Can somebody tell me what I need to do to upgrade my CDL?
I currently have a class B CDL... I drive school bus. Anyway, I want to upgrade to class A and go OTR. I'm thinking about doing this next summer. I've called my state DOL, 2 schools, and have talked to numerous professional drivers, and I'm not getting any reliable information on what I need to do to upgrade, besides going to school. (Well, I know that part...trucks are different from a bus.) But nobody can tell me what I'll have to test for... I've passed general knowledge, air brakes, passengers, and school bus. I won't have to re-take these test again will I? ( One person even told me that I'd just have to pass the written test for the extra endorsements and I'd have my class A... That doesn't sound right so I'm not counting on it. )I don't mind having to go to school to learn how to drive a truck, or learn about hazmat, doubles, etc., or even taking a skills test when I'm ready...but I don't want to have to pay to study or learn for something that I won't need.
to drive class a, you must pass the combination vehicles exam for your
state, as well as general knowledge and air brakes. since you already have a
b license with this, you will probably not have to retake it, but a refresher
isn't a bad thing, and there are plenty of free practice tests on the 'net.
you will also have to road test with the type of vehicle you intend to drive.
(this is where a school is very handy if you don't know someone with a
tractor trailer to practice backing with)
i don't yet have a doubles, tank or haz endorsement, but i will get them in
time. more license, more opportunities for more different types of work.
I went to Swift's school in phoenix, and just finished the 50 days of hell (also
known as mentor training). the CDL school can be done at varying levels of
cost, depending on your individual timetable, money to spend (or borrow),
and if you can adapt to the OTR lifestyle, which has been fairly easy for
me, but can be difficult for people with families.
Since you already have a Class B CDL with air brakes you will only need to take those exams which you haven't to get a Class A learners permit such as combination vehicles.
You will also have to take a skills test in a Class A vehicle before actually earning a CLass A CDL.
You really need to attend a CDL school. By doing so it will make it a lot easier to get hired on somewhere, take the skills tests, plus a good school will teach you the fundementals of driving a tractor trailer, and then a trainer at the first company you work for will help you develop those skills.
Finding the right trucking company is like finding the right person to marry. I really comes down to finding one whose BS you can put up with and who can put up wih yours.
Thanks for the replies. I knew somebody in here would know what I need to do.
I'll work on taking the written test that I still need and getting the class A permit this winter, then find a school to teach me the rest and prepare me for the skills test.
Next question... Will my bus driving experience help me when it's time to find a job? Or will companies be more concerned with the school I go to and the hours of education I get? I've been driving bus for a couple years. No accidents, no tickets, no criminal history, no drugs... Will this make any difference in working out a good deal when it's time to find a company?
With no tractor trailer driving experience you will be looked at the same as anyone else who has never driven a tractor trailer before. Your past experience as a bus driver does not give you an advantage.
You do however have a good clean record with no accidents/tickets and a stable work history. That can't hurt your application.
Nothing is foolproof to a talented fool.
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
The requirement to attend a school ISN'T a requirement. It is one gateway into this business though.
The only thing you will be required to do is take the written combination and do a skills test on a class a type vehicle since you have done the rest of it for your class b. That can be any vehicle combination including a pick-up trailer combo with a cgvw of 26,001 and greater.
That will only get you your class a cdl. Then you can join the ranks of the other 1+ million or so that have the same license.
Going to a school will help you get hired because of how a companies insurance will look at you. After 6 months or so on a job, mostly after a clean year, that school will be irrelevant. Most of the cost of a school is for fuel and equipment and the instructors time.