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ltl truckingIn past blogs, we’ve discussed the differences between OTR, Regional, and Local jobs as well as different types of hauls. One thing we haven’t talked about is LTL trucking. Here are the facts around it, so you can decide for yourself if an LTL trucking position is the right move for you.  

What Does LTL Mean?

LTL means “less-than-truckload”. This is a type of shipping service for businesses that need to move small quantities of product that wouldn’t fill up an entire 53” trailer. This differs from traditional TL (truckload) shipping where one customer fills up the entire trailer and the cargo goes to one destination. 

Why do companies do less-than-truckload?

LTL shipping is a huge industry, with the market being worth a whopping $86 million.

Why? Think about it this way. Not every company needs to ship an entire truckload worth of products, but they still need to get what they have from point A to point B. From the carrier’s perspective, it’s not viable to fill up a truck a quarter of the way for one customer. What’s the solution? 

This is where LTL carriers come in. These specialized carriers fill up trucks with product from multiple customers, with each only paying for the portion of the trailer that they use. The logistics of an operation like this are more complicated, but if done right, it’s a great for both the carrier and customer. 

LTL services are not to be confused with parcel services. Parcel services will usually carry items that are less than 150 pounds, while LTL carriers handle shipments between 151 and 15,000 pounds, though these numbers can vary based on each carrier.  

What are the Benefits to LTL Trucking Jobs?

Most LTL trucking jobs are regional or local, which means more home time for drivers. In a time where being with friends and family is becoming more and more important to drivers, LTL jobs shouldn’t be overlooked.  

Many LTL companies also have dedicated customers, so there’s a good chance you’ll have consistency in your route and schedule. 

What are the Cons?

Since LTL trucking involves multiple customers sharing trailer space, it also means multiple drop offs. If you’re working in a big city or congested town, this could mean hours of waiting in traffic, or waiting at different receiver each day. One delay early in the day could mean missing all your other appointments and possibly losing money.  

This is why it’s good for drivers to either look for carriers that pay by the hour or offer generous detention pay. This way, you’re not losing money while waiting at a receiver.

How to Find an LTL Job?

A quick online search will show you companies hiring LTL drivers. But a lot of companies don’t advertise their jobs as “LTL trucking jobs” so you may not be getting a big picture of all the jobs in your area. You may have to look at the job description carefully or reach out to the recruiter or HR person that you’re talking to see if it’s LTL or TL (truckload).  

How Much do LTL Trucking Jobs Pay?

On average, LTL trucking jobs pay around $66,000 per year. This is less than what a traditional OTR driver makes, but on par with local and regional drivers. 

But, like all trucking jobs, the devil is in the details. Pay can be confusing, so make sure to read job descriptions carefully and ask the company representative any and all questions so you can have an accurate picture of what your pay will look like before signing on.  

Do You Need a CDL for LTL Trucking Jobs?

Yes. Since the majority of LTL truckers drive a standard 53” trailer, you’ll need your CDL A. LTL jobs aren’t to be confused with delivery positions that usually only require a CDL B.  

LTL trucking jobs have their pros and cons just like any position in trucking. It all comes down to your individual needs relating to pay, home time, and benefits. If you’re looking for an LTL position, Drive My Way has you covered. Create a free profile and join the thousands of drivers finding their next CDL job.  

two men in a truck

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horse transportThis past May, 16 million people tuned in to watch one of the biggest upsets in Kentucky Derby history. Rich Strike, a horse who the day before, wasn’t even slated to race, did the unthinkable and won the 148th annual Kentucky Derby in a miraculous come from behind victory. Moments like these are what make horse racing such an unpredictable and exciting sport.  

While we only see the end product on the track, there are countless people working behind the scenes to make these races possible, including the people who transport the horses from place to place. They’re called horse transport truck drivers, and they’re the engine that makes the horse racing industry go.  

What is a Horse Transport Truck Driver?

A horse transport truck driver is a driver who transports horses from place to place. This could be from training facility, to racetrack, farm, or anywhere else they need to go. These positions are typically either Regional or OTR due to the amount of distance between these places. 

How do you Become a Horse Transport Truck Driver?

You’ll of course need to have your CDL A before becoming a horse transport truck driver. Aside from that, you’ll also need to learn how to load, unload, and handle the challenges of transporting large animals like horses. Luckily, most carriers that specialize in this work will train you on that. 

What is Being a Horse Transport Truck Driver Like?

We were able to talk with Bill, a CDL A Driver with Drive My Way client, Sallee Horse Vans. Bill talked to us about what it’s like to be a horse transport truck driver and why he enjoys it. 

