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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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Today’s Job of the Day is from DuBois Chemicals

DuBois Chemicals develops, manufactures, distributes and supports proprietary chemical and equipment products for a broad range of industrial and commercial applications, fulfilling mission-critical customer needs.

DuBois Chemicals is hiring Dry Van, Tanker, and Flatbed Local Drivers in Shelbyville, IN.

Drivers transport various goods from warehouse to customer’s locations using various sized power units ranging from class A to one ton flat bed and goose neck trailers.

This transporting follows DuBois policies and DOT guidelines for the safe operation of a motored unit. Following safety procedures to transport hazardous materials is a must for DuBois Target Zero safety initiative, for driver and for public safety.

Position Details:

  • An average hourly rate of $20/hour with the opportunity to earn safety bonuses
  • Runs are 75% local with some overnights, around 300 miles from Shelbyville
  • The schedule is Monday through Friday with some weekends.
  • Drivers load and unload and use a pallet jack and fork lift.

DuBois offers Medical, Dental, Vision, Life, and Disability. In addition, drivers receive PTO and 401K effective after 90 days. Hazmat, Tanker, and Doubles endorsements are required for hire.

Interested in applying?

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

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Today’s Job of the Day comes to us from Dupré Logistics, LLC

Dupré Logistics commits to their team members, their customers, and their community. Dupré strives to be “the ideal place to work”, and are always seeking exceptional talent to join their team of professional drivers. They invest in and reward loyalty, knowledge, performance, and a desire for growth.

Dupré Logistics is currently seeking the following CDL A drivers:

Drivers earn excellent money, receive pay weekly, and receive health benefits immediately upon hire.

In addition, Dupré offers a great benefits package which includes medical, dental, vision and prescription drug coverage, 401(k), profit sharing, short and long-term disability, company paid life insurance and much more.

Also, Dupré provides well-maintained, dedicated equipment, out and back freight, and drivers’ benefits start on day one.

Dupré Logistics asks that applicants be at least 23 years old, already have their CDL A license, and have at least two years of two years recent T/T driving experience. Positions typically require Hazmat, Tanker, or TWIC endorsements.

Interested in applying?

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Today’s Job of the Day comes to us from Fort Transfer.

Fort Transfer provides the trucking industry with superior quality service and reliability. As a family owned and operated company, Fort Transfer meets the needs of their customers with terminal locations in the South and Midwest.

fort transfer

In addition, Fort Transfer leads in specialized services of liquid bulk and operates one of the largest liquid bulk storage facilities in the Midwest. Also, by continually looking for new ways to add value to their customers, they exceed the competition in the industry.

Currently, they seek the following CDL A owner operator positions:

Fort Transfer offers great pay for their owner operators. The average driver earned $220,000 last year. In addition, drivers are typically out 10-14 days for drivers near the terminals.

Overall, they ask that applicants have a Tanker endorsement. They prefer Hazmat and TWIC endorsements, but these aren’t a requirement. Lastly, they require 1 year CDL A with 6 months tank experience.

Interested in applying?

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

Apply: TX, LA, and GA Apply: Morton, IL

Today’s Job of the Day comes to us from JM Bozeman

JM Bozeman is a trailblazer in driver satisfaction. They have an exceptional fleet of drivers who are the mainstay of their company. In addition, they continually strive to support and recognize our drivers. They are a family place and that’s not just a catch phrase.

Overall, they offer competitive pay and many rewarding benefits for you and your family.

In addition, their drivers ride with pride in outstanding equipment.

Also, they are small enough to know you but large enough to load you right.

 

Currently, JM Bozeman is hiring the following positions:

JM offers exceptional equipment, weekly pay with direct deposit, no touch freight, and full benefits. In addition, they ask candidates are 24 years old, hold their CDL A license, and have 2 years of OTR experience.

Interested in applying?

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Kyle’s career path took quite a few different turns before arriving in his current role as the Apprenticeship Program Leader for Veriha Trucking. Kyle, 33 was born in LaCrosse, WI. He spent his high school years in Alma Center, WI.

Military Service

Right after he finished high school, Kyle enlisted in the U.S. Army. His 5 years in the service, took him around the world. He went from Wisconsin, through Germany, to Iraq and finally to Fort Hood, TX. As a Combat Engineer he spent his time “doing a little bit of everything—from security, dismounted patrols, route clearance, building bases.”

After leaving the military, he dabbled in a career in the medical field as respiratory therapist, though ultimately it wasn’t the right fit for him. “I loved learning” he said but didn’t like working in the hospital environment at all. From there, he dug into a 5 year stint in the mining industry.

“Loading rail cars, moving trains, in the actual pit.  I had a blast.” But ultimately when the oil industry took a turn, he took that opportunity to move on and decided to learn how to drive a truck.

He “picked a company with good on-the-job training, that fit me and my family. I got my CDL in 2 weeks, got my own truck and away I went for the next year”. Kyle noted that being an over-the-road truck driver gave him a great opportunity to see more of the United States. Driving through Tennessee was a route that he really enjoyed. Up to that point, he said he’d been in more different countries than states.

