CDL Training Resources & Truck Driver Career News

Helpful Information About CDL Training & Trucking Jobs

Check out this selection of news articles, training resources, and other helpful information about the trucking industry to learn more about your career choices and how to prepare for in-demand job opportunities in trucking. Then, when you’re ready to get started with your CDL Training, give us a call! 1-800-835-2540 or if you’re in the Twin Cities area, call 651-528-8994

  • Staying Safe on the Icy Roads

    Winter presents many challenges, even to those of us who love to drive. Large vehicles have an even harder time of it, and winter issues can crop up quickly even before the real snows set in. Here are a few problems we face in the coldest months and some ways to combat the issues.

    1. Black Ice

    Ice of any kind poses a real threat to anyone on the road, but with the weight and longer stopping time of a big rig, this is an issue that causes a lot of damage and can even be fatal. Sometimes we get into the habit of driving a certain speed, especially when we know the area and have driven it a million times. This can lead to disaster if you find yourself on black ice and out of control. One of the best things you can do when you know there's going to be trouble on the road is to take it slow, even slower than you normally would. People will honk at you, but it's much better safe than sorry.

    2. Low Visibility

    Snowstorms come up quick, especially in Minnesota. There are some areas of the state where it seems like they come out of nowhere, and then there's whiteout or low visibility. Slowing down is a good idea during these times, but with a large vehicle it's best to get off the highway as soon as possible and try again when the snow has cleared. We're responsible for other people on the road as well, and it's better to be late than dead.

    3. Breakdown

    Although it's uncommon with trucks, breakdown is always a possibility and preparation needs to be made for cold weather. There should be supplies in your truck for these kinds of emergencies, just like you have in your car: a heat source, food, water, flares, a charged burner cell phone, and other necessities to keep in your cab the same way you should be keeping one in your trunk. Freezing temperatures can very swiftly cause hypothermia. Your life and health are of the utmost importance. Winter driving is always a challenge no matter the type of vehicle. Truckers face even more difficulties because of the nature of their work and the size of the vehicles they drive. Just remember to take a few precautions and you'll have a safe and profitable winter.
  • Dealing with Homesickness as a Trucker

    For many truckers, the biggest challenge out on the road isn't crazy drivers or negative weather conditions. It's not even tight deadlines, bleary eyes, or roadside food that isn't setting as well as you'd like. Instead, homesickness rears its ugly head--and during those long hours on the road, setting aside homesickness can be a serious challenge. If you're dealing with homesickness on the road or worried about what it will mean for you, try some of these strategies to alleviate homesickness and continue to get ahead in your career.

    1. Take videos of your family members.

    It may be as simple as a child reading a story or an evening together as a family: something that will bring up positive memories and make you smile when you're out on the road alone.

    2. Encourage your family members to send pictures.

    You might not be able to make it to every event or special occasion thanks to your schedule, but you can feel connected when they send pictures to you. You can also look over those pictures together or put together a scrapbook when you get back.

    3. Make your trips fun.

    If you have a small child, consider adopting a "mascot" that you take with you whenever you're out on the road. They can keep another one with them or you can alternate who takes your stuffed friend. Then, take pictures of your mascot doing fun activities with you, checking out hotels, or visiting rest stops, especially when you find something unique or different. It's a fun way to feel connected even when you're far away.

    4. Take advantage of Skype, Facetime, and other programs.

    Thanks to these handy programs, even when you can't connect with your friends and family members in person, you can feel as though you're right there with them! It's a great way to be present for the big game even when you can't be on the sidelines, to view that concert or recital even when you're halfway across the country, or to simply be present for the evening bedtime story.

    5. Connect when you are home.

    Thanks to your time away, you'll have a deeper appreciation for the comforts of home and family. When you are home, take some time to connect. Take care of things that are normally your spouse's responsibility, cuddle extra with the kids, and keep making memories. The life of a trucker can be difficult at times, but it's also a rewarding career that helps you provide for your family. By finding ways to connect with them when you're gone, you'll be able to alleviate homesickness and increase those relationships even when you can't be there in person. Need more help getting your career on the road? Contact us today to learn how we can help.
  • How to Ace Your Trucking Interview

    With your CDL in hand, here are some tips to help you ace your job interview, so you can get started working!

    1.) Start with research.