How long have you been a driver with Sallee?

“I’ve worked as a horse transport driver with Sallee for 5 years.”

What does your average day look like?

“I start by checking in with dispatch, getting the trailer ready (bedding down) for the number of horses we’re planning to load. Then I drive to the farm, racetrack, or training facility. Next, we load the horses and start the trip to our final destination.”

What made you choose working with Sallee over other OTR jobs?

 “I like working as a horse transport driver because it’s something different other than bumping a dock.”

What’s one thing a driver who’s thinking about working in transporting horses should know?

“There’s never a dull day in this job. The horses will challenge you daily, and you’ll always be learning something new about the job, the horses, and yourself.”

What do you enjoy the most about working with Sallee?

 “I really enjoy the people I work with at Sallee. It’s like one big family.”

Just like with any OTR position, horse transport drivers will need to be comfortable spending extended time on the road. It’s not unusual for drivers to be out on the road for over three weeks at a time, especially during peak racing season.  

Also, be prepared for a lot of east coast driving. Since the majority of horse racing takes place in the eastern half of the country, that’s where horse transport truckers do the majority of their driving.  

How Much Do Horse Transport Truck Drivers Make?

Since horse transporting is a specialization in the trucking industry, these drivers tend to make more than your traditional OTR driver. The exact numbers depend on which company you drive for but can reach more than $100,000 annually. 

Why do horse transport drivers get paid so much? There are literally millions of dollars on the line when they get behind the wheel. This isn’t cattle or sheep you’ll be hauling. They’re thoroughbred race horses. 

This is also why horse transporting is usually a team driver job. Since the cargo is so valuable, it’s seen as a worthy investment to have an extra driver in the cab in case something goes wrong on the road or there’s an issue with one of the horses.  

Another reason these jobs are done in teams is to beat tight deadlines. The FMCSA states that one truck driver can driver for a maximum of 11 hours before needing a ten-hour break. Driving in teams means that while one driver sleeps and gets their 10 hours in, the other can drive their 11. Aside from stopping for gas and other necessities, team drivers (in theory) never need to stop.  

Horse transport jobs pay well, and there’s a good reason for that. It’s for drivers who enjoy working with animals and love being out on the road more often than they’re at home. If you check both of those boxes, then you might have a future as a horse transport driver.  

sallee horse vans

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drop and hookWaiting. It’s one of the biggest frustrations for truck drivers. Every day, drivers lose hours off the clock and money out of their pockets when they’re forced to wait at a shipper or receiver for hours (sometimes days) for a live load. 

While some carriers make up for this by offering detention pay for their drivers, many don’t. This is why many drivers see drop and hooks as the answer to these problems. The question is, are drop and hooks really that much better than live loads? 

What is Drop and Hook?

A drop and hook is when a driver “drops” their trailer at the customer’s yard and gets a new one before driving off.  

Drivers will get an appointment time for these drop offs, meaning they won’t have to wait for any loading or unloading of the trailer like they would with a live load. Aside from taking less time, drop and hooks are no touch, which is always a bonus for drivers.  

What is Live Load?

Live load, sometimes known as “dock bumping” is when a driver backs their trailer up to the warehouse doors and then waits while the workers or jockeys to unload the truck. If a backhaul is scheduled, then the driver will have to wait for the trailer to be loaded back up as well. Just like with drop and hooks, drivers are given windows for when to be at the customer’s facility. 

On average, a live load takes around two hours. It can of course take more or less time depending on how many warehouse workers are on duty, what the cargo is, and how busy the yard is.  

Which is More Common?

drop and hookThis all depends on what you’re running. In general, there will be more live loads in reefer and flatbed hauling than there will be for dry van. This rule is fast and loose, so don’t bank on always having a drop and hook if you’re running dry van. 

Drop and hooks are usually utilized by larger carriers that have a lot of trailers. If you’re running for a smaller carrier, you’ll probably be looking at a lot of live loads. Space is another constraint for drop and hooks, since a lot of facilities simply don’t have the room for trailers to be sitting around waiting to be picked up. 

What are the Pros and Cons?

drop and hookMost drivers will agree that in general, drop and hooks are quicker and therefore better than live loads. This isn’t always the case though. As any experienced driver will tell you, there are a number of things that can go wrong with a shipper or receiver, resulting in you waiting well past your appointment time to get a new trailer. As a driver, these situations are extremely frustrating, since there’s not much you can control aside from getting to your appointment on time. 

