Finding A Job

Advice for Starting in the Truck Driving Industry

Now is the best time to enter the transportation industry. The industry is expanding, companies are growing, and the demand for drivers is high. Yet most companies are having a hard time filling all their available positions. This shortage of drivers has created a demand that works in your favor, resulting in better pay and benefits for entry-level positions.

Here’s how you can get started in the truck driving industry:

Which comes first – CDL or a Job?

A common question from those starting out in the industry is whether they need to have a Commercial Driver’s License before they get hired, or if they should get a job first and then get their CDL. The answer: it depends.

Option 1: Get Hired First

Many truck driving companies will hire candidates for entry-level positions who do not have their CDL. Sometimes called pre-hired or a hiring decision, this employment is contingent on you receiving your CDL. The company will then pay for the candidate’s CDL training – either at their own school or at a private or public CDL school. With these positions, drivers are usually required to sign on for a certain period of time (one or more years) at a reduced pay scale to recoup the cost of training.

Option 2: Get Your CDL First

Another way to enter the workforce is to receive your CDL at a truck driving school first, and then get hired by a company. The benefits of this method include that you can be hired to a better entry-level position because you already have your CDL. Graduates from top-tier driving schools can have their pick of jobs and routes, with some companies throwing in a signing bonus as a way to recruit you.

The downside to getting your CDL first is that you have to pay for the school yourself. While there are loans and tuition reduction programs available, it may be too much of a burden for some drivers.

Tips on Finding the Right Company

As you look for your first truck driving job, you’ll want to do some research into your potential employers. Not all transportation companies are equal: some treat drivers as commodities, while others place greater emphasis on supporting and encouraging their drivers. Some companies are open and honest, while others withhold information or do not stick to their word. You’ll want to find a company who will be a good fit with your personal and professional goals.

Local vs. National Carrier

One of the first things you’ll want to decide is whether you will work for a local or a national carrier. Local and regional carriers mean you’ll be home more frequently, while national carriers may offer better pay and more routes.

Learn More About the Company Before You Get Hired

A great way to learn more about a truck driving company is to ask questions. Talk to the recruiter and ask them about the company. Find past and current drivers and ask them about how the company treats their drivers.

Here are some basic questions to ask your potential employer:

  • What home time options are available?
  • How much will I get paid?
  • What locations do you hire out of?
  • Is there a sign-on or referral bonus?
  • Do you provide on-going training?
  • How are pay increases handled? What are they based on?
  • Do you offer safety and performance bonuses?
  • What additional benefits do you offer?


What Can I Expect from an Entry Level Driving Job?

It is important to face the truth: when you get hired for an entry-level truck driving job, you start as the lowest person in the company’s driver list. That means you may get less desirable routes, odd schedules, and plenty of ribbing.

The best way to advance in the truck driving industry is to invest in a company. View your first year as a way to hone your skills and experience, learn more about the company and their values, and begin to prove your value to your company. By becoming a trusted, valuable driver to your company, you will be able to secure better routes and better pay.


Emily Sensenich (Google Review)

I just passed my CDL road test last week and I couldn’t have done it without Shelley Truck Driving School. All the instructors are super informative and respectful. This school doesn’t even compare to any of the other truck driving school that I looked into. Awesome job guys!

Jim Rowe (Google Review)

Attending this school put me on a path to better my life and allows me to go anywhere and find employment. The instructors at this school are TOP notch and I learned valuable things from everyone of them! I highly recommend this school to anyone thinking of getting their CDL.

Amazing what they do in less than 30 days!

Shawn Burkey (Google Review)

I graduated today and this has been hands down the best experience I’ve had at a school. The instructor’s are top notch and will get you where you need to be! Thank you to everyone at the school for the knowledge and experience. You got the one snowman I’m eastbound and down!

Adam Dudas (Google Review)

The instructors really make this class and school. From the class room to driving to the skills, it has been a very fun learning environment for the past 4 weeks. I ALMOST FORGOT I WAS IN SCHOOL! In my opinion no other school should be considered.

Brian Eckert (Google Review)

This is an amazing school, with top notch instructors. During my time there, I learned from all of the instructors and they each had different things to teach and add to the training. This school not only gets you prepared for the CDL test, but also teaches skills that give you a head start once you are out and working. The patience of these instructors is top tier.

Shel Gray (Google Review)

Shelly was a Great experience for someone like me who was changing careers. They provide a relaxed but focused atmosphere where anyone can learn the necessary skills and knowledge to obtain a CDL. You really get the feel that the instructors care about your well-being and goal for getting a CDL. I would recommend this school to anyone looking into getting their CDL.