What is a CDL Driver

CDL stands for Commercial Driver's License. Drivers in possession of this certificate transport goods and stock in trucks of various sizes from distribution centers to any required delivery destination. The job is pretty straight forward in theory, but not lacking challenges in practice.

Drivers load the truck safely and deliver to the given destination, making sure the cargo is intact and the vehicle is functional. Any and all of these factors may pose potential obstacles to the completion of the task. They have to meet delivery deadlines, inform clients about delays, and document transactions. And they have to stop and rest on non-negotiable terms.

As a CDL driver, you have to know your vehicle and operate it safely, knowing what to do when it breaks down, and more importantly, knowing what to do to prevent mishaps. Experience on the job is always a value, as well as an organized mindset, stamina, compliance with road rules, and yes, the inevitable interpersonal skills. Although, if anyone should be able to get away with being a grouch, it is a truck driver.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a CDL Driver. For example, did you know that they make an average of $27.89 an hour? That's $58,020 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 5% and produce 99,700 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a CDL Driver Do

There are certain skills that many CDL Drivers have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed Hand-eye coordination, Physical health and Visual ability.

Learn more about what a CDL Driver does

How To Become a CDL Driver

If you're interested in becoming a CDL Driver, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 14.0% of CDL Drivers have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 1.8% of CDL Drivers have master's degrees. Even though some CDL Drivers have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a CDL Driver. When we researched the most common majors for a CDL Driver, we found that they most commonly earn High School Diploma degrees or Associate Degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on CDL Driver resumes include Bachelor's Degree degrees or Diploma degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a CDL Driver. In fact, many CDL Driver jobs require experience in a role such as Driver. Meanwhile, many CDL Drivers also have previous career experience in roles such as Truck Driver or CDL Class A Driver.

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the right jobs to get there.

And if you’re looking for a job, here are the five top employers hiring now:

  1. C.R. England Jobs (230)
  2. U.S. Xpress Jobs (252)
  3. Western Express Jobs (122)
  4. Knight Transportation Jobs (280)
  5. Schneider National Jobs (106)
Average Salary
$58,020
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
5%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
807,386
Job Openings
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CDL Driver Career Paths

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Average Salary for a CDL Driver

CDL Drivers in America make an average salary of $58,020 per year or $28 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $87,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $38,000 per year.
Average Salary
$58,020
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12 CDL Driver Resume Examples

Learn How To Write a CDL Driver Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless CDL Driver resumes and compiled some information about how to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View CDL Driver Resume Examples And Templates

And if you’re looking for a job, here are the five top employers hiring now:

  1. C.R. England Jobs (230)
  2. U.S. Xpress Jobs (252)
  3. Western Express Jobs (122)
  4. Knight Transportation Jobs (280)
  5. Schneider National Jobs (106)

Choose From 10+ Customizable CDL Driver Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use CDL Driver templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your CDL Driver resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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CDL Driver Demographics

CDL Driver Gender Statistics

male

92.8 %

female

7.2 %

CDL Driver Ethnicity Statistics

White

63.9 %

Hispanic or Latino

18.6 %

Black or African American

12.0 %

CDL Driver Foreign Languages Spoken Statistics

Spanish

64.0 %

Carrier

6.2 %

French

5.1 %
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CDL Driver Education

CDL Driver Majors

23.4 %

CDL Driver Degrees

High School Diploma

38.0 %

Associate

17.6 %

Certificate

14.9 %
Job Openings

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Top Skills For a CDL Driver

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 17.2% of CDL Drivers listed DOT on their resume, but soft skills such as Hand-eye coordination and Physical health are important as well.

