From the Experts

Hear from the Experts on all things Trucking and Welding

  • image of tanker truck driving on road, text at the bottom reads "More than a CDL: CDL endorsements"

    The Pros and Cons of CDL Endorsements

    When you see those little letters on your Commercial Driver's License (CDL), just what comes to mind? Are they relevant to your career? Those little letters (i.e. endorsements) are the government's way of giving commercial drivers the authority to transport heavy, sensitive, difficult, people, or potentially hazardous cargo. Endorsements certify that commercial drivers have received the necessary training needed for specific commercial driving tasks.

    Endorsements that may be added to your CDL:

    •  H-Hazardous Materials*
    •  N-Tank Vehicles*
    •  P-Passenger**
    •  S-School bus**
    •  T-Double/Triple Trailers*
    •  X-Tank Vehicle/Hazardous Materials Endorsements*
    *Knowledge Test Only **Knowledge & Skills test CDL endorsements do matter. Consider how much a driver with a Hazmat Endorsement makes versus a driver that isn't certified. The blog, Trucker Country says, having the right endorsements, "can land driver's a meaningful career with higher pay." They also agree that every endorsement that a driver pursues broadens their driving opportunities. The CDL certification exams are short, simple, and very affordable. So, with the opportunities that CDL endorsements can add to your career, it's a great idea to qualify for as many as possible. Diverse CDL endorsements offer you flexibility and increase your job opportunities. Drivers that wish to switch fields can go from a truck driver to a bus driver with ease. Plus, multiple endorsements give you the edge over other drivers. If you qualify to drive a double or triple trailer or even a tank, you will have the advantage over other applicants without the qualifying endorsements. You may not ever use all of your endorsements or feel like it's a drawback that has cost you time and money. Quite arguably, an employer may see you as a mature more qualified applicant because you went through the time and expense of qualifying for multiple endorsements. The endorsements that suit your lifestyle or career goals will be entirely up to the driver. Your decision about endorsement certification should be based on the longevity of your career and not a spare of the moment decision. The endorsements that you choose could determine your future and the success of your career in truck driving.

    Why Truck Drivers Choose The Advanced Career Institute

    Advanced Career Institute offers advanced CDL training programs to get you started in a career in truck driving. We also cater to students with no prior experience or knowledge of the trucking industry with our Class A training. Our hands-on training and curriculum help our students succeed with confidence. With over 25 years of experience, we understand the unique situations and challenges that our students may be facing and we're here to help. If you qualify, our financial assistance programs can help you pay for tuition. Contact us today for more details on a rewarding career in trucking available to both men and women.
  • image of person welding

    Traits Needed to Become a Welder

    You may be wondering, what does a welder do? The job description of a welder is complex and challenging. However, this creates an exciting and rewarding lifestyle! No day of work as a professional welder is the same. Sometimes welders will spend the day cutting, shaping, and combining materials to make different parts for a variety of industries. Some of these may include the construction, engineering, automobile, or aerospace fields. Whichever field you choose, the tasks tend to be similar across the board. In general, welders pick the materials to join or cut, and arrange them in an appropriate configuration. Then, they follow a specific design or blueprint to create the desired product. Sometimes a welder has to perform certain melting methods on materials like lead bars to complete a project. Welders are also in charge of fixing structural repairs and making sure the welding equipment is in great shape. Continue reading to learn what it takes to become a welder.

    What Materials Do Welders Use?

    Several different types of materials are used on a daily basis including composite material, alloys, or metals. Some welders who choose to take a more specific route work with complex laser or ultrasound welding equipment. Keep in mind, though, that a career in welding will sometimes require working with dangerous tools in high-risk environments. Getting in the habit of wearing the appropriate protective gear is an absolute necessity.

    What Skills Do I Need to Become a Welder?

    A great welder usually has the ability to remain very detailed and focused at all times. They should also be very familiar with the latest welding tools and methods. In addition, it's helpful to have a vast amount of knowledge of different welding design techniques and equipment preferences. Welding also requires someone with a confident building and construction ability to ensure effective repair and equipment maintenance. A person with excellent construction skills usually has a very logical mind and excels in problem-solving situations. A well-rounded mathematics understanding is a valuable trait for welders to have. It isn’t necessarily a requirement for the job, but is attractive to employers looking to hire a welder to perform many different tasks on the job site.

