Sterling News

News and insights for job seekers and hiring managers.

Is Getting Your CDL Worth It?

Not everyone is cut out for an office job. Some people are called by the lure of the open highway, the adventure of seeing new places. Others just don’t like sitting still for eight hours a day and would rather keep busy in a more active sense.

Have you considered getting a commercial driver’s license? There are so many jobs that are open to people who have this qualification and skill, from those who travel long distances to those who make deliveries locally or regionally and are still home at the end of the day. Is it worth getting your CDL? Consider the following:

What is a CDL?

A commercial driver’s license, or CDL, allows you to operate a bigger vehicle than your standard car, truck, minivan, sedan or other personal use vehicle. It involves taking a training course and learning how to maneuver box trucks, trailers and other large vehicles, understanding the basic maintenance of those vehicles and the restrictions they have based on the cargo they carry. There are also different kinds of CDL licenses, all of which require slightly different training, depending on whether you want to drive a school bus, passengers, hazardous materials, etc. Getting a CDL involves first getting a permit, then reading your state’s CDL manual, taking some training courses and passing a test, just like getting your standard vehicle license but with a much bigger vehicle involved.

How much does it cost?

If you’re going into this on your own, you might be looking at a fee of up to $10,000 to secure your CDL. If you’re hired by a company to become a commercial driver, the company might pay for your training upfront as part of your hiring process. Many CDL schools also help you secure a job at the end of your training, which can help make the expensive up-front investment a little easier to handle. There are also grants and scholarship programs available, depending on where you live and the kind of license you’re looking to get, that can help defray the cost.

Consider what kind of materials you’d want to transport.

The kind of work you might like could require certifications or other training in order to meet the safety obligations of the job. Driving a school bus takes different training than driving a truck filled with gasoline or hazardous materials; driving a delivery truck for a shipping company or retailer will take other skills beyond what your entry-level driver training (ELDT) will cover. The more qualifications and skills you obtain through certifications, the more opportunities you’ll have, but additional certifications might have costs associated with the training programs required.

What are the perks of obtaining a CDL?

Some CDL operators can make their own hours and essentially serve as their own boss. Most CDL truck drivers will make more money for their work than non-CDL drivers, with entry-level drivers earning up to $19 per hour compared to $12 for non-CDL drivers, with other companies paying even higher wages based on the job. The more experience a driver has the higher their pay can go, with experienced CDL drivers earning up to $50 per hour while non-CDL drivers staying around $12, depending on their position. The median salary for heavy truck and tractor-trailer drivers is around $48,310 annually, or $23.23 per hour, while passenger vehicle drivers without a CDL earn about $10,000 less, or $37,540 each year ($18.05 per hour). The job opportunities for drivers with their CDL are also greater than for drivers without; CDL holders can work as owner-operators, driving instructors, dump truck drivers, car haulers or even ice road truckers for those who are up for the challenge. These drivers also are categorized as essential workers, meaning they are able to be on the road when hazardous conditions hit.

Are there drawbacks to being a CDL driver?

Depending on the kind of job you’re looking to get, or the one you can secure as a new driver, you might face a lot of time away from home. You could be facing tight deadlines that require driving overnight or for longer than a standard eight-hour workday. Driving requires a lot of sitting, which could result in poor diet, dehydration from lack of drinking water and having to make bathroom breaks, a sense of isolation from working by yourself all the time and the stress that comes from driving in high-traffic areas. It might take some time for new CDL drivers to get a route or assignment that keeps them close to home or provides higher pay or better hours.

Considering making a change? Sterling Personnel can help you find the road ahead!

If you’re looking for a change and don’t know exactly what you want to do, but you can’t imagine sitting at a desk and doing the same thing every day, or you feel drawn by the open road, getting your CDL might be a great option!

Want to learn more? Sterling Personnel can help! Our recruiters can talk with you about how to go about getting your CDL and can put you in touch with our clients who are looking for drivers, including those who might be willing to pay training costs in order to bring you on as a driver. Take a look at the jobs we’re hiring for right now and then give us a call!