A 2009 American Transportation Research Institute study tracking trends in the trucking industry notes that 7.3 million people are employed in the industry. Out of those jobs, 3.4 million were held by long haul CDL certified truck drivers transporting goods either as independent contractors or for transportation companies. Drivers often use their experience and knowledge later in their career to become a licensed broker in order to open a transportation brokerage. A licensed transportation broker works on commission and brokers shipping contracts between shipper and carrier. Truck Driver Licensing RequirementsA CDL certified truck driver will be subject to both state and federal regulations if transporting freight interstate. Prospective drivers locally must be at least 21 years of age if transporting freight interstate. A clean driving record from the previous two years is required to be able to apply for a Class A Commercial Driver’s License and physically a driver must have 20/40 vision without color blindness and pass a physical examination every 2 years. Certain medical conditions such as insulin controlled diabetes and epilepsy will disallow an applicant from obtaining a CDL. CDL Class Type and ApplicationFor a long haul interstate truck and trailer driver, a Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is required. The application process includes driving record and criminal background check, a driving test, a written test and any extraneous endorsement/restriction applications or testing dependent upon what the driver is applying to transport. Fees and cost are individually set with each state’s regulating authority and are applied for in the prospective driver’s home state. CDL Training Courses/Trucking SchoolsTrucking schools or approved certification courses are invaluable to a prospective driver and worth the extra expenditure for the assistance with the licensing process they provide. Courses can be found within privatized schools specific to truck driver training and through vocational colleges. Course fees can range from $2,000 to $4,000 and will often include all CDL licensing fees. Some states require such a course in addition to the licensing requirements. Trucking companies train newly hired drivers through additional classroom instruction or on the job training with a veteran driver. Broker Licensing RequirementsIn 2010, if a CDL certified truck driver wishes to obtain a transportation broker license with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in addition to the currently registered operating authority, an OP-1 application for motor property carrier and broker authority must be filed, along with a fee of $300 Once a motor carrier number is assigned, proof of insurance coverage in the form of a surety bond or a trust fund agreement worth $10,000 is filed using form BMC-84 or BMC-85. Designation of process authority within the operating state is also registered with the FMCSA using form BOC-3. Salary/Earning PotentialThe median yearly salary in 2010 for a new CDL-certified truck driver in the freight shipping industry ranges from $30,000 to $46,000. If the driver chooses to work for a commercial trucking company instead of as an independent contractor, bonuses on load performance and value are common. Often drivers are members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters which negotiates pay increases and covered expenditures. A transportation brokerage set up by a licensed broker will earn commissions on contracts negotiated and completed, with the industry average being 10 to 14 percent of total contract shipping charges.
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