The incomplete guide for getting your CDL

The Complete Incomplete CDL Guide

  1. Tazz
    So you want to be a truck driver? Well you may want to ask some questions first.

    First and foremost is how will you get your Class A CDL?

    There are a few avenues.

    CDL schools will get you the basic skills to get your license and provide equipment for the driving test. Some may even be the testers depending on your state. However a CDL does not a job make. But we will get to that in a minute.
    There are Technical Centers and Community Colleges that will often have a course like the private schools, and may have the benefit of some assistance in the tuition department.

    Both of these will get you a Class A license, but it is on you to make use of that to find employment. Some will offer limited employment assistance, or have programs in place with certain companies for tuition reimbursement. Both of these options may have upfront costs that will be out of pocket, or financed through a loan company depending on your credit.

    There are companies that will provide you with a CDL course and then train you on the road. And after completing their program (assuming you pass) will require from 6 months to two years of employment. You have to do your homework and find a program that will work for you.
    Ask questions of all of these options.

    What is the cost?
    How can it be paid?
    What happens if I decide it is not for me?
    What is the length of the school? Remember you will not be earning any money during this time.

    Now to decide what avenue you wish to take you should decide what kind of trucking you want to do.

    There are vans that haul dry goods, usually palletized and fairly straight forward.

    Temperature controlled hauls, yep you guessed it, temperature sensitive freight. Usually frozen or fresh food products to grocery stores, or things like film, certain batteries and chemicals etc. Still fairly straight forward, couple of load locks or straps and close the doors (set the temp) and go.

    Open deck or flat bed trailers haul everything else. Securing and covering your freight presents puzzles of logic, and tests of patience from time to time. Most of the training companies haul block building materials, and steel. But the occasional palletized, or crated load will require more physical labor than the average van or reefer driver. Just the act of rolling your tarps back up on an asphalt parking lot in Galveston, on July 1st is not for the weak of heart.

    There are tankers of every shape and size. Most of these are going to require you to spend some time just driving non-moving loads before they bring you on. But look around, you may find a company willing to work with you.

    There are also inter-modal, car hauling, dump bodies, live floors, hopper, cattle cars.......Really a truck for everything. Look around and see what you think you would like. Then start asking questions about how to get there. We will cover more in another thread after you have reached this stage. Look around and ask questions.
    Martin Festival man likes this.