Adventure, steady income and a sense of freedom ….
Starting a new career as a cdl truck driver can provide you with adventure, a steady income and a sense of freedom. You will enjoy being out on the road, will earn good money and see the country. While you are looking forward to beginning a new, exciting and rewarding career, it’s important to start with the right kind of education and training to become a professional CDL Class A truck driver.
Start with Research
Most forms of specialized education require some kind of a contract. Drivers will often sign with a freight company for CDL paid training, or with a CDL licensing school. There are usually various fees associated with either of these contracts which you should be familiar with. Most schools charge for the entire course at one time, which generally runs between three and four weeks before you can test for your CDL License.
If you sign a contract with a trucking company for their cdl paid or company sponsored training program, you may be required to work for them for possibly as long as two years after graduating. The standard is typically 12-13 months, with one or two requiring less.
This means that you have to be ready to make a long-term commitment to that trucking company if you are going to take advantage of their paid cdl training program. Research the differences between a CDL truck driving school and any trucking companies offering to pay for your education before you sign a contract.
It’s important to practice due diligence when starting your career as a long haul trucker. Practice due diligence by investigating the companies and the schools from which you are considering getting your CDL training.
Look for legal suits against the organization from former students or instructors. While these lawsuits may be unfair, check into settled cases where the judge decided in the student’s favor. A chain of serious legal battles may indicate that the school is less than fair and should be avoided. Check that the company is showing healthy profits and has not recently filed for bankruptcy. Know the questions to ask before you may any decisions.
It’s important to note, however, that just because you discover something unfavorable about a company or school, it doesn’t mean you should disregard that company or school. It’s human nature that we are more prone to complain than to praise…
Pick a private or public school for the best results. These organizations only receive money from your tuition payments and don’t have any interest in signing you with a specific company. This is an important point. This can ensure you receive a fair and balanced education.
Many community colleges and technical schools include a CDL training program. Check that the school is accredited with the state as an educational establishment. You can find schools receiving regular monitoring by the Professional Truck Driver Institute to rule out many groups providing poor education. And check out our Truck Driving School Guide for recommended driver training schools across the U.S.
Planning Your Career
Some programs leave you with enough experience to become a Class A driver, while others are insufficient for a full CDL license. Consider what you want to do before you enroll in a program. Drivers that can handle the stress of hauling chemicals can receive their Hazmat certificate during the initial training phase. Research whether it’s valuable to you to get your Hazmat and or Tanker endorsements.
Choosing a basic industry to specialize in will help you save time and get to work quicker. Drivers who take the time to research their options and plan their career tend to find a good job within a few weeks of graduation, rather than waiting months for additional training or certifications.
If you get your CDL training through a truck driver training school or course at a community college, you are not obligated by any employment contract. This means you have the freedom to go to work for any trucking company that hires recent graduates, without any financial liability on your part.
Do your due diligence when searching for a company to begin your driving career. While the hiring guidelines and policies among trucking companies hiring recent graduates are similar, their business approach and attitude towards graduates can vary greatly. So be prepared to research the information you feel is important to you personally as you begin your career.
The Most Common Career Mistakes
New drivers make a wide range of poor choices when they are trying to break into this industry. It’s understandable, there is a lot to learn and there is no better teacher than experience – and experience takes time. Learning about these mistakes will help you avoid the pitfalls that keep thousands of people from becoming successful drivers each year.
Trusting the claims of every company: The freight companies have profits as their main goal. If you can help them earn more money, they will offer you a job and certain benefits. However, many truckers believe that the companies are working in their best interests when they first enter the business. They don’t bother to check the fine details on their contracts and are shocked to find that they aren’t receiving the health insurance or salary they were promised. Often, drivers find they aren’t receiving the mileage they were promised. Read the details behind any offer to find the truth about what you will be expected to do as an employee. And remember, you are new to both the industry and the company – you are essentially starting at the bottom of the ladder and have to pay your dues to work you way up.
Switching jobs too soon: This is a serious mistake, and one of the most common mistakes new drivers make. If you sign a contract with a company that doesn’t properly respect you, it is tempting to quit and seek new employment immediately. This can hurt your long-term reputation with other companies and it will definitely cause you a problem getting hired by another company. If you have an employment contract with a trucking company, work for at least the duration of the contract to create a record of reliability for your resume. If you leave before you fulfill your contract, you may find it very difficult to get a job with another company; it damages your reputation and eligibility to be hired by another company.
What To Expect In Your First Year
Start the year off by taking a three to four-week course at an accredited and well-respected driver training school. Complete a program that provides at least 100 hours of education and 40 hours or more of hands-on driving instruction. Take your CDL Class A license test, then start applying for positions with reputable trucking companies.
Without any real experience, your choices of trucking companies are limited, and you shouldn’t expect to make more than $24,000 – $35,000 in your first year. Many truckers make less than this and struggle to get enough miles in their first year.
Focus on building your road experience and boosting your skills. Each mile you travel without a mistake, delay or accident will move you closer to a higher paying position as an experienced driver with a company which hires only experienced drivers. You can learn more about the life of a full-time truck driver by participating in trucking forums, and reading the real experiences of drivers around the country.
Join trucking forums, subscribe to newsletters, join trucking groups on Facebook and other social media outlets. Talk to other drivers and consult with independent recruiters and trucking industry specialists.
(Portions of this article have been contributed by Classic Cars)