What is Commerical Driving Experience?

Three-quarter front view of mid 20s woman in denim shirt, cap, and reflective vest sitting in driver’s seat with hands on steering wheel and smiling at camera.

If you are considering joining the trucking industry, you may see positions asking for commercial driving experience. However, you may wonder what commercial driving experience is and where to get it. 

Understanding commercial driving experience is often the first question when individuals are considering an exciting new career change in the world of trucking. That is why we are breaking down what this phrasing means and how you can begin to get commercial driving experience.

What is Commerical Driving Experience? 

If a position asks for commercial driving experience, they are likely hiring you for a job that requires driving for the company business. Many places are open to hiring brand-new drivers, especially as the industry needs more drivers. However, some companies prefer that individuals have experience driving commercial vehicles before being hired to join the team.

How Do You Get Commercial Driving Experience?

There are many small steps to making the leap into commercial driving. First, you must decide what kind of driving you want to do, and then you must get your CDL. Here, we are answering your frequently asked questions to help you understand how to get and what is the commercial driving experience.

Decide What Kind of Commerical Driving Experience You Want

Before fully understanding the commercial driving experience, you must know what kind of commercial driver you want to be. There are three classes of commercial driver’s licenses (or CDLs) to choose from, each required for different types of jobs.

Class A

A Class A CDL gives individuals the license to operate any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds as long as the towed vehicle is heavier than 10,000 pounds. 

Typically when people are asked, “What is the commercial driving experience,” this is the kind of experience they are asking about. The Class A CDL also gives drivers the license to drive almost all Class B and C vehicles (depending on the necessary endorsements), tractor-trailers, tanker vehicles, flatbeds, and livestock carriers.

Class B

A Class B commercial driver’s license is required for drivers who want to operate a single vehicle that is not hitched to a trailer. A Class B CDL includes large buses (such as school buses, tourist buses, and city buses), dump trucks with small trailers, and box trucks.

Class C

Finally, a class C is necessary for those that want to operate a single vehicle with less than a 26,000 gross combination weight rating or transport more than 16 passengers. A Class C CDL includes tank trucks and double/triple trailers.

Complete the Entry-Level Driver Training

As of 2022, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association has updated its entry-level driver training for anyone seeking a commercial driver’s license. Before, each state could set its own commercial driver’s license training requirements, but this standardization has helped to raise nationwide standards to ensure a safer driving experience for everyone.

Entry-level driver training starts with theory. This may include a stimulator at the time and primarily covers:

  • Basic operation
  • Advanced operation procedures
  • Safe operating procedures
  • Vehicle systems
  • Reporting malfunctions
  • And other non-driving activities

There is also behind-the-wheel training. Behind-the-wheel training will be done with a dedicated member of our staff, all of which are previous truck drivers themselves. This hands-on experience includes learning about a CMV’s actual operation, basic vehicle control skills, and mastery of basic maneuvers. 

This step has no minimum number of hours, as it will be based on the driver’s proficiency at the provider’s discrepancy. 

The training also must be completed with an FMCSA-registered training program or provider- an organization that TDI is part of!

Pass the Test

To receive a CDL, you must complete classroom and supervised driving hours. 

At Truck Driver Institute, we help individuals prepare for everything they need to know to take their written test, which is taken offline. The offline test usually takes around one hour, and the road skills test averages two hours. 

Truck Driver Institute makes sure you’re given every advantage to passing the tests and moving on to getting real commercial driving experience. We help with applicable knowledge and deal with test-day jitters and how to get past them when you are in the driver’s seat.

Join the Trucking Workforce

Once you graduate, you can move on from wondering, “What is commercial driving experience’ and go out and start driving! With an aging workforce and a dramatic increase in demand nationwide, this is a great time to join the trucking industry. In the past few decades, the truck driving industry has become a highly lucrative field for anyone. 

Because most companies do not require a high school or college diploma, this is a sought-after field for those without degrees who want high-paying, enjoyable jobs they can one day retire from with benefits. As of July 2023, the average truck driver’s salary was just over $60,000 yearly, or $29.00 an hour.

Once you get your CDL, TDI works with you to help with job placement. Many students have been offered positions before they even graduate. We have a success rating of over 82% for getting drivers employed after graduation and work with companies that provide their employees good benefits and opportunities right out of graduation, including:

  • Werner
  • Schneider
  • FedEx
  • TransAm
  • TMC Transportation

Plus, if you accept a position and realize down the line it isn’t the right fit for you, TDI is here to help. Our job placement assistance program isn’t just for new graduates but for anyone who graduated from our program.

Staying Healthy and Safe On the Road 

Once you join the trucking workforce it’s important to ensure you prioritize physical and mental health while working. You can incorporate regular exercise and stress management techniques into your routine. From stretching at rest stops to avoiding your phone before bed and opting for healthier meals, you can remain healthy while working. 

Additionally, understanding and following safety regulations on the road, such as proper cargo loading and adherence to speed limits, are crucial for a safe driving career. As a truck driver, it’s not just about meeting your deliveries but also about ensuring you are safe and keeping others safe while en route.

The Importance of Technological Skills and Adaptation

Embracing technological advancements in navigation systems, electronic logging devices, and safety features is essential to staying up-to-date while on the road. Just because you finished your CDL training doesn’t mean you are done learning. Continuous learning about new forms of technology and their applications in commercial driving further enhances safety on the road and your overall ability to succeed as a driver.

Trucking Industry Challenges and Solutions

Navigating challenges such as time away from home, fluctuating workloads, meeting deliveries, etc. can be challenging. However, by establishing a support network, they become manageable. Be an active member of your trucking community and seek tips for efficient route planning or time management. At TDI, our graduates are part of our network, where we aim to help everyone succeed in the industry. Remember, you’re not alone in this career!

Career Advancement Opportunities

Truck driving not only allows you to get paid to travel and escape the ordinary 9-5 job but there are also numerous opportunities for career progression. Drivers can specialize in hazardous materials, advance to manager roles, and become instructors or owners/operators.

Regulatory Compliance

When entering the industry, it’s not just about figuring out what is commercial driving experience and getting your CDL but also familiarizing yourself with the regulations that govern commercial driving. These regulations include hours of service, vehicle maintenance, and load securing. Staying compliant not only ensures the safety of yourself and others on the road but also protects you from legal and financial penalties.

Environmental Considerations

Sustainability continues to grow in importance across industries. As a driver, a part of your route planning should take into account reduced mileage and lower fuel consumption to do your part in being eco-friendly. Stay informed about industry trends as you progress in your career to ensure you are aligned with the goals of the industry in regard to sustainability.

What is Commercial Driving Experience? Learn More with Truck Driver Institute!

At the Truck Driver Institute, we are here every step of the way, from the first call about joining the school to graduation and beyond. We want our students to feel confident that with our professional staff and constantly updating curriculum, they are setting themselves up for a long and illustrious career in the transportation industry.

In just three weeks, you can change your life with TDI. To learn more about our program, contact us today!

To learn more about life as a truck driver or how to get started in this recession proof industry, be sure to check out our blog where we discuss the latest trucking trends, insights, and more.

Get Started

Get your Class A CDL in our friendly, supportive CDL training program. TRAIN with experienced instructors – multiple good-paying, secure job choices with benefits available for eligible graduates. EARN $700 – $1000+ / week to start as a truck driver. Get started today by filling out the form below. We look forward to hearing from you!