Best States For a CDL Driver

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a CDL Driver. The best states for people in this position are Wyoming, Nevada, Vermont, and New Hampshire. CDL Drivers make the most in Wyoming with an average salary of $71,822. Whereas in Nevada and Vermont, they would average $70,879 and $68,710, respectively. While CDL Drivers would only make an average of $68,474 in New Hampshire, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. North Dakota

Total CDL Driver Jobs:
5,697
Highest 10% Earn:
$103,000
Location Quotient:
3.54
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Wyoming

Total CDL Driver Jobs:
1,169
Highest 10% Earn:
$111,000
Location Quotient:
1.13
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. South Dakota

Total CDL Driver Jobs:
5,485
Highest 10% Earn:
$97,000
Location Quotient:
2.96
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For CDL Drivers

How Do CDL Driver Rate Their Jobs?

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5.0

Truck DrivingJune 2019

5.0

Zippia Official LogoTruck DrivingJune 2019

What do you like the most about working as CDL Driver?

Making money to sustain an affordable life. I wish I could drive locally but that doesn't seem to be the case without OTR experience for some odd reason. Show More

What do you NOT like?

Driving nights I really wouldn't want to drive at night. Because, sometimes I get tired and sleepy. But with the proper amount of rest I could do it. Just given the right chance if possible. Show More

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Top CDL Driver Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ CDL Drivers and discovered their number of CDL Driver opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that PepsiCo was the best, especially with an average salary of $53,371. Crete Carrier follows up with an average salary of $73,020, and then comes Knight Transportation with an average of $73,924. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as a CDL Driver. The employers include Sysco, Hilco Transport, and US Ecology

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Becoming a CDL Driver FAQs

How long does it take to become a CDL driver?

It takes around seven weeks to become a CDL driver. The length of time it takes to get your CDL relies on a handful of factors. It can take as little as three weeks or upwards of 6 months. Many factors, including the type of license (class A vs. class B) and the type of program, determine how long it can take to get your CDL.

To enroll in a truck driving school, you need to have completed high school or the GED and be over 18 years old, have good vision, and pass a background test.

After that, you must decide on the type of trucker you want to become. Knowing this will determine the type of CDL license to get and how long it will take you to become a CDL driver.

There are different types of Certified Driver's License (CDL) depending on the kind of truck.

  • Class A license (7- weeks to complete, 168 classroom hours) covers the heaviest of trucks (a gross combination weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 or more pounds) and includes flatbeds, dry vans, semis, big rigs/18-wheelers, truck trailer combinations - double and triple trailers, and tractor-trailer buses.

  • Class B license (4 to 8 weeks to complete, 70 to 120 classroom hours) covers trucks at moderate to heavy in weight and includes - straight trucks, buses, garbage trucks, dump trucks, delivery trucks, or cement mixers.

  • Class C license (3 weeks to complete) covers smaller vehicles, including delivery trucks, warehouse trucks, and large passenger vans for 16 or more passengers.

Be sure to check out local community colleges, private truck driving schools, and trucking companies that host truck driver training programs that qualify you to take the CDL exam. Some states have their own process of auditing and accrediting programs, so make sure you know your state's BMV or DMV regulations.

Once you earn your CDL and other Relevant trucking credentials - they may vary depending on how specialized a truck driver you wish to become, as well as the type of truck and distance (e.g., cross-country) you focus on, and the final step is to begin applying for entry-level truck driving positions.

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How much does it cost to become a CDL driver?

The cost to become a CDL driver ranges from $425 to $5,000 depending on the qualification, with a median cost of $3,500.

There are several company-sponsored CDL training programs in the industry. Each program is different, so be sure to ask for details on the overall cost and pay for the program.

The Prime Student Driver (PSD) Program, for example, charges only a $100 fee and the permit costs to start (a training program that is valued at $4,475). That is as long as you drive for Prime with your Class A CDL for one year.

There are also tuition reimbursement options. Usually, they'll reimburse your tuition if you start driving for their company within 12 months of earning your CDL. Finally, the CDL Apprenticeship Training (CAT) program also allows you to get paid on-the-job training before taking your CDL test.

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Is it easy to become a truck driver?

Yes, it is easy to become a truck driver. You can become a truck driver in as little as three weeks, but most programs take around seven weeks to complete. The process to become a truck driver can be done in 3 steps.

