In order to have a career driving trucks, you'll need a commercial driver's license (CDL). It can be a bit tricky to pass the necessary test without some type of CDL training to get you used to driving these large trucks. Even if you can pass the test without training, some companies won't hire people who haven't completed this type of training, which teaches you more than just the necessary skills to pass the test. Different courses involve different types of training, but the best involve both classroom work and actually driving semi trucks on the highway.
In the beginning of a CDL training course, you'll be in the classroom to learn all about the laws and regulations related to driving a commercial vehicle, how to read a map and plan your trip, how to fill out the driving logs and everything else required to pass the written test to get a permit and practice driving semis. You may spend time in a computer lab doing practice tests or using other interactive programs on the computer.
This type of training is meant to teach you everything you need to know to drive trucks from 22-feet long to 53-feet long. You'll start driving these trucks at the school and gradually progress to driving on the highway. This involves learning how to hook and unhook the trailer, how to backup and how to turn. The instructors should also teach you steps to take to avoid skids and how to recover if you should find yourself in a skid. Emergency situations are also covered, such as what to do if the truck hydroplanes or the trailer breaks away.
Length of Course
Some full-time commercial CDL training courses are only two to four weeks long. A part-time course through a community college, on the other hand, could take six months but be a bit less expensive. The shorter courses typically involve at least 40 hours per week of training.
Choosing a Course
When choosing a course, check to make sure that it is accredited, licensed or certified, otherwise some employers may not hire you even after you've completed the course. Consider whether it makes sense to take a course sponsored by a particular company, as this could decrease the out-of-pocket costs involved and guarantee you a job once you complete the course and pass the CDL test. Keep in mind, however, that these courses usually require you to work for that company for about a year in exchange for the free or reduced tuition for the course.
For more information, talk with trade schools, such as Center For Transportation Safety, that offer CDL training.