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Troops in Trucks: Getting your CDL As A Civilian

 

For many, the transition from life in uniform to life as a civilian can be challenging. However, many industries are committing to helping veterans make the transition back to civilian life easier. One of those is the trucking industry.

CDL Requirements

Military veterans enter the civilian workforce with a unique set of skills and experience. The Military Skills Test Waiver Program allows veterans with heavy-duty driving experience to earn a CDL without taking the road test portion of the exam. You’ll need to apply for this program within 12 months of being discharged from your US Military Service. Drivers will still have to take the written portion of the test.

Physical Impairment? You May Still Qualify

Drivers with physical impairments can obtain a Skill Performance Evaluation waiver granted by the FMSCA. This certification allows drivers with missing or impaired limbs to drive commercial motor vehicles across state lines. Drivers must complete on-and-off road activities and demonstrate the ability to safely drive a truck. And, under the recently enacted FAST Act, military veterans will be allowed to have their DOT physical done through the Veteran’s Administration.

Why Choose Trucking?

The trucking industry will need to add more than 4.5 million workers between the years 2014 and 2021. Many trucking companies have shown a long-time commitment to hiring veterans after their military service is complete. Diesel Driving Academy is a proud supporter of our men and women in uniform. Our programs prepare veterans for careers in the civilian workforce, and we partner with trucking companies that regularly hire military veterans.

For more information on why truck driving is a great career for a returning veteran and why we want to give back to those who have served our country, call DDA today! 1-800-551-8900

Autonomous Trucks: Do I Still Need to Get My CDL?

 

 

With all the talk in the automotive and trucking industries turning toward autonomous, self-driving vehicles, many are wondering if getting a CDL is still worth it. The short answer is YES! While autonomous trucks may be a part of the future of transportation, truck drivers are not out of the equation.

The Role of the Driver in Self-Driving Vehicles

While the transportation industry is working toward making vehicles totally autonomous, recent news reports of their failure to avert accidents have left some wondering about the future of this technology. Like in the airline industry, autonomous vehicles are not ready to be completely driverless. In the case of the airplanes, the autopilot function is there to assist pilots. It allows the pilot to release their hands from the wheel while maintaining total awareness of their surroundings. Autonomous vehicles would allow drivers to do the same. Drivers could also override these “autopilot” functions in specific or dangerous situations.

The Future of the Truck Driving Industry

No one can say for sure what the truck driving industry will look like 5, 10, or 20 years. However, the skills you learn when earning your CDL license are invaluable. With the industry slow to adopt a fully autonomous vehicle, highly skilled drivers will still be in demand for the foreseeable future. Having a fully trained person behind the wheel, like in the airline industry, is essential to maintaining safety on the highways.

The immediate outlook for truck drivers is positive. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported that from 2016 to 2026, the industry will see a 6% growth. This translates to another 90,000 drivers needed NOW through 2026. With the future of autonomous vehicles rolling at a (very) slow pace, those jobs are just waiting to be filled!

The trucking industry is booming, and the demand for new drivers is high! Find out how you can get your CDL and get on the road to a new career. Call Diesel Driving Academy today! 1-800-551-8900

 

 

Understanding the Truck Driver Shortage

 

The demand for truck drivers has been steadily increasing over the last 15 years. With more than 70% of goods moved by trucks each year, there is a high demand to replace an aging workforce. The average age of today’s tucker is 55 years old. Now, with more truckers nearing retirement age, and starting salaries averaging $40-50,000, the industry is primed and ready for new entry-level drivers.

Benefits

While starting salaries are around $40-50,000 per year, new recruits can earn signing bonuses. Long haulers can earn even more money with some drivers topping out at $100,000 per year. In some cases, smaller companies may also consider profit sharing. Companies are reporting record bookings this year and increased pay per mile. There are long hours in the trucking industry but more companies are implementing schedules that allow for more home time.

Industry Future

With more and more people ordering goods online, there has been a sharp increase in the number of items being shipped across the country. This means an endless supply of work for truckers. While some in the industry are talking about self-driving trucks, this doesn’t appear to be something that will be coming to US highways anytime soon. With the increase in workload and shortage of drivers, many truckers are earning even higher wages for their service.