Veriha Trucking: Opportunities to Grow

veriha truckingBeing away from home for long stretches no longer best fit his family’s needs, and he looked for a new job that kept him closer to home. He found an opening at Veriha Trucking as a Yard Spotter and joined the team there 2 years ago.

From the yard, he moved on to being a coach in the Safety Department, and then ultimately to his current role as the Apprenticeship Program Leader. He’s been with that program “as part of the startup, from inception to today”.

When asked about the Apprenticeship Program, he talks about how it’s “unlike anything else. Instead of learning on a range, we get people out hauling freight with an actual trainer. Giving them the clear picture of what it’s like to be a driver.”

Kyle talks about what he thinks differentiates their program from others. “The big difference is we’re invested in these people from the beginning.”

Once candidates are identified, successfully interviewed and pass all background checks, “people are hired from day one.” The program boasts “accelerated results from drivers. People are out there doing great work, much faster than expected. It’s really paying off for them. If it’s good for the driver, it’s generally good for the company.”

At Veriha Trucking, “everybody in the company is encouraged to do personal development. Book clubs, networking. Everyone is encouraged to better themselves.”

Kyle is married and has twin 5-year old children, a daughter and son, who keep him very busy. Currently, they enjoy residing in northeastern WI. In addition, in his free time, he enjoys fishing, hunting, and woodworking.

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Today’s Job of the Day comes to us from Shama Express LLC.

Shama Express is always hiring as they remain committed to growing, giving them the ability to offer more incentives to drivers. In addition, Shama provides the best experience for drivers, resulting in low driver turnover. Also, Shama makes sure drivers receive pay on time, interact with friendly dispatchers, and get home frequently.

Currently, Shama Express LLC is hiring OTR Dry Van and Reefer drivers out of Grafton, OH. The drivers haul general freight w/ 53′ Dryvan Trailers (only). Shama offers a take home truck program, newer equipment, the option to spend time at home weekly, and much more. In addition, Shama pays all miles, including deadhead miles, guarantees layover pay, and offers unlimited referral bonuses.

Finally, Shama Express LLC asks that CDL A applicants are at least 21 years old and require less than a year minimum work experience.

Interested in applying?

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milg transport

Today’s Job of the Day comes to us from MILG Transport, LLC.

MILG Transport began in Waynesboro, Virginia, in 2008. Today, MILG operates a large fleet of tractors serving the East Coast, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Ohio. MILG provides both Dry Van Loads or Refrigerated Loads services to their ever-growing customer base.

milg transport

Currently, MILG seeks both team and solo OTR drivers for runs throughout the regional Northeast. Drivers run about 3,000 miles per week and typically spend weekends at home. This job includes 99% no-touch, drop and hook freight, all miles, both loaded and unloaded, are paid, and MILG proudly awards good drivers with fair pay for a job well done. Drivers earn up to $80k/year, and MILG offers a $3,000 sign-on bonus. In addition, MILG offers weekly pay, like-new equipment, paid orientation, a rider program for family members, FleetOne Fuel Cards with cash advances, and full medical benefits.

MILG asks that applicants be at least 23 years old, already have their CDL A license, and have at least two years of experience. Experience with reefer is preferred, and drivers must have a clean driving record, a good DAC report, and not have any felonies or misdemeanors on their record within the last 5 years.

Interested in applying?

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driving-in-severe-weather

The weather is a popular topic of discussion any time of the year.  But this time of year it seems to be nearly constant headline news.  All drivers must prepare for the day’s road conditions.  Sometimes that preparation leads to making the call to not drive at all.

But for truck drivers who NEED to drive to make their living, where is the line drawn for being able to safely navigate the roads?  Do you know your rights when making the call that it’s just not safe for driving in severe weather?

In a conversation with Overdrive.com, attorney Paul Taylor discusses common questions about driving in severe weather.  He details your rights as a driver to protect yourself and your job.  The key is knowing your rights, having good communications with your dispatcher and keeping proper documentation when the situation arises.

As the article states: “Under the employee protection provision of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act, you have the right to refuse to operate a commercial vehicle if it would be unsafe to drive. U.S. Department of Transportation regulations state that “if conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed” until it’s safe to drive.”

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Hire 100,000 Drivers

The United Parcel Service (UPS) is set to hire 100,000 drivers for the upcoming holiday season.

In a press release issued this past month, UPS stated they seek temporary employees and will hire 100,000 drivers for the vital holiday season. In past years, the company shipped over 750 million packages between the months of November and December. According to CNBC, UPS seeks 5.3% more drivers this year to keep up with increased shipping demands.

Hire 100,000 Drivers

Image via Fox 6 Now

“Over the last three years, 35 percent of the people UPS hired for seasonal package handler jobs transitioned into a permanent position,” UPS stated.

“The full- and part-time seasonal positions, primarily package handlers, drivers and driver-helpers, serve as an entry point for permanent employment. Furthermore, many senior UPS executives, including Chief Executive Officer David Abney and others on the senior leadership team, started their UPS careers as part-time employees.”

Above all, as UPS prepares to hire 100,000 drivers, they boast fair pay and excellent healthcare benefits. In addition, UPS offers retirement plans, as well as tuition towards their Earn and Learn college program.

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