Step 1: Meet the requirements to become a professional truck driver and get a commercial learner's permit (CLP)

To drive a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) and be hired by a professional company, you must meet certain requirements. Check out your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website to become familiar with commercial driving rules and regulations.

  • Be at least 21 years old.

  • The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires all professional truck drivers who drive across state lines to be at least 21 years old. You can obtain a CDL at the age of 18, but you will be limited to driving intrastate, and most trucking companies only hire CDL holders who are 21 years old and older.

  • Good vision and ability to pass a vision test

  • Have a clean driving record and solid work history.

  • Pass a drug test

Step 2: Attend a CDL program

To earn a CDL, you will have to attend a truck driving school or a community college. Trucking school programs typically last about three weeks, while a program at a community college usually lasts about six weeks. The length of time is based on the type of CDL license and the type of truck you would like to drive.

  • Class A license (7- weeks to complete, 168 classroom hours) covers the heaviest of trucks (e.g., flatbed, dry vans, a semi, big rig, or 18-wheeler, truck trailer combinations - double and triple trailers, tractor-trailer buses)

  • Class B license (4 to 8 weeks to complete, 70 to 120 classroom hours) covers trucks at moderate to heavy in weight (e.g., straight trucks, buses, garbage trucks, dump trucks, delivery trucks, cement mixers)

  • Class C license (3 weeks to complete) covers smaller vehicles (e.g., delivery trucks, warehouse trucks, large passenger vans for 16 or more passengers)

Step 3: Get a truck driving job

Once you have your CDL, you will have access to a huge variety of truck driving jobs. Prior to starting employment at most companies, you will be required to pass a drug and alcohol screen in addition to sharing your work history and passing a background check.

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Is it hard to be a CDL driver?

Yes, it is hard to be a CDL driver. While becoming a CDL driver is not hard, working as a CDL driver can be. Many CDL drivers must work long hours, spend lots of time away from home, and remain seated for most of their workday.

Most CDL drivers spend long hours sitting in one position, leading to a host of health problems (e.g., obesity, chronic back pain). Other aspects of trucking that make the job difficult include; road congestion, tight scheduling, bad road quality, working overtime, and low pay.

While truck drivers have tons of work opportunities, plus independence and flexibility, there are downsides to being a CDL driver. For example, CDL drivers tend to spend a lot of their time alone. If you like having time to yourself, truck driving is perfect.

However, if being alone is not for you or away from your family for an extended period, then truck driving may not be for you.

CDL drivers are usually expected to work long hours. In fact, some drivers will rack up around 3000 miles each week on the job, which sometimes requires early mornings and late nights to meet deadlines.

But an upside to this is that many truck drivers get to choose their own schedules. You may clock more hours than someone at a Monday through Friday desk job, but you get to set your own pace, have a degree of financial stability, and get to see new places every day.

CDL driving can also be hard on the body. Truck drivers, in general, are more likely than other professions to experience higher rates of chronic back pain and diabetes because they are in the same position for so many hours a day (up to 16-hours sometimes).

Therefore, truck drivers need to move around and exercise as much as possible when they are not driving.

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What are CDL truck drivers?

CDL truck drivers are truckers that have a commercial driver's license (CDL). CDL trucks require special licenses for operation because of their bulk.

Drivers must not only be able to maneuver these trucks for miles at a time, often in heavy traffic, but they must also be alert and follow all roadway safety regulations. They are responsible for such duties as loading and unloading heavy cargo, tracking their mileage, fuel, toll expenses, ensuring delivery, and maintaining their trucks.

CDL truck drivers must legally take breaks, as their most important duty is to practice safe driving habits.

There are three categories of CDL licenses: Class A, Class B, and Class C. Different jobs require different licensures. For example, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles, a Class A license means that the driver can operate vehicles and tow materials over 10,000 pounds.

The other two licenses are Class B and Class C, and all are differentiated by weight. Each state has its own requisites for earning these licenses.

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