Although most drivers prefer drop and hooks, live loads have some benefits as well. One is that you won’t run the risk of getting a worn-down trailer. If you’re doing a lot of drop and hooks, you’ll eventually get saddled with a less than ideal trailer. While not likely, these trailers could have electrical problems like faulty brake lights or tires that lose air. Dealing with these problems will add more time to your trip that could have been saved if you kept your old trailer.  

Drop and hooks also take a bit more skill than your traditional dock bumping. Drivers need to carefully line up their fifth wheel plate with the trailer’s kingpin. This isn’t an expert level maneuver or anything, but it’s something that you wouldn’t have to worry about with a live load.  

There’s also the issue of an overweight trailer. Some shippers may not do their due diligence in making sure a trailer is under the 34,000 tandem axel weight limit. You’ll only realize this when you hit your first weigh station. You’ll then have to go back to the shipper and start the whole process over again, which could add hours onto your trip.  

Which One’s Better?

The logistics chain is a long and messy one. There are hundreds of moving parts that go into getting a product from point A to point B. Any one of those moving parts could go wrong, with the truck driver being the one left waiting for the issue to be resolved, drop and hook or not. 

That being said, with a live load, you’re almost guaranteed to be waiting at least some amount of time. If everything goes right with a drop and hook, you should be leaving your customer’s facility with a new trailer in no time.  

If you’re a truck driver looking for a job with drop and hooks? Drive My Way has you covered. 

two men in a truck

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cdl finishing programsEven after graduating from a CDL school, many drivers feel like they’re not ready for all of the challenges life on the road throws at them. This is understandable as there’s a lot to being a truck driver that isn’t included in CDL schools.  

Drivers who go straight from the CDL exam to months on the road are likely to feel unprepared, unsupported, and have bad experiences because of this. These bad experiences can even lead drivers to exit the industry altogether after a few short years or even months on the road. 

Trucking is an industry that’s stretched thin as is in terms of a workforce, so this phenomenon of drivers leaving almost as quickly as they came isn’t doing anyone any favors. Luckily, many carriers and the industry at large are recognizing this issue and coming up with a solution for it; CDL finishing programs.  

What is a CDL Finishing Program?

A CDL Finishing Program is an entry-level position where a driver is teamed up with an experienced driver trainer for their first few weeks on the road. The driver trainer will act as a supervisor and mentor to the new driver, helping them deal with any problems that come up or answer any questions they have.  

These programs have been around for a while but have gained popularity recently as an answer to low retention numbers across the industry.  

Finishing programs can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the company you’re working with.  

What Should Drivers Know Before Enrolling in a Finishing Program?

cdl finishing programsLike with anything in life, it’s important to understand the terms of what you’re agreeing to before you sign-on. Some companies may want you to work for them for a designated amount of time after the program is up, while others may not.  

There may be certain policies relating to pay and home time that you’ll want to be aware of as well. Just make sure to read the fine print and ask any and all questions before you enroll in a finishing program.  

Do Finishing Programs Cost Money?

safe truck stopNope. Finishing Programs aren’t like CDL schools. It’s an entry-level position where you’ll be working for the company you’re signed on with and earning a paycheck just like any other employee.  

What Companies Offer Finishing Programs?

Truck Driver Hiring Events: What to KnowMany large carriers offer finishing programs for new drivers.  

Josh Mecca is the Director of Recruiting with Drive My Way client, American Central Transport. ACT has recently launched their own finishing program, and they had this to say about it. 

We’ve recently started a driver finishing program with two CDL schools here in Kansas City. We were noticing that a lot of times in our industry, a driver would finish their CDL training and immediately be thrown to the wolves before they had a real chance to get their feet under them. This led to a lot of careers in trucking being thrown away before they began because these new drivers would have such bad experiences.

Companies didn’t want to invest in the training that these new drivers needed beyond the bare minimum, so we decided to take a different approach. Once they’ve finished CDL school, we help our new drivers by giving them the support and knowledge they need from an experienced trainer while increasing their pay every 90 days for that first year they’re with us.” 

Why do Drivers Enroll in CDL Finishing Programs?

Many drivers feel that while CDL training is great, it only gives you the bare minimum of what it’s like to drive a semi. There’s any number of things that could happen on the road that drivers who come straight from CDL school may feel unprepared for.  

That’s why finishing programs are a great alternative to jumping into an OTR or regional position. It’s a way for new drivers to learn the ropes so they feel ready for life on the road. 

two men in a truck

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Dump truck jobsDump truck jobs are great positions for drivers who want to stay close to home and are happy to be out rain or shine. Dump truck work includes a big range in type of load. Some drivers haul garbage, but others haul paving materials and construction supplies like dirt, gravel, sand, or coal. If you’re new to the dump truck world or are thinking about switching to become a dump truck driver, we have everything you need to find your first job.