    What Kind of Training Do I Need to Work as a Welder?

    Every welding job requires at least a general certification in welding. Welding programs are created to teach students the basic skills and procedures needed to work as a professional. Every school offers a different mix of cutting techniques and materials. One of the most important things to take away from a welding program is the industry’s safety guidelines and methods as well as blueprint reading. A welding program that enforces a good amount of hands-on training will prove most beneficial for welding student’s future. At Advanced Career Institute, we provide Welding Training for entry-level welders. No experience is required before beginning your training. Our goal is to help you master the skills needed to perform proficiently in your new career.   Do you still have questions about a career in welding or welding training? Contact us and an ACI representative will be happy to answer all of your questions. Advanced Career Institute wants to help you get started on the path to a stable career with lots of rewards. Reach out today!
  • Image of man sitting in drivers seat of truck

    Making it Through Your CDL Training

    Going back to school for continuing education midway through your career is never an easy decision, but it can provide benefits that will stay with you for the rest of your career in that industry. The same can get said for going back to CDL school to help you start a new career. The following are several tips to help you make the most of your CDL training as you start a new career and take part in training for your job as a truck driver...

    Have a Mind Open to Learning

    When you go back to school to get your CDL, it can be challenging, but it needs to get done with an open mind. You will learn lots of new things for the first time. While it might seem overwhelming, in the end, taking the information you learn to apply to your career is what will help you pass your CDL test.

    Be Coachable

    Being coachable means that you take the information that you learn and you use it to help you advance in your new career. Everything you get taught at ACI is to help prepare you for the road ahead (no pun intended) and to become a safe and cautious driver. Learn and improve your skills and you will become a better employee and a more hireable candidate.

    Come with Optimism & A Positive Attitude

    Coming in with a positive attitude and an open mind rather than being pessimistic and unopened to change will help you make the most out of the education. Everyone at Advanced Career Institute wants the very best for you and to see you succeed.

    Learn From Constructive Criticism

    Constructive criticism is part of any sort of learning and career training. When our teachers and mentors give you criticism, they never mean to insult or belittle you, but rather are there to teach you the industry standards and how to do your job more effectively. Take the critical thinking in the mindset that they want you to succeed and do whatever you can to help yourself learn the skills needed for the job.

    Avoid Putting Mentors/Instructors Down

    The instructors at the Advanced Career Institute care about you not only as a student who is paying to get an education but for you as an individual who wants to improve your life and make a better living. Returning that respect and working with our instructors will only help you be better at your new job. It will also help you have a better learning experience along the way.

    Believe In Yourself

    The amount of information you learn while in school training for your CDL can be very overwhelming. Taking in the information can seem challenging. Believe in yourself and your ability to understand what you are learning. You can remember this information and make a better life for yourself moving forward with trucking as your new career.   These are just some traits that will help you succeed in earning your Commercial Driver's License. ACI is here to help you get through the learning process that is part of becoming a full-time truck driver. For further assistance or to come in and speak to us, please contact us today.
  • Image of nurse checking patient heart rate

    What to Know About The DOT Exam

    There are a variety of steps to take in order to become a professional truck driver. One step is to pass the DOT Physical Exam. The DOT Physical Exam is an examination that all truck drivers must take and pass to get their Commercial Driver’s License. This exam determines if the driver meets certain health standards set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in order to be eligible to drive. Continue reading to learn more about the DOT Exam!

    What Is the DOT Exam?

    All truck drivers are required by law to pass the DOT Physical Exam before getting behind the wheel of a big rig. The FMCSA has set a variety of mental and physical health regulations that truckers must meet in order to fulfill the demands of a truck driving career. All professional truck drivers must hold an up-to-date physical certification at all times. Typically, drivers are required to get physicals every 1-2 years. It is important to meet the standards of the DOT physical to ensure both the truck driver’s safety on the road as well as the safety of other motorists. All candidates are asked to fill out all health questionnaires before they arrive at the office. If drivers have any of the following conditions they need to bring the following with them to the exam:
    • Drivers who have vision or hearing problems must bring either their glasses/contacts or hearing aids with them to the exam.
    • Potential drivers with diabetes must bring their most recent and comprehensive Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) results and blood sugar logs with them.
    • Drivers with heart-related issues must bring a letter from their cardiologist outlining the issues and limitations that the driver has as well as along with a note that they are safe to perform this kind of work.
    If a driver comes without these specific papers, yet has one of these conditions, the exam will not be able to be passed until the appropriate items are brought in.

