So, you’ve decided to become a professional truck driver, and you know what you need to do to get your Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). But then what? What happens after your CDL training is done, you’ve passed the Class A exam and have earned your license? What’s life like for a new professional truck driver?

Well, there are a few phases you’ll probably go through after you pass the CDL exam but before you officially begin your new career in the trucking industry. Here’s what you can expect during that time:

1. Signing With A Carrier

Once you’ve successfully passed your CDL exam, the first step to becoming a full-fledged professional truck driver is to sign with a carrier. You’ll want to get started with a carrier sooner than later, since there are still several phases to go before you can head out on the road by yourself.

Fortunately, if you’ve chosen the right CDL training program, you probably already have this step handled. At Roadmaster Drivers School, for example, many of our students get pre-hired by carriers before they even graduate — some within the first week or two of training — so they don’t really have to worry about this step.

In addition to when you choose a carrier, which carrier you pick is also important. You’ll want to consider what the carrier can offer you in terms of tuition reimbursement, benefits, opportunities and more. Be sure to ask around before you decide which carrier is right for you. Or, if you’re attending Roadmaster, you can just take advantage of our Career Services Program. Since we work with many of the nation’s top carriers, you could end up receiving up to 90% tuition reimbursement if qualified (depending on the carrier) and having access to one of the better benefits packages in the trucking industry.

2. Advanced Training

After you’ve signed with a carrier, in most cases you’ll begin your next level of training. The carrier will work with you on some of the more advanced truck driving techniques. Then, once you have a firm grasp of those techniques, you’ll begin driving with a trainer. The amount of time you’ll have a trainer onboard varies, but usually it lasts until the carrier feels you’re ready to take on the open road by yourself.

Now at this point, you’re probably thinking, “Hey! I thought I was going to start earning money. What gives?”

Relax! While not always the case, many carriers will pay you during this training phase. And, if paid training is a priority for you (as it is with many CDL graduates), just remember to check with whichever carrier you’re considering signing with to make sure they offer it.

3. Taking The Wheel

OK, now it’s time to really get rolling. You’ve picked a carrier, completed their training and are ready to start your career as a professional truck driver. So what’s your Trucking career going to look like?

Well, most carriers will have you start out by driving Over-The-Road (OTR), or long-distance trips. This is pretty standard in the industry, and is how most truckers gain valuable experience at the beginning of their careers.

Once you have a year (or several years) of experience under your belt — whether solo or as part of a team — you can either keep driving OTR or move into other roles within the industry. These jobs include everything from Regional and Local Driver to Driver Trainer, Dispatcher and more.

Whichever career path you decide to take from there will be up to you. You’ll be the one with your hands on the wheel, after all, driving toward a successful future within the trucking industry.