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Commercial Driver's Licensing (CDL) 

ATA

Preparation & Road Test for CDL Class A

Call the Armored Trucking Academy at (931) 542-4323 to sign up!

New classes now start every 2 weeks!


 

Objectives

To provide the safest and most thorough instruction and experience possible for successfully obtaining a CDL-A on the following:

• Orientation (includes drug screenings)

• Basic Operations

• Safe Operation Practices

• Advanced Operations

• Related Non-Driving Activities such as pre-trip inspections and how to properly document hours of service as required by law

• Upon successful completion of course, student will be given Road Test by a state-certified third-party examiner to obtain his/her CDL-A

Cost
  • $4,800 (includes up to two Road Test fees at $200)
  • $100 minimum administrative deposit to reserve a seat (not refundable)
  • Up to 2 attempts to complete CDL-A Road Test (please note tests are performed by external parties at their locations and are subject to their schedule of availability)
  • All applicants will be drug tested. 

 

  • 4 week (168 hour) CDL-A Training
  • Driving/Practice Pad Location:  175 Terminal Rd Clarksville TN, 37040
  • New class starts every 2 weeks
  • Applicants must complete their application requirements by Wednesday the week prior to starting
    • Complete Online Application
    • Have financial arrangements in place (WIOA or other)
    • Have a valid Class D driver license (or CDL-A permit) & a Medical Certificate
  • Space is limited to new students per class (every Monday)
  • Classes/Training will be held Monday - Friday, 8am-5pm (CST)
    • Lunch Break 12pm-1pm (CST)
Week 1 - Permit & Pickup

During this week the student will be immersed in classroom activities studying the basics of safe operations, defensive driving, anti-lock brake systems, backing, shifting and other classroom materials that prepare the student for their CDL-A Permit Test. The student will receive 2 straight days of classrooms and then will follow up with a third day of testing through paper exams and electronic apps which will prepare the student for their permit test that they take Thursday of week 1. After permit testing is complete on Thursday the student spends a whole day on Friday with an instructor going over their pre-trip and in cab inspection that they will be tested on by the examiner.

Week 2 - Pre-trip & Backing

During this week the student works with our backing instructor. They will learn the basics of how to set and release the brakes, how to go forward and backwards, understanding the clutch and brake. They will also understand which way to turn their wheel to correct the trailer, so they can back in the correct way. Then the student will be trained on their straight line, offset and 90-degree alley dock backing procedures. They will learn how to do each and by the end of the week they will be tested on their backing abilities and will complete their Pre-Trip final. During this week there will be some down time as all students are taking their turn in rotation to learn their backing. It is the expectation that during this downtime the students are studying their pre-trip or observing and learning by watching.

Week 3 - Backing & Shifting (Road Time)

During this week the student has already completed their pre-trip and backing and now it’s time to learn to drive. For this week the student will be in a “bobtail” a truck with no trailer. They will be driven to a designated area and learn how to shift from first gear to tenth gear and back down over and over. After they have learned this process they will repeat the process by utilizing the double clutch method which our instructors will teach. The goal of this week is that by the end of the week they can shift, know when to shift, how to shift without having to look at the gears.

Week 4 - Pre-trip, Backing & Shifting (Road Time)

During this week the students have passed their pre-trip, backing and bobtail gear shifting. What they do now is start pulling a trailer for the week. They learn how to make proper left and right turns, as well as, emergency stops, what to do with rail road tracks and sign recognition. It’s putting everything they have learned and applying it to driving the truck with the trailer. This is also the week where we put everything together with student finals. Every student goes through their pre-trip, backing and driving final testing just like they would with the examiner they will be testing with.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

(FAQs)

