Estimates suggest that over 3.2 million truck driver jobs are up for grabs in the United States. As a result, many started to consider truck driving as one of the biggest career options of today. Moreover, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics has suggested that between 2008 and 2018, there will be a 9% increase in the number of vacancies in this profession. The prediction stands true for every US state, including Michigan. If you are in Michigan and have the desire of working as a truck driver, you must have a CDL (commercial driver’s license). To obtain the license successfully, you should join a CDL school that provides truck driver training in Michigan.
When will you need to have a CDL for driving vehicles in Michigan? A commercial driver’s license is a prerequisite in the following situations:
i. For driving vehicles with a GVWR or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of over 26,000 pounds
ii. If the vehicle you are driving is towing a unit with over 10,000 pounds of GVWR
iii. When the Gross Combination Weight Rating or GCWR of the vehicle you are driving exceeds 26,000 pounds
iv. For driving a vehicle that is carrying more than 15 passengers
v. For driving school buses with 15 or less passengers
Even if you have a CDL, you will have to put up a placard if the vehicle you are driving is towing hazardous materials.
The minimum age for becoming a commercial driver by acquiring CDL is 21 years old. However, there are certain exceptions. You can receive a commercial driver’s license at the age of 18, but there are a few conditions:
i. You will be allowed to drive only within the state lines in Michigan.
ii. You will not be allowed to drive vehicles that are towing hazardous materials that need placarding.
iii. You will not be allowed to drive the triple or double trailer rigs.
Before you undergo any CDL skill test, you should obtain the medical examiner’s card. These cards include vision test reports of the prospective commercial drivers. A medical examiner’s card serves as the proof of a person’s physical capability for working as a truck driver.
Every resident of Michigan, who is applying for a CDL in their state, must have a Michigan driver’s license. If you have your driver’s license issued from any other state, you must apply for CDL in that state. In addition to that, you should possess an impressive prior driving record for obtaining a CDL. Also, an individual, whose driver’s license is currently canceled, denied, revoked or suspended, will not be successful in getting a commercial driver’s license.
If you meet all the criteria mentioned above, you are eligible for receiving your CDL and becoming a commercial truck driver. However, for passing the CDL skill test you must receive proper guidance by undergoing truck driver training in Michigan. You will come across hundreds of CDL schools in Michigan that provide CDL training to aspirant truckers.
Michigan trucking schools can be of 3 types. These types are:
Public schools: These trucking schools provide excellent guidance to individuals who are looking to become professional truck drivers. These schools are mostly parts of community colleges. The training sessions at a public trucking school will educate you about the rules and regulations that a commercial driver needs to follow. You will also get to learn the methods of handling heavy duty trucks and other heavy machineries. There’s no need of spending big bucks for undergoing truck driver training at these government-sponsored schools. Moreover, if required, you can also apply for financial aids for covering the training fees.
Private schools: Private schools that provide truck driver training in Michigan are generally attended by students, who do not have any community college in their neighborhood that offers CDL training. You can expect to learn everything that you would have learnt by attending a public truck driving school during the training sessions of a private trucking school. There’s however a big difference in the fee structure of public and private CDL schools. A student may need to spend up to $5,000 for attending private CDL schools.
Schools run by trucking companies: A number of Michigan based trucking companies run trucking schools. Some of these schools provide truck driver training free of cost, the others offer training for minimum fees. However, most company sponsored truck driver trainings have certain drawbacks. Usually, the syllabuses of these schools are not elaborate enough. They only cover the topics that you need to know for passing the CDL skill test. As a result, the truck driver training course offered by a school ran by a particular trucking company is often not considered to be adequate by other employers. This reduces the employment options available for you drastically.
After completing the CDL training in any of the trucking school types mentioned above, you will have to take the CDL skill test. Once you pass this skill test, you will get the commercial driver’s license. With so many truck driver jobs available today, you should not need much time for getting a desired employment. The steps you’ll need to pass after joining a trucking company are:
· First, there will be an orientation period that will last for four days.
· The next step will require you to start driving on the road under the guidance of a driver trainer. Usually, an experienced truck driver of the company plays the role of a driver trainer. Most new drivers need two to three weeks for developing the skills of handling heavy duty trucks and other heavy machineries. However, if required, these drivers can take up to eight weeks to complete driver training. The driver trainer monitors the performance of the trainee truck driver and decides whether he or she is ready for taking up regular truck driving assignments. The trainees receive $300-$500 as his or her weekly salary.
· After completing driver training, the new driver becomes ready to go for trucking assignments alone. Regular drivers are not paid weekly. They receive payment based on the distance traveled by them. You can expect to earn $36,525 to $45,602 annually, after completing truck driver training in Michigan and receiving your CDL.