How To Become a Trucker

    What is a CDL license and do you need one? For people who drive personal vehicles the answer to that question has no effect on their ability to drive. If you are a person who is interested in a career driving a commercial vehicle, it is important that you not only ask “what is a CDL license” but that you also take the necessary steps to obtain one. CDL is the acronym for Commercial Driver’s License. This is a license that you must have in order to operate a commercial motor vehicle. With a few exceptions, this type of vehicle is defined in several ways. It is defined as any combination of vehicles weighing 26,001 pounds or higher with the vehicle being towed weighing more than 10,000 pounds. It is also defined as a single vehicle that has a weight rating that is greater than 26,001 pounds. The final definition states that it is any vehicle that carries sixteen or more passengers, a school bus, or transports hazardous materials and requires placarding. A CDL is a license that is issued by the state in which the applicant lives. The basic requirements for application are set-forth by the Federal government. Each state, however, may have different testing laws in place. When pursuing truck driving jobs you’ll need to know how to get a CDL. Without a CDL license, a truck driver will be unable to get commercial truck insurance and, more importantly, will be unable to obtain employment as a truck driver. [click to continue…]

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    If you are interested in truck driving jobs, you must obtain the appropriate CDL training and pass the CDL written test and driving test to earn either your CDL license Class A, B or C. It is important to get the proper training under your belt before you begin to drive a big rig or other commercially registered vehicle. CDL schools are specialized educational institutions designed to prepare future truck drivers for this important vocation. These schools teach students how to drive commercial vehicles and help them earn their commercial license. This enables drivers to begin their truck driving career feeling safe and confident behind the wheel. [click to continue…]

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    What is a Class B license? A class B license is one of three special class definitions that fall under the commercial driver’s license, commonly called the CDL. CDL class B gives drivers designation to drive trucks or other vehicles that weigh in at 26,001 pounds or more, or tow vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds. Vehicle weight is determined by an official gross vehicle weight rating, or GVWR and these weights limit vehicles to certain roads and insurance conditions within the United States.

    Truck drivers interested in truck driving jobs that require a CDL B license can focus their CDL training on this particular vehicle class. This type of licensing affords drivers the ability to become city or tour bus drivers, giving them the tools to drive for a living at a decent rate, while working for an organization. This absolves the licensed driver from the responsibility of obtaining his own truck insurance, and having to pay for other vehicular costs. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure the vehicle in question is properly insured and road-ready. [click to continue…]

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    When looking to get into the trucking industry, it is important to know all of the requirements. One of the main requirements of obtaining a trucking job is having the proper licensing. In the US, a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is required to operate any type of vehicle for commercial use that has a GVWR, or gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 lbs. or more. A CDL is also required for transporting hazardous materials that require warnings based on Department of Transportation (DOT) guidelines, or for drivers of vehicles that are transporting 16 or more passengers. There are three classes of CDL licenses including the class A CDL, class B CDL, and the class C CDL. [click to continue…]

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    A thread on the trucking forum recently discussed the physical strength required to be a truck driver, starting with the following question:

    Please don’t laugh too hard…but as a 50 year old female, it must be asked…

    How much physical strength is really required? I’m 5’3″…and a half. I’ve seen pictures of female truckers and my first thought is “I can do this.” But then I see job descriptions that say one must be able to pick up 100 pounds.

    I’m hoping I won’t have to load/unload. I just want to drive.

    The responses gave a practical view of the labor involved, including insight from female drivers that successfully deal with similar physical challenges.  LavenderTrucker shares her experience:

    Well, I am a woman… and I am no amazon… I am 5’3-5’4 and around 125 – 130lbs and in my mid 40′s… I am also pulling flatbed… so, the tarps are heavy, maybe around 80lbs, but usually I only have to move them on and off the fork lift, and pull them off my load.
    For me I don’t think the work is so much about heavy lifting, but, just lot’s of different steps, Like in tossing the straps over the loads, then securing them.,. The winch bar isn’t necessarily that heavy… only it does seem to be heavier on the last strap than it was on the first.. LOL
    For me, since I am pulling a flatbed, I also have to be comfortable and able to climb… on my truck, on top of my load.. so, it helps to be in shape. Usually again the fork lift guy will give you a lift to the top of your load… But, sometimes to, you are climbing up and down a couple of times and they have other things to do… It takes a little muscle and work to secure the tarp with the bungees and all… but again, it isn’t one big heavy lifting thing… it is a lot of tugging, pulling, streatching and hooking over and over…

    Preparing for the tough work with weight lifting and strength training can be a crucial advantage, as proven by Texas Nana:

