I Want to Get My CDL. What Next?

When you are making it your job to break into the trucking industry, one way of helping to ensure your success is by tracking your milestones on the way to a trucking career. Setting goals is one way to help chart your success in trucking training as you pass down the highway to a CDL. And while you can break down your goals as you choose, here are some of the big milestones for your transition into the trucking industry.

Making the decision. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of separate occupations you could pursue as your way of making a living. To settle on trucking as your way of supporting yourself and your family for years to come is a big one. In preparation for this step, research the trucking industry, look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics entry for trucking and find out what the requirements for a career in trucking entails.

Learn the realities of the job you’re going into. How much paperwork is involved in the trucking industry? What are your restrictions? How much support do you get from your superiors? How do trucking unions come into play? How much time will I spend trucking vs. being at home? Will I have upward mobility in the trucking industry? What is my career path? These questions are vital to the success of your trucking career. If you are satisfied that you can handle the requirements of the job, then you are ready for the next step.

Obtaining your CDL permit. Earning the CDL permit authorizes you to drive in a commercial vehicle with a qualified instructor, which is a vital part of the early trucking school process. Check your local department of motor vehicles to see what the requirements are for getting your CDL permit, and check with your trucking school as well to see what role if any they play in the process of obtaining your CDL permit.

Enrolling in trucking school. The official start of your journey into trucking is finding a good trucking school. Research several trucking schools in the area, and find out which one offers the best instruction on not just obtaining a CDL, but also helps best prepare you for life in the trucking industry. Trucking lessons should be more than simple out-of-the-book lessons to earn your commercial driver’s license. You should be getting real-world trucking instruction, and instructions for passing the CDL exam should also have real-world trucking knowledge laid in. Having experienced instructors who have history in the trucking industry is a major way to get that instruction.

Studying, testing, practice. Break your trucking school experience into smaller, manageable pieces so you can track your progress. Trucking training lasts several weeks, so create meaningful milestones for yourself to reach. Your first session in the truck with the instructor could be one; there are any number of them. This helps you count down the days until trucking school is complete. Decide whether to pursue any trucking endorsements, which can help you gain trucking employment.

Taking (and passing) the CDL exam: The last hurdle before your trucking career can really begin, this is a big milestone. Again, as with your CDL permit, check your local department of motor vehicles to find out the requirements, including fees. Study ahead of time; don’t rely on trucking training to serve as your studying. Work on your own to master the fundamentals of trucking. When you are finished, you will have earned your CDL and be ready to begin a trucking career!

Find trucking employment. Now you can begin the job search. Send out resumes, develop contacts, and use your trucking school instructors to help find job openings. Your trucking school may have job placement services; take full advantage of them. Put on a smart suit and ace your trucking interviews and find employment in the trucking industry.

Get a job, become a trucker. The final step…you’ve made it! Get through your first day on the job, take a deep breath…and never stop learning. You want this to be the final step in this journey, but getting a job marks the first step in the next phase of your professional trucking career. Good luck!