What Is A Professional CDL Truck Driver And The Steps To Become One

by | Apr 8, 2024

If one day you have a dream and desire to become a trucker, then our article is more than helpful to understand the whole notion and make your first important steps.

What Is It Like To Be A Professional Truck Driver?

Truck drivers, especially those who have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), carry over 70% of the country’s freight; hence, they are an inalienable part of the American economy. It shows the demand for professional and skilled drivers having CDL, and hence the demand becomes very high for truck driving as a profession in freight transportation.

A CDL truck driver is one who professionally gets involved in the driving of huge trucks, which require specialized licenses due to their huge sizes. It’s only maneuvering them over long distances, which are mostly congested with traffic, calling for some skills rather than only driving. Nowadays, CDL truck drivers have to thread through the regulations that pertain to covering freight transportation and also understand the complex systems of the vehicles they are driving while having a general overview of maintenance for automobiles.

So, for all those people who are ready to take this professional start and open this new page of career development, earning an enormous amount of monthly income by becoming a professional truck driver, the following is the essential step.

CDL Categories

Commercial driver’s licenses are classified, each providing access to definite classes of vehicles. First of all, these are the knowledge and differences of each type of commercial driver’s license to determine which type of license is to be taken.

There are three categories of CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) licenses – A, B, and C.

Class A CDL would allow the driver to drive quite distinctive big rigs that have trailer attachments for long distances. Class A would normally represent the mental image one gets when thinking about driving huge trucks up and down highways.

Holders of a commercial driver’s license with a class A can at the same time tow excess loads of 10,000 pounds in a large combination of vehicles. This may include tractor-trailers, combinations of trucks and trailers, livestock carriers, flatbeds, and tankers. Further, in some states, large van drivers must acquire a Class A or its equivalent CDL.

He is to drive single vehicles that range from 26,001 pounds or more, which therefore requires a Class B driver’s license.

Any of these drivers, whose license classes do not bear a resemblance to Class A CDL holders, are barred by the law from towing trailers or loads, where the weight exceeds 10,000 pounds in any case. The latter criterion normally sets them apart from over-the-road (OTR) drivers and places them on a level with local or regional route workers. A Class B licensee can drive a straight truck, a passenger bus, or a school bus, among others.

This authorizes one to drive any vehicle weighing less than 26,001 pounds. The Class C licensee is further allowed to tow things of up to a total weight of 10,000 pounds and be able to carry up to 15 passengers and a driver (not more than 16 persons) respectively. Common CMVs include straight trucks, concrete mixers, buses, and vans for a Class C license holder.

Responsibilities And Requirements Of A CDL Truck Driver

Requirements and Qualifications

  • You must be at least 18 years old to drive within state borders and 21 years old to drive across state lines.
  • Possess a valid Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) with the appropriate class and endorsements (e.g., Class A, Class B, hazardous materials, tanker).
  • Clean driving record without traffic violations and serious accidents.
  • Demonstrate the capability to safely and efficiently operate and upkeep commercial vehicles.
  • Knowing and following the rules for transportation at both the national and state levels.
  • Demonstrate meticulousness and organizational proficiency in handling documentation and logs
  • Have physical fitness and the capacity to lift and move substantial loads as needed.
  • Have proficiency in using GPS navigation systems and route planning software.
  • Show great communication skills for working well with dispatchers, clients, and team members. Keep a professional and customer-friendly attitude.
  • Be professional and customer-friendly.

Responsibilities

Professional CDL truck drivers must have:

  • Adhere to traffic rules and take responsibility for the proper maintenance of their vehicles.
  • They are not allowed to leave an accident site and operate the vehicle under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, which has very serious consequences; fines, imprisonment, suspension of driving privileges for some time, and in addition, installing an ignition interlock device in the vehicle. Convictions for driving under the influence can hinder obtaining insurance and employment.
  • Observe, with caution, the posted speed limits, and respect other road users’ rights, since they all work toward safe driving, or, otherwise, violations bring about fatal accidents.
  • Avoid distracting factors, such as using a mobile phone while driving, to maintain full attention on the road.
  • Keep the truck clean at all times, both inside and outside, and always do routine tasks regarding vehicle maintenance.
  • Provide high levels of customer care through interaction with customers in a professional manner, answer their questions, and help to solve whatever the problem may be.

What skills do you need to be a CDL truck driver?

The characteristics are expertise in driving skills, effective communication, preciseness in observing details, adaptability in any condition of the road, and getting acquainted with modern trucking technology.

How To Become A CDL Truck Driver?

The steps to becoming a CDL truck driver include:

  1. How to Apply: Apply to the respective state with all required documents of identity, residency, and social security number.
  2. Testing: Present a completed medical form, a certificate from a medical examiner, vision, and knowledge tests.
  3. Learner’s Permit: When tests are successfully passed, learners will be issued a learner’s permit. The skills test is scheduled 14 days after the wait to take the written examination.
  4. Road Exam: You will pay standard fees and pass a pre-trip inspection and a road skills test successfully. Most of the time, DMV does not make vehicles available for a skill test. Please note that, in case you are not in a position to make a vehicle available to yourself, arrange one in advance.
  5. The base for becoming a good and successful CDL truck driver is excellent training. Draw on the knowledge presented through good truck driving schools and field experience, along with awareness of state standards, to have a good sense of preparedness when taking the CDL test to get a good feel for the road.
  6. There are, however, requirements at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for one to receive a CDL. You may need further endorsements, such as hazmat or tanker endorsements, for broader job opportunities. Making it through the written parts and the road skills sections of the CDL test will be a major leap toward becoming a professional truck driver.

Career Prospects In Truck Driving

Looking at the career opportunities that truck driving presents, it portrays an industry laden with opportunities, even though it comes with some of its downsides. Many days are spent away from home, and physical endurance is called for, among other drawbacks, but the returns are great. At the start of their career, many drivers could reap up to $60,000 annually, which is above the US average income. One important thing to mention: wages are a regional characteristic and may vary due to other causes, for example, experience. And, of course, the employer can provide health insurance. The few rewards in this line of career include competitive salaries, work security, the opportunity to uniquely bond with the road, and also witness changeable American scenery. Trained and experienced individuals would then be able to become sailors along the pathway that emits potential and adds value to the nation’s economy.

Conclusion

This is a very fulfilling venture, being a professional CDL truck driver, which assures one not only a promising career but also a lifetime full of adventures across wide landscapes and contributions toward the economy. Understanding multi-layered steps, acquiring necessary skills, appreciating challenges and rewards, staying up-to-date with industry innovations, and taking into account environmental aspects will have an individual successfully positioned to navigate this exciting and indispensable profession. The world of truck driving waits for those who have the willingness to take on the open road with expertise and a driven mind. Either it means heavy-duty and all that implies, or a person has a specialization in a certain category.

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