    I’m 53, overweight (but I’m losing it by george!), have bad knees, and have always been a delicate little flower of Texas. Seriously, for 10 years I didn’t even put gas in my car…I am that pampered by my husband.
    You can do and achieve what you desire enough. I wanted this job. I WANTED it BAD. So eventhough I had a severe leg and hip injury just before moving to AZ I began a work out program, bought a set of cheap weights and began lifting weights.
    Last year Swift still had the work well program and we had to meet a higher requirement than just the DOT requirements.
    I worked until I could meet the weight requirements of the work-well exam which was:
    With a heart monitor on you had to lift 3 times from floor to waist 30lbs, 50lbs, 75 lbs. Then lift those weights 3 times waist to shoulder (placing on a shelf)
    Then carry 85 lbs for 150 feet. Then push at least 100 lbs which is done with a gauge device against a block. Then you pull 100 lbs with the same device. Finally you step three times onto a 26″ platform (which they had a bit high so it was actually 30″)
    I did it. I had problems with the platform but I did it with the encouragement of other students

    Big Don gives a Freight Handling 101 overview on what to expect: [click to continue…]

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    The truck driving school that you choose to attend could have a tremendous impact on your future career.  While there are numerous truck driving schools to choose from, they are not created equal – and failure to get your certification from a good school could make it hard for you to get hired.

    Things to consider when selecting a school

    There are certain things that will make a good truck driving school stand out from a mediocre one.  Some things to look for include:

    • Accreditation – a good school will have sought out accreditation by an agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education
    • Certification – meets or exceeds the Professional Truck Driver Institute standard, including a least 44 hours of actual drive time
    • Cost – consider the cost of the school in relation to the number of hours behind the wheel, and look for hidden fees that may not be included, such as obtaining a permit, drug screening, insurance, and more
    • Drive time – you should have at least 44 hours of actual driving time, not including observation time
    • Equipment – well-maintained recent model tractors and trailers, including weighted trailers (because pulling empty trailers isn’t good practice)
    • Facilities – clean classrooms with audio-visual capabilities, a library, and a practice driving range
    • Financing – reputable schools will have financing options
    • Instructors – teaching staff should have at least three years of driving experience, as well as educational experience
    • Placement assistance – while no school can guarantee you a job, they can provide you with assistance in finding one after graduation
    • Program length – a good truck driving school will be at least 3 weeks long to provide you with adequate drive time
    • Student to truck ratio – the best schools will place just one student per truck, giving you individualized attention

    Driving schools to consider

    The two truck driver training companies that operate locations across the country are Sage Truck Driving Schools and Roadmaster Drivers Schools.

    SAGE has been providing CDL training and testing since 1989.  All of SAGE’s truck driving schools offer one-on-one driving with no more than one student per truck.  This kind of private driving instruction offers students maximum hands-on driving time and no distractions.  The programs are 150-160 hours and take 4 to 6 weeks depending on the number of students.  SAGE focuses a lot of time on driving, with the PTDI program offering at least 44 hours of time actually operating the truck.  About half of SAGE’s schools are partnerships with community college, and the other half are free standing SAGE-operated schools.
    One critical difference between SAGE and most other schools is that SAGE schools do not include “observation time” in the training.  Most schools place 3-4 students in a truck at a time and rotate drivers into the driver’s seat.  Observation time means that the student will spend 6 to 8 hours in the truck, but will only drive for about 2 hours.  However, schools that provide observation hours in the program typically advertise all time the student is just observing as “behind the wheel time.”
    Observation time has some significant drawbacks, including (1) it can mislead students regarding the actual driving hours included in the program, (2) sitting and watching for several hours causes fatigue, (3) students talking, joking, commenting can create distractions, (4) causing stress for the driver, (5) taking the instructor’s attention away from the driver, etc.
    SAGE schools have been accredited nationally and programs have been certified by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI).  PTDI is the only national trucking industry school certification entity, and only about 5% of all school have been certified.
    Christopher Thropp
    Vice President
    The SAGE Corporation

    Roadmaster Driver Schools don’t meet all the criteria for a “Good” truck driving school, but they’re a lot better than most, the quality is consistent, and they have a bunch of locations around the country. An upside to all the marketing they do is that everyone in the industry knows their name, so even if the training isn’t the absolute best, at least no one will turn you down because they don’t recognize your school.

    If there isn’t a Sage or Roadmaster near you or you can’t afford their training, look at other training programs in your region and compare their offerings against our list of “things to consider when selecting a school.” Regional and local schools can be just as good or better than national schools, but there is a wide variation in the quality and price, so do your research and make sure they meet your criteria.



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