roll off truck driver

Even if you’re not a roll off truck driver, there’s a good chance you’ve seen these trucks hard at work. Roll off truck drivers typically handle equipment like dumpsters and usually work local or regional routes. If you think this might be the job for you, keep reading to find out what a day in the life of a roll off truck driver is like. 

Getting to Know the Equipment

Roll Off trucking jobs have a few special requirements. The first is tarping. Like many flatbed jobs, a lot of roll off jobs require tarping, and the amount of physical labor will depend on the company. Some trucks have automatic tarping systems, so the amount of physical work is relatively low. Others require manual tarping. 

Roll off drivers will also usually use a hook or cable system to lift and lower their haul. When loading, you might feel your front wheels lift off the ground. It can be unnerving at first, but it’s actually pretty common. Front wheel lift is not a sign of problems, it just means that your weight distribution is shifted toward the back of your truck. After a few loads, you’ll barely notice the lift. 

Pay and Hours

roll off truck driver at yardMost companies that are looking for a roll off truck driver are hiring for local or regional jobs right now. That can bring a lot of benefits in terms of schedule and home time. Like many other local jobs, it does mean that the pay is lower than a typical OTR position. Pay for a roll off truck driver will vary a little based on where you are geographically, your experience, and your company.

Job demand for roll off trucking is expected to grow 5% between 2018 and 2028, so a career as a roll off truck driver has good job security. 

As a roll off truck driver, your schedule will likely include long shifts. Many drivers work 10-12 hour shifts and often start early in the morning. Because a lot of roll off drivers are paid hourly, overtime pay can add a big bonus to your paycheck. Some companies look for drivers for only Monday through Friday shifts and others require evenings and/or weekends. If you want a specific schedule, make sure you ask the recruiter what the company has to offer.

Job Requirements

For a roll off truck driver position, you will need a CDL license. But, whether you need a CDL A or CDL B license depends on the job. Many companies prefer that drivers have at least a few years of CDL driving experience before taking a roll off position. That said, some places will hire new drivers. You’ll just need to look a little harder. 

Good driving and a patient personality are very important for roll off truck drivers.

Because roll off truckers frequently spend a lot of time in cities, traffic can play a big role in your day. Good driving and a patient personality are key. There are also likely to be frequent obstacles or distractions on the road or when making deliveries or pickups. These can be safety hazards for drivers who aren’t paying attention, so roll off drivers need to be particularly alert to their surroundings. 

A Day on the Job

roll off truck in the citySo what a day in life actually look like? To start, roll off drivers, like all CDL drivers, do a pre-trip inspection. Often, drivers will have multiple sites for drop off and pick up. A dispatcher will be sharing route information throughout the day either on a CB or an iPad. Drivers who haul dumpsters will typically make trips to some type of waste or disposal site to unload throughout the day.

Roll off truck drivers get to see a lot of different places and meet a lot of different people on the job. Depending on the company and the position, there may be some direct customer interaction. That could include employees at a disposal site or homeowners at private houses if you’re delivering a temporary dumpster to a residential address. A typical day ends with returning to the yard and a post-trip inspection.

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The 3 Perks of Intermodal Trucking
Specialty truck drivers have a great opportunity within the trucking industry. And certainly, a specialty is intermodal. Intermodal trucking can be a great option for truckers looking for a new gig over the road. And for those drivers looking to change up their schedules and find some additional work/life balance, and potentially a little less wear and tear physically, here are 3 perks in the life of an intermodal trucker.

Intermodal: What is It?

Before we talk about the perks of intermodal trucking, we first need to discuss what intermodal transportation means. Intermodal transportation is moving cargo in specially designed containers, using a combination of shipping methods to get the cargo from point A to point B.

The containers are weather-hardy and fit securely on several types of transport. A sample intermodal delivery might start with overseas freight shipping to a US port on a cargo ship. Trains pick up the containers from the ports and deliver to a rail station. And from there, a truck driver picks up the container. This is one example, but it really is any combination of moving these containers by air, sea, rail or over the road. Now that we have discussed what it is, let’s take a look at the perks for someone considering a job as an intermodal driver.

1. Consistent Schedule

Photo courtesy of David, an Intermodal Truck Driver

If a healthy work/life balance is important to you and your lifestyle, intermodal trucking might be a good choice for you.

We spoke with an intermodal truck driver, David, and he shared his experience on the road:

“Intermodal provides the ability to make great money and be home daily. But the tradeoff is a lot of frustration and hold ups in the railyards,” shares David.

Driving from shipyards and railyards usually works on the same schedule of those workers, so a steady 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and sleeping at home daily isn’t out of the question. In this case, the containers are dependable and so are the work hours.

