The Best Jobs to Get With a CDL

CDL licenses are categorized into three main classes, each dictating the types of commercial motor vehicles you are authorized to operate

If you’re contemplating obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), the realm of opportunities awaiting you is expansive. Acquiring a CDL qualifies you to operate a diverse array of vehicles, including large trucks, buses, delivery vehicles, and more, across various industries. With the appropriate training and endorsements, you can embark on a lucrative and fulfilling career journey, ranging from cross-country hauling to local deliveries to passenger transportation.


 

jobs to get with a cdl

Understanding CDL Classes and Endorsements

Before delving into specific job roles, it’s essential to grasp the fundamentals of CDL classes and endorsements in the United States. CDL licenses are categorized into three main classes, each dictating the types of commercial motor vehicles you are authorized to operate:

 

    • Class A: This class enables you to operate any combination of vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more. Vehicles falling under this category include tractor-trailers, semi-trucks with attached trailers, and more. Class A licenses offer unparalleled versatility, making them ideal for various trucking jobs.
    • Class B: Covering single vehicles weighing over 26,000 pounds, Class B licenses are suitable for operating straight trucks, large delivery trucks, buses, and similar vehicles. Roles such as local delivery, dump truck operation, and passenger transportation align well with Class B qualifications.
    • Class C: Designed for lighter commercial vehicles, Class C licenses encompass smaller trucks and vans with a GVWR below 26,001 pounds.
     

    In addition to the base vehicle classes, endorsements further expand your operational capabilities, enabling you to handle specific cargo or passenger vehicles with precision. Some valuable endorsements include:

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    1. Tanker Endorsement:

    The Tanker endorsement is a vital qualification for CDL holders who intend to transport liquids or gases in bulk. This endorsement signifies that the driver has undergone specialized training and possesses the necessary skills to operate vehicles equipped with tanks for the transportation of various substances, including petroleum products, chemicals, and liquefied gases.

     

    Training and Certification:

    Obtaining a Tanker endorsement typically requires completion of a specialized training program that covers topics such as:

      • Proper loading and unloading procedures for tank vehicles.
      • Techniques for safely handling hazardous materials and preventing spills.
      • Understanding the characteristics and behaviors of different liquid and gas cargoes.
      • Familiarization with tank vehicle equipment, including valves, pumps, and emergency shut-off systems.

       

      Upon completion of the training program, drivers must pass a written knowledge test and a practical skills test administered by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or relevant licensing authority in their state.

       

      Responsibilities and Challenges:

      Drivers with a Tanker endorsement assume significant responsibilities related to the safe and secure transportation of liquid or gas cargoes. Some key responsibilities include:

        • Conducting pre-trip inspections to ensure the integrity of tank vehicle components and systems.
        • Adhering to strict safety protocols during loading, unloading, and transport to prevent spills, leaks, or accidents.
        • Maintaining awareness of environmental regulations and emergency response procedures in the event of a hazardous materials incident.
        • Navigating potential hazards such as inclement weather, road conditions, and traffic congestion with heightened vigilance.

         

        Challenges associated with tanker operations include:

          • Managing the dynamic behavior of liquid cargoes, which can affect vehicle stability and handling.
          • Adapting driving techniques to compensate for the increased weight and potential sloshing of liquid loads.
          • Addressing the risks of flammability, toxicity, or corrosiveness associated with certain liquid or gas cargoes.
           

          Despite these challenges, drivers with a Tanker endorsement play a crucial role in ensuring the efficient and safe transport of essential liquids and gasses vital to various industries, including petroleum, chemicals, and manufacturing.

           

          2. HAZMAT Endorsement:

          The Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) endorsement is a prerequisite for CDL holders tasked with transporting hazardous materials that pose risks to health, safety, and the environment. Given the potential dangers associated with handling and transporting hazardous materials, drivers must undergo specialized training and demonstrate proficiency in safety procedures and regulatory compliance.

           

          Training and Certification:

          Obtaining a HAZMAT endorsement involves rigorous training and certification to equip drivers with the knowledge and skills necessary to handle hazardous materials safely. Training programs cover a wide range of topics, including:

            • Identification and classification of hazardous materials based on their properties and potential risks.
            • Proper packaging, labeling, and placarding requirements for hazardous materials shipments.
            • Emergency response procedures in the event of spills, leaks, or accidents involving hazardous materials.
            • Compliance with federal, state, and local regulations governing the transportation of hazardous materials.

