According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States will need at least 108,400 more qualified heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers over the next 8 to 10 years. Those who are interested in a commercial driving career should prepare now to take advantage of this growing demand.
You might wonder, what is it like to take the commercial driving test? What is the difference between attending a training school and studying for the test on your own? How can attending a formal truck driving training school help future drivers pass the test? What are the perks of choosing a commercial driving career?
Commercial Driving Test: The Basics
Each state has their own set of requirements for obtaining a commercial driver’s license. However, most of these are based on the guidelines laid out by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration).
Before earning an operator’s license, aspiring truck drivers need to pass a written knowledge test. Each state is responsible for producing their own version of the test. However, the FMCSA mandates that state tests must contain questions related to at least 20 of 49 specified knowledge areas. Some of these include:
- Vehicle safety procedures
- Motor vehicle inspection
- Repair and maintenance
- How fatigue and substance use affect driving abilities
- Vehicle operations like backing up, adjusting mirrors, and conducting a visual search
The test is conducted in written format at a certified testing center. Many centers are equipped with computerized tests that instantly provide pass/fail feedback. After passing the test, applicants receive a commercial learner’s permit that allows them to legally drive trucks under the supervision of an instructor or mentor.
Similar to getting a regular driver’s license, applicants need to follow the rules as laid out by their state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Contact your nearest office for an exact description of the process.
Formal Training vs Self-Study: What’s the Difference?
Aspiring commercial truck drivers may think they can save time and money by skipping training school and studying on their own. It is possible to get the information needed to pass the knowledge test through a combination of experience, self-study, and unaccredited online courses. So, what’s the difference between studying at home and going to a truck driving school?
- At home, you are responsible for motivating yourself. In a formal program, you have the support of staff and other students to keep you on track.
- Self-study leads to a patchwork type of knowledge that may inadvertently skip important information. Schools use a set curriculum that ensures you cover all the necessary material.
- When you’re studying from home, it’s easy to get sidetracked or use your study time to attend to chores. Going to a school provides a structured approach that helps you finish your studies in an efficient time period.
Another big difference between trucking schools and self-study is documentation. When applicants start looking for a job, their diploma is proof that they have the knowledge employers need. Self-taught drivers don’t have that objective validation.
Advantages of Truck Driving School
While some states don’t require future drivers to take a training course, there advantages to doing so that increase your overall career potential.
- When you rely on books and web pages for your information, you may not have access to the most accurate or up-to-date data. This could cause you to miss technical questions on the test. Attending a training school ensures you have the most recently approved data available.
- Like many professions, your connections in the trucking world make your career more successful. Starting out on your own may take less time, but you’ll miss out on meeting instructors, administrators, and other students who could become a lifelong source of job references and recommendations.
- Once the knowledge test is completed, most states require a period of on-the-road training before the applicant can take the skills test. Self-study candidates often lack mentors with the right experience or equipment for training apprentices. Going to a trucking school ensures that you’ll get the professional instruction you need to earn your license.
It only takes a few weeks to complete a truck driving school program. That time is worth it for those who want to start their trucking career off on the right foot.
The Perks of Choosing a Truck Driving Career
This career path offers a variety of benefits.
- Longevity and job security.
- In-demand skills that transfer almost anywhere.
- Competitive pay with experience.
The Tractor-Trailer Certificate Program from Advanced Technology Institute is the perfect way to jumpstart your driving career. Contact our representatives today to learn more about this job training program.