2. Less Labor and Packing

The shipping containers move from transport vehicle to transport vehicle. They stay packed as is and sealed from the time they leave, until they get to their destination. This means the truck drivers don’t need to do too much work for pickup and delivery, and they certainly don’t need to load and unload like what might be necessary with a trailer.

At each stop the container moves to, there’s specialty equipment there to pick up the containers and place them on the trucks. It’s usually no touch for the drivers, which means less wear and tear on your body, and more time moving down the road.

3. Flexibility

Photo courtesy of Ritsuko, an Intermodal Truck Driver

Some drivers find a real perk to be the flexibility that intermodal trucking provides to a driver. We talked to another intermodal truck driver, Ritsuko, and she shared what she loves about intermodal trucking, including seeing the country and making money.

“I enjoy the independence and peace of being on the road and being able to take off when needed and having more flexibility in my schedule,” shares Ritsuko.

If you’re looking for an new opportunity, or a job with the intermodal trucking perks we mention here, let us help.  At Drive My Way we can help you find a new job, perfect for you. We’ve got plenty of intermodal opportunities, and one might be a great fit for you.

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loading dock etiquette

Loading dock etiquette might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the skills that truck drivers need. Depending on your haul range and load type, you may spend more or less time at loading docks. But, whether you love them or hate them, loading docks are a part of trucker life. Here are 5 tips on loading dock etiquette that will help get you in and out as smoothly as possible. 

1. Communicate Well

Good communication is part of the foundation for every relationship. On the job, that includes the time you spend at the loading dock. While most drivers know more or less what to expect at the loading dock, always lean on the side of more communication. Don’t assume everyone is on the same page. So, what happens when you run into some dock workers who are taking their sweet time to load or unload your truck? 

Unfortunately, there’s a natural tension between hourly dockworkers and drivers who are required to complete a certain number of loads.

If loading or unloading starts to get really slow, make a note to share that with your boss. Let them handle the conversation with the shipper.

Different docks have different policies, so it’s important to have communication in both directions. As a driver, let them know what you need and if you run into delays. On the other hand, be open to what the dock workers are saying if they have specific instructions. Even if it sounds unnecessary or weird to you, dock workers might have specific regulations to follow. 

2. Be Prepared

If you’re going to a place that you’ve been before, you may know the route and any tips or tricks that will help you navigate the loading dock. If you’re going to a new location, try to find out some information before you go. Talk to other drivers at your companythey might have valuable information to share. They might warn you about potential issues or give a good review of their experience. On the same note, share your expertise with other drivers if they ask!

For familiar and unfamiliar locations, make sure you have your paperwork ready before you arrive. Just like it’s a pain to wait on a disorganized shipper, you can make everyone’s lives a little smoother by having everything together before you arrive.

3. Stay Sharp

trucking backing into loading dock

Loading docks have a lot going on, especially compared to the time solo on the road. There are often a lot of people and vehicles of all sizes moving around. Unsurprisingly, that can make a loading dock a hotspot for workplace accidents. Distracted workers are more likely to have or cause accidents, so drivers have to stay sharp to avoid the chaos around them.

Also, pay close attention to the loading dock rules. Since they may be different between shippers, don’t assume you already know what they want. You might not love the rules at some locations, but at the end of the day, griping about them won’t change anything. It just slows things down and it won’t make your day any brighter.

4. Set Yourself Up for Success

If you are preparing to load or unload and find yourself in a tight position, don’t hesitate to speak up. Backing up is a critical skill for drivers, and you can’t do your job if there are obstacles in the way. If there isn’t enough room or if there are vehicles or debris in your path, ask for someone to move it. Dock workers might not be thrilled about the request, but it’s a lot less hassle than dealing with damaged property. 

When you set up to back into a loading dock, do what you need to do to back in safely and accurately. Smart-Trucking.com shares its three most important rules of backing:

  1. Get out and look multiple times
  2. Ask for parked cars or obstacles to be moved
  3. Refuse to back into an impossible situation

Over the years, you will spend time at countless loading docks. Do what you can to make your time there as short and painless as possible by setting yourself up for backing success.

5. Stay Calm & Patient

Delays happen. On your route, at the loading dock. They’re unavoidable. But when they happen, try not to get overly frustrated and avoid driver burnout.

truck driver at loading dock

When everything is taking too long or being poorly handled, calm and patient is probably the last thing you want to be. But it is important. In general, assume the best in people first. But, if there is a bigger problem or they are deliberately moving slowly, take action by reporting the incident. 

