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How to Find Rewarding CDL Driver Jobs

People choose a career in trucking for all kinds of reasons, whether it’s the need to experience the freedom of the open highway, the desire to have more flexible working hours, or the motivation to eventually become an owner-operator.

Regardless of why you’ve decided to become a trucker, you’ve made a great decision. The trucking industry is growing, and with that growth comes many job opportunities. However, when you change careers, knowing where exactly to start can be challenging.

In this blog, we’ll outline four steps you can take to start your rewarding career and find the best jobs.

1. Research & Understand the Different Types of CDL Jobs

As with any career path, there are critical questions you should ask yourself before you apply for jobs or start your CDL program.

  • Would you prefer to stay close to home? This is an important consideration, especially if you have a family. If being away from home for a long time is something you’re not comfortable with, then short-haul trucking jobs may be more suited to you. Plus, they often do not require a commercial driver’s license (CDL)
  • How many hours are you willing to drive each day? Long-haul truckers drive more hours per day than short-haul truckers. As a long-haul trucker, you may need to drive between 11 and 14 hours a day. Although this may not be an everyday driving requirement, it’s important to be comfortable with this expectation.
  • Are you interested in spending your own money to get driving endorsements for increased pay? There are multiple driving endorsements you could pursue. To earn an endorsement, you have to pay a fee (usually $5 per endorsement) and take a skills/knowledge test. More endorsements mean more opportunities and a potential for increased pay.

If you decide to pursue a long-haul trucking career, get your CDL A. This is the best license as it covers all the requirements you’ll need to drive different types of vehicles, including flatbed trucks and “reefers” (refrigerated trucks). The CDL A also allows you to drive vehicles classified under CDL B and CDL C, including school buses. Keep in mind that if you want to drive a school bus, you’ll have to earn the S endorsement.

As you progress in your career, you may want to haul tankers and hazmat materials, which involves securing a CDL N, CDL H, or CDL X endorsement.

Please visit this guide for more insight into CDL jobs and how to map out your career path.

2. Start Your CDL Program

Earning a CDL is the best way to secure higher-paying trucking jobs. If you don’t already have one, earning it is relatively easy.

The first step is getting your commercial learner’s permit (CLP). In Michigan, CLP qualifications include:

  • Meeting age requirements (21 and up to drive across state lines; 18 and up for intrastate travel).
  • Having a driver’s license with no violations.
  • Providing proof of U.S. citizenship.
  • Providing evidence of Social Security number.
  • Passing a DOT medical exam.
  • Passing a general written test.
  • Applying with the Secretary of State’s office.

After securing your CLP, you can take your Michigan CDL drivers course, which can take up to four weeks if you do it full-time. You should expect between 140 and 160 hours of training, depending on where you take your course. The CDL program includes in-class instruction and hands-on driving, where you’ll learn how to operate a truck, practice parking and different maneuvers, and how to drive safely in various driving conditions.

After earning your CDL, you can then pursue endorsements.

Please visit the state of Michigan’s website to apply for your CDL.

3. Network & Make Connections

As with any career, creating connections within the trucking industry is vital to opening closed doors. Even truckers with years of experience and multiple CDL endorsements will have a network.

Think about building your network and making connections to market yourself to potential employers. Attending job fairs, joining online forums, creating connections on social media, going to industry events, and attending association meetings can all help put you one step closer to securing your first job and eventually moving up within the industry.

4. Research Trucking & Transportation Companies

Remember that an interview is between two parties. Both you and your potential employer are trying to find common ground and ensure a right fit. That requires you to be just as selective as the hiring employer.

Start by researching the trucking company online. This includes reading any recent news articles or press releases about them and reviewing their reputation via online reviews from Google Business Profile, Yelp, Glassdoor, and other online directories.

Next, develop a list of questions to ask during the interview. After you leave your interview, you should have an understanding of their home-time policy, the benefits they offer (and the waiting period for those benefits), the salary and total compensation, the type of truck and equipment you’ll be using, the routes you’ll be driving, and how you’ll be trained.

You want to choose an employer that, at the bare minimum, provides a comprehensive benefits package, competitive salary, and a clearly defined home-time policy.

Find Your Dream CDL Driver Jobs at TSI

TSI is an employee-first freight company offering many opportunities to new drivers, including a six-week hands-on CDL training program. Our program includes a three-day in-class orientation followed by six weeks of over-the-road training where you’ll learn pre-trip inspections, trip planning, customer relations, defensive driving, backing and parking, communication, and injury prevention.

Let TSI help you jumpstart your career—visit our website today to sign up for our new driver program.