Careers Related to Your CDL License
You started out thinking trucking could be a great gig for you, and you went out and got your CDL license. You maybe drove a tractor trailer for years. Or maybe you haven't, and realized a short while into the career that it wasn’t exactly right for you. Whatever the reason, things have changed, and you can’t see yourself spending days and nights out on the road. You want to be able to support yourself and/or your family, without being away from them for the more extended periods of time that OTR truckers experience.
Well, there is good news — your CDL will not go to waste. There are many different types of jobs out there related to your CDL that will allow you to sleep in your own bed every night.
Jobs Related to Your CDL
Some of these jobs won’t even require you to have a CDL license, but the knowledge of trucks that you’d bring to the table is a strong selling point. It’s always a good idea, whether you’re using your CDL license or not, to keep it updated. You never know when you may decide to hit the road again.
Truck driver training instructor: Opportunities go beyond the road! Who better to instruct future drivers than someone who already has CDL experience? In most states, you will be required to have at least 2 years of experience. So if you've driven for a while but find that you're craving a change of direction, then you might enjoy the honor of teaching the trade.
Terminal manager: You run the warehouse. Opportunities exist from sales, to pick up, to handling any complaints, to managing the entire properity. Terminal managers also manage drivers, so having a deep understanding of their job is highly beneficial. You will also need to have terminal experience before you can manage. If you can combine that with CDL experience, you may be perfect for the job.
Transportation manager: Any issues within the transportation area of your company come across your desk. You may have to work on budgeting shipping costs by calculating cost per mile pay for drivers, or overseeing the shipping and receiving of supplies. This career may also require a bachelor’s degree. Being a transportation manager can complement a CDL nicely since you already have an inside perspective of the transportation industry.
Fleet manager: To become a fleet manager, you may need experience beyond your CDL, but it depends on your employer. Most likely, you'll be hired by a freight transportation company and need a high school diploma or a GED equivalent. Some companies may require an associate's degree. You'll be tasked with managing and troubleshooting any and all service issues that arise, and developing a plan to address these issues. You will work very closely with drivers, so your CDL experience will serve you well in this role.
Dispatcher: As a dispatcher, you work behind the scenes to ensure drivers have the right cargo and are headed toward their correct destination at the appointed time. Even with the ELDs, drivers will check in with you when they arrive at a destination. You may touch base with a driver if they are carrying a hot load (something that needs to be delivered quickly). Since dispatchers work in shifts, you might find yourself working some evenings as well.
Bus driver: You can use your CDL to work as a bus driver. There may be a one to three month training process, but with your CDL, it could take less time. It's important to note that you will need endorsements on your CDL to work as a bus driver. You'll want a Passenger endorsement (P) to drive a regular bus, and a separate School Bus endorsement (S) if you want to drive a school bus. Bus drivers have the privilege of being home most nights, and in some cases, by dinnertime!
Delivery driver: If you have a high school diploma or GED equivalent, then you may be able to be trained by a company as a delivery driver. The training period should take about a month, and it will prepare you to drive safely on crowded streets, familiarize you with general company policies, and more. Most delivery driving jobs do not require a CDL, just a clean driving record, but if you are a driver who is skilled enough to earn a CDL, you may stand out during the hiring process. At some companies, you might be required to start as a warehouse package loader to get your foot in the door.
Recruiter: Instead of driving a truck, your mission, should you choose to accept it, will be to recruit drivers for companies. You may visit schools and talk to students, run a booth at a job fair, or work online to select already experienced candidates. You will be responsible for ensuring the drivers you recruit meet the Department of Transportation's guidelines, as well as being familiar with a company's policies and procedures.
Diesel mechanic (tractor-trailer tech): Maybe you love the idea of working under the hood of a truck instead of being behind the wheel. If that’s the case, you may want to consider becoming a diesel mechanic. You don’t necessarily need your CDL for this career, but knowing a truck inside and out can always help you snag the job, plus you can road-test trucks if you have a CDL. A high school diploma or GED is necessary if you want to go into a diesel mechanic program.
Taxi driver/chauffeur: To drive a taxi or work as a chauffeur, you don’t need your CDL, but you will be required to have a taxi or limo license. Training generally doesn't extend longer than two weeks, but is required before you set off on your own. If you drive a limo and plan to transport more than 16 people (including yourself), you will then need a CDL license with a Passenger (P) endorsement. As a taxi driver, you can choose to purchase your own cab, or lease one through the dispatch company you’re working for.
Uber/Lyft: Both Uber and Lyft have driver requirements you’ll need to meet before you can start your gig. You won't need your CDL to drive for Uber or Lyft, or companies like it. Driving for Uber or Lyft can be great supplemental income for an already experienced driver. You'll have the opportunity to drive your own car, select which clients you'd like to transport, and make money doing something you enjoy — driving.
Yard switch operator: You’ll also be known as a trailer jockey, yard driver, or yard hostler. To begin this career, you must have your CDL. A few days to a few weeks of training will be given to you until you’re ready to work on your own. You need to be comfortable driving a tractor trailer, as well as a yard mule, because you’ll be moving trailers in and out of the docks.
Owner/Operator: You own your own truck, and you make the rules. Or you could be leasing to own from a carrier. Either way, you’re a freelance truck driver, and it can be a rewarding and fun path to take. With this comes some significant out-of-pocket expenses, however, like truck maintenance, insurance, taxes, and the cost of the truck payment itself. You can select which loads you'd like to haul and the carriers you would like to service. Owner-operators typically earn siginificantly more than OTR truck drivers.
Having a CDL will almost always be a significant industry feature that will make you stand out among other applicants in these related fields. Even if you do not want to be an OTR driver, a CDL will work to your advantage in the careers mentioned above — and many others.