             

            Drivers seeking a HAZMAT endorsement must pass a comprehensive background check conducted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to assess their eligibility and ensure they do not pose a security risk.

             

            Responsibilities and Challenges:

            Drivers with a HAZMAT endorsement shoulder significant responsibilities related to the safe handling and transport of hazardous materials. Some key responsibilities include:

             

              • Ensuring proper loading, securing, and handling of hazardous materials to prevent spills, leaks, or exposure.
              • Maintaining compliance with regulatory requirements for packaging, labeling, and documentation of hazardous materials shipments.
              • Performing routine inspections and safety checks to verify the integrity of containers and equipment used to transport hazardous materials.
              • Responding promptly and effectively to emergencies or incidents involving hazardous materials, including implementing containment and cleanup measures as needed.

               

              Challenges include:

                • Managing the inherent risks associated with various classes of hazardous materials, including flammable, corrosive, or toxic substances.
                • Adhering to strict regulations governing the transportation of hazardous materials, including route restrictions, vehicle markings, and driver qualifications.
                • Navigating complex regulatory frameworks and staying informed about updates or changes to hazardous materials transportation regulations.
                 

                Despite the challenges, drivers with a HAZMAT endorsement play a critical role in facilitating the safe and efficient transport of hazardous materials essential to industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, and agriculture.

                 

                3. Passenger Endorsement:

                The Passenger endorsement is a requirement for CDL holders tasked with operating vehicles designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver. This endorsement signifies that the driver has undergone specialized training and possesses the necessary skills to ensure the safety and comfort of passengers during transit.

                 

                Training and Certification:

                Obtaining a Passenger endorsement involves completing a comprehensive training program focused on passenger safety, customer service, and regulatory compliance. Training programs cover a variety of topics, including:

                  • Defensive driving techniques and accident prevention strategies specific to passenger vehicles.
                  • Passenger management and communication skills to address diverse passenger needs and situations.
                  • Emergency evacuation procedures and protocols for responding to incidents or emergencies during transit.
                  • Compliance with federal, state, and local regulations governing passenger transportation, including vehicle inspection and maintenance requirements.
                  • Drivers seeking a Passenger endorsement must pass a written knowledge test and a practical skills test administered by the DMV or relevant licensing authority in their state.
                   

                  Responsibilities and Challenges:

                  Drivers with a Passenger endorsement assume significant responsibilities for the safety and well-being of passengers under their care. Some key responsibilities include:

                    • Ensuring the safe operation of passenger vehicles and adherence to traffic laws and regulations.
                    • Providing courteous and professional customer service to passengers, including assisting with boarding, seating, and luggage handling.
                    • Conducting pre-trip inspections to verify the safety and readiness of passenger vehicles, including checking tires, brakes, lights, and emergency equipment.
                    • Communicating effectively with passengers and addressing their questions, concerns, or special needs during transit.

                     

                    Challenges include:

                      • Managing passenger behavior and addressing conflicts or disruptions that may arise during transit.
                      • Adapting driving techniques to accommodate the size, weight, and handling characteristics of large passenger vehicles.
                      • Navigating busy urban environments, traffic congestion, and adverse weather conditions with passenger safety as the top priority.
                       

                      Despite the challenges, drivers with a Passenger endorsement play a crucial role in facilitating the transportation of passengers for various purposes, including public transit, charter services, and school transportation.

                       

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                      4. School Bus Endorsement:

                      The School Bus endorsement is a prerequisite for CDL holders responsible for operating school buses transporting students to and from educational institutions. This endorsement signifies that the driver has undergone specialized training and possesses the necessary skills to ensure the safety and welfare of student passengers during transit.

                       

                      Training and Certification:

                      Obtaining a School Bus endorsement entails completing a comprehensive training program focused on student safety, emergency procedures, and regulatory compliance. Training programs cover a range of topics, including:

                        • Student management and discipline techniques to promote a safe and orderly environment on school buses.
                        • Emergency evacuation procedures and protocols for responding to incidents or emergencies during transit.
                        • Defensive driving techniques and accident prevention strategies specific to school bus operations.
                        • Compliance with federal, state, and local regulations governing school transportation, including vehicle inspection and maintenance requirements.
                        • Drivers seeking a School Bus endorsement must pass a written knowledge test and a practical skills test administered by the DMV or relevant licensing authority in their state.

