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Become A CDL Driver

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Working As A CDL Driver

  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Getting Information
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Controlling Machines and Processes
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Stressful

  • $36,886

    Average Salary

What Does A CDL Driver Do

Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers transport goods from one location to another. Most tractor-trailer drivers are long-haul drivers and operate trucks with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) capacity of more than 26,000 pounds. These drivers deliver goods over intercity routes, sometimes spanning several states.

Duties

Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers typically do the following:

  • Drive long distances
  • Report to a dispatcher any incidents encountered on the road
  • Follow all applicable traffic laws
  • Inspect their trailers before and after the trip, and record any defects they find
  • Maintain a log of their working hours, following all federal and state regulations
  • Report serious mechanical problems to the appropriate personnel
  • Keep their trucks and associated equipment clean and in good working order

Most heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers’ routes are assigned by a dispatcher, but some independent drivers still plan their own routes. They may use satellite tracking to help them plan.

A driver must know which roads allow trucks and which do not. Drivers also must plan legally required rest periods into their trip. Some drivers have one or two routes that they drive regularly, and others drivers take many different routes throughout the country. Also, some drivers have routes that include Mexico or Canada.

Companies sometimes use two drivers, known as teams, on long runs in order to minimize downtime. On these team runs, one driver sleeps in a berth behind the cab while the other drives.

Certain cargo requires drivers to adhere to additional safety regulations. Some heavy truck drivers who transport hazardous materials, such as chemical waste, must take special precautions when driving, and may carry specialized safety equipment in case of an accident. Other drivers, such as those carrying liquids, oversized loads, or cars, must follow rules that apply specifically to them.

Some long-haul truck drivers, called owner–operators, buy or lease trucks and go into business for themselves. In addition to their driving tasks, owner-operators also have business tasks, including finding and keeping clients and doing administrative work, such as accounting.

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How To Become A CDL Driver

Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers usually have a high school diploma and attend a professional truckdriving school. They must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

Education

Most companies require their truck drivers to have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Many companies require drivers to attend professional truckdriving schools, where they take training courses to learn how to maneuver large vehicles on highways or through crowded streets. During these classes, drivers also learn the federal laws and regulations governing interstate truck driving. Students attend either a private truckdriving school or a program at a community college that lasts between 3 and 6 months.

Upon finishing their classes, drivers receive a certificate of completion.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is considering a requirement that mandates all newly hired interstate truck drivers to take a truckdriving course.

The Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) certifies a small percentage of driver-training courses at truckdriver training schools that meet both the industry standards and the U.S. Department of Transportation guidelines for training tractor-trailer drivers.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All long-haul truck drivers must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Qualifications for obtaining a CDL vary by state but generally include passing both a knowledge test and a driving test. States have the right to refuse to issue a CDL to anyone who has had a CDL suspended by another state.

Drivers can get endorsements to their CDL that show their ability to drive a specialized type of vehicle. Truck drivers transporting hazardous materials (HAZMAT) must have a hazardous materials endorsement (H). Getting this endorsement requires passing an additional knowledge test and a background check.

Federal regulations require random testing of on-duty truck drivers for drug or alcohol abuse. In addition, truck drivers can have their CDL suspended if they are convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or are convicted of a felony involving the use of a motor vehicle.

Other actions can result in a suspension after multiple violations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website has a list of these violations. Additionally, some companies have stricter standards than what federal regulations require.

Training

After completing truckdriving school and being hired by a company, drivers normally receive between 1 and 3 months of on-the-job training. During this time, they drive a truck with a more experienced mentor–driver in the passenger seat. This period of on-the-job training is given so that the new drivers will learn more about the specific type of truck they will drive and material they will transport.

Important Qualities

Hand-eye coordination. Drivers of heavy trucks and tractor-trailers must be able to coordinate their legs, hands, and eyes simultaneously so that they will react appropriately to the situation around them and drive the vehicle safely.

Hearing ability. Truck drivers need good hearing. Federal regulations require that a driver be able to hear a forced whisper in one ear at 5 feet (with or without the use of a hearing aid).

Physical health. Federal regulations do not allow people to become truck drivers if they have a medical condition, such as high blood pressure or epilepsy, which may interfere with their ability to operate a truck. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website has a full list of medical conditions that disqualify someone from driving a long-haul truck.

Visual ability. Truck drivers must be able to pass vision tests. Federal regulations require a driver to have at least 20/40 vision with a 70-degree field of vision in each eye and the ability to distinguish the colors on a traffic light.

