How to Hire a CDL Driver

Does your growing business need a CDL driver? CDL drivers are specially licensed drivers who are qualified to drive a variety of large, commercial vehicles such as buses or trucks.

Here are some tips to help you find great CDL driver candidates and make the right hire for your business.

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Truck drivers searching for jobs on Indeed*

1,379,766

job seekers that clicked truck driver jobs

413,729

resumes for job seekers with truck driver experience on Indeed

483,374

truck driver jobs that received clicks

What is the cost of hiring a truck driver?

  • Common salary in US: $60,869 per year
  • Typical salaries range from $14,000$140,000 yearly
  • Find more information on Indeed Salaries
Common
 
 
$14,000
$140,000

*Indeed data (US) – December 2020

As of December 2020, truck driver jobs in the US are very competitive compared to other job markets, with an average of 2.9 job seekers per truck driver job.

Why hire a CDL driver

The need for new staff can affect both your existing team and your bottom line. A great CDL driver hire can help your business by:

  • Driving a variety of vehicles in every state
  • Potentially decreasing driver’s insurance rates
  • Keeping your deliveries and routes on time

Deciding between a full-time vs contract CDL driver

Before writing a CDL driver job description or interviewing candidates, it’s important to decide if you need a full-time, part-time, freelance or contract CDL driver (and what your budget will allow).

A freelance or contract CDL driver is sometimes an owner operator, which means they own the vehicle they use to complete routes. Hiring a freelance CDL driver who is an owner operator may be the best option if you don’t have already own a truck and don’t want to take on expenses like oil changes or truck insurance.

Hiring a full-time or part-time company driver may be a better option if you already have a fleet of vehicles for your CDL drivers to use. A part-time CDL driver may be the best option if routes are shorter, less frequent or based on business needs.

What are the different types of CDL drivers?

When hiring a CDL driver, it’s important to understand the specific kind of CDL driver you need for your business. Whether you need someone to drive a bus with passengers or deliver goods across the country, there’s a CDL driver that can get the job done. Here are some of the most common types of CDL drivers to help you find one that meets your needs:

  • Class A CDL: Qualified to operate any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 or more pounds if the towed vehicle is heavier than 100,000 pounds. This includes vehicles such as 18-wheelers, truck/trailer combinations, tankers, livestock carriers, etc.
  • Class B CDL: Qualified to drive a single vehicle weighing 26,001 pounds or more that is not hitched to a trailer, or a single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001+ pounds towing a vehicle that does not exceed 10,000 pounds. Includes vehicles such as buses (designed to transport 24 passengers or more) dump trucks, box trucks, etc.
  • Class C CDL: Qualified to operate a single vehicle with a GVWR of less than 26,001 pounds. Class C CDL drivers can transport 16-23 passengers. Includes buses, tank trucks, hazmat vehicles, etc.

There are also different CDL driver federal endorsements that allow drivers to operate certain types of specialized vehicles:

  • H endorsement: Vehicles that contains hazardous materials (e.g., explosives, flammable liquids)
  • N endorsement: Tank vehicles (i.e., vehicles that transport liquids or gases)
  • P endorsement: Vehicles that transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver)
  • S endorsement: School buses (also requires P endorsement)
  • T endorsement: Double or triple trailer
  • X endorsement: Combination endorsement for tank vehicles and hazardous materials

Where to find CDL drivers

To find the right CDL driver for your business, consider trying out a few different recruiting strategies:

  • Advertise on your vehicles. Post signs on your bus or truck to let people know you’re hiring with a phone number to call so they can apply.
  • Offer CDL training. To attract more candidates, consider offering on-the-job CDL training so that people without a CDL can apply.
  • Post your job online: Try posting your CDL driver job on Indeed to find and attract quality CDL driver candidates.

Skills to look for in a great CDL driver

A great CDL driver candidate will have the following skills. attributes and/or work experience that reflects:

Hard skills:

  • Up-to-date CDL certification and no moving violations
  • Certifications and insurances to haul specialized cargo (hazardous, refrigerated, etc.)
  • Ability to pass all applicable health benchmarks
  • Understanding of defensive driving techniques

Soft skills:

  • Attentive, distraction-free driving style
  • Comprehensive understanding of logistics systems
  • Personable demeanor, especially if interfacing with customers
  • Time management skills

Writing a CDL driver job description

A thoughtful description is important to finding qualified CDL driver candidates. A CDL driver job description includes a compelling summary of the role, a detailed list of duties and responsibilities, and the required and preferred skills for the position.

When writing your CDL driver job description, consider including some or all of the following keywords to improve the visibility of your job posting. These are the most popular search terms leading to clicks on truck driver jobs, according to Indeed data:

  • Truck driver
  • CDL driver
  • Driver
  • CDL
  • CDL truck driver
  • Local truck driver
  • Delivery driver
  • Class A CDL driver
  • Class B driver
  • Truck driver CDL driver

Interviewing CDL driver candidates

After you’ve reviewed the resumes of your top CDL driver candidates, ask meaningful interview questions to gain insight into a job candidate’s experience, character, personality traits and specialized training. Strong candidates for CDL driver positions will be confident answering questions regarding:

  • Familiarity with the specific vehicles your company uses (e.g., trucks, buses)
  • Familiarity with regular routes and regions your company drives within
  • Daily protocol for driving on interstates and freeways
  • Their driving record
  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations
  • Driving safety

Need help coming up with interview questions? See our list of truck driver interview questions for examples (with sample answers).

FAQs about how to hire a CDL driver

How many miles can a CDL driver drive per day?

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA’s) Hours of Service regulations, CDL drivers who are transporting property can only drive for a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty and must take a 30 minute break after driving 8 cumulative hours. For CDL drivers carrying passengers, there’s a 10-hour driving limit after 8 consecutive hours off duty. These limits can be exceeded by up to two hours if a driver encounters adverse driving conditions.

How do I keep my CDL driver happy?

To retain your CDL drivers and keep them happy, consider offering competitive salaries, an attractive benefits package and bonuses (e.g., on-time delivery bonuses, low fuel consumption bonuses) to reward them for their hard work. It’s also important to keep the vehicles your CDL drivers operate in top condition so that they’re comfortable, reliable and have fewer breakdowns. Additionally, make sure your CDL drivers get regularly scheduled home time and offer predictable schedules, if possible.

How big of a truck can someone drive without a CDL?

People can drive vehicles without a CDL license if the GVWR is below 26,000 pounds. This typically includes most box trucks like moving trucks, local delivery trucks and service trucks — as long as they’re below the weight limit. 

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    Last updated: Apr 21, 2021