                         

                        Responsibilities and Challenges:

                        Drivers with a School Bus endorsement bear significant responsibilities for the safety and well-being of student passengers entrusted to their care. Some key responsibilities include:

                         

                        • Endorsements tailored to double/triple trailers, towing vehicles exceeding 10,000 pounds, and other specialized vehicles enhance your skill set and broaden your career opportunities within the transportation industry. When pursuing your CDL, securing endorsements relevant to your desired vehicle types and cargo is crucial for maximizing your potential in the field.
                        • Experts typically recommend starting with a Class A license and obtaining essential endorsements such as Air Brakes. This comprehensive approach equips you with the qualifications needed for a diverse range of roles, offering flexibility and versatility in your career trajectory.
                         

                        Exploring Lucrative Trucking Careers

                        Now that we’ve established a foundational understanding of CDL classes and endorsements, let’s explore some of the most promising career paths within the trucking industry.

                         

                        1. Over-the-Road (OTR) Truck Driver

                        Arguably the quintessential CDL job, OTR truck driving involves transporting freight across long distances, often traversing state lines and spending extended periods away from home. OTR drivers embrace a lifestyle characterized by solitude, open-road vistas, and the moniker of being a “road warrior.”

                        In terms of compensation, OTR truckers enjoy competitive pay rates, with the median annual salary for tractor-trailer drivers hovering around $48,000, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Experienced drivers handling hazardous, oversize, or specialty loads can command even higher earnings, surpassing the $60,000 mark. Major carriers such as J.B. Hunt, Werner, and Swift offer robust benefit packages, including health insurance, 401(k) plans, and paid holidays.

                        However, the allure of OTR trucking comes with its fair share of challenges. Extended periods away from home, lasting anywhere from three to four weeks at a stretch, can exact a toll on drivers, leading to feelings of loneliness and social isolation. Moreover, the sedentary nature of the job and irregular sleep patterns pose potential health risks, necessitating a resilient mindset and a commitment to self-care among OTR professionals.

                        While OTR trucking isn’t suited to everyone, it remains a compelling option for individuals seeking high earning potential, a sense of freedom, and the adventure of traversing the nation’s highways.

                         

                        2. Local Delivery Driver

                        For those preferring a more localized approach to trucking, a career as a local delivery driver offers stability, predictable schedules, and proximity to home. Opportunities abound within companies such as FedEx Ground, UPS, food and beverage distributors, and retail establishments, where drivers are tasked with transporting goods to businesses and residences within a designated city or region.

                        Local delivery drivers typically earn average salaries ranging from $35,000 to $45,000 annually, as per BLS data. While these figures may trail those of their OTR counterparts, the appeal lies in the work-life balance afforded by local routes. Drivers return home each night and adhere to standard daytime hours, facilitating greater involvement in family life and community activities.

                        The role of a local delivery driver demands a blend of driving proficiency and physical exertion, encompassing tasks such as loading and unloading cargo. While the wear and tear on vehicles may be less pronounced compared to long-haul journeys, local drivers must navigate urban traffic patterns and interact with customers, underscoring the importance of adaptability and customer service skills in this role.

                         

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                        3. Specialty Freight Trucking

                        Another avenue for CDL holders to explore is specialty freight trucking, which entails transporting specialized cargo categories requiring additional endorsements and training. Tank truck driving, for instance, involves hauling liquids such as gasoline, hazardous materials, and gases, necessitating a Tanker endorsement on your CDL. Similarly, transporting oversize or heavyweight loads such as machinery and equipment demands precision maneuvering skills and may require specialized endorsements.

                        According to BLS data, tank truck drivers hauling liquids, gases, and hazardous materials earn median salaries exceeding $53,000 annually, while heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers handling oversize loads typically earn a median income of $48,000 per year. However, drivers employed by specialized carriers like Lone Star Transportation may command significantly higher earnings, surpassing the $70,000 mark, owing to the heightened risk, skill level, and responsibilities associated with these roles.

                        Despite the allure of lucrative compensation, specialty freight trucking poses unique challenges for drivers, including stringent regulatory requirements, meticulous adherence to safety protocols, and the need for precision in maneuvering and backing vehicles. The transportation of hazardous cargo introduces additional complexities, necessitating heightened vigilance and compliance with stringent safety standards.

                        Specialty freight trucking appeals primarily to experienced CDL holders seeking to maximize their earning potential and expand their skill set. While the financial rewards may be substantial, prospective drivers must be prepared for the mental and psychological demands inherent in these roles.

