If you’re pursuing a career sitting in the truck driver’s seat, you will need a Commercial Driver’s License or CDL. There are three different types, depending on the type of truck you plan to drive.
A Class A license allows you to operate a truck (single or combined) with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more. The vehicle can also have a towing weight of 10,000 pounds or greater. With a Class B license, you can legally drive from truck seats in vehicles that carry under 10,000 pounds of cargo. A Class C license permits you to drive a vehicle under 26,001 pounds with up to 16 passengers. Hazardous material can be transported if the vehicle is below the total weight threshold.
What Is CDL Training?
You must enroll in a truck driver training program in order to get your CDL license. Before that, you must obtain a CDL learner’s permit. This authorizes you to drive on public roads with a licensed individual if you have a clean driving record, meet medical qualifications, and pass a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical. Doing so will get you a DOT medical card.
CDL training can be completed through a private institution, a community college, trade school, or trucking company. If you plan to receive training through a company-sponsored program, as many large trucking companies offer, you’ll need to sign on with a carrier. At this point, it’s important to do research, as each company has its own agreement with different terms and conditions. The trucking company may require you to work with them for a certain time after you receive your CDL.
Benefits of CDL Training Courses
One perk often found with company-sponsored CDL training is financial support, such as:
- Low-interest loans that cover your expenses during training.
- Special payment rates while you complete on-the-road training.
- Set payment rates for when you’re fully licensed and on the road.
However, this type of training is the least expensive way to become a professional truck driver. The company usually covers the costs of truck driving school and, sometimes, testing and licensing fees. There are no student loans to pay back, either. You also:
- Receive training from professionals experienced in large truck operation and safety.
- Typically get in the truck driver’s seat, and on the road, much faster—often in as little as a month.
- Start your job once you complete truck driving/on-the-road training.
Although some companies make payroll deductions or start you off at a lower wage to cover training costs, a company-sponsored CDL training program comes with the fewest out-of-pocket expenses.
What You’ll Learn in Training
Every CDL training program covers basic skills to prepare you to sit in the truck driver’s seat. These include understanding road signs and the rules and regulations they pertain to, operating and maneuvering a truck, and reading maps as well as planning routes. Operating truck signals and the proper use of them are covered as well.
You will also learn how to maneuver larger capacities and weight loads. During training, you’ll practice various maneuvers, such as turning and backing up, and tasks such as coupling and uncoupling a trailer, pre- and post-trip inspections, and properly adjusting your truck seat. Using your log book is another important learning point. Truck drivers are required by law to log hours driven and many other specifics.
You will certainly learn about safety procedures and how to handle city and highway driving, railroad crossings and intersections, and testing the brakes.
Passing Your CDL Test
The CDL knowledge test is in a multiple-choice format. It is administered via computer. You must correctly answer at least 80% of the questions to pass. On the road test, you cannot lose more than 30 points, or you won’t get your license. The testing instructor will look at your driving skills, such as whether you properly adjust the truck seat, check your mirrors, come to a complete stop, and avoid hitting curbs, as well as how well you handle any pressure during a range of driving situations.
How to Start Your Trucking Career After CDL Training
If a trucking company has trained you and offered a job after licensure, you can usually begin right away. Otherwise, you will need to sign on with a carrier. Many carriers require advanced training in which a trainer helps you learn more complex driving techniques. Once the carrier feels you are ready, they will likely assign you Over-the-Road or long-distance trips to build your experience in the truck driver’s seat.
With your CDL and proper training, you can work as a tractor-trailor or freight truck, motor coach, or bus driver. A CDL also qualifies you to drive a dump truck or a vehicle that transports chemicals or other hazardous materials.
How to Choose the Best Seats for CDL Jobs
When you’re spending long hours on the road every day, it’s important to choose the right truck, van, or car seat for your needs. Look for features like lumbar support, adjustable armrests, heating and cooling capabilities, and more. Suburban Seating & Safety seats offer a wide range of benefits for drivers who have recently completed their CDL training and are looking for their first truck seat.
Start Your Trucking Career with the Best Seats and Accessories
Suburban Seating & Safety offers the most diverse selection of truck seats and accessories. If you’ve just earned your CDL, why not get the proper support you need and have fewer aches and pains at the end of the day? We stock products from leading brands, including Bostrom, National, ISRI, and Sears. Truck cab accessories, seat cushions, seat covers, semi truck seats, safety devices, mattresses, and exterior accessories are available as well. Call 844-727-7328 to learn more.