Best Reasons to get your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

Steady income. Good pay. Freedom. Lots of reasons come to mind when you think of a career in Truck Driving. In order to become a truck driver, you will have to undergo Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) training, and receive the proper licenses in order to work in the field. Due to the fact that the larger trucks are more difficult to maneuver, there are regulations in place as to how long you can drive each day, and other factors have a role in to how long you can work in each state; the licensing requirements may vary. This article will address facts about the industry if you are considering becoming a truck driver and obtaining your CDL.

What is CDL training?

CDL training is basically a specialized form of training, for those who want to drive commercial trucks. The commercial driver’s license training is a instructional program which is intended to help students prepare to obtain their CDL license.

Early on, the training course will be geared towards classroom learning; this will involve learning the rules of the road, what is required to be a driver, information about requirements in each state, and so forth. You must pass this to receive your permit. This serves as a permit that allows you to train driving the large trucks; most schools will allow you to drive a commercial truck weighing up to 26,000 pounds. You will only receive your license, upon showing you are capable of handling the larger trucks, and can safely maneuver them on the road.

How much money can you make?


The salary scale typically begins around $28,000 and can go as high as $68,000 as reported by PayScale.com. Truck drivers who work for shipping companies and distribution centers can expect to earn a fairly decent salary based on these figures. However, if the driver is an independent contractor, the salary depends on a number of factors. An independent truck driver is his or her own boss and therefore can negotiate the rates they will accept for the delivery of cargo. Often, independent drivers will add travel accommodations to their rates as a part of their negotiations with their clients. This is especially true of independent drivers who travel distances further than 700 miles in a day to make a delivery. Fatigue is a danger to truck drivers and therefore the need to have a place to sleep comfortably overnight is very important when they take on a long haul.


Often, truck drivers will negotiate their salaries around a rate that is based on mileage and not on hours. For an experienced independent truck driver, the rate per mile could be as high as 60 cents a mile. This means for an experienced independent truck driver traveling an average of 70 miles an hour on the interstate can make an average of 42 dollars an hour. If the haul, or trip, equals out to 800 miles then the driver will make $480. This of course does not include his or her rates for accommodations.

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Types of CDL training

There are several types of commercial driver’s license (CDL) training courses which include: licensed, certified, and accredited training courses. A school which is licensed has met the minimum state requirements (curriculum, facilities, training, instructors, etc).

Further, the school has met minimum requirements set out by the state and is licensed by the state you are doing the training in. A school which is certified, has been reviewed and fully inspected by a third party, and is usually a group that will measure the school by set out standards. In these schools, an individual will only graduate upon showing they have passed the standards set out by the US DOT (dept of transportation), as well as the trucking industry. The third type of school you can attend is one which is accredited. This means an accrediting agency runs an approval process which has been authorized by the US Dept of Education, that accredits schools, meeting certain regulations and policies.

There are only a handful of schools in the US which are accredited. The type of school that you attend and receive your license from, will be used by trucking agencies, to place you in a job. It will be used to determine if you have met state and federal rules and regulations or only state regulations. Further, the school you go to will measure your capabilities, and what you will be able to handle in terms of driving, when you are hired for a position by an individual company that hires you through the trucking agencies that you are placed in.

Skills learned in training

Of course you will learn a basic skill set in every commercial driver’s license (CDL) training program and school that you attend. The basics of any course will include:

  • Road signs and rules and regulation.
  • Ability to maneuver a larger capacity and weight load.
  • Learning proper signals on the road.
  • Ability to work with the different signals in the trucks you are driving.
  • Map reading and trip planning logs.
  • Managing log books for hours driven, deliveries made, and hours per fleet.
  • Turning, backing up, and different maneuvers with the truck.

Coupling and uncoupling a trailer will also be taught in any school that you attend. Shifting, road driving, and pre and post trip inspections, are also a part of any training course that you take, in order to receive your certification permit, and eventually to receive your cdl license to work as a trucker.

Certain schools, especially those which are accredited, might delver further in to their teachings, namely due to the fact that you will be required to learn all state and federal regulations which are laid out. And, depending on the type of truck you are going to be driving, you will find that there are different regulations in place for different states, so the school you attend may add additional forms of training when you are getting ready to earn the license.

Jobs requiring CDL training

Not all trucking jobs will require you to have a CDL license in order to drive. Depending on the size of the trucks, the amount of hours you will drive, the company that you work on, and other state and federal regulations which are in place, certain companies and types of positions will not require you hold a cdl license, in order to work as a driver, even if you are handling larger fleet, and larger trucks on the road.

Positions that will generally require you to hold a CDL license and have undergone the proper training prior to receiving your license will include:

  • Working as a motor coach (Greyhound and other large transport companies).
  • Bus drivers for larger companies are required to hold a cdl license and proper training.
  • Interstate truck drivers and larger freight truck drivers.
  • Drivers with hazardous material and chemical transport need a license and proper training.
  • Local companies (Coca Cola, USPS, Walmart, etc). Working with larger freight and making local deliveries, these drivers will be required to undergo the appropriate training, in order to attain their license, and work for certain companies.

Your state’s DMV will distribute licenses based on the weight and type of trucks you are driving.Every state will have different regulations in place, as to who is required to have a license and have to undergone training. In some states, it might be trucks which are 25,000 pounds or heavier; other states may vary in the weight and freight requirements. Additionally, individual companies might require you to have a cdl license and to have undergone the right commercial driver’s license (cdl)training. It is a case by case decision, and any company is permitted to require drivers to pass a licensed course and receive the cdl license, in order to drive for them.

Cost of training/length of training

Again, this is a state by state determination, and will also depend on the school you attend. An accredited school is going to cost more than licensed schools, so you have to keep this in mind. In most cases, you can expect to spend anywhere from $3000, up to near $10,000, in order to attain your CDL training, as well as your license. This will not only include the classroom training, it will include the personal coaching, driving the trucks, and receiving the proper training for the exam you will have to take (written and driving), in order to attain your license.

In most cases, you will pay an all inclusive cost to the school that you attend. This cost will incorporate the total cost of your training, as well as sitting in for the exam you are going to have to pass, in order to attain your license. But, different states might have certain regulations in place, and this can increase the cost, or decrease the total cost you are going to pay in order to complete your training and to receive the license that you are trying to attain.

Some companies will also sign a contract with you, that for the cost you pay for training, you will have all costs included, and are guaranteed to pass your exam. This means if you do not pass the first time, you can undergo training for a second time, at no additional cost, since you have the guarantee that you are going to pass the course that they provided you with.

It is important to read the documents you sign, to understand all state and federal regulations, and to understand what any CDL training school provides to you as a student. Knowing what rules are in place, and what a school guarantees to you, is the best way to ensure you are not only getting the best possible deal, but that you are also choosing the right training program to assist you when you are trying to get your license, and work in this field.