So you've taken the leap and decided to enroll in truck driver training. You've taken the first step, but now what? Well, you can't just show up to training unprepared! There are some things you can do to ensure that you're ready for your time at CDL training.
1. Review CDL Material
Prior to arriving at truck driving school, you should visit your local DMV (or state licensing office) to pick up your state’s CDL manual. The requirements for passing your state’s CDL exam are clearly defined in these manuals. Typically, you’ll be taking the CDL permit exam during the first part of training, and it’s much easier to pass on the first try if you’ve looked over the material in advance.
It's also a good idea to pick up your state’s general driver’s license handbook. You know, the one you studied when you first get your driver's license. Most people haven’t reviewed the rules and regulations of the road for a long time. These are pretty universal across the nation, so it never hurts to brush up. Especially when your career depends on it.
Last but not least, consider using an online CDL practice test, like eGears. These online tools allow you to study at home on your own time before attending CDL training, preparing you a little bit more for school.The sample test questions and answers in online CDL practice tests like eGears are similar to what you'll see when taking the real state CDL permit test, making them great practice tools.
2. Prepare Family
Make sure your home life is in order before you begin training. The day-to-day living matters should be handled by family members so you can focus on the task at hand – getting your CDL. Leave important dates and numbers with someone trustworthy who can keep things running smoothly while you're focused on training.
You also need to inform family members of your new schedule. This includes your schedule during school, your company training schedule, and what your schedule will be once you become a solo, first seat driver or team driver. Give them plenty of advanced notice of where you’ll be, when you'll be leaving, and how long you'll be gone for. Simply put - the day before you leave is not the time to tell your wife/husband (or significant other) that you’ll be away for a few weeks!
3. Budget Finances
At most trucking schools, you’re responsible for supplying your own food. This will be your biggest expense while at school. Plan how you’re going to use your money during this time – shopping for food at the grocery is almost always a better option than eating out every day. Stock up on inexpensive, non-perishable food items that will last you throughout the 3 or so weeks you’re at truck driving school.
Take care of your bills and finances before leaving for school. This means either paying them all in full prior to departing for school, or setting them up to auto-deduct from your bank account while you’re away. Make sure you’ve saved up enough money so you'll have one less worry while you're going through CDL training.
4. Bring Proper Items
Make sure to bring all the clothes you’ll need during trucking school. Make sure you have comfy clothes for driving in the truck. Bring a jacket regardless of the time of year - mornings on the range can be chilly. Sturdy shoes that you can drive well in are a must...and it's always good to have an extra pair. In addition to that, you will of course need things such as additional shirts, jeans and toiletries.
Think carefully about what you should and should not bring with you to training. Don’t bring anything that could be a distraction to your studies. You only have a short time to learn the skills needed for your new career, so you must put all your attention towards passing your tests. Translation: Don’t bring your Xbox or Playstation with you to school.
Last but not least, don’t forget to bring the necessary documentation you need for truck driving school. All of this is information you should review ahead of time with a representative. Some examples of items you may need to bring with you include (again, review exact list of required documents with representative prior to training):
- Birth certificate or passport -AND-
- Original social security card
Many schools also require two of the following containing your name and address as it appears on your driver's license:
- Computer-generated W2
- Computer-generated bill (electric, phone, gas, cable, credit card, mortgage, insurance)
- Computer-generated bank statement
- Computer-generated pay stub
There may be more items or different items required depending on your particular situation, so it's always best to review with a representative prior to training.
If you follow these four steps to preparing for CDL training, you'll be in great shape when you arrive at truck driving school! Just remember that like anything, it's never good to wing it. The better prepared you are ahead of time, the more likely you are to be successful.
Do you have some tips of your own for preparing for training? Share them with us in the comments below!
Interested in becoming a team or solo truck driver? Check out Driver Solutions' company-sponsored CDL training program. Fill out our no obligation online application to get your own trucking career moving and become a part of this fast-growing profession!