Maybe you saw an ad or someone said trucking is a great career, either way, you have some questions. You aren't sure if becoming a commercial truck driver is the right move for you. You might not even know exactly what they do or how to pursue a career in trucking.
You need to learn more about the commercial truck driving industry before you can make a decision about whether it's a good fit for your goals. You need to know what commercial truck driving is, ways to earn a commercial driver's license (CDL), types of jobs available and more. Here's your ultimate beginner's guide to get you started.
What Is Commercial Truck Driving?
Commercial truck driving is a career that puts you in the driver's seat of a commercial truck. This can be a school bus, a garbage truck, or one of the big rigs you see on the interstate. For the most part, when you think of commercial truck driving, you're thinking about driving the large trucks that move goods across town or across the country.
These trucks are large and can be challenging to maneuver. For this reason, you must have additional driving training and a special license to drive them. Don't worry! There are easy ways to learn.
How to Drive and Receive Your CDL?
There are a few ways that you can learn to drive the big truck and receive your CDL. One way is to find a truck driving school or trade school in your area that offers classes. You can live at home and attend classes on a set schedule. However, these classes and schools can be expensive.
The second option is to go to work for a trucking company that includes training as part of the package. You'll need to move to wherever that company does its training. You'll spend your days learning the ins and outs of driving a big truck and getting ready to take your CDL test.
What Types of CDL Jobs Are Available?
Once you have your CDL, there are many types of CDL jobs available. You might decide to drive a local or regional job. With this type of job, you'll drive big trucks around town or in your local region. You may find yourself spending a couple of nights a week on the road, but you'll have a couple of days each week at home.
Over-the-road (OTR) truck driving jobs are another option. With this type of trucking job, you'll find yourself driving all over the country in a large truck. You may have a set route, such as Florida to Michigan and back again, or you may take jobs as they become available. However, you'll probably spend several weeks on the road before going home for a few days.
What Are Additional Endorsements?
Once you have your CDL, you can add endorsements to your license. In most cases, you need to take a test with your local department of motor vehicles and pay for the endorsement. These endorsements can increase the types of commercial truck driving jobs that you're qualified to apply to. These include:
- (P) Passenger Transport Endorsement
- (S) School Bus/Passenger Transport Combo Endorsement
- (T) Double/Triples Endorsement
- (N) Tank Vehicle Endorsement (Tanker)
- (H) Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HAZMAT)
- (X) Tanker/HAZMAT Combo Endorsement
What Are the Current Projections for Trucking Jobs?
Most consumer goods in the United States spend some time on one of the big trucks even if they travel across the country on a train. This makes CDL jobs reliable. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the project job growth between 2019 and 2029 is two percent or an additional 30,600 jobs.
These numbers don't account for the current shortage of commercial truck drivers. In the United States, there's a shortage of more than 60,000 positions. This makes it easier to find a position.
How Much Does Commercial Truck Driving Pay?
Driving a truck for a living can be lucrative. The trucking industry pays in a couple of different ways. You can be paid by the hour or by the mile. In some cases, you can lease a truck from a company and become an owner-operator. You are then free to find your own jobs, or you can lease from a company that sends you jobs; however, you pay for the truck, gas, insurance, maintenance, and more.
The average salary for a truck driver is $45,260 according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Of course, there are a lot of variables, including experience, company, location, route, and more.
What Are Some Safety Tips?
If you choose commercial truck driving for a living, you want to be safe on the road. Here are a few safety tips:
- Know your blind spots: Large trucks have large blind spots, and you need to be extra careful.
- Sleep: You need to get a good night's sleep and be well rested when driving.
- Slow down in work areas: It takes a lot of room to stop a big truck, so you need to slow down a lot in work areas.
- Avoid aggressive drivers: If someone is displaying road rage, you need to give them lots of space and avoid them if possible.
At CDLjobs.com, we make it easy for you to find your first or next commercial truck driving job. Contact us today to learn more.