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What it’s Like to Earn Your CDL

Have you ever considered a career in truck driving? There are many upsides (seeing the country, the pay, the experiences) but there is one thing that intimidates people—getting a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).

While getting your CDL can seem daunting, you can do it! Robin, one of our veteran drivers at Midwest Carriers, did not have any prior commercial driving experience before attending truck driving school. She earned her license in just 10 weeks!

In the video below, Robin covers what you can expect throughout the process of earning your CDL, such as:

  • Finding the right school
  • What to expect during CDL training
  • How to battle the nerves
  • Finding a CDL job after school
  • And more!

Watch the video below to hear Robin share her experiences.

Transcript:
Hey everybody, today I thought I’d take a step back in time and talk a little bit about what it was like to get my CDL. When I first decided to become a truck driver, I was pretty nervous about how this whole process was going to go. I hadn’t been around trucks a whole lot or heavy equipment and I hadn’t so much as backed a trailer up in a pickup truck; my dad and my brother always took care of that.

So, I enrolled in a local technical college; it’s a 10week trucking program and it was pretty intense from day one. I went in there, though, with this confidence like I was going to tackle this thing and I was going to get this thing done. I went in there ready to learn and every day we learned something new. It started out with the basics; we went through the whole process and we had instructors watching us the whole time making sure we weren’t stepping into anything we weren’t comfortable with. The first day I had to drive out of the public roadways, I was completely freaking out, but the instructor had confidence that I was ready, and I got through it just fine.

Going through trucking school, there are a lot of really big leaps you take and that can be really scary. Learning to do the backing maneuvers, it was nice to have a place where I can just practice that as much as I could. I had to learn all the points of inspection for the truck because the three parts of the CDL test are the pre-trip inspection (so you have to learn all 300-plus however many points of inspection to tractor and trailer, you have to know all of it). The backing maneuvers of course are nerve-racking because that’s one of the tougher things to get a handle on and then there’s the road driving test. So, when the day came for me to take my CDL test, my pits were sweating; I’m not going to lie I was so nervous. I went in there and just told myself I’ve been through this process, my instructors told me I’m ready for this and I can do this. I ended up passing on my first try and I was pretty proud of that. I was so excited because now I had the CDL and I could go out into the working world.

I graduated on a Friday from that trucking school and I got hired with Midwest Carriers the following Monday, so it was a really exciting and quick process. This is another cool bonus about getting your CDL. I have a couple pieces of advice for you if you’re thinking about going to get your CDL. One is to research your school.  One option you could do, like what I did, is go to an independent truck driving school and then you pay for that. You take out a loan, you get your CDL and then you can do research and figure out where you want to go, and which company want to drive for. The other option is some of these bigger trucking companies have their own driving school and you can go through them to get your CDL. They’ll pay for your school, but you’re under contract with that company and driving for that company for a year, sometimes more, so research that very carefully because once you get your CDL with that company, you’re kind of stuck there. I like the road I went because I was able to research benefits and pay in miles and all those things. You can do that with a bigger trucking companies, too, but I liked having the option of being able to make those decisions. So just do your research – that’s my biggest piece of advice for you.

My second piece of advice is if you’re one of those people that are just kind of like ‘I’ve always wanted to try it but I’m not really sure just go for it,’ I went in knowing almost nothing and 10 weeks later I had my CDL. I felt confident that I could be a good safe driver and make this a really great career and so far, it’s been great. So, go for it! I hope you have a safe day and if you are one those people that’s thinking about it, go for it and hopefully I’ll see you down the road!