Next Steps After CDL Training

Getting through commercial driver's license (CDL) training is a big accomplishment, but it isn't the end of the road.

Here are the next steps you'll need to take to land a job after your schooling is complete and have a successful career as a commercial truck driver.

Step 1: Research Commercial Driving Jobs

Even before you've finished your training and received your CDL, you should begin researching which companies you'd like to work for. While it may be tempting to settle on the first company that interests you, taking the time to find the right company will make you happier in the long run.

A few things that you should consider when researching companies include:

  • Salary.
    • Consider if the company pays per mile, hourly, or salary.
    • Some companies may also offer bonuses.
  • Work schedule.
    • This can vary according to the company.
    • Make sure you know before you sign a contract how often you'll be home and away.
    • Talk to drivers, read Internet forums, and talk to human resource departments to find out as much as possible.
  • Tuition reimbursement.
    • Some companies may help you repay your tuition costs from CDL school.
  • Equipment.
    • The quality of your equipment will make a big difference in your work environment.
  • Benefits.
    • Retirement plans, insurance, and vacation time should be considered.
  • Reputation.
    • Check to see if the company you're considering has a good reputation when it comes to taking care of its drivers.

Step 2: Build Your Resume

While you may not need a resume to get a trucking job, having one will give you an advantage over the competition. And if you have trucking companies in your area, heading in to talk to the human resources department in person is never a bad idea—especially with a resume in hand.

Many schools will have job placement programs and career fairs that will link you up with trucking companies. Having a resume ready might help you land the job of your choice instead of accepting what's left.

In addition, also consider:

  • A cover letter.
  • Business cards.
    • You'll meet a lot of people in trucking school and out on the road. Hand them out to the people you meet.

Step 3: Fill Out Applications

Once you've found a few companies you'd like to work for and have a resume, the next step is to start applying. While the application process can be lengthy, it's in your best interests to fill out every application as completely as possible.

In addition to attaching a resume and cover letter (if possible), be sure you include the following information in your application:

  • Your driving history.
  • Your criminal record, if applicable.
  • Any endorsements you have.
  • Other work history.
  • Military experience, if applicable.
  • Volunteer experience.
  • Letter of recommendation.

If there is a blank section that allows you to describe your school experience or why you want the job you're applying for, take advantage of it. Be positive and explain why you're excited about your future career.

Step 4: Sign with a Carrier

Now comes the time to make your big decision! If you have interest from multiple companies, don't let it stress you out. This is definitely a good thing. Make a list of the pros and cons of each company along with where they rank from the research you completed in Step 1 to make an informed decision.

Also, keep signing bonuses and tuition reimbursement in mind as added incentives.

Step 5: Complete Company Training

Just because you've completed CDL training and received your license doesn't mean the instruction is over. In fact, after you've signed your contract, you'll likely be required to complete additional training at your new job.

During this on-the-job training period, you'll learn:

  • Advanced driving techniques.
  • Specific operational procedures for the company.
  • Comfortability with on-road situations you have yet to experience.

Step 6: Get Experience

Once you've completed company training, you'll be ready to start driving. Here's what you can expect:

  • Long-distance trips.
    • Many companies have new drivers on over-the-road trips (OTR), which will give you valuable experience with traveling long distances across state lines.
  • Working as a team.
    • In the beginning, you may be working with a small team. This will allow for more frequent breaks as you get used to life on the road.
  • Other opportunities.
    • After the first few years, you may opt for solo driving or a different role within the company. Some of these include:
      • Supervisor.
      • Recruiter.
      • Mechanic.
      • Terminal manager.
      • Regional driver.

Step 7: Practice Self-Improvement

Whether you're interested in developing knowledge for a different role or just want to further your current skills, continuing education classes are never a bad idea. Community colleges and small business centers have plenty of classes for truckers. This additional training will help you build your resume and make you a better candidate for future opportunities.

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