If you have obtained your CDL license, then you are probably ready to start looking for CDL jobs as a truck driver. If you are inexperienced or if you have a CDL license alone, then your career options may be limited. Thankfully, there are many things you can do to make yourself more marketable. A few good options are explained below.

Go on Ride Alongs

If you have recently obtained a CDL license, then it is likely that you have not had the opportunity to drive or ride in a commercial vehicle for an extended period of time. Once you are hired by a trucking company, you may be asked to stay on the road for days or weeks at a time. This means that you need to drive for many hours a day and you may not be used to the physical difficulties that come with life on the road. Some trucking businesses know this and they require drivers to ride along or shadow experienced truck drivers for a certain amount of time before they are allowed to drive alone.

What to Do During a Ride Along

You may be able to find a ride along program that is offered by a local trucking company, or you may need to apply for an entry level trucking position before you are given this option. Contact a variety of local businesses to find out what you need to do. During the ride along, ask the driver about regulations that need to be followed. These regulations will include safety rules, truck weighing before crossing state lines, and the keeping of appropriate paperwork.

Bring a notebook with you as well, and record truck problems and how they are solved on the road. Also, record the ways that the driver deals with traffic jams, aggressive drivers on the road, and fatigue issues. You will likely need to deal with these same issues, so it is wise to prepare yourself in advance.

Apply for a HazMat Permit

Some trucking companies may move hazardous materials to and from the United States. If you want to transport dangerous materials, then you need to apply for a special hazmat permit. These permits generally last for three years before you need to reapply.


The process can be lengthy and it is wise to apply for a hazmat permit soon after you receive your CDL license. To gain the permit, you will first need to pass an exam that involves the United States hazardous transportation rules and regulations. You can contact your state's Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) office for a handbook that describes these rules.

You will need to understand both the state and federal regulations. You have the option of studying on your own before you take the test. Once you are employed by a trucking company, you will likely need to be trained on how to handle hazardous materials. You can take a training course on your own beforehand and take your test afterwards if you want. This way, a trucking business will not have to train you once you are hired.

Background Check

After you take the initial hazardous material test, you will need to go through a threat assessment with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). During the assessment, you will need to provide the United States government with fingerprints, license information, and a medical form. A background check will then be performed. If you pass the assessment, you will be given a permit that will allow you to transport hazardous materials in the United States after you complete your training with your employer. You should be aware that the threat assessment may be denied if you have been arrested or charged with a crime. You can appeal this decision though.

If you have recently received your CDL drivers license, then you likely want to start looking for a trucking position right away. There are several things you may want to do first to make sure that you stand out as a great candidate for a transportation business.