    • Do a Google search on the company. Get a sense of what they do, the industry they specialize in, and where you will fit in the company. If the company has a mission statement, read it.
    • If you know your interviewer, do a quick search for them as well. Check LinkedIn and other networking sites to get a sense of the person or people you might meet.

    2.) Prepare.

    • Remember about the company's mission statement; do you agree with it? How can you help the company succeed?
    • Think about the interviewer, if you know who it will be. Do you have anything in common with them? Anything you can use to establish a connection?
    • Appearances matter, so make sure the clothing you plan to wear is neat and clean, and that the rest of your appearance is tidy.
    • Print out your resume, cover letter, job application, references, and other materials, and bring at least two copies. You will rarely need them, but have them just in case.

    3.) Interview questions. Think about possible interview questions.

    • Some excellent guidance is to think of 5 stories about yourself. These stories should demonstrate success - solving problems, overcoming challenges, working well on a team, and learning from a mistake. Many interview questions start with "tell me a time when..." If you have a couple of stories in your head, you can quickly tailor them to answer the prompt.
    • Prepare to address difficult issues. Is there something in your work history (a firing, a layoff, or some discipline) that you need to explain? What about otherwise -- any criminal issues or something else that might show up on a background check? Prepare to address these issues honestly, but put yourself in best possible position.

    4.) Your questions.

    • The interview isn't just a time for them to grill you; it's your chance to grill them! Asking questions shows the interviewer that you are interested, that you know about the company and your role, and that you are excited.
    • Discuss the company's policies about home-time, layover pay, and pay rates (per mile or per hour, and if by mile, how is mileage calculated).
    • Ask about the main routes or hauls; if the company has specific routes they routinely haul, ask about these routes to see if they will be a fit for you.
    • Ask about availability - how many miles or hours are available?
    • What kind of training is provided?
    • Are there growth opportunities? Are there dedicated runs for senior drivers? Can drivers grow into manager or trainer roles?
    • How does the company assess driver performance, what standards does the company use to evaluate drivers, and how often do assessments happen? How do managers provide feedback?
    • Ask about safety standards, electronic logs, and anything else about which you are curious.

    5.) Interview day.

    • Assume you are at the interview from the moment you leave home. There are stories about interview candidates who behaved rudely in the parking lot, only to find out the person they insulted was interviewing them later. Be on your very best behavior all day.
    • Shake hands, look the interviewer in the eye, and show interest in the interview process.
    • Thank them for their time at the end.
    • If appropriate, send a followup email or note thanking them for their time and reiterating your interest in working with them.
    You're going to do great! Contact us with any questions and to get started on your trucking career today!
  • Organizing Your Finances While Out on the Road

    Budgeting can be tricky and intimidating for everyone. It doesn't need to be, though. Start with these simple steps:
    • Track spending and income. For at least month or two, keep track of every penny you spend and every penny you make. Be honest and track every expenditure, even if you would really rather not. Take a good look at it; where is there room to save? Are there any opportunities to increase your earning?
    • Assess  account balances. What do you have in savings? Checking? Do you have any debt - credit card, student loans, mortgage, or vehicle loans?
    • Set short-term goals. Keep these goals realistic and measurable. Do you want to payoff some existing debt? Ask yourself if you can put an extra $100 towards it each month. Do you want to build some savings? Can you put even just $10/week into a savings account?
    • Set long-terms goals. Are you hoping to buy a new car or make a down payment on a house? Think about how you can start saving for those goals as well. Even small amounts of savings will add up to help you meet your goals.
    • Use a budgeting app. The internet has so many free budgeting tools, that allow you to see exactly where you're spending your money. One of the best is called "Every Dollar", by Dave Ramsey.
      If you currently don't have a budget in place or any savings, then it's a good plan to create a six-month emergency fund. Ideally, this fund will have enough money to tide you over for six months in case something happens to you. It can take a long time to build, of course, but it provides a lot of security and comfort. Keep this fund separate from your other savings and keep it for just emergencies. So, where are some places to find room in your budget?
    • Eating outOf course, so much of your job is on the road, and eating out is the easiest thing to do. But in addition to being rough on your waistline, eating frequent meals in restaurants is rough on your budget. Pack your own snacks and beverages, make your own coffee, and plan to eat meals in your truck more often than you eat out.
    • Bad habits. Smoking or other tobacco usage, speeding tickets, or unnecessary entertainment can all eat into your budget.
    • Cell phone and other device plans. Are you constantly going over your minutes or data usage and paying hefty overage charges? Or are you regularly not using your plan to its fullest and overpaying?
    • Insurance. Regularly assess your insurance coverage (whether home, truck, or otherwise) to make sure you have enough coverage, but you aren't overpaying.
    • Preventative maintenance. On you or your truck. Take care of your health and get regular medical and dental checkups to save money in the long run. Same goes for your truck - take good care of it now and avoid costly breakdowns later.
    • Pay with cash. Save on interest charges on a personal credit card and make sure you stick to your budget by using cash.
      For more information on a successful career in trucking, contact us today!
  • Besides OTR, what kinds of trucking jobs are there?