1. How To Get Started With A Dump Truck

License and Certifications

As with most types of truck driving, one of the first steps for starting with a dump truck is licensing. Professional dump truck drivers need either a CDL A or CDL B license to get started. A CDL B license will take less time and has a lower cost, but a CDL A allows drivers to accept a greater range of jobs. Before signing up for a CDL licensing program, do a little research to decide which type of license is better for you. 

In addition to a CDL license, there are a few certifications that can be helpful for dump truck drivers. The Dump Truck Operations and Dump Truck Tailgate Removal and Installation CBT Certifications can make drivers more competitive as job candidates. Hazmat, Passenger, and Air Brakes endorsements can also benefit dump truck drivers. Each of these additional certifications opens up job possibilities and makes you a more competitive driver candidate. 

Types of Trucks

As you get started in dump truck driving, take some time to get to know the types of dump trucks. There are a lot of options here. The most common type of truck, a standard dump truck, is a truck chassis with a dump truck body on the frame. The back of the bed is hinged. Also, there is a hydraulic ram under the body that raises the bed to dump loads. We won’t get into all the details here, but there are many other types of trucks that drivers use for specific types of loads or in specific geographies. To see them all, check out this list

Job Details

While the work for dump truck jobs isn’t a light load, there are many benefits to hauling dump truck loads. Typically, dump truck work is local, so most drivers are home daily. For drivers with a family or who are tired of long nights on the road, this is a huge advantage of driving dump trucks. That said, drivers should be prepared to work rain or shine! Depending on where you live, there can be a wide range of weather conditions. As a dump truck driver, you’ll work in all of them. For drivers who are more social, dump truck jobs can be a great fit. Many drivers work with a lot of the same people consistently, so there is a sense of camaraderie on the job. 

2. Company Driver or Owner Operator? 

Company Driver

Dump truck driver Travis

Travis, Dump Truck Driver

A big decision to make if you are getting started in dump trucking is whether you want to be a company driver or an owner operator. If you’re new to the dump truck world, starting out as a company driver can help you get experience while having a steady job. We asked Travis, a dump truck driver from a small company in Southern Oregon, if he had any tips for new drivers.

“Just be confident in yourself as a driver. Take every bit of criticism and knowledge people want to pass down. Research and watch some videos on YouTube just to get some basic knowledge. Try and find a smaller company that will be more apt to help and give drivers a chance,” shared Travis.

Owner Operator

On the other hand, if you are ready to jump in as an owner operator, you will have more flexibility. You can decide what jobs fit your schedule and meet your financial needs. Before you start, make sure you are financially ready. The biggest costs for new dump truck owner operators are in equipment. You will need to decide what type of truck is best for you and will help you get the jobs you need. While a truck is typically the biggest upfront cost, make sure you also budget time and money for licensing and smaller costs like fuel and any technology you want in your truck. 

We spoke with Greg, an experienced owner operator for his company Greg Melendez Trucking, about how to find dump truck work.

“I started in ’99 and the one thing I learned was to NEVER turn down the first job and NEVER cancel due to a second job that might be better. Take the first job and work it and the person your working for will appreciate it, not like the guy that cancels thinking the second job offer is better cause most [of] the time it’s worse. Honesty goes a long way in this type of work. The more honest you are the more respect you’ll get in return,” shared Greg.

Becoming a dump truck owner operator is not cheap, but for some drivers, the payoffs in money and time are well worth it.

3. How to Find Work

Dump truck work

Photo from Dump Truck Driver, Travis

If you take the big step to become a dump truck driver, being able to find jobs is a lifeline! To start your search, use sites that partner with multiple employers. Drive My Way can save you endless hours of job searching by matching you with a company that fits your qualifications and personal preferences. 

If you start your job search in person, it’s all about connecting with the right people. Networking is the key to success. For local work, start with a drive! Keep an eye out for construction companies in your area that might need dump truck workers. Look for developments in your town and nearby and find out what company is paying for the work. Then, reach out to that company and see if they need extra trucks. If you want more information on a company before you reach out, go to safer.fmcsa.dot.gov and look at company snapshots. Enter the name or US DOT number to look at the fleet size and the driver number. If there are more trucks than drivers, that may mean they are looking for people to fill those jobs!

