can add up, so it’s best to select a driving school close to home when possible. If the program you want to attend is too far away to commute regularly, you can consider accommodation options provided by the school. Some transportation and logistics companies offer three to five weeks of accommodations and meals for paid CDL training.
- Inquire about job placement success and programs
While professional drivers are in high demand, it’s always helpful to understand the success rate of drivers trained through the program you’re considering. If a school isn’t known for successfully placing many drivers for the type of organization or route you’d like to drive, they may not be the right fit for you.You should also determine if the school has a job placement program. These support programs can be beneficial once you’re licensed and ready to take the next steps in your career.
- “Free Training” language = red flag
With the cost of equipment, fuel, building, materials and instructors, there are substantial costs that a truck driving school takes on when training students interested in becoming safe, professional drivers. As a result, this is often reflected in the cost of the training program. While you don’t want to break the bank by picking the right driving school, something can be said about getting what you pay for.
Understanding What to Discuss with Your First Employer When Establishing Your Route
Once you secure your CDL, the next step is securing and preparing for your employment. There are many great opportunities for drivers right now, but they’re not all going to be the right fit for you.
When discussing opportunities and negotiating your employment agreement, ask what their compensation looks like, what types of routes they offer and how they account for home time.
These are just a few factors to consider when deciding who to work for, but can go a long way to ensure you’re joining a company that will help you grow and find success on the road.
Learn more about CDL training by visiting https://www.werner.com/truck-drivers/cdl-training/.
Interested in learning more about driving for Werner? Click here.