    You see those semis roaring down the highway every day on your commute to your job. Seeing them driving down the highway makes you envious of the freedom their lifestyle on the open road allows them. Meanwhile you dread the monotony of your 9 to 5 as you coast into the parking lot. You know those drivers are making some serious money, but you're still nervous about committing to over the road driving. You have your reasons: family, community, or just nerves about such a life-changing decision. If only there were ways to try different CDL career paths that meet your needs.

    Rising Incomes

    What many people don't realize is just how many lucrative opportunities there are to drive locally if you possess a Class A CDL. Career fields ranging from construction to livestock hauling, even local food and beverage distribution all require professional drivers holding various levels of commercial licenses. Cement mixer operators can easily start at $40,000 per year and it's not unheard of for the best to bring home over $70,000.

    Time with the Family

    If you're looking for more time at home, cities require commercial drivers for waste removal & for public transportation. These options allow you to spend more time at home, which is a huge advantage for those with families. Those jobs, of course, come with the added benefits of providing a necessary service to your community and the securing your future with a comfortable retirement.

    Owning Your Own Business

    A commercial driver can also go into business for him or herself if he or she owns a couple of trucks that can be contracted to put on the road. This is an option for people who haven't even been behind the wheel before. So, there are many ways to test the water before committing to hopping behind the wheel of a rig and hitting that open road. In conclusion, don't sell yourself short; your options will never be limited. Contact us here, today, and jump-start your career now!
  • You Can Do A Lot with a CDL

    Driving a commercial vehicle requires a higher level of training, knowledge, physical skill, and experience than driving a normal car. Drivers must obtain a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) to operate these vehicles. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), classifies different levels of commercial drivers licenses for different types of vehicles and places various endorsements on these. But what can you do with these licenses?

    A Class A CDL allows a driver to:

    • Operate any combination of vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds, so long as the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds

    • Drive this combination of vehicles across state lines.

    A Class B CDL allows a driver to:

    • Operate a commercial truck with an attached cab and cargo area with a combined weight greater than 26,000 pounds

    • Operate a truck with a detached towed cargo vehicle (i.e. a trailer) that weights less than 10,000 pounds.

    The FMCSA has identified the following endorsements that can be attached to a CDL:

    • Passenger;

    • Tank vehicle;

    • Hazardous material, or;

    • Double/triple trailers.

    Over-the-road trucking is not the only career direction with these CDLs; drivers can pursue many CDL career options with all types of vehicles:

    Dump Truck Driver - works with landscape, construction or excavation companies, or for a local government

    Mixer Truck Driver - works with construction or excavation companies, or for a local government

    Tanker Truck Drivers - are in demand from a variety of organizations, from farmers to gas companies, who hire commercially licensed drivers to drive tanker trucks

    Plow Truck Drivers - are always needed by cities, townships, counties, or states that hire commercially licensed drivers for plow work in the winter months; private companies also hire plow drivers for snow removal

    Local Delivery Drivers - need to know the operation of everything from vans to semi-trucks. Farmers, grocers, bakeries, building companies, and other suppliers hire commercially licensed drivers to make local deliveries

    Couriers - are similar to local delivery drivers. They make in-town or nearby deliveries for a variety of organizations using a variety of vehicles.

    Specialty Cargo Hauler - also similar to couriers and delivery drivers; commercially licensed drivers using a variety of vehicles are in demand for specialty cargo hauling, like automobile transport and furniture

    Bus Driver - sometimes will require passenger endorsements, but commercially licensed drivers are in demand for local transit authorities.

    For more information on getting your Class A or Class B CDL, contact us.