To expand your job search beyond what you find on a drive around town, start looking for construction zones. Then, find out which companies won those construction bids. For local work, contact your local government and find out what companies have contracts. Then, get in touch and ask if any of those companies are looking for sub-contractors. Dump truck owner operators can also bid on state construction contracts. However, these bids are often harder to win because many construction companies are looking for companies with multiple trucks. Start your search close to home, then make your circle bigger if needed.

truck driver at loading dock

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Envirotech truck

Today’s Job of the Day comes to us from EnviroTech Services, Inc.

Come join the EnviroTech Services Team! Under the direct supervision of the Order & Delivery Supervisor, the Driver/Applicator will safely transport and apply material while providing outstanding customer service. This position will be responsible for the following: DOT Class A operation of truck and truck tractor equipment; operation of product application equipment, plant loading and unloading equipment; plant blending and mixing equipment; shop equipment; and railcar unloading equipment when required.

envirotech-services-incCurrently, EnviroTech is seeking a CDL A Regional Tanker/Applicator Driver in Randolph, MN and a CDL A Regional Tanker/Applicator Driver in West Jordan, UT.

Compensation:

  • Average annual pay (MN): 55k-70k per year
    • $23.00 – $28.00 per hour, depending on experience
  • Average annual pay (UT): 55k-70k per year
    • $21.00 – $25.00 per hour, depending on experience
  • Drivers are guaranteed 40 hours a week, and work on average 50 hours per
  • Full Time Hourly OT eligible position

Benefits & Perks:

  • Great company benefits starting 45 days of hire
    • Medical, Dental, and Vision Insurance
    • Health Savings Account (company will contribution to your HSA per month)
    • Flexible Spending AccountLife Insurance
    • 401K with 6% company match
    • 8 Paid Company Holidays
    • Start earning PTO immediately 15 days per year
  • Tuition and Certification Reimbursement Program
  • Gym membership reimbursement
  • Slip Seating: No

Home Time, Route, & Schedule:

  • Home 2-3 days
  • Some OTR work required, 1-2 nights per week company paid hotel and per diem
  • Mon-Fri schedule (days) with some weekend work during peak seasons
  • Level of Touch: Load and unload

Equipment

  • 18 speed manuals (some automatic)
  • 2012 -2020 Kenworth and Peterbilt with sleepers
  • Spray houses on the back of the tanker

Qualifications:

  • High School Diploma or GED
  • Minimum age 18
  • Endorsements: Tanker and Air Brakes must be willing to get doubles/triples within 90 days of hire. Will reimburse.
  • 1-year operating manual 18 speed transmission
  • 1-year operating a DOT vehicle in winter conditions
  • Knowledge applying tire chains to a DOT vehicle
  • Must be able to pass DOT testing requirements for drivers
  • Valid Driver’s License and acceptable Motor Vehicle Record MVR (no more than 3 minor violations and/or accidents in past 3 years)
  • May be required to work overtime and weekends or holidays and may be required to work on-call activities.
  • MN Hiring Radius: Drivers must live within 70 miles of Randolph, MN
  • UT Hiring Radius: Drivers must live within 70 miles of West Jordan or Salt Lake City, UT

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • DOT Class A driving of truck and truck tractor combinations.  Safe driving certification and strict adherence to all applicable agencies and governing laws.
  • Operation of on-board computerized application equipment.  Calculation of application rates, ratio blending, and customer change orders.  Trouble-shoot and train others on application equipment usage.
  • Operation of on-board ELD (electronic logging device) in full compliance with DOT rules and regulations.
  • Perform minor repairs and maintenance functions for trucking and tank equipment.
  • Fill out load (BOL’s) paperwork accurately, neatly and completely.
  • Must be comfortable working in adverse weather conditions in a safe manner to deliver product as needed per contract requirements.  This includes high terrain, mountain areas where chain laws may be required.
  • Be proficient in the safe operation of plant blending, loading and metering equipment.
  • Load and unload internal and external trucks, railcars, tanks, and other shipping containers including liquid, dry, equipment, and packaged products.
  • Update MSHA training and Mine Site training annually
  • Perform and administrate scheduled and unscheduled maintenance functions on plant equipment as required including pumps, tanks, meters, plumbing, trucks, shop equipment, and other plant related items.
  • Communicate proactively to dispatcher, area supervisor and/or operations manager any truck needs, maintenance issues, problems, or potential enhancement opportunities.
  • Perform rail site operation activities including railcar administration, site and equipment maintenance, and equipment operation.
  • Strictly follow all quality control initiatives identified by corporate objectives and quality control coordinator.
  • Provide exceptional customer service and communicate customer concerns to dispatcher, area supervisor and/or operations manager.

