Get your CDL
Truck drivers are an essential part of our economy and survival, and the demand for more drivers is growing so get your CDL. Find more information regarding the driver shortage at https://www.trucking.org/news-insights/ata-releases-updated-driver-shortage-report-and-forecast.
This career path is popular with individual drivers, team drivers, and married couples. The age of drivers ranges from young adult to the seasoned senior. Some haul over the road (OTR) across the nation, while others do local hauling and return home each night. Whatever combination appeals to you, although a college degree is not necessary, there are federal regulations and state requirements for a career in this industry.
CDL Federal Requirements
The commercial driver’s license (CDL) requirements are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Each state governs its application process, but they must follow the FMCSA guidelines. You can read more about the government regulations and find a link to state rules at https://www.dmv.org/cdl-federal-requirements.php.
CDL Eligibility Requirement
- The minimum age to drive across state lines and haul hazardous materials is 21 years old.
- You must not have a disqualifying felonious criminal record.
Basic Federal CDL License Application Requirements In Each State
- You must pass the test for a commercial learner’s permit (CLP).
- You must hold your CLP for at least 14 days.
- You must pass the road skills test for a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
When applying for your CLP, your state may have additional requirements, but the following is a list of FMCSA requirements.
- Submit a current driver’s license.
- Submit a driving history for the past ten years.
- Submit a Medical Examination self-certification form certified by a qualifying medical examiner
- Pass, with at least 80%, a knowledge and skills test.
- Pay any costs required by the state.
After obtaining your CLP and practicing on the road accompanied by a CDL holder, the following is required to apply for your CDL. (Additional rules may apply from state to state, such as completing a CDL training course.)
- Hold your CLP for a minimum of 14 days.
- Provide the same vehicle type for the skills test you intend to drive after receiving your CDL.
- Pass all three parts of the commercial driver’s license skills test: vehicle inspection, basic controls exam, and the road test.
Applying for a license to drive tank vehicles, school buses, or carrying hazardous materials may require more testing and security clearances.
Get your CDL License Training
Unless your state requires completion of a training course, you can obtain your CLP and train with a CDL driver. Other options are to attend a private, accredited CDL training school or to train through a nationwide company-sponsored training school. The private school will require a tuition fee of about $4000 and attendance for about a month. The company that is willing to train new drivers will require no fees upfront, but the newbie will be obligated to drive OTR for at least a year and to pay back their tuition from their pay throughout the year.
After graduating, either way, the newbie will continue with a paid training for 1-3 months as a ride-along with a CDL driver.
A Truck Driver’s Lifestyle Can Be Hard
Please consider the lifestyle of an OTR driver before choosing this path. The job will demand being on the road for weeks at a time with only a day or two off with family. Although many adjust well, missing out on the family’s daily life and living in such a solitary state can wear thin. For individual drivers, some ways to break the monotony is to listen to audiobooks, music, and podcasts. As a team driver, you may solve the monotony issue, but you must get along with a roommate 24/7.
A lot of drivers cover around 3000 miles of travel each week. This means driving for many hours straight through to meet the deadlines. Your nutrition and proper rest may suffer greatly. Fining a schedule that works, carrying some nutritious snacks, and choosing healthy meals will ensure better health with this very demanding career.
With a CDL license, new first-year drivers can begin earning the same as a college graduate. However, the expenses that come with daily life on the road will diminish your earnings more quickly than someone who is home every night. You can find the national average income for truckers here at https://www.truckdriverssalary.com/how-much-can-you-earn-your-1st-year-as-a-trucker/.
Tips For Starting A Career In Trucking
- Learn to manage stress. You will encounter stress with meeting deadlines, getting lost, maneuvering a giant truck at a tiny loading dock, experiencing truck break-downs, sitting in traffic, and rerouting.
- Be willing to change carriers if necessary. Drivers run into different issues such as never having time off, never getting the choice loads, not earning fair pay, and not being issued reliable equipment. Sometimes a change in companies is vital.
- Don’t expect to get rich. Although the pay may be significant, there are plenty of expenses to eat it up: three meals a day from a restaurant, maintaining and repairing the truck, hotels when necessary, toll roads, fuel costs, traffic fines, and medical services on the road.
- Be able to communicate with various people and personalities calmly and clearly. You will contact many people in this job, such as the dispatcher, customers, shippers, receivers, repair shop workers, colleagues, law enforcement, insurance agents, etc.
- Prioritize your family over the next load. The driver will be away from home for weeks at a time, if not months. This means the spouse or partner must be willing to manage the household and family almost as a single parent. Although you will be contributing income and support, the family will be living the daily routine of chores, childcare, school, house maintenance and repairs, illness, extended family issues, etc.
- Get a cellular phone with an economical and reliable plan immediately. The phone will be necessary for communication with all of the job-related people listed previously and for emergencies. Also, it will be the first defense in keeping you close to your family while traveling. Many truck stops offer wireless internet, giving you an opportunity to Facetime, video message, or catch-up with your family through social media.
To answer the question, HOW HARD IS IT TO GET YOUR CDL AND DO TRUCK DRIVING WORK?; it isn’t hard to get your CDL and to get started in a truck driving career. You can start without a degree, without money down, and even without good credit. However, the hard part will be adjusting to the driver’s demanding lifestyle and the new driver’s training requirements and paying back the tuition fees. If you love to travel, you want to embark on new adventures, and your family fits well with the lifestyle demands, a truck driving career can be very gratifying.
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