Remember, even with bad shippers, your goal is to get in and out as quickly as possible. So, try not to escalate confrontations. Avoid direct conflict, but make sure to let your company know about your experience. Save yourself and other drivers a bad experience down the road by saying something! But, let your boss deal with the communication.

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3 Tips to Make the Most of Trucking Load Boards

Empty trucks sitting in the yard aren’t a good thing. And idle freight sitting in a warehouse isn’t a good thing either. Each of these problems cost their owner money, without earning them a dime. If you’re a new carrier or an Owner Operator looking to get started in the trucking industry, but you don’t know where to find your first jobs, a load board might be the perfect place to start. Here are 3 tips to make the most of trucking load boards.

What’s a Load Board?

A popular method for truckers to find freight is by using trucking load boards. Load boards started out literally as physical bulletin boards with printed descriptions of freight needing shipped tacked onto them. Now, these are online tools that electronically connect drivers with loads posted by shippers and brokers.

Carriers and drivers can use load boards to search for freight that fits their equipment and drivers. Shippers and brokers use load boards to post their freight and look for drivers that match-up well.

Now that it’s clear what a load board is, how can a professional driver make the most of trucking load boards?

1. Do Your Research

Getting started with load boards can be a little bit overwhelming at first. There’s a lot of options and each one might work a little differently or ask for information in a slightly different way. A great tip is talk to your fellow truckers and see what they recommend. Or spend some time online and read the reviews of the programs. With some research, you’ll find the tools that best fit your budget and your needs.

These tools should benefit both sides of the shipping equation, and it should be clear that the tools you’re using will do just that.

2. Stand Out

Like any type of matching program, it’s important to stand out. When using trucking load boards, there’s no difference. You want to put in as much information as possible, to ensure that a broker will understand exactly what you’re able to carry and how much of it. This includes your qualifications and your equipment’s specifications. And certainly, at what pay rates you’re willing to accept to haul their freight.

As you work with different load boards, you’ll get more familiar with the type of information to put in your profile to help you find the best jobs quickly.

3. Learn and Adjust

As you learn how to navigate through the various types of trucking load boards, you’ll learn the ins and outs of how they work. You will learn what makes you stand out best to brokers and shippers. And more importantly, you’ll learn what brokers and shippers are good partners for you.

Finding good partners will help you in the long run, by building a network of shippers in the area you cover.

This will ultimately help ensure that you’ve got full loads coming and going while you’re out over the road.

Just like trucking load boards match-up truckers and freight, DriveMyWay matches truckers with their next best fit trucking job. Start now and setup an account! It’s easy, it’s free and you never know… the perfect trucking gig for you might be just around the corner. What are you waiting for?

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best semi trucks
When it comes to naming the best semi trucks for CDL drivers, everyone knows there are only two good answers.

The one you’re driving or the one you wish you were driving!

This is actually a hot debate about which truck is the very best semi truck, but there are a few names you can’t miss. Vote for your favorite, then see who’s winning in the polls right now!

Which truck is best?

Freightliner

Peterbilt

Volvo

Kenworth

1. Freightliner

Every list of the best semi-trucks that’s worth its salt has to include Freightliners. They are currently the most popular truck among drivers in the United States. It’s for a few good reasons.

freightliner truckFreightliner highway trucks offer day, sleeper, and crew cab options. They’re built to handle all types of loads, and they house a 350-600 horsepower engine. Freightliner trucks are aerodynamically efficient, so they get good fuel efficiency which saves money in the long run. They are also typically less expensive to buy and operate than Peterbilts and Kenworths. So, that’s another plus for the pocketbook.

With top features for drivers and a lower price tag, it’s not hard to see why many people choose Freightliners. 

2. Peterbilt

Open roads stretching ahead of you, a powerful rig beneath you, and a classic look that you just can’t beat: that is the legacy of a Peterbilt. They are the Harley Davidsons of the trucking world. A long-nose Peterbilt is an iconic trucking look, and for style, it can’t be topped.

Peterbilt truckPeterbilts are made by PACCAR, the same company that owns Kenworth. While many drivers are loyal to what Peterbilt represents, there’s no denying the quality of these trucks. Peterbilt offers the most trucks with alternative fuel options. Their trucks also have aluminum bodies. This makes for a lighter and more fuel-efficient ride, but you may want to look at something else if you’re hauling heavy loads.

3. Kenworth

Kenworth truckLooking for a tractor built by truckers for truckers? Kenworth is your place. Experienced drivers consult on the design for new models, and it shows. These trucks have great navigational technology which makes your day on the road a little smoother and less stressful.

Kenworths are made by the same parent company who makes Peterbilts. They tend to be a little bit heavier on materials and build than their Peterbilt counterparts. Kenworths lose out on some fuel efficiency as a result, but it also gives them a sturdy feel that drivers love. 