Working Conditions:

  • Maybe required to drive in mountains and in snowy conditions.
  • May frequently lift and/or move up to 50 pounds.
  • Drivers may be occasionally exposed to confined spaces, wet and/or humid conditions, high precarious places, fumes or airborne particles, toxic or caustic chemicals.
  • May frequently be exposed to outside weather conditions and risk of electrical shock.
  • May be frequently be exposed to loud noises in work environment.

Envirotech driver

Interested in applying?

EnviroTech is seeking a CDL A Regional Tanker/Applicator Driver in Randolph, MN and in West Jordan, UT. Drivers have great pay, home time and benefits!

MN Regional Driver UT Regional Driver

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

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.

two men in a truck

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Want to Get Your CDL License? Here's What to Know

Getting your Commerical Driving License (CDL) is a big deal. It’s an exciting step toward a career as a professional driver, and we hear from lots of veteran drivers that it’s the best job out there. Earning your CDL license isn’t an overnight process, but it’s worth it. Take the time to prepare yourself for each of the steps, and you’ll be on the road before you know it. Here are a few things you should know before you get started.

Types of CDL Licenses

There are three main types of commercial driving license: A, B, and C. They all allow you to operate large motor vehicles, but each is designed for a specific purpose. A CDL A license is considered the most universal because it allows you to also drive most CDL B and CDL C jobs. Here are the distinctions between each type of license

  • CDL A: Allows drivers to operate vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GVWR) of 26,000 pounds with a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 pounds. This license lets you drive tractor-trailers (also known as semi-trucks, big rigs, etc.) as well as most Class B and Class C vehicles. 
  • CDL B: Permits drivers to operate a vehicle with a GVWR of 26,000 pounds with a towed vehicle of less than 10,000 pounds. This license (sometimes with endorsements) allows you to drive most straight trucks, buses, box trucks, dump trucks, and most Class C vehicles. 
  • CDL C: Allows drivers to operate a commercial vehicle with a GVWR that is less than 26,000 pounds and transports hazardous materials or 16+ passengers. This license is typically used for passenger vans and small HazMat vehicles.

With any of these license types, you may need to supplement with endorsements. Not all trucking jobs require them, so consider what you’re interested in before you commit to adding them. The standard endorsements are (H) Hazardous Materials, (N) Tank Vehicles, (P) Passenger Vehicles, (S) School Buses, and (T) Double and Triple Trailers.

Eligibility

From a Federal perspective, the eligibility requirements to be a truck driver are pretty straight forward. If you can satisfy these requirements, you’re off to a good start.

  1. You must be 18+ for trucking in the same state (intrastate trucking)
  2. You must be 21+ for trucking between states (interstate trucking) or carrying hazardous materials
  3. Don’t have any criminal offenses on your record that disqualify you from earning your CDL

Once you’ve confirmed eligibility at a federal level, look into the specific requirements for the state that will be issuing the license. Every state is a little bit different, but there are several common things you will likely be asked for. 

  • Proof of ID
  • A release of your driving record for the past 10 years
  • Demonstration of medical health
  • Pass a written and skills test
  • A road test fee (usually $50 – $200)
  • Verification that you’ve completed a professional training course

You can only have a CDL License from one state at a time. If you move (or have another reason to transfer your license), make sure you review the CDL license requirements for your new state. 

Choosing a Driving School

Once you have decided what type of CDL License is right for you, it’s time to pick a driving school. There are pros and cons to all programs, so research carefully. Technically, you’re not required to get your license through a driving school and could self-study for your tests. That said, many companies will only hire if they see the driver has gone through a verified driving school. You can also get your license through a company-sponsored program. There are benefits and drawbacks to this, but it’s a good option for many drivers. We recommend that future drivers get their license through some type of verified program. 

As you look for programs, look for the following as signs of credibility: 

  • Is the school/program accredited? (Approved by the Department of Education)
  • Is the school program certified? (Approved by the Department of Transportation)
  • Is the school/program licensed? (The instructors and curriculum meet state guidelines)
  • Is the school/program listed with the Better Business Bureau? Use these ratings to compare programs
  • What’s included in the price of tuition? Quality programs usually offer all the necessary supplies, classroom and over-the-road training, and extra help if requested. 

