Truck Driver Training for Military Veterans
Making the move from the military to civilian life? Transitioning from a career in the military back into the civilian world can be a stressful period of your life. Veterans leaving the service often struggle to match their skills with a civilian career. The good news is that the truck driving industry is experiencing tremendous growth! The disciplined, get-it-done mindset that our armed forces instill in its service men and women has proven to be an ideal match for truck driver training and a career as a CDL professional.
Truck driving and truck drivers are the lifeblood of our country as more than 80 percent of all U.S. communities depend solely on trucking for delivery of their goods and commodities**. Professional truck drivers serve America every day by providing the goods we use from toothbrushes to tires – you served your country, now help us keep America moving!
- Some Roadmaster Drivers School locations are approved for Veterans’ Education Benefits.
- As a full-time truck driving employee, you can enjoy the benefits that full-time drivers are offered such as medical & life insurance, 401k, paid holidays, vacations, and plenty of opportunities for advancement.
- First-year drivers average up to $62,660* their first year.
- A majority of professional truck drivers are able to get home weekly to their families.
Getting The Benefits Started
In order to get the benefits started, the veteran or another eligible person will need to file an appropriate application. For veterans who have never used their benefits, the appropriate application is VA Form 22-1990 or VA Form 22-5490 for other eligible dependents. For veterans who have used their benefits previously, the appropriate application is VA Form 22-1995 or VA Form 22-5495 for other eligible dependents.
Please have the veteran or other eligible person submit the appropriate application over the Internet. This will ensure that there will be no interruption in receiving the application. The applications can be found on Veterans Administration’s website. There is a link on the front page to apply for VA education benefits.
Post-9/11 GI Bill® students who receive Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) and/or kicker payments are required to verify their enrollment to continue receiving their payments. Information on how to complete this mandatory verification is available at this link
The following locations can accept VA payments:
What Is A Veteran CDL Skills Test Waiver
A veteran CDL skills test waiver is basically a way for former military drivers to prove that they’ve had enough practical skills training in the form of driving comparable vehicles while serving in the military. Those who qualify for the waiver are able to skip the skills testing that many civilians would need to successfully complete before earning a Class A CDL.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) website:
“In May 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration finalized the Commercial Learner’s Permit rule. Within that rule is a provision that gives State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) the authority to substitute two years of CMV safe driving experience in military equivalents of commercial motor vehicles, for the skills test portion of the commercial driver license skills test. Military drivers must apply within one year of separation from active duty.”
So, basically, if you drove certain military vehicles and meet a few other requirements, you can get your Class A CDL license sooner than later. See below for requirements.
Qualifications For A Veteran CDL Skills Test Waiver
First, you should make sure your state offers the military skills test waiver. You can do that by clicking here and checking the map page on the FMCSA’s website.
The FMSCA’s website also explains:
“The regulation, 49 CFR 383.77, provides guidance for SDLAs that requires the applicant to certify:
- His/her safe driving experience;
- That he or she has not held more than one license (except a military DL) in the past two years;
- Has not had his/her base State-issued driver license suspended, revoked or canceled; and,
- Has not had convictions in any type of motor vehicle for the disqualifying CDL offenses listed elsewhere in the regulations.
There are also other requirements that States must recognize in order to take advantage of this Skills Test Waiver, but the process allows States to assist veterans and active duty personnel in their transition from their military occupation to a civilian career. As more and more of our military troops return home from active duty, the Department of Transportation and FMCSA have joined with the Departments of Defense, Labor, and Veterans Affairs to ease this process.”
Once you’ve made sure your state offers the waiver and are ready to show that you meet all the necessary requirements, including the above qualifications, the next step is to get the ball rolling by filling out the official application form for the waiver, which you can get by clicking here.
If you have any questions, please be sure to check with your State Driver Licensing Agency.
What If I Don’t Qualify For A Veteran CDL Skills Test Waiver
Roadmaster proudly accepts the Post 9/11 GI Bill® Benefit. That means that, for those veterans who qualify, your training could be paid for in recognition of your service. As for the time, it takes to earn your Class A CDL and begin your new career, Roadmaster offers the advantage of completing our comprehensive CDL training program in as few as three to four weeks! So whether you qualify for the veteran CDL skills test waiver or not, we recommend you get on the road to success today by signing up for Roadmaster’s accelerated training course.