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CDL Driver Videos

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CDL Driver Career Paths

CDL Driver
Fuel Truck Driver Heavy Equipment Operator Project Manager
Delivery Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Shuttle Driver Forklift Operator Warehouse Manager
Distribution Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Driver/Owner Operator Operator Driver
Driver Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
CDL Class A Driver Dump Truck Driver Equipment Operator
Driver/Owner Operator
6 Yearsyrs
Dump Truck Driver Delivery Driver Maintenance Technician
Facilities Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Yard Jockey Route Driver Field Technician
Field Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Truck Operator Heavy Equipment Operator Driver
Fleet Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Operation Supervisor Operations Manager Property Manager
General Contractor
6 Yearsyrs
Hauler Operator Foreman
General Superintendent
11 Yearsyrs
Truck Driver Class A Dump Truck Driver Delivery Driver
Lead Driver
5 Yearsyrs
Truck Operator Maintenance Technician Production Supervisor
Logistics Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Driver/Owner Operator Delivery Driver Maintenance Technician
Maintenance Director
11 Yearsyrs
Truck Driver Class A Driver/Owner Operator Operator
Operator And Truck Driver
5 Yearsyrs
Transportation Driver Maintenance Technician Production Supervisor
Plant Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Shuttle Driver Technician Foreman
Project Superintendent
10 Yearsyrs
Operation Supervisor Logistics Coordinator Shipping Coordinator
Shipping Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Dump Truck Driver Equipment Operator Operations Manager
Terminal Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Local Driver Route Driver Driver
Transportation Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Tank Driver Equipment Operator Operation Supervisor
Transportation Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Transportation Driver Driver/Owner Operator Warehouse/Driver
Warehouse Manager
5 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Truck Driver 3.7 years
Class B Driver 3.6 years
Semi Truck Driver 3.5 years
CDL Driver 3.0 years
Line Haul Driver 3.0 years
Class A Driver 2.9 years
CDL Class A Driver 2.7 years
Commercial Driver 2.6 years
Driver 2.6 years
Tank Driver 2.3 years
Fuel Truck Driver 2.3 years
Local Driver 2.2 years
Flatbed Driver 1.5 years
Top Careers Before CDL Driver
Driver 18.3%
Truck Driver 11.8%
Operator 3.2%
Owner 3.0%
Supervisor 2.8%
Technician 2.8%
Top Careers After CDL Driver
Driver 21.8%
Truck Driver 11.2%
Operator 2.7%
Owner 2.0%

Do you work as a CDL Driver?

CDL Driver Demographics

Gender

Male

90.4%

Female

8.2%

Unknown

1.4%
Ethnicity

White

61.8%

Hispanic or Latino

17.8%

Black or African American

11.1%

Asian

5.9%

Unknown

3.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

59.5%

Carrier

7.8%

French

6.0%

Russian

3.4%

Italian

3.4%

Portuguese

3.4%

Hindi

1.7%

Bosnian

1.7%

Norwegian

1.7%

Uzbek

1.7%

Dakota

1.7%

Swahili

0.9%

Turkish

0.9%

Luganda

0.9%

Bengali

0.9%

Croatian

0.9%

Kazakh

0.9%

Urdu

0.9%

Serbian

0.9%

German

0.9%
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CDL Driver Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

14.1%

Del Mar College

7.7%

Southwest Texas Junior College

6.4%

San Juan College

5.9%

El Paso Community College

5.9%

New England Tractor Trailer Training School

5.5%

Bates Technical College

5.0%

Ashford University

4.1%

Pima Community College

4.1%

Delgado Community College

4.1%

Lamar University

4.1%

Houston Community College

4.1%

All-State Career School

4.1%

Tyler Junior College

3.6%

The Academy

3.6%

Community College of the Air Force

3.6%

South Texas College

3.6%

The Community College of Baltimore County

3.6%

Central Texas College

3.6%

Camden County College

3.2%
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Majors

Business

21.7%

Criminal Justice

9.8%

Automotive Technology

8.3%

General Studies

7.8%

General Education, Specific Areas

7.4%

Computer Science

5.4%

Precision Metal Working

3.9%

Electrical Engineering

3.9%

Graphic Design

3.5%

Electrical Engineering Technology

3.4%

Education

3.2%

Accounting

3.2%

Psychology

2.8%

Management

2.8%

Liberal Arts

2.5%

Medical Technician

2.3%

Nursing

2.0%

Computer Networking

2.0%

Heating And Air Conditioning

2.0%

Communication

1.9%
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Degrees

Other

49.8%

Associate

16.2%

Bachelors

15.7%

Certificate

10.8%

Diploma

3.2%

Masters

2.2%

License

1.8%

Doctorate

0.1%
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CDL Driver Videos

The Paycheck! (How Much Do You Make In Truck Driving)

Nightmares Of Being A Truck Driver!

Ace Hardware - Class A CDL Driver Career

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Top Skills for A CDL Driver

  1. Delivery Instructions
  2. Appropriate Safety Procedures
  3. Vehicle Maintenance
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Maintained telephone contact with supervisor to receive delivery instructions.
  • Deliver fuel to customers, meet all deadlines, follow DOT regulations, safety standards and logs, vehicle maintenance.
  • Coordinated deliveries with customers and provided corporate recognized customer service - Performed on site sales and maintenance
  • Operated tractor-trailer combinations, including doubles and triples.
  • Entered information onto a paper log at every job site and gathered tree limbs to be placed in wood chipper.

What is it like to work as a CDL Driver

5.0

Truck Driving

June 7, 2019 on Zippia

What was your job title?

CDL Driver.. Show More

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

How Would You Rate Working As a CDL Driver?

Are you working as a CDL Driver? Help us rate CDL Driver as a Career.

Top CDL Driver Employers

Jobs From Top CDL Driver Employers

CDL Driver Videos

The Paycheck! (How Much Do You Make In Truck Driving)

Nightmares Of Being A Truck Driver!

Ace Hardware - Class A CDL Driver Career

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