How to get a class A CDL and find a perfect company to work for
CDL or a Commercial Driver’s License is required to operate large, heavy or placarded hazardous material vehicles in commerce. A class A CDL allows you to drive any combination of vehicles with a GVWR/GVW(Gross Vehicle Weight Rating/Gross Vehicle Weight) of 26,001 pounds or more, provided the GVWR/GVW of the vehicles being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds. Class A holders are also permitted to operate any commercial motor vehicle including classes B and C.
Getting a class A CDL
The requirements to get a CDL are slightly different from state to state but there are some steps that are pretty basic.
- First thing is reviewing the requirements to determine if you qualify for a Commercial Driver’s License, some of them include a minimum age requirement and CDL physical requirements. -The second step is getting the CDL permit. To get a class A CDL license you will need to pass a series of written exams, and in most states they include: General Knowledge, Air Brakes and Combination Vehicles. A CDL handbook manual can be found at the testing site in each state, or online.
- Add CDL endorsements. Depending on the CDL you want to obtain, you will need to pass the endorsement test. Some endorsements might also require a background check before they can be added to your CDL license, one of them is Hazardous Materials-HazMat.
- The last thing to do is taking the CDL skills test. A CDL driving test must be passed and the exam consists of three parts, a pre-trip inspection test, basic control skills test and a driving test at either a state CDL test site or approved 3rd party test site in the testing state. Once the skill test has been passed a driver can be issued an actual CDL license from his or her state.
The thing that could help you to acquire the CDL is going to a CDL Training School. Many people attempt to get prepared by themselves, but driving a big rig is not as easy as it seems. Attending CDL training will help you get the right information for the written exams and to get the hands-on training for the skills test, which makes the whole process a lot easier.
The first year of your professional driving career will be the toughest. There are many things to consider when deciding what company to choose for your first commercial job.
Finding the best company for you
Big trucking companies-mega carriers
There are big companies which allow CDL training. Some will argue against this because for your training period, which can last for about one year, you will be offered very low wages, and you will often be required to stay with the company for a period of time after your training is done. Others will argue that this is the best option, because it allows you to get training, to gain experience and learn the ropes. This is also a great option if you can’t afford a CDL training school. There are also very good big trucking companies that treat their workers well, you just need to do your research and find the right one for you.
Medium or small sized trucking companies
Medium and small size companies will often be a good choice for you if you like being recognized, your boss knowing your name and your skill level, appreciating the time you put into your work and treating their workers fairly and with respect. The difference between these two is that in smaller companies they can ask more of you, they often don’t have enough manpower or resources to split the jobs between more drivers, or replace a driver if needed. Medium sized companies, and even some smaller ones, know how to attract and keep drivers, they often have a higher, better structured salary. Bosses see their drivers as assets to their business and they are more accessible and available to them.
So what are some things to consider when evaluating a company?
- You should try to meet the other drivers. They can give you valuable information about the company, and working with people you get along with will improve your work quality of life. If the carrier has long term drivers it is usually a good sign that they are being treated fairly and that they are happy with their job.
- It is a good idea to meet the dispatchers and find out what they expect of the drivers.
- Payroll - ask about the rate and frequency of pay and check if the carrier has a way to allow you to verify your miles(if you are being paid by the mile). If they don’t allow you to check your paid miles, you might want to look further.
- Choose a niche you wish to work in. You should know what field of trucking you want to work in, be sure that you are qualified to work in that field and pick a carrier that offers what you are looking for.
- Pick a company with freight lanes in your favorite areas. There are parts of the country you probably don’t want to drive through, and some places you would like to visit, so try to find a carrier that operates in the areas that are on your favorite list.
There are some things that you can do to be more attractive for the companies that are hiring and to keep the job. Be sure that you are dependable, reasonable, have discipline, learn to drive and know your rig, work hard, be patient and communicate with your company. You will need to prove yourself as a driver and as a worker. Your attitude towards the job and towards the people you work with is also very important.
Always try to be safe and keep others on the road safe, remember that you are driving a powerful thing.