4. Volvo

Volvo truckVolvos don’t get quite as much fame in the United States as Freightliners, Peterbilts, and Kenworths, but they are top notch. Even though they aren’t as common in the US, Volvos are recognized internationally as a top brand.

In the US, Volvos come in fifth for heavy-duty truck manufacturers, but it holds the second place title worldwide. They come from the same parent company that makes Mack trucks, and drivers can be confident they are getting a quality ride with a great support network when they choose a Volvo. 

5. International

Rounding out our top 5 list of best semi trucks for drivers is International. With models like the Lonestar and the LT series, International shows off some good looks and quality trucks.

These trucks are especially known for power and performance.

That performance makes models like the Lonestar particularly good for special deliveries like cattle, horses, and other livestock. 

The Bottom Line

In the USA, Freightliners, Peterbilts, and Kenworths have the most loyal followings. With clean designs and a truck body that’s built to last, it’s easy to see why drivers love them. But, Volvo and International score high marks globally and are a great choice for many drivers. At the end of the day, it’s a matter of personal preference, price, and your driving needs. What’s your opinion? Tell us what you love about your truck and why it’s the best. We have a debate to settle!

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3 Things you Should Know Before Becoming a Driver Trainer

Looking back on how you got started in trucking, what’s the one thing every trucker had in common? Every driver needed someone to teach them how to drive their first truck. And for many professional drivers, the person who trained them is the voice they still hear in their head when out on the road. All that good early advice, best practices, and reassurances might still help you safely navigate over the road today. After a few years of driving, that voice might now be one telling you to make the move into the classroom and teach the next generation of drivers. So, if you’re hearing the call to be a truck driver trainer, here’s 3 things to know when getting started.

1. Basic Qualifications

The qualifications for becoming a driver trainer vary by state, however, there are some general qualifications that are necessary to become a driver trainer. First, you must be a CDL driver for at least 2+ years. Second, you also need to have a very clean driving record. Some states require a written test, and depending on the state, some require successfully passing a course for trainers.

If you’re looking into moving to the classroom, the best thing to do is check with your state for the exact requirements for becoming a driver trainer.

2. Ability to Deal with Students

For many people, patience is a virtue. And teaching takes a lot of patience. If you are someone who doesn’t have patience as a core competency, becoming a driver trainer might not be your best bet. Driver trainees will make mistakes and a trainer must be there to help work through the mistakes.

Paul Driver Trainer

Paul Adams
CDL Driver Trainer and Instructor

We spoke to Paul Adams, a CDL Trainer and Instructor, and he shared some great tips.

“One piece of advice I would give anyone in the trucking world is believe in yourself before you get started. Always be patient and attentive to the craft. What worked for you may not work for others. Help them find their grove, make them just as comfortable as you was learning for yourself,” shared Paul.

In addition, the trainer must also instill the skills and training to ensure the same mistakes aren’t made again. If you are looking to change your path to become a teacher, be sure that you’ve got an open mind and will work well with students.

3. Safety is a Priority for a Driver Trainer

Safety in trucking should be a priority for all professional truck drivers. But is it something that you’ve been extremely cognizant of during your driving career? A great safety record and a history of following all safety guidelines and rules are a must for anyone looking to become a driver trainer.

The best trainers are ones that model the behaviors that they’re teaching.

If you feel like you’re a good fit for the job, becoming a driver trainer is a great logical step in your career path as a trucker. It’s a great opportunity to stay in the industry, and get more home time. And it’s certainly a more predictable schedule week after week. Take the time to research your state’s requirements, and see if you’re a good fit. Becoming a trainer could be a very rewarding job for you.

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type of freight

When deciding what type of freight is best for you, there’s a lot to think about. As a driver, you’re probably looking for good pay, home time, and job availability. Seems simple, but there’s a lot that can go into that decision. Not all types of trucking are for everyone. Choose something that meets your needs and is a good fit for your lifestyle. Otherwise, you’re going to be looking for a new job all over again all too soon. When you think about the type of freight you want to haul, these are a few things to help make your decision.

Making the Right Decision

Your Lifestyle

One of the most important things to consider when you are trying to decide on a type of freight is your lifestyle. Choose a job that fits YOU. That includes pay. If a job doesn’t pay well enough to support you and your family, you probably won’t stay very long. Home time is another “must-have” for most drivers. Some drivers are die-hard OTR fans and like nothing better than weeks on the road. Other drivers need home time every night to tuck their kids into bed. 

There are jobs out there for every type of trucker, so decide what works best for you, and look for jobs that meet your bottom line expectations.