  • What is the minimum age for a commercial driver license (CDL)?
    • A CDL may be issued to a person 18 years of age or older. However, drivers under the age of 21 are restricted to operating a commercial vehicle to within their resident state (Intrastate).  Drivers 21 and older are eligible to driver Interstate (across state lines).  Please note that some companies have different hiring ages based on their insurance and internal policies so you will want to contact a company you may be interested in and ask what is their minimum hiring age.
  • What if I live out of state?
    • Students may reside out of state. However, he/she must obtain a CDL permit prior to beginning class as this exam must be taken a DMV location is his/her resident state.  The final exam (road test/skills test) may be performed in Tennessee upon completion of the course by a certified 3rd party examiner if Tennessee has reciprocity with the student’s resident state.  Contact the school for additional information.
  • What is a Medical Examiner Certificate (a.k.a. Medical Card/DOT Physical) and how do I obtain one?
    • All commercial drivers (CDL holders) are required to meet certain medical requirements and have a valid Medical Examination Certificate. This certificate is kept on file with your license records at the DMV and you must keep a copy with you at all times while operating a commercial vehicle.  Many physicians and walk-in clinics can perform the physical required (similar to a sports physical) and issue these certificates/cards.  These cards do expire and must be renewed – the term of a cards expiry date is at the discretion of the issuing physician based on certain medical criteria but may not be valid beyond 24 months (2 years).  The cost of a medical exam varies by provider and insurance coverage but typically costs between $50 and $90.
    • You can check the National Registry of Medical Examiners to find a physician in your area at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/national-registry-certified-medical-examiners-search .
  • What if I have a disability or medical condition (i.e. hearing impairment, prosthesis, etc.)?
    • There are federal regulations and exemptions regarding the medical qualifications for a commercial vehicle driver. You should direct any questions to the physician as he/she would be responsible for determining your qualifications and if an exemption would be warranted.
  • What costs are not included with Tuition?
    • You will be responsible for paying for your medical exam to obtain a Medical Examination Certificate (a.k.a. DOT Physical/Medical Card). Contact the provider you wish to perform the exam to determine the cost as it varies (typically ranges between $50 and $90).
    • You will also be responsible for paying for your CDL Permit exam. This is a permit like any other where you study specific materials then take a written exam at the DMV to obtain a permit.  This typically costs around $14.
  • Are there any payment assistance programs available?
    • There are many programs available for tuition assistance. We recommend you contact your local American Job Center (Career Center) for more information.  If you qualify, they will work with you to complete your paperwork and assist you with the enrollment process.
  • Do you accept the GI Bill?
    • There are some companies that hire our students in which the GI Bill will pay a monthly dividend in addition to your salary for a period of time (generally 12 months).
  • What if I have a criminal record?
    • A criminal record will restrict the companies you will be eligible to work for based on their individual hiring criteria and insurance but does not prohibit you from obtaining a CDL. We recommend contacting a company you may be interested in to determine your eligibility or to contact our office and we will be happy to give you the contact information for some companies we are aware of that may be a good fit for you.  If you have a felony record or are on probation/parole, we strongly recommend you work with a company to obtain a “pre-hire” letter prior to starting class to ensure you will have employment upon graduation.
  • What does OTR mean?
    • The term OTR is often mentioned in advertisements for employment and means “Over the Road.”
  • What’s the difference in Local, Regional and OTR?
    • Every commercial vehicle driving job is different. It will vary on the company you work for and the freight that they transport.  Therefore, it’s important to understand the difference in Local, Regional and OTR. 
      • Local means drivers don’t travel beyond a certain area and are typically home on a daily basis.
      • Regional means travel is within a certain area typically no more than 10-14 hours from the company terminal. Regional drivers are typically away from home 2-5 days at a time with breaks in between.
      • OTR means “over the road.” OTR drivers are frequently on the road and travel greater distances.
    • It’s important to note that most local companies pay by the hour while regional and OTR companies pay by the mile. Therefore, Regional & OTR drivers typically make $20k or more per year on average than a Local driver.  Do your research and find a company that fits your expectations.
  • What is “no touch freight?”
    • No touch freight means the driver does not load/unload or handle the freight he/she will be transporting.
  • What is an “automatic” restriction?
    • If a driver takes his/her final test for licensure in a vehicle with an automatic transmission, he/she will be issued a license with a restriction that only authorizes them to drive automatic transmission commercial vehicles.
    • If a driver takes his/her final test for license in a vehicle with a manual transmission he/she will be issued a license authorizing them to operate either a manual or automatic transmission. Therefore, we train and test our students in manual shift vehicles.
  • What is a CDL Road Test/Skills Test?
    • A CDL Road Test, properly known as a CDL Skills Test, is the examination required by the DMV for a driver to obtain a commercial driver license. This is a 3 part exam (pre-trip inspection, basic operations/backing skills, and an actual road test) which typically takes 2 hours on average.
    • These exams are only offered at certain DMV locations or by certified 3rd party examiners. A person must have a valid CDL permit for a minimum of 14 days before he/she is eligible to take the exam and must schedule an appointment typically 7 days in advance.  Therefore, these exams are subject to the availability of the examiners, instructors and equipment and will be scheduled for a time after the student is expected to complete the 160 hour/4 week program.
  • What if I fail my exam (CDL Road Test/Skills Test)?
    • Tuition includes 2 attempts at the CDL Road Test/Skills Test. If a student fails twice, it will be his/her responsibility to schedule a retest and acquire a vehicle to test in.  The school does offer an option to arrange testing and lease a vehicle for this purpose at a cost but is subject to availability.  Contact the school for more inf
  • What are endorsements?
    • There are certain endorsements required on a license for a driver to operate specific vehicles such as cargo tanks and double/triple trailers or vehicles transporting 15 or more passenger or transporting certain quantities of hazardous materials.
    • This course does not cover these endorsements.
    • Many endorsements require only an additional written exam at the DMV and the study materials may be found in the CDL Exam Manual.
    • A passenger endorsement requires a road/skills test and must be performed in the type of vehicle the driver plans to operate to ensure proper licensure.
    • Drivers with a hazardous materials endorsement must also obtain federal authorization. Contact your local DMV with any questions.

