If you are looking into professional trucking as a potential career path, there are certain things to consider before you get into it. As with all other jobs, you will need to put in the hours and the work may not be very high-paying when you are just starting off. However, as you continue to get better at what you are doing and improve your experience, you will become an asset to any trucking company you work for. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, trucking jobs for class A drivers are projected to grow “as fast as average” at a rate of 5% from 2018 to 2028. Salaries can range from $37,000 to upward of $100,000, depending on your experience, the number of hours you put in and the nature of the job. To get a driving job as a professional trucker, there are certain requirements that must be met. Once you have met these requirements and acquired the requisite training and endorsements, you can get a well-paying job that does not require a college degree and is currently in high demand in the United States. One of these requirements is a Class A driver’s license.
What Is a Class A Driver’s License?
A Class A driver’s license permits you to operate a variety of heavy vehicles, including tractor-trailers, tank vehicles, flatbeds and livestock carriers etc. These vehicles can be any combination with a gross combination vehicle rating of 26,001 or more pounds in order to be legally driven by a class A license holder, given that the vehicle being towed is heavier than 10,000 pounds. Depending on whether you wish to work as much as possible and take home the big bucks, or you want a job that allows for more home time and lets you come home every weekend, several times a week or even daily, you can get a truck driving job that suits you when you hold a class A CDL.
Who Can Obtain a Class A Driver’s License?
To apply for and then receive a Class A driver’s license CDL, you must meet some prerequisites. It is important to research state requirements when you are planning to become a professional truck driver since certain state laws differ. Here is an overview of the general requirements that enable you to obtain a class A driver’s license:
Be of Age According to Your State’s Age Limitations
While most states require Class A driver’s license holders to be 21 years of age or older, certain states allow people as young as 18 years old to get this license. It is recommended that you double-check your state laws before you apply.
Hold a High School Diploma
Although truck driving may be one of the most profitable jobs that don’t need a college degree, class A driver’s license applicants do need to have a high school diploma. State laws may differ in the level of education required as well. If you do not meet this requirement at present, it is now easier than ever to get a high school diploma as an adult. Many local school boards offer classes for adults in the evenings, on the weekends or in the summer. You can also teach yourself with course material stored in your browser and take a GED test to get your diploma, so you can meet this requirement and be on your way to landing a great job as a professional trucker.
Have a Non-Commercial Driver’s License
To apply for any commercial driver’s license, you must first have a non-commercial driver’s license. This indicates that you have a good understanding of traffic laws and know how to operate a vehicle. Your driving record can also determine whether you have been accepted into a Class A training course or not since it is necessary for a person operating heavy vehicles to have safe driving habits and religiously follow traffic rules.
What Kind of Training Is Needed for a Class A Driver’s License?
For a Class A license, you should opt for a driver training program structured around your own state’s laws to ensure that you receive the proper training. A CDL learner’s permit is needed to begin your on-the-road training since you cannot practice driving a heavy vehicle while holding a non-commercial driver’s license only. You will then take the wheel under the close supervision and guidance of an experienced driver trainer. Paid CDL training programs acquaint you with the right course materials and all the necessary skills you will need to pass your Class A driver’s license test. The stepwise process entails an understanding of the state requirements for a Class A CDL, applying for a CDL learning permit at the DMV, receiving the permit by passing a written exam, applying for any additional permits you might need, such as special endorsements for transporting hazardous matter and then taking a commercial driving license test at an approved facility.
How Long Does It Take to Earn a Class A Driver’s License?
If you attend a full-time commercial driver training program, you may be able to get your Class A driver’s license in as little as 3 weeks. It takes about 7 weeks on average. However, the time it takes to get this license depends on multiple factors. When you have commitments and responsibilities to attend to, a full-time training program may not be feasible. Part-time training programs will take longer to complete, but they will make your time a lot easier to manage. It is also essential to select a program that gives you a lot of time behind the wheel with an instructor since you will gain valuable experience during this time. Personal ability also makes a difference in how long it takes to get this license. Your hand-eye coordination, attentiveness, hearing ability and physical fitness can all make a difference in this arena.
What Jobs Require a Class A Driver’s License?
Trucking companies offer jobs requiring class A driver’s licenses and your salary and benefits will reflect your experience. Apart from working as a company driver, you can also opt to get your own heavy machinery and become an owner-operator. You can use your class A driver’s license to seek other jobs such as a line haul driver, courier, truck supervisor, equipment operator or mechanic etc.
What Can You Drive With a Class A Driver’s License?
With a Class A driver’s license, you are legally allowed to drive any combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds, provided that the weight of the vehicle being towed is over 10,000 pounds. This means that you can get tractor-trailers, truck and trailer combinations of many variations, livestock carriers and flatbeds etc. There are many domestic and inter-city jobs in the commercial and private sectors for people who hold this license.
What Does a Class A Company Driver Do?
When you have obtained your Class A driver’s license, you can apply for a job as a Class A company driver. As a Class A company driver, you will have responsibilities depending on the exact job you are hired for. This can include on-the-road pickup and deliveries, loading and unloading the goods you are carrying, facilitating communication between departments in order to ensure effective customer service, accurately following maps and GPS directions, responsibility to follow all cargo transportation laws and guidelines. If you are transporting hazardous materials, you will be required to follow HAZMAT precautions and protocol as well. As a company driver, you will be expected to properly maintain the vehicles and report a daily log as per the company’s rules and regulations. The main requirement to get a job as a class A company driver is a class A driver’s license and a good driving record. Physical fitness, people skills and a good driving record are some requirements that will make you a good candidate for such jobs. Although this may seem like a lot at first, the payoff can be very rewarding.
At Carroll Trucking, we offer competitive salaries to our Class A truck drivers. After 90 days on the job, your medical, vision and dental will be covered and you will be offered a 401k. We provide weekly pay to our employees. As a family-owned company that started out in 1977 with only one truck that has now grown to own and operate a fleet of heavy vehicles across the country, we understand the value of hard work and wish to see the same in our employees. If you are considering getting a Class A driver’s license, we invite you to gain the necessary experience and endorsements and then apply to work with us as a long-term employee.