Steps to obtaining a commercial driver's license and starting your trucking career.

Steps to Obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License

From our post in June, you may have learned that the American Trucking Association has predicted a shortage of employees within the transportation sector. Over the next several years, it is expected that 175,000 jobs could be available in the transportation and warehousing sectors. It is optimal time to pursue your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). The first step to becoming a truck driver is to earn your Class A CDL, which is a requirement for all tractor trailer driving jobs. Learn what else is needed to receive your CDL below.

Steps to Licensure

In the United States there are specific requirements to getting a Commercial Driver’s License, and these can vary from state-to-state. At minimum, to take the exam, you need: a valid US driver’s license, to be 18 years of age or at least 21 to drive hazardous materials or interstate freight, be free from DUI charges in the previous five years before filing your CDL application, and pass a DOT medical and drug examination. For specific state requirements and to receive a CDL test manual, contact your local DMV.

To file the application at the local DMV, you will need two forms of government issued IDs and an item proving your current local residence (we suggest a piece of mail, such as a bill). If you are interested in adding specific endorsements to your CDL, you may additionally need to show medical records or background documents. For this and to learn about the fees to take the Class A test, contact your local DMV or their website for further information.

The Test

The CDL test is administered with a written and practical application portion. To pass the written part of the test, you must score no lower than an 80. The exam covers three areas of truck driving knowledge: general, combination vehicles, and air brakes. The CDL manual obtained from the DMV will assist you with preparations for the exam, but if additional practice is desired there free sample tests online, for one such practice test, try this one. Be sure to gather all documentation and/or complete schooling prior to contacting the DMV to set up an appointment to take the test. Note: it is not necessary to have the appointment, but it can save time.

The second portion of the test involves road skills demonstration. During this section of the test, you will be asked to drive a rig, perform an alley docking, and an angled backing while maintaining safety and accuracy. There will be also questions related to pre-trip inspections, therefore gaining understanding of pre-trip requirements will be needed.

Endorsement

To be allowed to drive specific types of freight, additional endorsements are required. Such endorsements are needed if you will be carrying hazardous materials, operating tank vehicles, or carrying a double or triple trailer. Once you are hired with a company, they will often cover the costs of additional endorsements so that you can to transport what is needed.

Financial Assistance

There are fees involved in acquiring your CDL. For example, in the state of Tennessee, Permit A costs $14.00 and is valid for a year. Permit B is $13.00, also valid for a year. The general Class A CDL cost is $46.00 and this is based on five years but could be valid from three to seven years. Class B and C licenses cost $41.00. The pricing for this varies from state to state and costs start to add up for training, certification, licensure, and endorsements. Financial assistance is available to help cover some or all these costs. Truck driving schools may provide scholarships to attend, so check with them initially. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration provides grants to students throughout the United States and information can be found by clicking here.  Pell Grants are available for those wishing to train at a school, as well as additional grants. To find out if you can qualify for assistance or a grant, fill out a Federal Application for Student Aid (FASFA).

Roane Transportation

Roane Transportation partners is one of the highest paying transportation companies in the Southeast. If you are interested in applying for a career with us, the requirements, benefits, and more can be found by clicking HERE. We have options for national, regional, and local fleets and provide an additional $1,000.00 sign-on bonus for new OTR company drivers!

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