“GI Bill®” is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at this link
How to Use Your GI Bill® Benefits to Start a Truck Driving Career
Active members of the military and veterans need new opportunities for careers after service. Fortunately, the GI Bill® helps to make this process easier, allowing military members to get a post-secondary education. You are not limited to pursuing a college degree. Instead, you can use your benefits to pay for career training, including for a CDL license. Some Roadmaster Drivers School locations are approved for Veterans’ Education Benefits.
GI Bill® Basics
The GI Bill® contains several benefits that will help you pay for training programs, college, and graduate school. The program originated in 1944 to help WWII vets and their families get the necessary funding to pay for their education. Since then, the government created the Post-9/11 GI Bill® for active military and veterans who served after that national tragedy.
Managed by the Veterans Administration, the GI Bill® has many benefits and other programs that you may qualify for. The VA carefully manages these benefits and evaluates thousands of schools to make sure they are an appropriate choice for your education. Some Roadmaster Drivers School locations are approved for Veterans’ Education Benefits.
Why Choose a Truck Driving Career?
Moving from the military to civilian life can be difficult, especially when it comes to finding a career that fits. Truck driving allows you the freedom of the open road while providing great opportunities for growth. In fact, the industry is expanding at such a rate that an estimated 175,000 drivers will be needed in the coming decade. That figure is not surprising because eighty percent of US communities depend entirely on trucking for the delivery of their goods and commodities. Trucking also provides the following benefits:
- You can earn an initial annual wage averaging up to $62,660* .
- Full-time drivers are eligible for medical and life insurance, 401ks, paid vacations, and other benefits.
- Truck drivers are able to spend weekly time with their families.
If you were a military driver with the required experience, you can apply for a Veteran CDL Skills Test Waiver. If you are granted this waiver, you will be able to bypass some of the testing requirements that other students must undergo.
How to Get Started
The VA will assist you in applying for your benefits and keeping track of the credits you’ve used. To apply, you’ll need the following documents and information:
- Social Security Number
- Education and Military History
- Basic Information About Your School of Choice
You can call the VA for more information, but the easiest way to apply is by doing it online. You’ll find the details and forms you need by visiting the US Department of Veterans Affairs website. Remember, the Post-9/11 Bill differs from the original GI Bill ®, so be certain to learn its specifics as they apply to your situation.
Skills Veterans Can Carry Over to a Career in Truck Driving
When it comes to finding a job, many veterans are at a loss when they leave the military. They may feel that they can’t get a job that pays well because they may not have a degree or because they lack civilian work experience. What they may not realize is that many skills that they developed while they were in the service make them highly desirable to civilian employers.
While some technical skills may cross over to civilian jobs, it’s veterans’ nontechnical skills that make them so attractive to employers. Some careers that pay well, such as being a professional truck driver, are a natural fit for people with these skills.
If you’re a veteran, read on to discover whether you have the 4 top nontechnical skills that make you a strong candidate to be a professional truck driver.
This trait is number one for a reason. Without dependable employees, a company cannot function. Businesses can count on dependable workers to “get it done.” They arrive to work on time, behave predictably, are responsible, and avoid missing deadlines.
Dependable employees are the ones who “go above and beyond.” They don’t let obstacles, stress, or excuses keep them from completing assignments. Even when they’re working alone, as many professional truck drivers do, they understand how their job performance affects their company’s reputation.
Trucking companies value dependable employees because they don’t have to worry about whether they’ll deliver cargo safely and on time.
2. Attention to Detail
People who pay attention to detail always follow procedures, even when they aren’t directly supervised. They comply with organizational policies and procedures because they understand that they’re necessary for safe, efficient day-to-day operation.
When working with heavy equipment such as tractor-trailers, workers who pay attention to detail check all components to ensure that everything is in proper condition before they operate it. In fact, the first step to becoming a professional truck driver is passing the knowledge test and Class A CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) skills test. One portion of the exam requires the completion of a full pre-trip inspection. During the pre-trip inspection, the examiner will require you to walk around your vehicle, point out each of its components, explain what they are, why it’s necessary to check them before each road trip, and how to check them and perform various in-cab operations and checks.
Employers can rely on employees with strong decision-making skills to choose the best solution in every situation. This skill is especially important for professional truck drivers who must make smart, timely decisions when handling difficult situations safely.
Every day, truckers must make countless decisions such as speeding up, slowing down, and changing lanes that all impact safe operations.