    What Can I Expect During the DOT Exam?

    In addition to the necessary checks mentioned above, the DOT Physical Exam will also look for a variety of other conditions that a driving candidate may have. These will include the following:
    • General Appearance
    • Eyes (i.e., cataracts, glaucoma, muscular degeneration, etc.)
    • Ears (i.e., scarring of the tympanic membrane, perforated eardrums, etc.)
    • Mouth/Throat Exam (issues swallowing)
    • Heart (to detect problems)
    • Lungs & Chest
    • Abdominal Issues
    • Vascular Issues
    • Genito-Urinary Issues
    • Extremities
    • Possible Spinal Injuries
    • Neurological Issues
    These are just some of the issues that get looked at within the exam. The idea behind the DOT Physical Exam is to give prospective drivers a comprehensive physical to ensure that the driver is fit and healthy before beginning their driving career.

    What Happens if I Fail?

    A candidate will fail the exam if they have the following:
    • Cardiovascular/Respiratory Disease
    • High Blood Pressure (without medication)
    • Epilepsy
    • Diabetes
    • Nervous/Psychiatric Disorder
    • Poor Eyesight (without corrective lenses)
    • Loss of one/multiple limbs
    Candidates will also fail if they do not pass the alcohol or drug test that accompanies the rest of their physical. Failing the DOT Exam does not necessarily mean that you are incapable of driving a truck. If you have a condition that can be treated, consult your doctor for further treatment. If your condition has improved, consider taking the exam again. Additionally, the FMCSA offers exemptions for certain impairments. Refer to your doctor to see if you qualify. Are you considering a career as a professional truck driver? Advanced Career Institute offers hands-on training to earn your Class A CDL. ACI campuses are located in Merced, Fresno, Bakersfield, and Visalia. To learn more about truck driver training, head over to our Class A CDL Training Program!
  • image of bus driver standing in front of bus with children

    Discover if Bus Driving is Right for You

    EDITORS NOTE: Advanced Career Institute has discontinued our School Bus Driving Program. We still offer our Commercial Bus Driver Program at select campuses. In every city, there are bus drivers. The transportation of children via school buses has been popular since the 1930s and continues to be a widely used medium of transportation. The demand for quality bus drivers is rising at a steady pace, especially in growing suburban areas. School bus transportation is safe, practical, and economical for thousands of children to travel to and from school. Parents are busier than ever and having the school bus as a transportation option is extremely valuable. With gas prices constantly shifting, more and more kids are traveling via bus to school every year. Here are 10 reasons why you should consider becoming a school bus driver:

    1. You Have Great People Skills.

    Having strong communication skills is a must for all bus drivers. A career as a bus driver means being around different types of people every day. This can include teachers, parents, school officials and of course, kids! Empathy and understanding is a must when it comes to helping anxious children or concerned parents. Being able to communicate and understand all types of personalities are important traits for successful bus drivers.

    2. You Enjoy Working with Kids.

    If you love kids, a career as a bus driver could be very rewarding. Having the ability to make the children feel comfortable is just as important as knowing how to drive the bus. The duties of a school bus driver aren't just confined to driving. You become an important and steady person in these young children's lives. Each day gives you the opportunities to get a child's day started off right and remind them that they are special and important.

    3. You Enjoy Driving.

    Controlling a large vehicle can seem intimidating to some, while others may love the idea. If the challenge of driving a larger bus on the road every day excites you, there are plenty of public schools out there eager to hire you as a bus driver.

    4. You Care about the Safety of Children.

    Fortunately, the number of school bus accidents per year is very small. This is because of careful drivers who make the safety of their passengers their top priority. Quality drivers make sure to monitor onboard conduct and see that the kids make it into their homes. They also enforce safe board and de-board procedures on a daily basis. The ability to balance concentration between the road and the onboard conduct of kids is a unique skill needed for the job. Putting the safety of children above all else is the most important aspect of the job.

