What to Expect When Getting Your CDL-A License
Getting your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is essential to become a professional truck driver. Having this allows truckers to access the highest levels of pay, which is what we believe truck drivers deserve for the hard work they do. If you’re considering getting your CDL, here are some things you should know about what to expect:
UNDERSTANDING THE COMMERCIAL DRIVER’S LICENSE
There are several types of CDL licenses that you’ll need to know about as a logistics driver. Authorities break these down into A, B, and C.
A CDL-A license allows drivers to pilot vehicles weighing up to 26,000 pounds total or tow vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds.
A CDL-B license keeps the same total vehicle weight, but drivers can only tow trailers with less than 10,000 pounds total weight. A license of this type allows drivers to drive many vehicles without trailers, such as dump trucks, box trucks, buses, and straight trucks. However, this type of license is not the best option for drivers seeking employment at major haulage companies that need people with licenses to drive articulated vehicles.
CDL-C allows drivers to pilot vehicles weighing less than 26,000 pounds and permits them to transport hazardous materials. It is a popular choice among people looking to drive HazMat vehicles.
Even if you pass your CDL exam, many drivers must also supplement with endorsements. While not all trucking jobs require them, they can help make you more attractive to carriers and haulers. Getting a “T” endorsement, which allows drivers to haul double or triple the freight, makes people more confident in hiring you for difficult jobs. It also helps get a passenger transport endorsement, an endorsement for carrying hazardous materials, and a tank vehicles endorsement, as carriers often want to offer more flexible services to their clients at short notice.
WHO CAN START PROFESSIONAL TRUCK DRIVER TRAINING?
In terms of federal law, virtually anyone who meets the age requirement can become a truck warrior. To drive within the same state, you need to be at least 18 years old. If you want to go across state lines or carry hazardous materials, you must be at least 21 years of age. Regardless, you can’t have any criminal offenses that disqualify you from earning your CDL.
If you meet those requirements, you’ll need to jump through some hoops to satisfy the local state laws. Keep in mind that these can vary considerably from state to state, so there isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all approach. However, they will likely ask you to do the following:
- Pay a CDL license test fee
- Provide proof that you’ve completed a professional training course
- Pass a skills test
- Prove that you’re medically fit
- Provide valid identification
- Provide details of your driving records from the last ten years
BOOK A DRIVING SCHOOL
Once you find out which certification rules apply in your state, the next big decision is choosing a driving school – and don’t take this task lightly. You’ll need to put considerable effort into this because the school you choose for CDL training can substantially impact your future work.
Although you can technically obtain a license through self-study and then pass a CDL test at the end of it, the best option is to go through a verified trucking school because most companies will ask you where you studied and require a “qualified” school.
Do your research and look for evidence of quality when searching for a school to attend. How? Check that the Department of Education accredits its program, and also determine if the school has the certification from the Department of Transportation.
Beyond that, you’ll want to check what else the training school includes in its price. Most offer learning materials and on-road training at the basic rate. They may also offer additional classes and catch-up lessons for those prone to falling behind or needing refreshers.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
Even though it takes more money and effort upfront, getting a CDL license from a truck driving school is substantial value for your money. Most institutions will charge between $3,000 and $7,000 to take you through an entire course. Generally, the more you spend, the higher the level of qualifications and endorsements you will receive.
CDL training is comprehensive. Program length varies; however, the DOT requires a minimum number of hours in order to be certified. If you have any questions, you can reach out to us here.
PASSING A CDL TEST
At the end of professional truck driver training, you’ll need to pass a final test. Schools divide this into both written and practical components.
For the practical part, you’ll drive with an instructor on the road who will judge your skills and ability to follow the highway code as a truck driver. Truckers can only pass the practical exam if fewer than 30 points are deducted from their score for errors.
The written component requires taking a multiple-choice test. Drivers must memorize various rules and regulations and get more than 80 percent of the answers correct to pass.
It’s a good idea to take a free CDL practice test beforehand to know the format of the written component of the exam. This way, you can get more familiar with the controls. It would help if you also spent as much time driving a big rig as you can before the practical segment of the exam. Most drivers log more than 100 hours in big rigs before attempting the practical exam, and your school may have set minimum driving hours you must complete in advance of your test.
Getting a CDL-A license requires a lot of commitment and dedication. However, just like so many other educational programs, there are big payoffs in the end. If you pass a truck driving school course, it will open the door to higher-value work.
Once you pass the tests and get your commercial driver’s license, you’ll then be able to start looking for work. Carriers, like Warrior Logistics, regularly have job openings that new drivers can fill.
When searching for companies after CDL truck driving school, look for those that offer a good basic rate of pay and perks. This way, you can maximize your career success and meet your personal goals. Quality firms offer vacation pay and bonuses for things like safe driving. If you are interested in learning more about starting an exciting new career in truck driving, reach out to Warrior Logistics and apply here.