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CDL-A Employment Opportunities

Heavy and Tractor-trailer Truck Drivers

Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers transport goods from one location to another. They must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). 

2030k
Number of Jobs
$47k
Median Salary
2%
Growth Rate, 2019-29
  • 2020 Median Pay: $47,130
  • Typical Entry-Level Education: Postsecondary non-degree award
  • Work Experience in a Related Occupation: None
  • On-the-job Training: Short-term on-the-job training
  • Number of Jobs, 2019: 2,029,900
  • Job Outlook, 2019-2029: 2% (Slower than average)

*United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

The economy depends on truck drivers to transport freight and keep supply chains moving. As the demand for goods increases, more truck drivers will be needed. Trucks transport most of the freight in the United States, so, as households and businesses increase their spending, the trucking industry should grow.

 

Technological advancements should result in trucks that are more fuel efficient and easier to drive. For example, automatic transmissions, blind spot monitoring, braking assistance, and variable cruise control are all recently developed features that may become more standard throughout the trucking industries within the next decade. In addition, technological advances may lead to further developments in platooning, which is a method of transport where several trucks form a line and automatically mimic the speed, braking, and steering behaviors of the lead truck. These technologies can help ease driver burden and create a safer driving environment for all vehicles.

 

Job prospects for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers with the proper training and a clean driving record are projected to be very good. Because of truck drivers’ difficult lifestyle and time spent away from home, many companies have trouble finding and retaining qualified long-haul drivers. In addition, many truck drivers are expected to retire in the coming years, creating even more job opportunities.

Median annual wages, May 2020

Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers:  $47,130

Total, all occupations:  $41,950

Motor vehicle operators:  $40,600

 

Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy.


The median annual wage for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers was $47,130 in May 2020. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,660, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $69,480.

 

In May 2020, the median annual wages for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

 

Truck Transportation:  $48,280

Wholesale Trade:  $46,400

Construction:  $45,540

Manufacturing:  $44,560

 

 

Drivers of heavy trucks and tractor-trailers usually are paid by how many miles they have driven, plus bonuses. The per-mile rate varies from employer to employer and may depend on the type of cargo and the experience of the driver. Some long-distance drivers, especially owner–operators, are paid a share of the revenue from shipping.

 

Most heavy tractor-trailer drivers work full time. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates the hours that a long-haul truck driver may work. Drivers may not work more than 14 hours straight, comprising up to 11 hours driving and the remaining time doing other work, such as unloading cargo. Between working periods, drivers must have at least 10 hours off duty. Drivers also are limited to driving no more than 60 hours within 7 days or 70 hours within 8 days; then drivers must take 34 hours off before starting another 7- or 8-day run. Drivers must record their hours in a logbook. Truck drivers often work nights, weekends, and holidays.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Heavy and Tractor-trailer Truck Drivers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/transportation-and-material-moving/heavy-and-tractor-trailer-truck-drivers.htm

 


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