The final lifestyle question has to do with how you spend your time on the job. Do you want to be driving most of the time or have a variety of non-driving related tasks mixed in? There are jobs out there for every type of trucker, so decide what works best for you.

Company Type

Once you make some big decisions about lifestyle and narrow down your list, consider company type. Do you want to work for a large carrier or a small carrier? Small carriers are more likely to give you that “family feel,” but freight may be less consistent depending on their specialty. On the other hand, large companies usually have higher freight volumes, but you might not feel as personally connected to your team.

Along with company size, consider haul type. Would you prefer a company that always carries the same thing or do you like a little variety in your life? Similarly, do you want to always work with the same customers? Consider looking for a dedicated route. Also, there are some local routes where you can get to know your customers the same way. 

Experience and Endorsements

At the end of the day, there’s a job for every driver, but not every driver is a good fit for every job. Experience and endorsements are two big deciding factors. Some jobs typically go to drivers with more experience. For example, most drivers who haul over-dimensional loads have at least 10 years of experience under their belt. 

Endorsements can also make a big difference. Some jobs “require” specific endorsements while others “prefer” them. Endorsements verify your training in a specific area, but they are also a sign to the employer that you were willing to invest in yourself to take on new responsibilities. If you identify a type of freight that is a great fit for you, find out if you have the right endorsements. If not, consider whether it’s worth getting additional training right now. 

A few of the most common endorsements for CDL A and CDL B drivers are:

Types of Freight to Consider 

1. Dry Van

dry van truckMany truck drivers start out learning to drive Dry Van. Dry Van drivers usually carry dry goods and a wide variety of non-perishable freight in 53’ trailers. Many Dry Van positions are over the road or regional. Drivers who want to drive Dry Van will have a wide range of companies to choose from. With so many companies to choose from, read job descriptions carefully to make sure the job fits your pay and home time needs.

Endorsements: Many Dry Van positions do not require endorsements, but some specialized loads may require Hazmat or Doubles and Triples endorsements.

Lifestyle Fit: Hauling Dry Van is a popular choice for many drivers. It’s great for new drivers because there aren’t as many special considerations as for some other types of freight. Many experienced drivers stick with Dry Van for similar reasonsthere’s often lots of variety in the type of freight drivers haul and it has a refreshing level of simplicity.

2. Refrigerated Freight

refrigerated truck driverRefrigerated trucking, more commonly known as Reefer trucking, is particularly good for drivers who have some experience already and pride themselves on their close attention to detail. Reefer drivers most commonly haul food, which gives drivers a lot of job security. If you are a Refrigerated Freight owner operator and do have a hard time getting a load, you can also haul Dry Van freight in a Reefer truck. 

Endorsements: Most Reefer positions do not require endorsements. 

Lifestyle Fit: Reefer trucking is hard work but is also compensated well. Most people consider hauling refrigerated freight after they have a few years of experience and are looking to diversify. Most of these jobs are regional or OTR, and you will have a lot of companies to choose from. Reefer drivers tend to work odd hours and will find themselves regularly loading and driving during nighttime hours.

3. Flatbed

oversized flatbed loadFlatbed drivers are in high demand and, as a result, pay is typically more competitive than some other driving jobs. Unlike Dry Van or Reefer jobs, Flatbed jobs often require more physical work to safely secure the loads with tarps. Some flatbed drivers will have a Conestoga trailer with a sliding tarp system instead of a traditional flatbed trailer. That often makes loading, unloading, and securing much more convenient for the driver. 

Endorsements: Typically, Flatbed drivers do not need additional endorsements

Lifestyle Fit: Flatbed trucking is often considered one of the more challenging types of trucking jobs. If you don’t mind a little extra physical work and are up for an adventure, the higher pay and regular job demand make Flatbed a great choice for many drivers.

4. Tanker

tanker trucks getting filledDriving a Tanker truck can mean hauling either liquids or dry bulk. If you see a Tanker truck position available, it could be for anything from gasoline or water (liquids) to food or materials like sand (Dry bulk). Often, Tanker truck drivers have a few years of experience, and as the name says, you’ll need your Tanker endorsement. 

Endorsements: Tanker endorsement required. For some jobs, you will also need a Hazmat endorsement to haul hazardous materials. 

Lifestyle Fit: Tanker drivers earn a good wage and usually have strong benefits. In addition, many Tanker jobs are regional or local, so drivers are home frequently. Unlike Dry Van and Reefer, loading and unloading a Tanker can go quickly. You could be in and out in under 20 minutes! Drivers wear protective gear to reduce that risk during the loading and unloading process. 

