Now, that you’ve spent considerable time, money and effort in obtaining your CDL — it only makes sense to seek the best opportunities for which you are now qualified. While there are a number of jobs on the market for CDL holders, the following opportunities tend to either pay a little better than others or offer valuable perks such as flexible schedules or the ability to be your own boss.

Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Operators:
The job outlook for those who have a CDL and can drive a tractor-trailer combination or a truck with a capacity of 26,000 pounds or more Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) is excellent.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of job openings for heavy and tractor-trailer operators is expected to increase by more than 20 percent between 2010 and 2020. This is a much faster rate of grown than that of most other occupations. This increased need for heavy truck operators isn’t surprising. As the economy continues to strengthen, more goods and products need to be moved across the country and much of it travels by truck.

While the BLS reported in 2011 that the average heavy and tractor-trailer truck driver earned about $37,770, many big rig operators actually earned far more than that. For instance, the BLS listed the mean average salary for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers working in the courier or express delivery service field as much higher than $37,770. Drivers of heavy trucks and tractor-trailers are usually 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. Some long-distance drivers, especially owner-operators, are paid a share of the revenue from shipping.

Bus Drivers:
Driving a bus, either long distance or locally is another way you can make a good living with a CDL. The median salary for bus drivers in May of 2010 was $35,520, while the median for school bus drivers was $27,580. Unlike many big rig jobs, which may require days or weeks on the road, most bus driving positions are locally based, making them a good match for drivers who don’t want to leave their families for long periods of time. Many moms and dads are attracted to school bus driving positions, which often have schedules that coincide with their children’s. In school districts that are not year-round, bus drivers are usually off for the summer, as well.

Ice Road Truckers:
Fan of the TV show, “Ice Road Truckers”? Please know that this is an extremely dangerous, but well-paying driving opportunity but only for brave, as well as very experienced drivers. Ice road trucking requires drivers to maneuver big rigs through severe weather conditions on iced over rivers and lakes in extremely remote areas, while dodging large animals that may stray into a truck’s path. Ice road truckers can gross as much as a typical year’s salary in three months or less, but they earn every penny of it driving supplies and shipments over the frozen tundra and waterways that lies between remote Yellowknife and civilization.

These are just three of the job opportunities available if you have a CDL. Before deciding on a driving position, take the time to look around to make sure that you pick the one that will best suit your lifestyle and salary needs.

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*wage information provided by Werner Enterprises

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