    5. You're Calm Under Pressure.

    A lot goes on inside and outside of a school bus. Bus drivers face severe weather conditions, difficult children, and overwhelming road construction at any time on the road. Bullying, fighting, and even celebrations can get out of hand on the school bus. If you have a patient manner and are able to keep a clear head when unexpected issues come up, these situations may seem like less of a challenge.

    6. A Flexible Schedule is a Plus.

    A typical bus driver usually works early in the morning then late in the afternoon with a long break in-between. There is also the option of driving to and from field trips or other school activities for extra hours. A bus driving career could be the ideal solution if you're trying to avoid the ordinary 9 to 5 job.

    7. Looking for a Job with Benefits.

    More and more often, the term "work-life balance" is becoming an important factor in job searches. Certain benefits offered in your career are important in maintaining this balance. Public school bus drivers are usually employed by the county where the school is located. School systems show appreciation to their bus drivers by offering them bonuses. County benefits can include extended vacation days, health and life insurance, and retirement plans.

    8. No Interest in a Four-Year Degree.

    Starting a school bus career doesn’t require spending four years in college. Every driver must go through a training program and receive their CDL before employment. The program can be completed in as little as 8-weeks. Advanced Career Institute offers both day and evening training. No prior bus driving experience is needed in order to begin.

    9. Good Paying Job.

    A career in the bus driving industry can mean making up to $44,000 per year. Extra earning opportunities are usually available as well. There are also several opportunities to pick up extra hours, as well as receive employee benefits from the school. You will often see bus drivers pick up other positions within the school like substitute teaching.

    10. You Can't Afford Training.

    School bus drivers are essential employees with a very important job to accomplish. Many schools will cover their drivers’ official bus training programs to ensure top-quality employees. Besides general driving practices and vehicle maintenance, the training program teaches important safety rules and emergency procedures.   For more information about the requirements to become a school bus driver or to learn more about the Advanced Career Institute Commercial Bus Driver Training, check out our website. Bus driving is a rewarding career, so get started today but contacting ACI.
    *This blog was originally published in 2016 and has been updated according to industry standards.
  • image of student using the truck driving simulator

    A New Addition to CDL Training

    Trucking schools have turned to new technology! Advanced Career Institute's Fresno Campus has added a trucking simulator to help their drivers learn to drive before hitting the road. This trucking simulator allows students to get the general feel and experience of driving behind the wheel of a "big-rig" before they set foot inside a real truck. This new technology has become a great resource to add to our CDL training.

    What Do Trucking Simulators Do?

    Trucking simulators allow students to experience what it's like to drive a "big rig" truck without even leaving the classroom! Our simulator is complete with the steering system and on-screen display to learn the basic skills of truck driving. Skills learned within a simulator include:
    • backing
    • sightline views from the driver's seat
    • how the clutch works
    • driving in various weather conditions (i.e. ice, snow, sleet, freezing rain, rain, wind, etc.)
    Once these skills (and many others like them) are learned, the student will be much more prepared to take on driving in an actual truck. Students will then commence the "road training" portion of their program, which further reviews the basic driving skills needed to pass their CDL test.

    Truck Simulators - Part of Our Curriculum:

    Trucking simulators have become a core part of our driver training program here at our Fresno Campus. It has become an effective tool in teaching our drivers the basics of operating a truck before getting behind the wheel of a truck for the first time. This new technology of truck simulators provides students with a diverse set of scenarios a trucker may see while driving. This can also help increase a student's chances of passing their CDL test the first time. Simulators are a tool that we are excited to continue to use at ACI. Our goal is to continue to provide the best possible training for each student. As technologies continue to advance, these simulators become more lifelike and give students a better experience of learning to drive a truck.

    Come By & Visit Our Training Center:

    If you are interested in seeing what our driving simulator looks like and the kind of technology we invest here at the Advanced Career Institute, please feel free to stop by. We are happy to show you our simulator as well as discuss your truck driver training options. For further assistance, please feel free to contact us. We look forward to seeing and meeting you soon!
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