Earning your commercial driver’s license (CDL) gives you the opportunity to begin a rewarding career in the trucking industry. After completing the process, you hopefully feel a sense of accomplishment and are excited for this new chapter in your life. At the same time, you may be wondering what the next steps are and what you can expect directly after truck driving school graduation. At HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school), our team can help guide you through the process.
Here is a basic overview of what happens after you finish CDL training:
1. Plan Your Career Path
You’ll have many choices to make over the course of your time as a trucker, and you don’t have to decide exactly what to do for the rest of your career right after school. That being said, you should have an idea of your goals for the next five to ten years so you can plan accordingly.
The vast majority of recent CDL graduates start with over-the-road (OTR) trucking. This is because these companies are more likely to hire drivers with no commercial driving history and because these jobs allow you to get the widest range of experience. However, you can still plan to move to a different type of trucking later on, so it’s helpful to have a big-picture view of your goals while also understanding what starting point is most realistic.
Since beginning with OTR is the most common path for new truckers, this article will focus on that option.
2. Find Companies Hiring New Drivers
Once you know your goals and preferences, you can start looking for companies that are currently hiring new drivers. For students at our truck driving school, this process is simple thanks to our job placement assistance team. In many cases, our students even have offers before graduation.
3. Secure a Trucking Job
The process for getting a trucking job after earning your license varies. Again, our students have the benefit of working with our job placement assistance team, which makes it easier to navigate getting a job after training. Depending on the position, there may be a more conventional interview and/or a driving test. You can use these as opportunities to learn more about the motor carrier and decide if they are the best fit for you.
4. On-The-Job Training
Although you have already been exposed to various aspects of the trucking industry during your time in CDL school, most motor carriers also have additional training before you can drive solo. This usually involves spending a few weeks on the road with a driver trainer.
The typical structure for on-the-road company training begins with a period of time where the driver trainer supervises all of your driving time. After this, you’ll transition to a team driving schedule. This means the trainer will not be actively watching you while you are driving but will be available if you need them.
The goal of this type of training is for you to gain experience with the day-to-day aspects of a trucking job with the additional support of a more experienced driver. The best way to get the most out of this time is to have a positive mindset and to remember that even after your training is done, you should still be looking for opportunities to learn and improve.
5. Go Solo (Or Start Team Driving)
After you complete any on-the-job training your company requires and your trainer approves you to move forward, you can go solo. This is often both exciting and a little bit intimidating. It helps to remember how far you have come. It’s also important to remember that safety should be your number one focus from the time you start driving until the end of your trucking career.
Alternatively, if you’re pursuing team driving, you’ll transition from working with your driver trainer to your new trucking partner. Many of the most successful trucking teams consist of spouses or family members who are already comfortable with each other, but other drivers choose to be paired by their company.
Start On The Road to a Trucking Career
If you’re interested in earning competitive pay as a truck driver, the first step is earning your CDL. HDS truck driving school can help you accomplish this in as little as four weeks. With our job placement assistance, we also support you in starting your career.
To learn more about earning your CDL with HDS, contact us today.