The CDL test is a comprehensive and challenging assessment for men and women who wish to enter the field of commercial driving. Those who pass this exam will receive a commercial driver’s license, which is required to operate any vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds. In addition, a commercial driver’s license is required to transport hazardous materials or more than 15 passengers (including the driver). Tow truck operators, bus drivers, and tractor-trailer drivers all must have a CDL.
The standards for the CDL test are established by the Federal Highway Administration. Although the contents of the examination vary by state, every version of the test includes a written and practical component. Some states administer the test themselves, while others contract with private test administrators.
The written component of the test includes questions about highway safety and truck repair. Every version of the CDL test includes at least 30 multiple-choice questions, and candidates are required to answer 80 percent of these correctly.
The driving component of the CDL test requires candidates to execute a series of basic driving maneuvers. In most cases, candidates are allowed to operate the type of vehicle they will be working with professionally.
The test is administered throughout the year at numerous sites in each state.
1. What is a good reason for knowing what the traffic is doing on all sides of you?
a. Stopping or changing lanes can take time and distance and you need to have room to make these moves safely.
b. It is always necessary to know when you can make a U-turn.
c. You need to eliminate all blind spots around you.
2. Should you always be looking into the distance ahead?
a. Yes, You should be prepared for all problems ahead.
b. No, you should shift your attention back and forth, near and far.
c. Yes, by concentrating on the vehicle directly ahead you will be prepared for all emergencies.
3. What is a problem that you can have when using your mirrors?
a. They never remain in the positions you have placed them.
b. They are of no help when you are changing lanes.
c. There are blind spots that your mirrors cannot show you.
4. Where do you place the three reflector triangles if you have to park on the side of a level, straight two-lane road?
a. Place one within 10 feet of the rear of the vehicle, one about 100 feet to the rear and one about 100 feet from the front of the vehicle.
b. Place one within 100 feet of the front of the vehicle, one 500 feet from the front of the vehicle and one about 100 feet from the rear of the vehicle.
c. Place one within 10 feet of the front of the vehicle, one about 100 feet to the front and one about 500 feet to the rear of the vehicle.
5. Where do you place the three reflector triangles if you have to park on the side of a level highway with one-way traffic such as a divided highway?
a. Place them to the rear of the vehicle; one within 10 feet, one within 100 feet and the other one 200 feet.
b. Place all of them in front of the vehicle up to 500 feet.
c. Place two in front of the vehicle at 10 feet and at 100 feet and place one to the rear of the vehicle.
Whether you're going it alone as an independent driver or hoping to sign on with a large carrier company, you need some tools to find the right CDL job. If you're already part of a trucking community, start by talking to fellow CDL drivers to see if they know which companies are hiring or where you might find work. People in your particular driving niche can be full of helpful information, whether you're into construction driving, furniture delivery, or something in between.
How To Find CDL Jobs
This is a great time to be looking for CDL jobs, since trucking companies have reported a shortage of qualified truckers. With a little legwork and a good history, you're bound to find the right job for your needs. Here's how to get started:
Enroll in an accredited CDL training program. Many trucking companies recruit new drivers from these training programs; trainees are hired after they successfully earn the CDL certification.
Understand your options. If you have a CDL, there are many types of driving available, including local, long-distance, specialized, hazardous material cargo (requires extra training), and independent driving. You can work for grocery stores, furniture stores, building-supply companies, or construction companies, among many others. You might even find non-driving jobs, like supervisor or dispatcher.
Use search engines. There are numerous online search engines available for CDL trucking jobs, where you can search by state, truck type, or company. Check these websites for new listings frequently, at least every few days.
Check the classifieds. Sometimes the classified advertisement sections of your local and regional newspapers have CDL jobs that online search engines don't list. Take time each week to sit down with the paper and go over the ads.
Maintain a flawless record. Don't get yourself in a position in which you can't use your last CDL job as a reference because of a poor professional or personal history with that company. A CDL driver needs to have solid references. Keep copies of your license information available, and follow up on any job leads.
CDL Jobs Resources
The web also offers a variety of informative sites about CDL jobs - be sure to bookmark the ones you like.
Job Search Engines:
US Driver Jobs (www.usdriverjobs.com/) - search carrier companies by state for CDL job openings, and submit a free online application for use by recruiters.
CDL Truckstop (www.cdltruckstop.com/) - an online search engine for CDL trucking jobs, searchable by title, state, city, and carrier.
