Starting a career as a truck driver is not a bad idea. It is one of the highest paying trade careers in the states, and the level of growth and need for drivers in the industry continues to skyrocket annually. This means you will always be able to find a job, as there will always be a demand for qualified and skilled truck drivers with CDL licensing.
In this article, we will guide you through the whole process of obtaining your CDL qualification and becoming a professional OTR or CDL truck driver easily. Keep in mind that requirements for applying for the license will differ from one state to the next, so be sure to visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles to make sure you are eligible to apply for a CDL license. Next, we take a look at the different steps involved in getting your license.
#1 Decide What Type of CDL You Want to Apply For
Before simply applying, it is best to know exactly what type of vehicle you are going to want to drive, and whether you would want to get any extras on your license such as endorsements. Educate yourself on the different aspects of CDL licensing, and check whether you are able to apply for a commercial driver’s license in the first place. Once you know what you are letting yourself in for, you can start the application process.
#2 Get the Necessary Documentation
Before you can apply for your CDL, whichever one you choose to get, you need to make sure you have all the necessary documentation that the DMV is going to request. These include your social security number and ID card, a Medical Examination Report and Medical Examiner’s Certificate for starters. Later on, you will also have to go for substance screening tests. You will also need to provide your current driver’s license when applying for a CDL.
#3 Do Some Studying
You will be required to write and pass a test before obtaining a learner’s permit that will allow you to drive and get practice in before applying and going for your actual license. You need to get a CDL manual, which is available at your local DMV, or online. Just be sure if you get one online that it is applicable to the state where you live.
#4 Write your Learner’s
Now, you can officially apply for your license and write your test to get your learner’s permit. Remember to bring your documentation mentioned in point 2 above with you on the day as these are all required before actually applying for a CDL. You will get the results of your learner’s test on the same day, and if you pass, you will be able to drive with a trainer or instructor. Keep in mind that if you should fail, you are able to re-apply within a certain timeframe, but there could be extra costs involved.
#5Do Necessary Checks
For those of you who want to drive across borders and states, and drive tankers with hazardous materials, you may have to do some checks before continuing on your journey to becoming a professional truck driver. One of these background tests you might have to do includes one from the TSA (Transportation Security Administration). Take note that in order to do so, you would have to schedule an appointment and will be charged a fee.
#6 Go for Training
Whether you join a CDL driving school, or you already have someone that will be able to take you for driving lessons, you will need to practice before getting your actual license, as you will have to complete a skills test which can only be passed if you are able to drive a truck. Be sure to check your local newspaper or online for some of the best training schools to join. Some companies even provide in-house training that will allow you a guaranteed job once you qualify.
#7 Book Your Test
The whole process of obtaining your CDL license can take anything between 3-4 weeks. It really all depends on you and your own capabilities. Once you have your learner’s permit, and you have completed the necessary training, you should feel confident enough to be tested and get your CDL license from your local DMV. All that is left for you to do is phone the DMV or visit them, and schedule a date and time for your skills test.
#8 Do the Skills Test
Some states may require that you have held your learner’s permit for at least two weeks before you can apply for and complete your skills test. This is basically in place to ensure that you have had some training and practical experience on the road in the type of vehicle you need the CDL for. If you pass this test, you can continue to become a professional truck driver. If, however you fail, you should speak to your DMV and find out whether you can re-take the test.
#9 Get the CDL License Card
Once you have passed, you will receive your card. This can take anything up to 2-3 working days. Your local DMV will let you know once it is done and you can either collect it from their offices, or they are also able to post it through to you. Be sure to double-check the information on the license card is correct, as errors can sometimes creep in and could cause some hiccups in the future.
#10 Apply for Jobs
So, now you’ve got your license and you are ready to start on this amazing career journey that is CDL or OTR truck driving. Keep your eyes peeled for job listings on truck driving websites, join associations and forums. You should be able to start your career quite soon after getting your license. If you received training at a freight transportation company, you will probably even be able to start work right away.
Now that you know how to go out and get your license to become a professional truck driver, we are sure you are eager to schedule your appointments and start studying. It is an exciting process to change careers or even to choose one if you are just out of school. We believe that you will be a very successful professional truck driver and that you will find ultimate fulfillment in this great job. For some handy tips on writing a great resume, scooch over to this article.