National Programs

The trucking industry knows it needs more drivers. In an effort to encourage military personnel to join the trucking industry, in July 2018, the US began an Under 21 Pilot Program. This 3-year study looks at a test group of military personnel from all branches of the armed forces who are 18-21 to determine if the training they receive in service can be applied to the truck driving industry.

It’s a great time to get into trucking! Start a new chapter and earn your CDL with driver training from Diesel Driving Academy! To get your start in this growing industry, call us today! 1-800-551-8900

The Benefits of Team Driving

 

For those new to the trucking industry, the concept of team driving is when two drivers take turns driving. Seems simple enough but this requires that both of you be driving together in the cab. While one of you is driving, the other one sleeps. This constant driving allows you and your teammate to get through deliveries faster by making fewer stops and therefore drive up your profits.

How Does It Work?

There are some rules and regulations you need to follow. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has guidelines that limit the amount of time a driver is allowed to drive. It also regulates the amount of time allocated for sleep and breaks. For example,  there is an 11-Hour Driving Limit if you are coming off of a 10 hour sleep or break (this can also include days off). These guidelines extend to how many hours you can drive in a week.

Who is My Teammate?

Well, anyone who has a CDL can become your teammate. Often times, this is a family member or spouse but it can also be someone who you met in during a training program. Remember, you are going to be spending long hours in tight quarters so you should choose your teammate wisely.

What is My Earning Potential?

According to ZipRecruiter, the average team payout is about $62,000. This is higher than the national average for a solo driver at $40-50,000 per year. For some drivers, this may mean spending less time on the road to earn more money.

Team driving provides more flexibility to take on long-haul routes. As a team, you can spend less time on the road while covering greater distances and making yourselves more money in the end.

Learn more about how you can earn your CDL and get on the road, call us today to get started…maybe you’ll meet your teammate! 1-800-551-8900

 

6 Questions You Should Ask When Choosing a CDL School

 

You’ve decided on a new career and are taking the right steps to earn your Class A Commercial Driver’s License by enrolling in a training program. The best way to decide which training school is right for you is by meeting with an admissions representative and asking questions.

While this can be intimidating, knowing what questions to ask can help you make the right decision. The most important questions you should ask the admissions rep are related to cost and the structure of the training. Below are some excellent questions to ask as well as the types of answers to expect from the admissions rep.

Cost-related Questions

How much does the program cost? 

It’s important to know how much the program will cost, and what is included in that cost. The answer to this may vary, depending on the program. Your admissions representative will likely ask some questions to get an idea of your skill level. This will help them determine which training program is best for you.

What kind of financial assistance is available? 

Knowing how you are going to pay for training is important. While you can pay out-of-pocket, there may be other options for paying for your training. Some CDL programs may offer more – or different – financial assistance than others. Financial aid staff can help you complete any FASFA applications, and see what types of assistance you qualify to use.

Do you work with any companies that offer tuition reimbursement? 

Many trucking companies offer tuition reimbursement for tuition costs. This means that your future employer will pay you back for part of – or even all of – your training costs.

Program Structure Questions

What is the student to truck ratio?  &  What is the student to instructor ratio?

Knowing how the program works is essential. Two things you should ask about are the student to truck ratio and the student to instructor ratio. In both cases, the lower the number, the better. The more time you can spend with a qualified instructor in a truck, the better prepared you will be.

What types of certifications does the program have? 

While specific certifications aren’t required, asking an admissions rep if the school is licensed, accredited, or if the instructors are CVTA certified can give you an idea of the quality of the program.

Knowing the right questions to ask can help you decide on the best training school for you. Have more questions you need answered? Talk to a DDA admissions representative for more information on your CDL training. Call today! 1-800-551-8900

Back to School: Starting a Career in the Trucking Industry

 

Many adults want to go back to school to get their CDL license and start a new career in the trucking industry. But, the idea of going back to school can be rather intimidating and may raise a lot of unanswered questions. Some may question their ability to afford career training, while others may wonder if they are at the right point in their lives to go back to school in the first place.

Many adults will have a lot of unanswered questions about going back to school, you’re not alone. Today we take a look at what going back to CDL school might mean for an adult!

How am I supposed to afford the training?

There are a variety of ways that you can get assistance in paying for CDL school. From grants to financial aid and even scholarships, there is a variety of ways to help adults pay for career training. The financial aid staff at DDA will help you fill out your FAFSA forms to see if you qualify for loans or aid to help you be able to afford to start your CDL training.