That’s why trucking companies so highly regard professional truck drivers with exceptional decision-making skills.
4. Operating Safely
People in the military understand that safety rules and regulations are essential to their fellow service members’ well-being and the civilians they’re sworn to protect. They understand why the rules exist and know how to follow them. Just as importantly, they realize that failing to follow safety rules and regulations could cost lives.
In the trucking industry, safety is the number one priority. So, it’s easy to see how this skill could benefit you in your new career as a professional truck driver.
Here are 10 more skills and qualities that translate from the military to truck driving, and how they can help military veterans to excel within the industry:
In the military, it’s imperative to know your surroundings at all times. In Trucking, this skill is a core component of being a safe driver. From knowing where other vehicles are around your rig at any given moment to monitoring developments in road conditions, weather changes, route detours and more, paying attention and having situational awareness give veterans a leg up in Trucking.
Veterans know how to get things done efficiently and effectively. Logistics like route planning are important in Trucking because efficiency is critical to keeping costs down, not only the fuel costs for the carrier but also the cost of the consumer products that the drivers deliver.
This one goes hand in hand with situational awareness and knowing your surroundings, but being able to adapt to those dynamic situations is another skill altogether. Whether you’re driving regionally or cross-country, conditions can change in an instant. Just like service members must adapt to and overcome evolving circumstances, professional truck drivers must at times be able to make adjustments based on sudden changes in road conditions, weather, other drivers’ actions and more.
In the military, there are times when you must be able to stay focused on the task at hand for a long stretch of time. Returning veterans who maintain this ability have a definite advantage in Trucking, especially because most drivers begin their careers driving over-the-road (OTR). These long-haul trips can last for several weeks at a time, so maintaining physical and mental stamina is very important.
Military veterans understand the importance of taking responsibility and being accountable for their actions. Professional truck drivers need to have a similar sense of accountability because they are responsible for getting shipments to their destinations — often on the other side of the country — safely and on time.
Service members must rely on one another in order to achieve objectives. The military depends on this teamwork in order to function. In the trucking industry, all personnel must work together in order to keep things running smoothly. From operations managers and dispatchers to the drivers themselves, if one person isn’t on the same page as the rest, it can have a big impact on the entire operation and cause shipments to be delayed.
There’s a definite pride that goes along with being in the military. From the work itself to the uniforms they wear, these men and women who serve take pride in all they do. As a professional truck driver, it’s important to take pride not only in the important role you’re playing in helping the country, but also in the cleanliness of your truck and in your own appearance. Out on the road, the way you dress, act and take care of your truck says a lot about who you are, but it also reflects on your company and on the trucking industry as a whole.
The military is based on respect. The whole system revolves around respect for your superiors, your fellow service members and yourself. In Trucking, that same respect goes a long way. Being courteous to everyone you encounter — from the dispatchers to the people you’re delivering cargo to and the fellow drivers you’ll meet in between — is one of the best ways to move up within the industry while earning that respect for yourself.
Patriotism means supporting, defending or being devoted to your country. After your military career, becoming a professional truck driver is a great way to continue supporting the country because Trucking keeps the economy moving. Truck drivers are the reason there are groceries on the shelves at local supermarkets, medical supplies in the hospitals and more.
This is more of a long-term quality, but it’s just as important as any of the rest. In addition to the men and women out on the road, the trucking industry always needs instructors. A good instructor not only teaches students how to drive but also acts as an example of how students should carry themselves. Veterans who become instructors or take on other leadership roles also are in a great position to pass on all of the skills on this list to new drivers, which helps the trucking industry to continue down the right path for years to come.
Some companies even have programs specifically designed to put veterans in a position to be an example for fellow veterans. In Werner Enterprises’ Operation Freedom Tour, for example, select military veterans to drive a special fleet of trucks to raise awareness for fellow veterans in the industry and for those who may wish to join the industry.
So as you can see, if you’re a returning military veteran, the trucking industry is a place where you can apply the skills and qualities you developed while serving. Not only can you excel as a driver, but also there are plenty of ways to branch out into related careers within the industry. Whatever your path, the trucking industry is a great place to build a whole new career after your time in the military.
It all starts with getting your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Just make sure whichever program you choose to help you get your CDL accepts the Post 9-11 GI Bill®. Roadmaster Drivers School, for example, accepts these benefits.