Working as a professional driver requires that you first have a Class A CDL license in your state. Here are the basics of how getting your license works. Most professional drivers attend a professional driving school for their training and education. Schools are located throughout the country, so there is most likely one near where you live.
CDL schools typically handle the entire training process and will help you complete the proper paperwork and testing. Most CDL schools start off with classroom learning, and then move into more hands-on driving and vehicle inspection training. Classroom learning focuses on such skills as:
- Regulations and laws pertaining to commercial driving
- Maintaining a proper log book
- Maintaining your vehicle
- What to expect when you start your driving career
- And much more.
During the hands-on portion of your training, you will learn how to safely handle and maneuver a truck in a variety of conditions and settings. This includes items such as:
- Proper shifting and clutching
- Safely driving in traffic
- Defensive driving techniques
- Backing (straight-line, offset, 90 degree, and more)
- And more
The hands-on training also includes how to conduct a proper pre-trip inspection of your vehicle. A pre-trip inspection is necessary before every trip, and is required as part of your CDL license exam. During your pre-trip inspection, you will need to check various parts and systems on the truck to ensure they are in proper working order. This includes air brakes, engine, steering, tires, instruments inside the cab, and any other part on the truck that could possibly break down.
Taking your Class A CDL Test
When it comes time for testing, your school will most likely either test you at their facility or arrange for off-site testing at a local testing center. The advantage to testing at the school is that you will be able to use equipment you are familiar with, making the test somewhat easier than testing with unfamiliar equipment. Your test will consist of 3 parts: driving in traffic, maneuvering in a yard (parking, backing, etc.), and the pre-trip inspection. If you successfully pass all 3 portions, you will earn your Class A License. If you don’t pass, you may schedule a retest, although some states may have a waiting period in between tests.
Once you have your license, you will be eligible to apply for jobs. Some jobs do require previous experience, but there are many companies that will hire drivers out of school and provide additional training to make safe and successful drivers.