Graduating from CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) school is an exciting milestone in your journey toward a career in trucking. As you prepare to embark on this new chapter, it’s crucial to be equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the industry. In this blog post, we’ll explore the top 10 things to know when graduating from CDL school, providing you with valuable insights that will help you thrive as you begin your trucking career.


When You Apply

  1. Research

Before joining any company, conduct thorough research. It’s important to note that different trucking companies may have varying requirements to qualify for their driving positions. While some may prioritize tractor-trailer (TT) experience, others may consider overall driving experience. For example, at TransWood, all positions require a minimum of 1 year of tractor-trailer (TT) experience, in addition to holding a valid CDL school certificate, or 2 years of TT experience within the last 4 years. In certain roles, such as hauling commodities like fuel, hazmat certification may also be required for drivers. By talking to current or former drivers and conducting comprehensive research, you can gain insights into the specific requirements of different companies. Aim to find a reputable company that aligns with your qualifications and offers opportunities for growth. Staying with your first employer for at least a year will not only enhance your skills but also make you more attractive to your next employer, as it demonstrates your commitment and stability in the industry.


  1. Documents

It is essential to keep a well-organized collection of important documents, which should include your CDL school certificate, accident reports, and even personal vehicle accident reports. These documents may be requested by potential employers, and having them readily accessible showcases your professionalism and preparedness. By maintaining these records, you demonstrate your commitment to being a responsible and diligent candidate in the eyes of potential employers.


  1. Professionalism

Professionalism is a distinguishing characteristic of experienced truck drivers. It encompasses effective and calm communication with various parties, such as recruiters, dispatch, customers, supervisors, fellow truck drivers, and even family members. Regardless of the situation, it is crucial to convey messages in a professional manner. Practicing professionalism not only strengthens relationships but also enhances safety and fosters respect on the road. Moreover, it can serve as a pivotal trait that helps you secure your first driving position.

When You Start

  1. Reliability

Reliability serves as a cornerstone for long-term success in the trucking industry. As an employee and driver, it is crucial to prioritize being dependable and trustworthy. This can be achieved by consistently completing your work in a timely manner, seeking assistance whenever necessary, adhering to stringent safety requirements, and ensuring the goods you transport remain in optimal condition. By upholding a commitment to reliability, you will earn the trust and respect of both your employer and customers, solidifying your professional reputation in the industry.


  1. Build Relationships

While you may primarily operate as a solo driver, it is important to recognize that you don’t have to navigate the road alone. Seize the opportunity to cultivate relationships with fellow drivers, dispatchers, managers, and customers. Actively networking and forging connections within the industry can yield invaluable insights, support, and even open doors to potential opportunities. Remember that building relationships is not limited to physical interactions but can also extend to online communities and industry events. Embrace the power of modern connection tools to enhance your trucking career.


  1. Seek Help and Mentorship

Never hesitate to seek help, even after you start driving solo. It is a testament to your dedication and professionalism to actively pursue guidance and clarification when needed. Establishing a connection with a driver mentor at your company can prove invaluable in navigating various questions or challenging situations that may arise along your journey. It is important to remember that mistakes can have serious consequences, so reaching out for support is always beneficial. Embrace the opportunity to learn from experienced mentors who can provide valuable insights and assist you in becoming a more skilled and confident truck driver.


  1. Training

When choosing a company, prioritize those that value and invest in comprehensive on-the-job training over a company that is cutting corners and rushing you through the process in a few days. Thorough training will provide you with the skills and confidence necessary to excel in your role. Throughout your training period, actively engage by asking questions, addressing common problems, and striving to enhance your efficiency and proficiency. It is crucial to ensure that you feel competent and capable before being released from training. By prioritizing thorough training, you set yourself up for long-term success and establish a solid foundation for your trucking career.

On the job

  1. Planning and Time Management

Efficient trip planning and effective time management are paramount for achieving success in the trucking industry. Like a quarterback studying a playbook, take the time to familiarize yourself with routes, delivery locations, potential construction zones and traffic patterns. It is essential to recognize that the fastest route may not be the most optimal choice for a number of reasons. By planning ahead, you can optimize your efficiency and guarantee timely deliveries. Comprehensive planning and detailed time management will enhance your productivity and contribute to your success as a truck driver.


  1. Health

As a truck driver spending extended periods on the road, you need to prioritize your health and well-being. Find ways to stay active and incorporate exercise into your routine. Additionally, make conscious food choices to nourish your body. Maintaining good physical and mental health will contribute to your overall alertness and job performance. Remember, most companies require a minimum one-year medical card, so ensure you meet these requirements.


  1. Patience

Trucking is an industry that requires patience in various situations. From breakdowns to pre-trips, post-trips, unloading time, interactions with other road users, weather conditions, and more, it’s crucial to maintain composure and exercise patience. Prioritize safety over speed and be willing to follow proper procedures, even if it means taking extra time. Your patience will contribute to safer roads and a successful career.


Congratulations on completing your CDL school and embarking on a career in trucking! By familiarizing yourself with these top 10 things to know, you’ll be well-prepared to navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Remember to conduct thorough research, maintain important documents, prioritize professionalism, prioritize your health, seek comprehensive training, plan effectively, seek help when needed, build relationships, practice patience, and consistently demonstrate reliability. These key factors will contribute to a successful and fulfilling trucking career. Best of luck on your journey!


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