CDL Jobs (www.cdljobs.com/) - this CDL job search engine offers a more precise driver/company matching service, as your application will be reviewed by an experienced trucker staff and matched with the best available job opportunity.
Other Helpful Sites:
CDL Digest (http://www.cdldigest.com/) - provides up-to-date CDL information and resources, including manuals and licensing agencies by state.
My Trucking Space (http://www.mytruckingspace.com/) - online social networking site especially for truckers. Participate in blogs and forums, and trade pictures of your rig.
CDL Jobs Search Tips
Your new CDL job will affect your life for quite some time, so it's not a commitment to make lightly. These extra tips will help you find the CDL job that best matches your life and family needs.
Research carrier companies. Many online search engines allow you to search by trucking company, but if you don't know anything about those companies then you won't get very far. Make an effort to learn about companies in your city and state, so that you know what kind of driving they will need.
Know your trucks. Different kinds of trucks sometimes require extra training. Hazmat trucks, for example, require special training and have stringent driver requirements. Tanks or double/triple trailers require extra testing.
Be prepared for a possible lifestyle change. If you get a CDL job with interstate driving, you may be on the road for weeks or months at a time. Make sure that your family is prepared to handle the lifestyle-related driving requirements of your new CDL job.
Make a list of what you need in a CDL job. Currently there are more CDL trucking opportunities than drivers, so you will likely get to pick from a variety of jobs. Sit down with a pencil and jot a quick list of what you need in a CDL job - pay, hours, benefits, and location. Then, when you pull up that online page of CDL jobs, you can quickly narrow it down into a more manageable group.
Truck Driver Salary
The role of a truck driver can be satisfying for those who choose to be on the road. The lifestyle of a trucker can be exciting as well as offer some disadvantages, as with any job. This is why it is important for those people considering a career as a professional truck driver to be aware of the different types of employment opportunities that exist. To begin with, truck drivers may drive long distances or locally. A long haul is what is referred to as a heavy truck that transports goods over a long distance. These trips may be accomplished in one day, over a course of days, or longer. Some drivers drive coast to coast with a team of people over the course of a few months. Driving in teams can be good for people who do not like to drive alone and who'd share the responsibility of driving with other people over the route. The job is easier if traveling with companions who share like personalities. Some people enjoy traveling long distances and meeting new people. At times, these positions do have delivery time constraints, which may add pressure to the job. On the other hand, local truck drivers may transport lighter loads, travel shorter distances, and may make frequent stops. The main thing to consider is how much time is spent on the road and what types of work a person enjoys doing. The company the driver works for determines the type of training, licensing, and insurance that is needed.
Aside from the typical type of trucks commonly seen on the highway, there are specialized vehicles that require specific skills to operate. These vehicles tend to be tank trucks, hazardous materials trucks, wet and dry bulk carriers, auto carriers, and double or triple trailers.
Responsibilities for a truck driver vary depending on the career. Of course, the more specialized the work, the higher the pay. Pulling a dry van is generally how most people start their careers. These jobs require the least amount of experience and are typically the lowest paid. A truck driver salary pulling a dry van may start at $8.00 per hour and could increase to about $15.00 per hour on average.
Another possible career in truck driving may involve hauling flatbed loads. Many times, this cargo is oversized and will not fit inside a typical trailer. Flatbeds are used to transport cars, airplanes, military equipment, or construction materials. There is more danger and risk associated with transporting this cargo; therefore, the driver should be specialized and earns additional pay. Many flatbed drivers get paid a per-mile fee of approximately $.40 per mile. Flatbed drivers sometimes do heavy lifting and dirty work. Securing materials or cargo using tarps is not easy as they can weigh up to 100 pounds each. A flatbed truck driver salary can be $10,000 more per year more than other truck drivers.
Overall, the average truck driver salary is between $35,000 and $45,000 per year. The highest salaries go to people with two to seven years of experience. Hauling hazard materials, such as gas, may pay higher wages; however, these types of jobs require a great deal of driving experience and skill. People right out of truck driving school will not get hired for these jobs as truck driving is an industry that is ruled by "paying your dues." The more experience a driver has under his or her belt, the more opportunities will open up.
According to Payscale.com, 97 percent of people in the trucking industry are men. The highest salaries go to people with bachelor's degrees; they may earn more than $24 per hour. The most popular states for employment tend to be California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Texas, Florida, and New York. Some of the larger employers are United Parcel Service (UPS), Federal Express Corporation, Lowes Home Improvement, and Pepsi Bottling Group.