by Pride Transport | Jul 02, 2021
Have you ever watched someone do their job and wonder what it’s all about? How did they get started, what is involved in doing the job, how hard is it, and other burning questions that come up and then disappear as soon as you get distracted by a drive-thru window?
Being a truck driver has a long and rather romantic past. The image of the lone driver hauling a load across this great nation, pulling into a gas station late at night off the interstate and seeing rows of trucks parked in the shadows. Do you wonder what that life is like?
Truck drivers get asked a remarkable number of questions about the job, the life, the truck, and more. We have gathered some of the most frequently asked questions from non-drivers and have assembled the answers here.
What skills do you need to be a truck driver?
The most immediate answer is, of course, driving a commercial vehicle. That is the first and arguably, the essential skill to possess if you’re looking to be a professional driver. However, there are more. It may seem unlikely, but a good driver needs to have good communication skills to deal with dispatchers, mechanics, and customers. And, you must have an attention to detail and an eye toward safety. With these skills, you have a great starting point to being a driver.
What is the difference between a truck driver and an owner-operator?
Simple answer; a driver drives a truck, usually not one they own and for someone else. An owner-operator is a truck driver who owns and operates his own trucking business rather than driving for a specific company. Both are drivers; however, owner-operators do have some upfront costs they have to bear. For example, fuel, tires, preventative maintenance, road use taxes, tolls, fuel taxes, personal and corporate taxes, breakdown costs, personal insurance, and more. On top of all that, installing a new tractor can cost over $100k! It’s best to make sure you like being in the business before you embark on becoming an owner-operator.
How long does CDL training take?
There are two options for getting your CDL in the classroom, trucking school and community college. Some truck driving schools offer classes Monday-Friday for as little as three weeks or Saturday and Sunday classes for as little as five weeks.
If you’re thinking about taking the CDL class, consider how much time you can dedicate to a program you’ll want to set yourself up for success. Going full-time, five days a week enables you to finish the CDL program at a faster rate. However, with work and/or family life combined with a full-time program, it can become a lot to manage.
For a CDL, there is classroom time, where you will learn the essential knowledge to be qualified as an entry-level driver. The amount of classroom time will vary by program but may range from 30-80 hours. More classroom and instructor time may better prepare you to pass your written exam and head out on the road.
The other part of your training will be driving hours. You must practice with a licensed CDL driver in the passenger seat. This will require time outside of the classroom. Programs may vary, but it is crucial to select a school that offers a generous amount of driving hours so you feel confident in your skills when taking the CDL test.
So, depending on the route you take, you’re looking anywhere from three weeks to upwards of six months. It’s essential to find the right driving school for you.
What are CDL endorsements?
An Endorsement is an authorization to an individual’s CDL, which is required to permit the individual to operate certain types of commercial vehicles. Six different endorsements can be placed on your CDL. The endorsements are:
(P) Passenger Transport Endorsement
(S) School Bus/ Passenger Transport Combo Endorsement
(T) Double/Triple Endorsement (Tanker)
(N) Tank Vehicle Endorsement (Tanker)
(H) Hazardous Materials Endorsement
(X) Tanker/HAZMAT Combo Endorsement
These endorsements lead to different driving situations and, frequently, higher pay.
What is an OTR driver?
OTR refers to drivers who transport materials over long distances, as opposed to local routes. These drivers are away from home for more extended periods, and they usually sleep in their trucks.
OTR drivers spend a lot of time away from family and friends. However, they do have more home time between hauls, and that’s appealing to some drivers.
Sleeping in the truck is not bad. Most trucks have customized cabins with a bed, sound system, satellite TV, and more amenities to make the long haul more pleasant. Most drivers take the time to personalize their rig for better comfort.
Are there different types of drivers?
Truck drivers can be divided into two primary groups: owner-operators and company drivers.
Earn a higher gross salary
Decide who can ride along and choose the truck to buy and drive.
Have greater independence and schedule flexibility
Have to finance the vehicle themselves
Deal with more expenses: buying and maintaining the truck, taxes, paperwork, and medical insurance
However, due to higher expenses, the higher gross salary owner-operators earn may not mean higher income.
Enjoy benefits offered by employers such as medical, dental, life insurance, vision, retirement plans, paid vacation, and holidays.
Generally, avoid costs of vehicle purchase and maintenance.
May have a more advantageous tax situation.
May have less independence and schedule flexibility.
As a result, company drivers may take home more net pay; however, they have less flexibility and less job security.
What should a truck driver put on their resume?
The following skills are highly sought after among truck drivers: customer service, communication skills, attention to detail, attention to safety, safe driving skills, and detail-oriented.
Anything you can add to your resume that displays these skills will be beneficial and increase your chances of getting a truck driving job.
How do I get a Class A CDL?
You can get a Class A CDL permit by passing a series of written exams. In most states, the written tests to obtain a Class A CDL permit include General Knowledge, Air Brakes, and Combination vehicles. A CDL driving test must be passed in which the driver completes a 3-part exam that consists of a pre-trip inspection test, basic control skills test, and driving test at either a state CDL test site or approved 3rd party test site in the testing State.
Getting a Class A CDL offers some good benefits. It’s imperative for drivers towing trailers with more than 10,000 pounds of GVWR. a Class A CDL also allows the holder to operate Class B and C vehicles. Drivers may be able to operate tractor-trailers, truck and trailer combinations, double and triple trailers, tractor-trailer buses, tanker vehicles, livestock carriers, and flatbeds. A Class A CDL offers a driver more opportunities to earn better money.
Is it hard to become a truck driver?
There are tests to pass and skills to master, just like with most jobs. Once you take the time to earn your CDL, the rest will come quickly with time and patience. You do need to pay attention, keep safety at the forefront of your mind and make sure this is what you want to do.
A positive side is that there are many openings in the industry and some great opportunities with prominent companies, like Pride Transport, who are in need of drivers. So, once you’ve got your CDL, getting a job should be relatively easy.
And, probably the most frequently asked question:
Do you like driving a truck?
There are about 3.5 million truck drivers in the country right now, and they haul 70 percent of the total domestic product shipped that year. And, trucking is still the number one job in America. The trucking industry keeps this country going. It’s an important job that’s vital to our economy.
But, do drivers like the job?
There is no one answer. Some folks love it. The freedom of the open road, being your own boss, mostly setting the schedule you want, and seeing large portions of the country, are all appealing aspects of being a driver. Long-time drivers say they could never go back to sitting in an office or having a desk job. Once it’s in your blood, it’s hard to shake.
Like with any job, some people just don’t like it, so they leave the business. You’re never going to find an occupation that people love all the time; that’s only human nature.
It is the most common job in 29 of the 50 states, according to data compiled by the US Census Bureau. So, it’s probably safe to say that the men and women driving trucks right now really like the job.
So, those are the top questions people ask. We know there are more. If you have questions about being a truck driver or where to go for your CDL or anything else trucking-related, call the folks at Pride Transport, they’ll be happy to answer your questions and point you in the right direction to start a career as a truck driver.