Truck drivers play a critical role in modern society. If there weren’t people to transport goods from a warehouse or factory to stores, people wouldn’t be able to purchase the products they need for their daily lives, such as food, toilet paper, and medicine. Commercial vehicle drivers work at all hours of the day, helping to keep the economy flowing.
As the need to transport goods has increased, so has the demand for commercial vehicle drivers. If you enjoy driving, can follow the rules of the road, and have good hand-eye coordination, a career as a truck or commercial vehicle driver might be right for you.
What is a Commercial Driver’s License?
A commercial driver’s license (CDL) isn’t the same as a standard driver’s license. To get a CDL, you need to complete additional training, choose a class of commercial vehicle to drive, and prepare for and pass an exam.
There are three types of CDL:
Class A: Class A CDLs allow a driver to operate a vehicle with a gross weight of over 26,000 pounds and a towed vehicle weighing more than 10,000 pounds.
Class B: A Class B CDL lets a driver operate a vehicle weighing more than 26,000 pounds and a towed vehicle of up to 10,000 pounds.
Class C: A Class C CDL lets a driver operate a vehicle that doesn’t meet the criteria of A or B, and that transports at least 16 passengers or hazardous materials.
Typically, a driver with a commercial license has one of the three above, not a combination of the three1. Some drivers also have special endorsements on their CDLs, which let them transport passengers, tanks, hazardous materials, or multiple trailers.
How to Learn to Drive a Truck
Learning to drive a truck or commercial vehicle isn’t quite the same as learning to drive a passenger car. You probably won’t be practicing parallel parking in the parking lot of a local mall.
There are some similarities to the process, though. Before getting a CDL, you need to get a commercial learner’s permit (CLP). To obtain the permit, you’ll need to pass a knowledge exam, vision exam, and a medical exam. Your driver’s record will also be examined in all 50 states, plus Washington, DC.
How Long is Truck-Driving School?
Enrolling in a driver’s training program is an excellent way to build up your skills as a driver and prepare for the CDL tests.
Truck training at a CDL academy or a college usually involves more than showing you how to drive a commercial vehicle. You can expect your course to cover how to handle cargo, how to report accidents or delays on a route, and how to keep records. You might also learn communication skills, safety rules, and employability skills.
Training programs vary in terms of how long they last. The program at Orange Technical College requires 320 hours, or about 8 weeks.
How Much is Truck-Driving School?
The cost of truck-driving school varies considerably based on the type of program you enroll in. A private CDL academy is likely to charge a lot more than a public college. Some private training programs charge more than $5,000 for the course. The program at Orange Technical College is less than $3,000.
You might see some CDL training programs that promised to help you get your license for just a few hundred dollars or even free. Be wary of these programs, as they often require you to work with a particular company for a specified length of time after finishing the training.
How to Find Class A CDL Jobs
After receiving your CDL, the next step is to find a job as a driver. Your program might be able to point you in the direction of good job leads. You can also look online, on sites such as Indeed or Glassdoor, to find a job.
If becoming a CDL driver seems like a great career move for you, contact Orange Technical College today to learn more about the enrollment process.
Commercial Driver’s License Program, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/commercial-drivers-license
How Do I Get a Commercial Driver’s License?, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/commercial-drivers-license/how-do-i-get-commercial-drivers-license