If you can’t find answers to any of these questions, make sure you get in touch. The driving school or program should be able to answer any questions you have before you get started. Most programs have a similar curriculum and are a mix of classroom and on-the-road instruction. You can expect to cover things like operating a truck, use of electronic logs and other industry tools, and safety procedures among other essentials

Time and Cost

Getting a CDL License is an investment in your future. Like any training program, there is a cost in both time and money. The total cost varies by state, but you can expect to spend about $3,0000 – $7,000 on a training program. As a rule of thumb, the more training time required for your license type and endorsements, the higher the cost of the program. A full-time driving program usually takes around 7 weeks, though it can take longer. Deciding to obtain a CDL License is a big commitment, but it will pay for itself quickly through your new career.

Passing the Test

After you have completed a certified driving program, you must have your Commercial Learning Permit (CLP) for two weeks. Then, it’s time to take your CDL test.

The exam has written and practical components. For the written exam, the test is multiple choice and typically taken on a computer. An 80% passing rate is required for the written exam. For the road test, you must not have more than 30 points deducted from your score.

The examiners will be watching for your ability to maneuver the vehicle, your behavior during the test, and your ability to handle pressure or stressful situations. Reviewing your state CDL training manual and spending practice time in a rig are great ways to prepare. 

You passed! Time to get hired

Now that you have your CDL license, it’s time to start looking for a job. This might sound intimidating, but many driving schools offer resources and connections to their students. That’s a great place to start. You can also use driver-friendly platforms to search for jobs that match your lifestyle and job preferences. As you are offered opportunities, make sure the position is a good fit for you. Ask the recruiter the essential questions about pay, home time, operations, and equipment to get as much information on the job as possible. Soon enough, you’ll be ready to hit the road!

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Terry Christofferson picks up the phone with an upbeat “Hello.” He’s calling from his sunny home just outside of Chico, California. There’s a cheery enthusiasm to his voice, but also the subtle depth of a man who knows hard work. Terry came to Drive My Way like many CDL licensed drivers—looking for a job and expressing interest in one of the many positions on our site.

Except, unlike most drivers, Terry already has a job. Just not in trucking. 

He’s a certified respiratory therapist in California, one of the first states that was reporting positive COVID-19 cases this spring. A respiratory therapist who wants to drive a semi-truck. At a time when medical professionals are desperately needed, Terry Christofferson wants to drive a semi-truck not instead of, but in addition to being a respiratory therapist. And Christofferson has the credentials to do it. Despite working a very secure job in the medical field, he made sure to maintain a CDL A license with Tanker, Hazmat, and Double/Triple endorsements for more than 30 years.

 

maintain a cdl license

Terry and his wife Sondra

Before He Became a Respiratory Therapist

Terry Christofferson grew up on a farm in a small town in North Dakota. Before he completed high school, he moved with his family to northern California. After graduating from high school, Terry started college to become a respiratory therapist. Education doesn’t come without a price tag, but Terry was no stranger to hard work. Life in a small town in the Great Plains is a strong and relentless teacher –  hard work, perseverance, and grit weave the fabric of each day and toughen the hands of the people who live there.

From growing up on a farm, Terry knew how to handle big machinery, so he accepted a position with Viking Freight working on their docks near his California home.

One afternoon, a supervisor asked him to back a semi-truck up to a loading dock. Terry could have driven most agricultural machinery blindfolded, but trucks were an entirely different story.  “Sure I can.” Terry confidently responded and jumped in the cab. One clean movement later, and the truck was up against the dock. His colleagues smirked appreciatively and laughed, “You obviously know how to drive a truck.” 

maintain a CDL licenseOnce a Truck Driver

His humble display of skilled maneuvering quickly upgraded Terry to a job hosteling for Viking Freight. Terry’s skills driving cargo around the freight yard impressed his managers, so he quickly moved up again. Even though he had only been with the company for a few years, Viking Freight sent him to driving school through their company to get his CDL A license to drive a tractor-trailer.

Terry continued driving for Viking Freight through college, and soon enough, Terry was a certified respiratory therapist with a full-time job. With the job security that accompanies the medical profession, many people might have let a truck driving license lapse. Terry wasn’t ready to do that.

“It’s just one of those things that you do… Then pretty soon, you kind of go, “Well I’ve been doing it for this long, I might as well keep going.”

I always thought, “You know, one of these days, I want to go back ‘cause I really miss working on the farm. I enjoy driving trucks… I’m going to go back and do it part-time.”

Always a Truck Driver

open road

Over the years, Terry happily accepted small driving jobs from time to time. Lending a hand here and there. An errand for a friend. He continued to maintain a CDL license. His work as a respiratory therapist remained steady, and his family was close, but every so often, the undeniable call of the open road would whisper.

