Regardless of where you may live in the United States, it’s very difficult to imagine your daily life carrying on normally without the help of our nation’s loyal truck drivers. The fact of the matter is, if transportation of goods and services stopped, life as we know it would, too. Truck drivers are an integral part of the supply chain. Unlike a standard driving job, which may not require much beyond a standard driver’s license, more is required of a truck driver in the form of a commercial driver’s license. Let’s get into it!
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s site outlines the various procedures and considerations required to become a truck driver in the commercial space. Given the responsibility that comes with truck driving, it stands to reason that a commercial truck driver would be held to a higher standard than a traditional driver.
In fact, you may find that your truck driving career requires you to obtain special endorsements, such as a CDL-A, if you plan on transporting hazardous materials, double or triple trailers, or tanks, for example.
What Is a CDL-A License?
To start, CDL stands for Commercial Driving License. A CDL-A license is a Class-A license required for truck drivers hauling 26,001 or more pounds (Source: https://driving-tests.org/cdl-classification-licenses/).
Typically, applications for this kind of commercial vehicle license are done in the home state of the truck driver. On that note, you cannot do your CDL skills test and get certified in multiple states. The FMCSA lists this as an illegal action.
If a CDL-A license holder engages in reckless driving, committing serious traffic violations in the process, losing the certification is possible, which, of course, could mean the end of a driver’s time in the trucking industry. This is where the importance of proper training comes in.
Understanding CDL Training and Why It’s Necessary for Truck Driving
Imagine that you want to begin your new career in the trucking world. You have a clean driving record and a regular driver’s license. Why can’t you become a truck driver immediately in the commercial world? What’s with getting a CDL learners’ permit and going through a truck driving program?
Truck driving schools aim to help you get acclimatized to driving the truck. However, commercial drivers who will be transporting cargo need to know how to do so safely. There may be special containment procedures you need to learn, as well as how to handle certain specific situations and how to do so, while considering other road users.
Think of it as industry-specific knowledge that the average driver wouldn’t have.
What Steps Do Truck Drivers Need to Take to Acquire a Commercial Driver’s License?
Note that you must be at least 21 years old to drive a commercial vehicle. However, you can get your CDL learners’ permit as early as 18 years old. Once you meet the age requirement, here are the steps you’ll need to take.
Take Care of Your Standard Driver’s License
You can’t complete any kind of CDL training program unless you already have a standard license. Before you start learning the specifics of the commercial trucking world, you should at least already know road rules and how to drive.
Technically speaking, under the right circumstances you could begin your delivery career even while you are enrolled in a CDL training program. In most cases, the cost to obtain your driver’s license in the United States costs between $20 and $90.
Meet the Education Requirement
Many people don’t know that there’s an education requirement that precedes commercial haulage. This is not necessarily a state or federal stipulation. Instead, it comes from employers.
Based on the information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you’re expected to have a GED credential or a high school diploma if you want to work for most companies that offer long-haul services. Thankfully, it takes only about four months to earn a GED in most states.
Enroll in Truck Driving School
Truck driving school is where the professional training journey will begin. Some trucking companies also have training programs that you can take as an alternative and they also provide a legal path to the CDL exam. Note, however, that different states have different requirements for this kind of thing.
You’re advised to do your research on the BMV or DMV requirements in your state to ensure that you remain in compliance.
The training for your license could take up to a year if you go the standard route. The cost could be anywhere between $1,000 and $10,000. Company programs tend to cost around $6,000 and rarely go beyond six weeks. Sometimes, graduates who remain with the company for a stipulated time will receive a full-fee refund.
CDL, Endorsements, and Restrictions
CDL truck drivers will usually have license classifications. These are A, B, and C, with A being the most versatile. Depending on what you transport, endorsements may be necessary. Even school bus drivers need an endorsement, so this is a normal requirement.
Join the UCI Team
Underground Contractors, Inc., an underground construction and aerial construction company, is looking to expand its team. If you’re located in Michigan, you may have seen UCI come up in searches such as:
- Aerial construction jobs near me
- Underground construction jobs near me
- Underground foreman job near me
- Michigan construction jobs
- General labor jobs in Michigan
- Foreman job near me
- Truck driving jobs near me
Being a leader in aerial and underground construction in Michigan, the team does indeed rely on a pool of skills across these functional areas.
CDL-A Truck Driver Needed
UCI would like to add an experienced truck driver to its deep pool of talent. The candidate should be a CDL-A driver with air brakes and no restrictions. Expected responsibilities are:
- Prioritizing job safety for all both on-site and on the road
- Reverse and position a heavy truck with minimal attempts
- Complete pre/post-trip inspections
- Communicate your truck and trailer needs to mechanics
- Proper licensing and DOT medical exam for CDL-A driving
- Operate heavy truck and trailer without frequently striking non-moving objects
- Willing to complete required weekend or overtime hours
- Lifting 50 pounds
- Haul equipment, debris, and materials to job sites
- Equipment loading and unloading
- Assist the foreman where needed
Note that candidates are subjected to a criminal background check and pre-placement drug screening.
Benefits of Being a UCI Truck Driver:
- Competitive compensation package
- Dental benefits
- Medical benefits
- 401k retirement plan
- Paid vacation time
- Paid sick time
- Paid holidays
- Equal opportunity employer
Note that paid time off requires the completion of the appropriate eligibility periods.
The Bottom Line
Given the responsibilities of a commercial truck driver, special licensing is required and comes in the form of a CDL. While the process of getting one can take some time, it’s fairly straightforward and can even be completed alongside your employment in some cases.
If you are an experienced truck driver with a CDL-A, consider joining UCI, which is now accepting applications for a driver.