5. Specialty Loads

If you want to haul a specific type of freight, chances are someone will pay you to do it. In addition to the more common haul types we mentioned earlier, there are many types of specialty loads out there. Here are just a few examples:

  • Over-Dimensional Loads: Anything bigger than typical dimensions. Usually, drivers need to have some flatbed experience first.
  • Autohauler: These drivers haul cars. It’s highly specialized and valuable freight, so drivers need a lot of skill and are paid well. 
  • Intermodal: Any freight that uses at least two types of transportation is intermodal freight (ex. Train and truck). Most drivers work close to a railroad or shipping hub.
  • Livestock: Frequently Livestock drivers usually haul chickens, pigs, horses, or cows. Drivers need a certification for the specific type of livestock they haul. It’s hard work, and drivers are compensated well for their extra efforts.

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6 Types of CDL Class A Endorsements

There are three options when getting a commercial driver’s license (CDL): the CDL A, the CDL B or the CDL C. Each class has its own training requirements and testing procedures, and there are pros and cons to explore for each type. Your lifestyle and career plans dictate which license will be the best fit for you. The Class A CDL is the most widely obtained CDL license, and here are the 6 types of endorsements you can get once you obtain a Class A CDL License.

The Basics of a Class A CDL

A Class A CDL endorsement usually opens the most job opportunities for a driver. The Federal Motor Carrier Association defines CDL A trucks as, “Any combination of vehicles which has a gross combination weight rating or gross combination weight of 11,794 kilograms or more (26,001 pounds or more) whichever is greater, inclusive of a towed unit(s) with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of more than 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) whichever is greater.”

Once you have your CDL A license, you can get additional endorsements to allow you drive more specialty vehicles. These endorsements require extra written and sometimes, skills testing to obtain the endorsements.

There are 6 Types of CDL Class A Endorsements

commercial driver's license endorsements

U.S. Department of Transportation

1. (H) Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT)

A HAZMAT endorsement opens the doors to hauling hazardous materials over the road. These jobs are often higher paying and there is usually a larger pool of jobs available. Once you have your CDL A, you can obtain a HAZMAT endorsement following required TSA background checks, a written test, as well as a medical exam by a DOT doctor. In many cases having your HAZMAT license is a requirement for getting the X endorsement which will be described shortly.

2. (N) Tank Vehicle

The tank endorsement allows a driver to haul a tank or “tanker” full of liquid or gaseous materials. These jobs are often higher paying and usually are local or regional runs, so you’d have more home time than some other jobs. This endorsement does require an additional written test. A tanker truck driver needs to be able to adjust to having his cargo constantly moving around if the tank is not full. Dealing with the “surge” caused by the movement of the liquid in the tank while driving, does take some practice and skill development.

commuter bus passenger endorsement3. (P) Passenger Transport

Passenger transport endorsement is pretty straightforward. It allows a licensed driver to drive a vehicle which carries more than 16 passengers, like a city commuter bus. This endorsement requires an added written and skills test to obtain. These jobs are great for people who want to drive a set schedule and be home every night, or for seeing the country driving for travel companies across country. One thing is certain, you will interact with passengers all day long, so this is not the job for someone who likes being alone. This endorsement is usually required to subsequently obtain the S endorsement to drive children in a school bus. Usually the S & P endorsements go hand-in-hand.

4. (S) School Bus/Passenger Transport

School bus endorsements are required to drive children around in school busses. Like the P endorsement just discussed, this also requires an additional written and driving skills test. But for the S endorsement, there are also background checks, criminal history checks, physical fitness tests, and they usually require more frequent supplemental training and testing when the school bus rules change. And these drivers should have a little more patience and certainly must be able to tolerate driving boisterous children.

doubles triples endorsement5. (T) Double/Triples

Double or triple trailers require their own endorsement. The T endorsement allows drivers to tow more than one trailer on the back of their truck. This endorsement requires an additional written test as well. The T endorsement allows a driver to haul twice or even three-times more freight, while driving the same amount of time over the road as with a single trailer. These are often higher-paying trucking jobs, due to the added skills and driving ability the driver needs to have.

6. (X) Tanker and Hazardous Materials

Finally, the X endorsement allows a driver to haul large loads of any type of liquid or gaseous HAZMAT cargo inside of a tanker. Having this X endorsement even further separates these drivers and their skill sets. This endorsement requires an additional written test. If a driver has any plans to be in the gas and oil hauling business, an X endorsement will certainly be required.

Regardless of the type of license and endorsements you pursue, you need to ensure that you are matched with the best fit job for you. If you’re a newly licensed professional truck driver looking for your first road job, or you’ve been driving for years, let Drive My Way help you get connected with the perfect job for you.

