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Helping you succeed as a professional truck driver.

CDL and Job Opportunities: Opening the Door in Tacoma and the Pacific Northwest

Aug 30, 2017

While the national economy has, in many ways, recovered from the Great Recession, the benefits of that recovery have not extended to every family and worker. Many jobs permanently disappeared in the aftermath of the collapse of 2008, while others suffered salary and benefit reductions.

Many workers, therefore, are looking for stable jobs in Tacoma and the rest of the Pacific northwest. Stable jobs ensure a future, and allow people to plan for that future—for themselves and their families. Some of these jobs may require new training, and training that does not require higher education—which costs time as well as money. Obtaining a commercial driver’s license(CDL) can provide you with the keys to a strong career down the road, and you can earn it in four weeks at the Pacific NW Professional Driving School.

Washington State Requirements

Each state has its own set of requirements—but they are all similar. In Washington, you should check the requirements of the Washington DMV.  Some highlights include the following.
  • You must be 18 for an in-state CDL and 21 for an interstate one.
  • You will need to start with a commercial license permit, which is valid for 180 days—you may renew it once.
  • You will need 14 days of practice with the permit before taking the skills test.
  • On the permit, you may drive on public roads only, and only with a licensed commercial driver.
  • You will need to find a Federally-registered doctor to complete the required medical examination and certificate.
  • Current or recently-honorably discharged members of the military may be eligible to waive the skills test.
If you are not looking to obtain a CDL in Washington, make sure you do your homework in your home state, but this description should help you know the questions to ask.

Medical Concerns

Obtaining a CLD requires a medical examination and certification from a doctor registered with the Federal government.  Washington State accepts forms by mail, fax, or email—except for the first time. The CDL will downgrade on expiration of the certification. The medical examination looks for conditions which may interfere with the operation of a commercial motor vehicle.  Lost limbs can be covered by a skill exemption.  Epilepsy and diabetes is a major concern as is a diagnosis of myocardial infarction and other cardiac issues. Respiratory issues and high blood pressure may be of concern as may other chronic conditions. Mental and neurological illness are not bars unless they interfere with operation. Vision and hearing are checked, as is use of non-prescribed controlled substances.

Job Security

Trucking jobs for experienced drivers can provide a solid income of $50,000 or more per year. While starting salaries for truckers is lower, it is possible with many firms to move quickly up the scale. Being an owner-operator—after several years of experience—can increase income even more, but requires entrepreneurial talent as well as a CDL.

Trucking jobs will be plentiful for the next few decades. In fact, there is a shortage of truckers nationwide, and that shortage of truck drivers is expected to grow to nearly 200,000 by 2024. Getting into the business at this point will position you to be busy and successful in the future—your services will be in demand.

Pacific Northwest Professional Driving School can help you achieve your goals. Our experienced owners and staff have been in the business for over thirty-five years. We work with local firms, and over 95% of are students hold trucking jobs following graduation from our course. We provide financial assistance for the training.

Our four-week CDL A course covers everything you need to do to be a successful, safe truck driver. We want you to succeed.

 

Are self-driving trucks a threat?

You may have heard that trucks will all be “self-driving” by the 2030s. Many trucks already have ‘self-driving’ equipment already, including lane control features, automatic braking, and cruise control.  Truckers will tell you about the added ease and convenience of those features.

Currently in development are trucks that will be able to be “self-driving” at highway speeds in clear weather conditions. Drivers will remain in the cabs.  The driver will be needed for entering and exiting the highway as well as local driving. The driver will also take control when overtaking another vehicle, as well as in extreme weather—snow, fog, or ice.

One of the technologies being explored includes platooning—driving two or more trucks in a close convoy.  In a platoon, the lead truck will connect with the other trucks which will maneuver as the lead truck does. The trucks will be able to keep close together, and the trailing trucks will benefit from reduced air resistance to get better mileage. Humans will still need to be in the convoy to monitor operations.

Self-driving trucks may also provide additional job and training opportunities. Cybersecurity will have to be a strong component of a safe autonomous vehicle industry. The ability to drive and to manage the technology will enhance job prospects for the drivers, whether driving in convoy or solo.

An additional potential benefit of self-driving trucks is the transfer of liability from the driver to the manufacturer. Currently, roughly 90% of truck-involved accidents involve driver error. As the move into self-driving trucks occurs, manufacturers may have to take on a greater portion of the liability for accidents, since so much more of the operation will be under their control and influence.

Conclusion

Now is the time to enter the profession. It forms a secure path to the middle-class, and will remain strong for the foreseeable future.  Receiving training now will pay you back for many decades to come.

The Pacific northwest is a strong base for a trucking career. With highways heading south and east from major ports, both long-haul and local trucking provides many people with opportunities. The Pacific NWDS is here to help you reach your dreams.