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Tips for New CDL Drivers to Choose a Carrier

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When you're finishing up your CDL (commercial driver's license) class and getting ready for the test, it's time to start thinking about which carrier you want to work with. Of course, you can always choose to work independently, but if you're interested in driving for a company, you need to choose the right carrier for you. Here are a few things to consider as you evaluate your choices.

How Do They Treat the Drivers?

While it's easy for any trucking company to profess that they are good to their drivers or considerate of others, the real proof is in how they actually treat their drivers. If you're considering a specific company, talk with some of their drivers to see what the experience is really like on the road. Is communication clear and effective? Is paperwork handled quickly? What happens when a truck breaks down? Is the support team responsive to issues? The more you know about how the drivers actually feel working for the company, the easier it is to choose one to work with.

Is the Pay Fair?

Evaluate the pay per mile rates for each of the companies that you're looking into. In addition, look at the compensation package as a whole. If the company pays well but has no insurance, paid down time, or chances to move up in the company, it's not worth it. Additionally, if the company pays by the mile but doesn't have enough loads to keep you driving, it's going to cost you in the long run. Make sure you're not only getting the pay you want, but also the work volume that you need.

How Is the Home-Time Availability?

Trucking means spending a lot of your time on the road. Look for a company that you can trust to give you a solid schedule for your home time. For example, you may be able to take all of your runs at the beginning of the month so that you can spend the whole last week at home. Or, if you have kids and want to have two days at home with them every week, some companies offer that type of schedule.

What Kind of Truck Will You Get?

Some trucking companies work exclusively with one manufacturer or provide their newer drivers with used or lower-level trucks. This can be problematic, because your per-mile rate won't add up if your truck is in the shop more than it's on the road. Make sure you're going to get quality, reliable equipment so that you can be confident in your time on the road.

Don't commit to any company before you have a chance to explore these things. With these tips, you can find the right carrier for your needs and approach your CDL testing with the confidence that you know exactly where you're headed.