If you enjoy traveling and life on the open road, you might consider a career as a professional truck driver. This job is perfect for people who love seeing new places, dealing with different people, and lots and lots of driving.
Driving any commercial vehicle comes with many requirements and procedures and this is especially true with semi-trucks, due to the difficult size of the vehicle. There are certain steps you must take to become fully certified to operate a commercial truck.
This article covers the basic steps necessary to get your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Step 1 helps you decide if you want to study in a classroom or remotely, Step 2 explains how you have to pass all medical and criminal background checks, Step 3 walks you through the written test and learner’s permit, Step 4 tells you when to go for your driving test, and Step 5 suggests ways to find the right company to drive with.
Step 1 of 5: Decide whether you want to go to a school or study from home
There are hundreds of truck driving schools around the country that help people through the whole process of learning and gaining experience needed to obtain their CDL. It can be a great way for people who don’t feel like researching all the requirements themselves and studying on their own. Some possibilities include:
- Roadmaster Truck Driver School
- Sage Truck Driving School
- US Truck Driver Training School
- The Professional Truck Driver Institute
Whether or not you choose to go to an actual school, obtain a CDL handbook and began at least familiarizing yourself with requirements and procedures. These are things that will be on your written and skills tests and must be learned, whether in the classroom or by yourself.
Step 2 of 5: Pass all medical and criminal background checks
In order to get your basic driver’s license, there are certain very basic medical requirements you must pass (like being able to see). There are slightly more strict medical limits for the CDL due to the nature of the job, long hours on the road alone and being trusted with property that does not belong to you.
The fact that you are driving a massive vehicle with things belonging to another party is also a reason you must pass a criminal background check. A lot of paperwork goes into obtaining the CDL and it’s important to get it all taken care of filled out accurately.
Other things that will be looked at are your driving record; you’ll also be required to pass a drug test.
Step 3 of 5: Take your written test and get your learner’s permit
A commercial license permit will allow you to operate a commercial truck under supervision in order to prepare for your upcoming driver’s test. These permits can be obtained by learning the information in the handbook referenced in Step 1, going to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and passing a written exam.
The learner’s permit will be granted based on the class size vehicle you’ve chosen to pursue a career driving. There are three classes, A, B, and C, with A having the least amount of restrictions. It is sometimes wise to go ahead and shoot for a higher class than you think you might need in order to keep your potential career options more open.
Step 4 of 5: Take your driving test and get your CDL
After you’ve gained the necessary skills behind the wheel, whether through a driving school or personal perseverance, it’s time to take the practical skills test. This is the final step to obtaining your CDL and officially becoming a professional truck driver.
The test can be scheduled through the DMV and will go over inspection, control operations, and an actual test on the road. Once you’ve passed all three portions of the practical skills test, you can take all your paperwork in and finally get that license.
Step 5 of 5: Find the right company and start driving
Once you get your CDL, you’re free to start driving professionally. If you go through a particular driving school, sometimes networks and connections can be made to help you obtain a position upon completion. If you already have a connection of your own, that’s even better.
If you get your CDL with no guarantee or even prospects of a career, don’t worry too much. Truck drivers are a necessary asset to thousands of companies around the country and the possibilities are endless.