- Location: Maryland
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If you are looking for an interesting way to see the country, you might consider a career in the trucking industry. Not only are there always plenty of positions available but the pay is quite lucrative. Plus, you will explore America like few others while getting to use a CB radio all day long.
In order for all this to occur you will need to obtain a commercial driver license (CDL). This task is not exactly a cakewalk. Earning a CDL involves a battery of tests that are at once rigorous and challenging.
Thus, many candidates opt for serious training. That is not to say you cannot hole up for a few weeks with the CDL Handbook, which the state publishes, and manage to learn everything you need to know. It is possible.
Many applicants can ace the general knowledge exam (everyone takes this) employing reading and rote skills. You can even approach the endorsement quizzes this way. Again, it is possible. But not everyone has these kinds of study skills.
That is where you will find a number of private companies that provide intensive home-study classes designed for the written exams. Many of these firms advertise over the Internet. You can usually find a course for around $100.
The state of Maryland does not have any specified number of hours that you need to spend studying before attempting the test, so you will need to set your own schedule and only test when you feel completely comfortable.
Each exam is of the multiple-choice variety and the range of questions varies, with the most being on the general knowledge test. A passing mark is 80% or higher, and it is the only way to move forward in the process. Achieving the grade will get you a CDL learner's permit, which only opens up an entirely new level of training.
This is the monster of the CDL process. It involves putting all of the learned knowledge together with actual vehicle-handling skills. It can be tense, especially in Maryland, where you are put under a stop watch for each section and maneuver. Talk about pressure!
Of course, if you have prepared well, the test will merely be a means to an end. That end is a possibly job or a promotion, if you already are employed.
The skills test is actually three separate tests administered in sequential order. You need to pass one to move on to the next:
- Pre-Trip Inspection: You are given 45 minutes to complete a comprehensive check of the vehicle. Sounds easy until you remember what type of vehicles you are dealing with.
- Basic Skills/Maneuvering: You are put through a bevy of 10-minute tasks, which can involve backing up to a dock, steering around cones, and braking on a closed course.
- On-Road Test: Basically a 40-minute drive around town, putting all of your knowledge to the test in a real life situation.
Considering the power of the CDL to open future employment doors, it is no wonder so many applicants enroll in school to receive proper skills training. The schools range from the standard trucking institute to community colleges. Some of the curriculum is all-inclusive, meaning you can not only complete your studies at the program, but also get all the testing you need.
This beats going to an MVA office and taking the exams in a setting that is at best unfamiliar. The course options are numerous. You can focus on just one aspect of the process or cover everything. The fees are just as varied, too.
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