If I work full time, can I still take my CDL training courses at Diesel Driving Academy?

Yes, of course! For those who have full-time day jobs, families, and other responsibilities to attend to we offer night time classes as well. To earn your CDL in the evening program, class will be completed in 30 weeks (the daytime program is 20 weeks). You will receive the same great training as the participants of our day-time class, just on a different schedule.

What if I never really had a career before? 

Some of our students are moving from one career path to a new one as a truck driver. But, a lot of our students are just getting started in a career for the first time. Whether you are looking for your first career, are transitioning out of military service, or want to shift gears completely, we got you covered! We do require that our students are a minimum of 21 years old (at graduation) however, there is never an age limit on learning, knowledge, and getting yourself ready to start a great new career.

If you are considering a great new career and are interested in getting your CDL license or want more information about getting signed up to complete a training program, call us today! 1-800-551-8900

Need a New Career? Consider Trucking

 

Are you thinking about a career in trucking? Maybe you should be. With the explosion of online retail shops like Amazon, the trucking industry is rapidly expanding. It’s expected that up to 175,000 driver jobs will need to be filled by 2024.

Take advantage of this growing industry! Enrolling in a truck driving program will give you practical, hands-on experience in the field, usually in under a month. The CDL programs at DDA will prepare you to ace your licensing exam and help you land a job with a great company.

Here are a few things to know before you jump into your adventure on the road.

Why should I do it?

The massive shortage of truck drivers in the industry could increase driver pay between 8% and 12% in the coming years. That means that right now is the best time to get in on this booming industry.

Being a truck driver isn’t only financially rewarding, it’s personally rewarding as well. You will have job security and an open career path with opportunity for growth. You will have independence and freedom, a variety in day-to-day work, and get the chance to travel America.

Can I afford it?

Enrolling in any sort of school or training comes at a cost. But many trucking programs offer excellent financial aid packages for those who qualify. By attending a reputable school, you will have access to a financial aid team whose job is designed to benefit you.

The Financial aid staff at DDA will match you with a plan that fits your needs and budget. Options include grants, scholarships, personal or private loans. We also partner with companies for reimbursement programs, or carrier sponsored training.

Am I too old?

The average age of a truck driver is 55-years-old, meaning anyone can make a great truck driver. Many drivers new to the industry are starting up in a second career, or are military veterans transitioning to a civilian employment.

How long is training?

You can get through the Advanced CDL program in 20 weeks, or 30 weeks if you prefer evening classes. The basic program runs just 8 weeks total, so in just a few weeks you’ll be able to start a new, rewarding career as a truck driver. We can help you enroll in the program that’s the best match for you.

Diesel Driving Academy has been teaching drivers the skills major companies are looking for since 1972.  With the right training, you will be prepared and confident when starting your new position! To learn more about our flexible, affordable programs, call us today! 1-800-551-8900

What Happens If I Fail My CDL Test?

 

Failing the CDL test is something many students fear. The truth is, some people do not pass their CDL test the first time they try. If you happen to fail the driving test the first time you take it there is nothing to panic about.

What Will Happen If I Fail?

The instructors at Diesel Driving Academy will prepare you to take your CDL exam. However, if you happen to fail the exam the first time, we’ll help you review what you missed so you are better prepared next time you take the exam. To pass the CDL exam you will need to get an overall score of 75% on the tests. You will need an 80% on the driving portion of the exam.

Are There Other Requirements to Pass?

You will also have to pass state or federal requirements to get your CDL license. These requirements may include obtaining a CDL permit, a DOT physical (doctor’s exam), pre-trip test, basic skills set test, and a road test. The state or federal requirements you must adhere to will depend on where you live. Don’t worry – staff and instructors will go through everything you’ll need to obtain your CDL.

When you complete your requirements for your CDL, you will receive a “Certification of Completion” from the Diesel Driving Academy, along with your CDL License!

We’ve Got Your Back!