                         

                        4. Bus Driver

                        While over-the-road trucking often takes center stage in discussions about CDL careers, bus and passenger transportation present compelling opportunities for CDL holders. To drive vehicles designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, a Passenger endorsement on your CDL is required.

                        Various paths exist within the realm of bus driving, encompassing roles such as public transit bus drivers, motor coach operators, and school bus drivers. Public transit drivers operate municipal buses along fixed routes, with salaries typically ranging from $30,000 to $50,000 annually. Motor coach operators provide charter bus services for tours, conventions, and travel routes, with earnings varying widely based on factors such as experience and geographic location. School bus drivers transport students to and from educational institutions, earning typical salaries ranging from $30,000 to $40,000 annually in most areas.

                        While bus driver salaries may not rival those of certain trucking roles, the benefits accompanying full-time positions in public transit and school bus operations can be substantial, including health insurance coverage and pension plans. Furthermore, the predictable schedules and reduced travel demands associated with bus driving appeal to individuals seeking greater stability and work-life balance.

                        Challenges inherent in bus driving include navigating traffic, managing passenger interactions, and coping with weather-related delays. However, for those who thrive on human interaction and value a structured routine, bus driving can offer a fulfilling and rewarding career path.

                         

                        5. Driving Instructor

                        For experienced CDL holders seeking a change of pace in their careers, transitioning into a role as a driving instructor presents an appealing option. Driving instructors play a pivotal role in training the next generation of commercial drivers, imparting their knowledge and expertise through classroom instruction and hands-on training sessions.

                        According to Glassdoor data, CDL driving instructors earn an average salary of approximately $45,000 annually in the United States. As veterans of the road, instructors have the opportunity to share their insights and experiences with novice drivers, instilling essential skills and safety protocols essential for success in the transportation industry.

                        Instructing offers several advantages, including a standard Monday-Friday schedule and minimal overnight or weekend work, enabling instructors to maintain a healthy work-life balance. However, challenges such as dealing with beginner drivers and navigating educational curricula may arise, necessitating patience, adaptability, and effective communication skills.

                        Despite potential drawbacks, becoming a driving instructor presents a rewarding opportunity for CDL holders looking to transition into a more stable and fulfilling role while remaining actively engaged in the transportation sector.

                         

                        Exploring Diverse CDL Career Paths

                        While the aforementioned roles represent prominent career paths within the realm of CDL employment, numerous other opportunities exist for individuals with a passion for driving and a commitment to excellence. Additional career avenues encompass roles such as:

                        Fleet Manager: Overseeing the operations and maintenance of commercial vehicle fleets, ensuring compliance with regulatory standards and optimizing efficiency.

                        Dispatcher: Coordinating logistics and scheduling deliveries, liaising with drivers and clients to facilitate smooth transportation operations.

                        Transportation Supervisor: Managing transportation teams, implementing safety protocols, and resolving logistical challenges to ensure timely and efficient delivery of goods.

                        Moreover, advancements in technology and shifts in consumer behavior continue to shape the landscape of the transportation industry, creating new avenues for innovation and career development. From the integration of autonomous vehicles to the expansion of e-commerce logistics, CDL holders are well-positioned to adapt to evolving trends and capitalize on emerging opportunities in the field.

                         

                        Conclusion

                        In conclusion, obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License opens doors to a diverse array of career paths within the transportation industry. Whether you aspire to traverse the open road as an over-the-road trucker, provide essential services as a local delivery driver, or impart your expertise as a driving instructor, the opportunities for professional growth and fulfillment are abundant.

                        By understanding the nuances of CDL classes, endorsements, and career pathways, aspiring drivers can chart a course toward success in the dynamic and ever-evolving world of commercial transportation. With a combination of skill, determination, and a commitment to excellence, CDL holders can embark on rewarding careers that not only offer financial stability but also contribute to the efficient movement of goods and passengers across the nation.

                         

                        Drive Your Career Forward with HandledNow

                        The logistics industry offers immense opportunities for skilled professionals, but also comes with its fair share of challenges. If you’re looking for a company that will support you through the twists and turns of this fast-paced field, look no further than HandledNow.

                        As a nationwide staffing company built on principles of Respect, Honor, and Integrity, we take pride in providing the best long-term CDL and trade job opportunities to qualified candidates. Our close-knit, family atmosphere demonstrates our commitment to treating your needs as our top priority.

                        Ready to join a company that will support you through the highs and lows? We’re ready to get you Handled. Apply now to get your logistics career in gear with HandledNow!

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