Helpful Information About Potential Trucking Jobs
Making it Through Your CDL TrainingGoing 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 LearningWhen 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 CoachableBeing 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 AttitudeComing 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 CriticismConstructive 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 DownThe 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 YourselfThe 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.
What to Know About The DOT ExamThere 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.
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
- Possible Spinal Injuries
- Neurological Issues
What Happens if I Fail?A candidate will fail the exam if they have the following:
- Cardiovascular/Respiratory Disease
- High Blood Pressure (without medication)
- Nervous/Psychiatric Disorder
- Poor Eyesight (without corrective lenses)
- Loss of one/multiple limbs
Tools to Become a Better DriverIn today's connected world, the amount of media content available specifically for truck drivers is incredible. Whether you're brand new to the industry or a trucking veteran, there is always a fresh blog, magazine, or forum to check out. Looking for some light reading? Give Trucking Truth or Trailer Talk a try. Wondering what other truckers are chatting about online? Join the 15.9k people participating in the r/Truckers Reddit community. But what about those long hours at the wheel when you can't stare at a computer or phone screen? That's the perfect time for podcasts to shine! Podcasts are the equivalent of radio on demand; audio content when and where you want it. Luckily for us, the explosion of podcasting in the past few years has given us plenty of listening options created by and for truckers. Here are 5 of our favorites: "The Effects of ELD Mandate on Trucker Health & Safety." YouTube channel. "Coping with Rookie Drivers" or "Winter Truck Driving Tips from An Alaskan Trucker." "5 Fantastic Tow Vehicles That Will Turn Heads" or "The Best 401K For Owner Operators" a listen and hear for yourself! "Trucking Career is Better than a College Degree" or "Ruthann - Interview with Women in Trucking." The above shows have literally hundreds of episodes available to binge listen to. Many are available through multiple sources, such as iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play or even Spotify. Be entertained while staying in the know about your profession. Now get downloading! If you're ready to take the next step towards a career in the truck driving industry, the right training makes all the difference. Contact us and learn how ACI can help you reach your career goals. If you'd like more information on the Training Programs available at Advanced Career Institute, please visit our Training Programs.
*This blog was originally published in 2015 and has been updated with new content.
Why OTR Truck Driving is a Smart DecisionNearly anyone in the trucking industry has to think about the pros and cons of local versus OTR (over-the-road) truck driving. For some in this industry, the answer comes easily. One must consider their current life situation, such as marital/family status, financial situation, and personal preferences. Let's look at a few reasons a truck driver may opt for OTR over local trucking.
Easier DrivingWhile local driving usually requires difficult navigation through streets and intersections, OTR involves interstate driving. A new driver can gain experience through long stretches of highway and small amounts of navigation at pick-up and drop-off sites. Anyone who likes hitting the open road will prefer driving nationally vs city driving.
FreedomLocal driving usually involves being monitored over every mile, taking a specific route, and constant communication. Some may find this too restrictive and choose the relatively increased freedom that OTR offers. While an over-the-road driver will need to communicate with dispatch and answer for delays, the freedom of OTR is similar to being your own boss. As long as shipments arrive on time and in good condition, oversight is moderate to minimal.
Job SecurityLocal trucking drivers may find little work as the industry continues to expand into more national carriers. However, an OTR driver is free to go find work. Carriers are in constant need for new drivers, and in a tight labor market, that need becomes urgent. In a recent poll of large carriers, 76 percent said they were looking for new drivers.
Rising IncomeAn increasing amount of freight to be moved is adding to the need for qualified drivers. This also means that drivers are negotiating larger incomes as demand for their services becomes urgent. OTR drivers travel many miles, and more miles equals better benefits and more money earned. While OTR truck driving does require commitment, the benefits can far exceed personal sacrifice in most cases. It is worthwhile to do a self-assessment of your wants, needs, and abilities to determine if a career on the open road is desirable and beneficial. If you are looking to enter trucking and still need that CDL, contact Advanced Career Institute and see how we can get you started in this high demand industry.