Diesel Driving Academy will be there every step of the way through your CDL training experience. We are here to help ensure your success in receiving your certification. You’ll be on the road to success sooner than you know it

The right training makes the difference! To get started on a new and exciting career path, call us today! 1-800-551-8900

DDA graduate Summar Hanks named 2018 finalist for national trucking award

 

Q&A Session with Summar Hanks: the road to becoming a Transition Trucking’s Top 10 Finalist 

The “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence” award was first launched in 2016. The award recognizes veterans, national guard members and reservists who have successfully transitioned from military service to a career in the trucking industry. First year, former military personnel truck drivers are nominated by their carrier employers for the chance to win a fully-loaded Kenworth T680 truck.

We talked with 2017 DDA graduate, Summar Hanks, about her route to making the Elite Top 10 for the 2018 Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence award.

UPDATE: We are extremely proud to announce that Summar has made it through to a Top 4 spot! She is now in the top running for the new Kenworth T680. Voting begins November 2018!

Summar was born and raised in Crowley, LA and began her military career in July 2008 as an active duty member of the United States Air Force before switching to the Louisiana Air National Guard and starting her trucking career. She enrolled in our Advanced CDL training program at the Diesel Driving Academy Baton Rouge campus and graduated in May 2017. She holds an Associates degree in Applied Science, Information Management, and will soon graduate with a degree in Business Management from Trident University.

Where did you grow up and what did you do for fun as a kid?

SH: I grew up in the small town of Crowley, Louisiana. As I kid I enjoyed anything outdoors. I was rarely ever indoors. My hobbies were drawing, biking, fishing and I have a love for music.

What branch of the Military did you serve in?

SH: I served from July 2008 to November 2016 as an active duty member in the United States Air Force then I switched to Louisiana Air National Guard. I’ve been in for a total of 10 years and just reenlisted for another 6 years.

What made you choose this Branch?

SH: I can’t really say what made me choose this branch in the beginning. I didn’t really know much about the branches and what they had to offer. I knew I wanted to serve and I had many reasons why. Some reasons being I wanted a variety of opportunities, benefits, and to travel. I didn’t want my folks spending money on me when I can provide for myself. The unknown scares some people but for me it’s an adventure. I decided to go speak to some recruiters in Lafayette, LA before graduating high school. There were recruiters there from every branch. The Air Force told me exactly what I wanted and needed to hear. I left for basic training a month or so after graduating from Crowley High School.

What did you do in the Military and where did you serve?

SH: My job in the Air Force basically falls under communications. The title has changed over the past few years from Knowledge Operations Management to Information Management, to Administration. Being I recently hit my 10 years in service I decided to learn a new trade. I am currently switching jobs in the Air National Guard to Pavement and Construction Equipment which falls under Civil Engineering. I will be doing 5 months of training in Fort Leonard Wood, MO

I did a lot of traveling stateside and overseas, however, I had the pleasure to be stationed in Abilene, TX at Dyess AfB, Gulfport, MS at the Naval Construction Battalion Center, Kuwait, Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, South Korea, Creech AfB near Las Vegas, NV, and now I’m at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in New Orleans.

DDA: What did you enjoy most about your service?

SH: If I had to choose one thing I enjoyed the most, that would be performing Base Honor Guard duties. I was selected to do this within my first two years of service and I’ve volunteered for it ever since. (Military Honor Guards. … A primary purpose for the Honor Guard is to provide funeral honors for fallen comrades and to guard national monuments. An Honor Guard may also serve as the “guardians of the colors” by displaying and escorting the national flag on ceremonial occasions at official state)

DDA: What made you interested in trucking?

SH: I’ve always been interested in trucking. I think what started it was when I’d be traveling from base to base or going back home and I would stop to fill-up at a truck stop. I’d think to myself, how great would it be to get paid to travel. Driving all on its own is something I simply enjoy doing. The more I thought about it and continued to observe truckers the more I wanted to make this dreams come true.

DDA: How did you pick Diesel Driving Academy?

SH: I did some research while I was stationed at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. At this time I knew I was switching from active duty to Air National Guard and was approved for my new base in New Orleans. I called Diesel Driving Academy and began the process. They accepted Post 9/11 (Post 9/11 GI Bill®) and had school options that could benefit anyone.

I chose the five-month school (Advanced CDL program) because I wanted to make sure I was 100% prepared for the new career I was going to begin. I don’t regret it one bit. If I could do it all over I would pick the exact same school, the same length of course, and the same company I chose.

DDA: What campus did you attend at DDA?