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Wide load truck

The exact dimensions of an over-dimensional load vary by state. In a nutshell, over-dimensional is exactly what it sounds like—any high, long, heavy, or wide load truck that is larger than typical dimensions. This usually includes trucks or loads taller than 13’6” (with some regional differences) and wider than 8’6”. Length regulations change by state. Because there are different regulations based on where you’re driving, it’s important to check every state along your route before you start. If you’re considering moving to over-dimensional loads for the next stage of your trucking career, here are some pros and cons to keep in mind. 

Pros

1. Pay and Job Security

Let’s start with the big questions. Is there any real pay benefit to hauling more challenging loads? Actually, yes. Wide load truck drivers and other over-dimensional load haulers are pretty well paid for the position. You will be required to carry special permits, but even with that added expense, the finances work out well in your favor for over-dimensional loads. In addition, you won’t be tied to a single piece of equipment. That significantly boosts job security. Being able to haul a variety of loads means you won’t drive with your truck or your pockets empty.

Vic R. Oversized Load Truck Driver

We talked to Vic, a truck driver who has hauled oversized loads for 14 years. 

Vic was previously doing container work but chose to transition to oversized loads for the pay increase. He now makes significantly more money and has variety in his work daily. Vic shared “There’s a lot more money in oversized loads. Every day is an adventure, and it’s never boring.”

Over-dimensional loads require a high level of responsibility and a bigger mental load, but there’s also usually less physical work. That said, don’t look for compensation as a good CPM. This type of run isn’t about the miles—there’s a lot of waiting involved. If you are not a patient driver and willing to wait for parking, room to fuel up, etc., this probably isn’t the job for you. Because miles aren’t the bottom line, typically pay will come as salary, percentage pay, or hourly wages

2. Show Your Skills

Hauling a wide load truck or other types of over-dimensional load is not usually a job for rookie drivers. There is a high level of skill required for this type of position because the cargo is often high value and oversized. Defensive driving is a must. As a result, many drivers have 10+ years of experience in other types of trucking. The vast majority of over-dimensional drivers have at least some flatbed trucking experience. Similarly, drivers with more endorsements are often hired more easily. Even if you don’t need endorsements for a particular load, endorsements have a lot of value. They show that you are able to work a variety of assignments and, importantly, that you are a hard worker who prioritizes their career. 

There are no hard and fast rules about years of experience or endorsements, but in general, more is better in this case. Hauling over-dimensional freight can be a great job for drivers who want to incorporate a lot of the skills and experience they have gained along the way. 

3. Pilot Cars

Pilot cars (also known as escorts) are commercial passenger vehicles that drive alongside an oversized vehicle. They are required to have visible signage on the front and rear of their cars, and you’ve probably seen them on the road before. In tricky situations or routes, they can be a big help.

If you’ve never driven with a pilot car before, you should know that they won’t necessarily join you for the whole trip. They may only accompany you through the most treacherous areas.

Escorts will either drive ahead of you as a scout or they will follow you to help ensure that other vehicles observe proper spacing. There are also specialized escorts called pole cars whose purpose is to check the height of any overhead obstacles to make sure that the truck and its load will be able to pass safely. Most escorts also carry safety equipment in case of a breakdown on the road.

Cons

1. Preplanning Is a Must

Preplanning is a standard part of any trucking job. But, many experienced drivers might not need to spend as much time preplanning as they once did. For a wide load truck or other over-dimensional loads, preplanning is not optional. You must know your route well before you set off. Are there any road obstacles to be aware of? When can you fuel? Will parking be readily available when you’re scheduled to stop? 

It’s also a good idea to find out whether your pilot car knows the route well. Some escorts run the same lanes over and other. Others are simply hired and may be driving your route for the first time. There can also be different requirements in different states or regions. Make sure you know the regulations of each place you will travel through.

2. Route Requirements

As an over-dimensional load driver, you will usually have a set route with a specific delivery window. That can be a bit of a challenge, especially in bad weather. In an oversized flatbed, a big storm could have a big impact on your intended delivery time. Unfortunately, responsibility for an on time delivery ultimately falls on the driver. That’s one reason why many oversized loads don’t move during the night

Responsibility for an on time delivery ultimately falls on the driver.

With that being said, there are some loads that can be hauled at night as long as there is proper lighting. Ultimately, that decision depends on the state you are driving in. For most places in the United States, anything under 10’ wide can run at night. On the flip side, superloads (the next size classification up) often haul only at night. Most of these giants require a police escort as well as pilot cars, and they prefer to run when the roads are emptiest.