A New Addition to CDL TrainingTrucking 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:
- 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.)
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!
Finding the Best Carrier for Your LifestyleWhen considering which trucking carrier you will work for, you have many options to consider. Trucking is a job that is currently in high demand with ~60,000 available throughout the U.S. as of 2019. This high demand for truckers means that you also have your choice of which type of trucking job you would like to do. Whether you prefer to be a local, regional, or over-the-road trucking, here is a position out there to meet your needs!
Speaking to the Recruiters:During your CDL training at Advanced Career Institute, you will have the opportunity to speak with several trucking companies. When talking to the recruiters, be sure that you are getting a feel for what that specific truck carrier has to offer. Each carrier will offer their perks and benefits. It will be all about finding one that fits your particular lifestyle and your personal needs. There is no one "right choice" for everyone. Asking the right questions up front and being honest about your needs and expectations in the industry will help you come out with a satisfactory experience once you choose with whom you want to work.
50 Questions to Consider Asking Recruiters:Before you go to a recruiter event, consider writing down what you want to ask the recruiters before you commit to working for any specific company once you get your CDL. The following are 50 questions that you may consider asking as a start when you are looking to find the truck carrier that works best for your needs:
- What is your company's home-time policy?
- How much time off can I expect to get through your company's home-time policy?
- Will my days off vary or be consistent?
- What is your policy for needing extra time off (i.e., medical needs, injury outside of work, illness, family emergencies, etc.)?
- What kind of paid vacation do you offer me to start?
- How much more vacation time can I earn by staying with this carrier and how long will it take for that vacation time to accumulate?
- Are there restrictions on when I can use my vacation time (i.e., only taking so long off at once, not taking off around holidays, etc.)?
- Do vacation days expire annually or can they carry over into the next year?
- How many vacation days can I accumulate before I must use them?
- Which routes do your drivers most often travel?
- How many driving miles can I expect to log?
- How many miles away from home will I be expected to travel?
- What kind of equipment do I need to get comfortable working with/
- Will my truck be equipped with air-ride suspension?
- What size (how many tons) will the truck weigh?
- Do you provide layover pay?
- How long is the average layover period?
- How many loads can I expect to haul each week/month?
- Do you require drivers to "slip-seat" to take time off?
- What do you pay drivers for each job position (i.e., local or regional drivers versus OTR drivers)?
- What kind of raises may I receive overtime?
- What is my top earning potential in this position?
- Does the cost of living in my area affect how much you will pay me?
- What are the potentials for promotions in the future?
- What do my promotion potentials end up paying once I earn them,?
- How long will it take me to earn a pay increase?
- What kinds of benefits does your carrier offer to its drivers?
- Do you offer your drivers full health insurance benefits?
- Do you provide healthcare coverage for drivers families?
- What plans can I choose from when I am picking my healthcare?
- Do you offer short-term disability coverage to your workers?
- Do you offer retirement benefits such as 401ks?
- Do you offer pension benefits to drivers?
- If you provide retirement benefits, what matches on employee contributions do you make to my retirement?
- Do you provide driver bonus opportunities?
- How do you earn bonuses and what are the criteria for qualifying for them?
- When do you provide bonus pay and when can I expect to receive any bonuses that I have earned?
- Is there a limit of how many bonuses (or the dollar value) that a driver can earn annually?
- Do you offer new driver sign-on bonuses?
- Does your carrier pay for lumpers?
- Who is responsible for loading or unloading trucks if you don't hire lumpers?
- Do drivers ever have to unload their trucks?
- What are your deadline policies for delivering goods?
- What are the consequences for me as an employee if a delivery deadline gets missed?
- What about missing deadlines for circumstances beyond my control (i.e. truck breakdowns, personal health issues, bad weather, closed roads, traffic, accidents, etc.)?
- Will I get a dedicated truck driver manager?
- What type of on-the-job training will I receive as a new driveR?
- Do I receive mentorship as a new driver?
- What are the policies you have on how many hours I must rest versus how many hours I may drive at one time?
- Are there any other company policies or rules of which I need to be made aware?