SH: I attended Diesel Driving Academy in Baton Rouge. I pulled my fifth wheel camper to a nearby campsite and attended this school from Dec 2016 to April 2017.

It was a great fit for me. My driver trainer for both the school and the trucking company was awesome. My driver trainer for US Xpress was an Owner Operator and she was fantastic.

DDA: How has your first year been on the road?

SH: My first year on the road has been great. It’s even better than I imagined. I really enjoyed driving cross country the most. Right now I am on a Walmart dedicated account in Hammond, pulling refer, because I need to be close by for military duties. Although I really enjoy this too, there’s something about being on those open roads, stopping at interesting places across the country. Your truck is your office, your home, and your friend. Be good to it and it will be good to you.

DDA: What cities/places have you gotten to visit that were interesting?

SH: So many! My favorites so far are San Francisco, New York, New York, and Portland, Oregon. We have a drop yard in Kearny, New Jersey and I had some downtime so I took an Uber downtown New York. I had never been to New York before.

DDA: Has anything funny happened on the road yet?

SH: I had a military event to attend in Carlisle, Pennsylvania so I decided to get approval to bring my dad. He’s never really been in a tractor like that before so the entire drive from Louisiana to Pennsylvania, he stayed in the front passenger seat buckled up for dear life. He taught me how to drive but still couldn’t go to sleeper birth because “he needed to see the road.”

 

DDA: What company are you currently driving for, how do you like the career so far? 

SH: I love it. US Xpress has treated me well. I am driving the Air Force truck from their Military Fleet. U.S. Xpress Wrapped six military-themed trucks, one for each branch of service to say thank you and represent our support for those who served and continue to serve our Armed Forces.

DDA: Do you have any long-term goals for trucking?

SH: I would like to become an owner-operator. I am two classes away from having a degree in business. To have my own company would be a new exciting adventure.


Summar, along with the nine other top finalists, will be recognized and honored for their contributions to the military and civilian sectors on Thursday, August 23, 2018, at the George W. Bush Library and Museum in Dallas, TX. The top three finalists will be announced at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas (held Thursday, Aug. 23 through Saturday, Aug. 25 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center) and will enter into a popular vote to determine who will be the ultimate recipient of the Kenworth T680.

Learn how you can use your military training and veterans benefits to start a career in the trucking industry. Get on the road to reaching your civilian career goals with CDL training from Diesel Driving Academy. Call us today to see how easy it is to get started. 1-800-551-8900

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill

How Can I Pay for Truck Driving School?

 

If you are wondering how you are going to pay for your CDL training, you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are many different programs that help cover the costs of your CDL training. Whether you qualify for veterans benefits or are eligible for grants and loans, we can help you find ways to pay for your training and get you on the road. Our admissions team and financial aid staff are here to help you navigate the financial aid process.

There are many different programs that help cover the costs of your CDL training. In today’s blog, we are looking at 3 options that you can use to help pay for truck driving school.

Pell Grants and Stafford Loans

Pell Grants are federally funded grants. This is money that is given with no expectation of repayment. These grants are awarded on an as-needed basis. Stafford Loans are government-backed loans. These loans are available to eligible students at lower interest rates. DDA staff can provide assistance with completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) form, and help determine if you’re qualified for either program.

Military VA Benefits

If you have served in any branch of the military, you could be eligible for VA education benefits. The application process can be completed online at the VA website or you can visit your local VA office for more information. There are many different programs available, including the Post 9/11 Bill, the Montgomery GI Bill®, and other veterans benefits. DDA staff will have additional information regarding eligibility requirements, the duration of benefits, and how you can apply them to your CDL training.

Loan Options

You may have the option to use a private loan for your CDL training and education. Our financial assistance office can assist with recommendations of how to secure private financing. Another option is company sponsored training. Certain companies offer this option for their new employees. The company you sign on to drive for will pay for your schooling, and then you’ll pay the carrier back on a weekly payroll deduction. If you need help navigating either process, we are here to help!

These are 3 great ways to help pay for your CDL training, but there are other scholarship and grant opportunities available as well! The financial assistance team at DDA is here to help you navigate the process of finding what works best for you.

For more information on how to get your CDL training tuition assistance, call us today!! 1-800-551-8900.

 

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill

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