Commercial Truck Driving
Arkansas Commercial Driver Training Institute
Want to be a professional driver?
The links to the left will provide you with detailed information about our program.
Below are some of the basics about earning a Commercial Drivers License.
- Although there is no maximum age requirement to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), you must be at least 21 years old. While many states allow those 18 and older to drive trucks within state borders, the U.S. Department of Transportation requires CMV drivers operating across state lines to be at least 21 years of age.
- You must be able to pass a DOT mandated physical. Note: Most long-haul driving does not require you to load, unload cargo, or have special strengths/abilities. Most trucks are automatic shift, and many have Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation. Men, women and couples of all ages who are otherwise qualified can operate a CMV.
- Must be able to pass a DOT mandated drug and alcohol test.
- Able to read and speak the English language well enough to: converse with the general public; read English traffic signs; and, to make entries on DOT-reports.
- Individual trucking companies may have additional requirements that you must meet before they will hire you.
The Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
- In order to drive a commercial motor vehicle legally throughout the U.S., you must first obtain a valid, state-issued commercial driver’s license (CDL), which includes taking a state-DMV administered commercial vehicle test. This test is two parts: a written exam and a road test.
Learning to Drive a Commercial Vehicle
- While life out on the open road can be one big adventure, operating a CMV safely and legally is serious business. With very few exceptions, most professional truck drivers have received specialized training.
- There are numerous professional truck driver training schools across the country that will teach you how to properly and safely operate a commercial motor vehicle. They will also help you prepare for your commercial motor vehicle exam to obtain your CDL.
- The cost of attending a truck driver training school and the amount of training time varies, depending on the school. Currently, training time generally runs between 3 – 6 weeks. There are different categories of training schools in operation: schools offered through a community college/vocational college; schools owned and operated by a trucking company; and privately owned schools.
- Many schools offer financial assistance. Former members of the military may be able to apply their MGIB benefits toward tuition costs. Those carriers with their own driver training schools may train you at little or no cost, or may assist with tuition at an independent school in return for a work commitment with their company. Alternatively, funding may be available to students through the federally-run ‘Workforce Investment Act’. Money is allocated to states and localities specifically for adult career training programs.
Salary and Benefits
- Wages in the long-haul motor carrier industry vary from company to company. It is generally based on years of experience, safety record, and specific CDL endorsements. Long-haul truck drivers with two or more years of experience usually earn at least $50-$60,000/year.
- On average, an entry-level truck driver with no “over-the-road” experience can expect to earn a starting salary well into the high thirties. Team drivers (two people in a cab each driving part of the scheduled route) can expect to make more money. Salaries vary from company to company.
- Many long-haul carriers, eager to hire qualified professional truck drivers, often offer “sign-on” bonuses and other benefits to encourage qualified drivers to join their companies. In addition to salary, many trucking companies offer paid vacation, medical insurance, life insurance, 401K plans and more.
- In efforts to address lifestyle issues, many companies will allow you to bring your spouse/significant other or your dog/cat along for the ride! They are also attempting to give drivers more “at home” time with scheduled driving options: i.e., dedicated route driving, team driving and regional driving, to name a few.