“[My love of driving] is hard for me to explain. It’s just, it’s enjoyable. It brings back a lot of memories of growing up on the farm…especially if I’m driving in the agricultural industry… I enjoy driving a truck, you know, it’s not something that everybody could do…” 

Speeding down the road at 70mph while maneuvering 30 to 40 tons of truck with the precision of an engineer is no small feat. Most semi-trucks weigh 60,000 to 80,000 pounds, and as a truck driver, you have to be aware of not only your truck but also all of the (often unpredictable) drivers around you. Each time Terry finished a job for a friend, he was reminded of the exhilaration of driving a semi-truck. And each time, the thought crept in, “I should just a do a little bit more of this.”

maintain a CDL licenseDeciding to Maintain a CDL License

In the state of California, to maintain a CDL license (Commercial Driving License), drivers must submit a license application, driving history clearance, a knowledge test, a background check and fingerprinting, and a renewal fee. And so, year after year, momentum carried Terry to the doctor for the requisite physical. It led him to the DMV every two years to retake the tests for his endorsements, right on schedule. 

In time, a few decades and a few miles slipped by. One year, on his regular trip to the DMV, Terry thought it might be time to set aside his CDL license.

He asked the DMV staff, “Well what if I just, I don’t want to do it anymore? What would happen if I decided down the line to go back and get it?” The man’s one-line response settled his decision. “You would have to start from scratch.”

Terry renewed his license

Is truck driving a job or a way of life? Driving is certainly one way to pay the bills, but so is being a mechanic or practicing medicine or starting a business. For many drivers, especially those long haul truckers who drive OTR (Over The Road), the open road is ingrained in the core of their identity. It’s the freedom of open roads and a clear sky. The precision and finesse of mastering a vehicle with immense power and knowing how to handle it, just so. For Terry, each drive in a big rig is also personal. It’s a bond back to his childhood on a North Dakota farm. Agricultural work, in particular, has always connected him through years and miles to the small North Dakota town he once called home.

medical professionalsTwo Essential Professions

When 2020 started, cheerful New Year’s parties rang through the country. Blissfully unaware of the months to come, no one in the United States rang in the decade with even the shadow of a global pandemic. By March, COVID-19 was sweeping from the ports of the coasts to the center of the heartland leaving sickness and death as unwelcome guests in big cities and small towns alike. Storefronts stand empty and the number of Americans filing for unemployment applications steadily climbs. Millions of Americans are suddenly working from home, and we’ve become acutely aware of the essential professions that are keeping this country moving forward. 

Medical professionals and truck drivers are at the top of the list

Four years from now, Terry Christofferson will be happily retired and traveling the world with his wife. But before then, he wants to join his fellow drivers on the road. “Truck drivers are one of those backbones of society that are really being highlighted right now. Absolutely amazing. I mean, every truck driver out there right now should pat themselves on the back… And when I watch it, even though I’m not actually out there doing it with them right now, I still feel pride hearing that on the news.”

Time to Drive

For Terry, it’s time to hit the road. He’s not leaving his job as a respiratory therapist—instead, he’s planning to drive on his days off. After decades of working to maintain a CDL license with several endorsements, Terry is in conversation with a California freight company. In a perfect symmetry that calls back to his Great Plains childhood, he’s hoping to haul agricultural products.

As we wrap up the call, Terry tells me about his wife, children, and grandson. He has a daughter who is becoming a nurse and a son in the construction industry. It’s clear he couldn’t be prouder of them. Their chosen lines of work stand as a living testament to his own duality. Before we hang up, he reiterates his appreciation for all the drivers who are working and delivering essential goods during the COVID-19 crisis. 

“Definitely proud of all the truckers out there. It’s been awesome to listen to them getting interviewed in a profession that doesn’t get recognized enough. And it’s really nice to see them getting recognized.”

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national express carriers

Today’s Job of the Day comes to us from National Express Carriers

Since 2013, National Express Carriers has been servicing the transportation industry in all 48 states. With their focus in dry, refrigerated, and LTL truck loads, they integrated their services in multiple sectors of the industry.

Their main focus is to provide outstanding customer service for clients in the field. By utilizing the newest and up to date equipment they provide outstanding results in quality of work along with on-time service guaranteed.

Currently National Express Carriers seeks OTR Dry Van CDL A Drivers nationwide. They offer competitive pay, a great benefit package, and top equipment.

The trucks include refrigerators, inverters, and APU units, and drivers take trucks home during home time.

In addition, they launch a new facility in July with lounge, beds, showers, a full kitchen, and laundry.

Also, they ask that applicants are at least 25 years old with a CDL A license and a minimum of 1 year of experience.

Interested in applying?

Learn more about the job requirements, benefits, pay and more.

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