Getting Started

There is no set way to become a wide load truck driver or to start hauling over-dimensional loads. Typically, employers look for flatbed experience, and drivers need to be comfortable tarping and strapping their load. There are some training programs through companies like ATS and Lonestar, but not all drivers start over-dimensional trucking through a formal program. Multi-axle trailers are one of the best ways to start moving toward the world of over-dimensional loads. 

There really is nothing like hauling over-dimensional loads, so do your research before you get started. It’s not for everyone, but for patient, experienced drivers who want to put their skills to the test, driving a wide load truck or hauling over-dimensional loads is very rewarding.

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refrigerated truck driver

Are you looking to expand your trucking experience? Being a refrigerated truck driver might be the perfect fit. It’s most commonly known as reefer trucking, and this haul type is particularly good for drivers who have some experience already and pride themselves on their close attention to detail. Reefer trucking is hard work but is also compensated well. Here are a few ways to decide whether being a refrigerated truck driver is for you. 

Job Security is a High Priority

Job security is one of those things that is hard to measure when you are job searching but helps us all sleep a little better at night. This year, job security has been top of mind for many Americans. As we saw in Spring 2020, many truck drivers were considered essential workers, but not all of them. One big benefit of being a refrigerated truck driver is that your job security is very good. Reefer trucks primarily carry fresh food. As a result, no matter what else happens, reefer trucks will be on the roads. 

Job security is very good for reefer drivers. Most refrigerated truck drivers haul fresh food, and that will always be essential.

Demand for reefer trucking is consistently moderate to high because of the goods hauled. On the other hand, because of the extra training requirements, the supply of drivers is comparatively low. If you are a refrigerated truck driver or want to become one, that means less job competition for you! Many (but not all) reefer drivers are owner-operators. If you are finding your own loads, reefer trucks are a more flexible choice. Even if you can’t get a refrigerated load, some dry van loads can also be hauled in a reefer truck. That helps reduce the possibility of an empty return trip where you’re not earning a paycheck.

You Want to Diversify Your Experience

Being a refrigerated truck driver isn’t a first step for most CDL holders. Running refrigerated loads can be challenging, but it’s also well-paid. Typically, people start considering reefer driving after at least a few years of other driving experience. To become a refrigerated truck driver, you will need some extra training. 

In addition to the technical skills you will learn, refrigerated truck drivers need to be excellent decision-makers and problem solvers. Because of the temperature control required for successful reefer runs, a breakdown can mean losing a load. So, drivers must have quick, sound judgment when they run into unexpected challenges on the road. Once you have a few years of experience under your belt, reefer driving is a great way to stand out as a skilled candidate for future jobs. 

Employers Consider You Punctual and Detail-Oriented

Being a refrigerated truck driver takes more than just good driving. Arriving on time for deliveries is extremely important. Often, a missed appointment isn’t just a question of a slight delay. It can mean a very long wait time (even up to more than a day!) before you can reschedule your delivery! With that in mind, punctuality is critical for anyone hauling a reefer trailer. 

Punctuality is critical for anyone hauling a reefer trailer. Schedules can be very tight and most loads have very specific requirements for temperature.

In a refrigerated truck, precision doesn’t stop at the schedule. Most loads have very specific requirements for temperature. To help manage this, drivers may be responsible for supervising the loading and position of freight in their trailer. Depending on the job, drivers may also be responsible for loading or unloading as well. Then, after you’re on the road, drivers must use consistent tracking to maintain a certain temperature in all parts of the trailer at all times.

9-5 Jobs Aren’t Your Style

Truck driving is more than a job. For many drivers, it’s a lifestyle. Each haul type has unique pros and cons, and refrigerated loads are no exception. These runs are a good fit for night owl drivers who love the quiet roads in the early morning hours. Reefer drivers tend to work odd hours and will find themselves regularly loading and driving during nighttime hours. 

Reefer jobs can be local, regional, or OTR. Many local drivers are home every night, but regional and OTR drivers will be spending nights in the cab. In a refrigerated truck, the cooling unit has to run 24/7, and that comes with a lot of noise. For light sleepers, earplugs may be a worthwhile investment.

It’s Time to Be Your Own Boss

Refrigerated trucking owner-operators are in high demand. It is also possible to be a refrigerated truck driver for a large carrier, but these positions are harder to come by.

If you are interested in becoming an owner-operator, being a refrigerated truck driver might be a perfect fit for you. 

As with any owner-operator position, confidence navigating hiring contracts is a must. Because the stakes for breakdowns or repairs can be a lost load, owner-operators need to understand their contract inside and out. A contract should clearly state who is responsible for the cost of repairs and maintenance. Once you understand the finances, logistics, and contracts of being an independent contractor, you’re ready to be your own boss!

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