South Dakota is a sparsely populated state (only 11 people per square mile) that borders: Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wyoming. This state is home to Mount Rushmore the mammoth mountainside sculpture depicting four former United States presidents: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt.
In the city of Crazy Horse is the Crazy Horse Memorial Monument in honor of the Lakota leader of the same name. The sculpture is awe-inspiring. Both of these tributes are big tourist sites.
Most of the state’s population lives in eastern South Dakota where the soil is fertile enough to grow a variety of crops. Heading west, ranching is the predominant activity, along with tourism and defense spending. Many Native American reservations are in West River. The Black Hills are sacred mountains to the Sioux.
South Dakota’s yearly climate has four distinct seasons, while precipitation ranges from moderate in the east to semi-arid in the west.
The most populated cities in South Dakota are:
- Sioux Falls: 153,888
- Rapid City: 67,956
- Aberdeen: 26,091
- Brookings: 22,056
- Watertown: 21,482
South Dakota CDL Truck Driver Salary and Job Growth
Trucking jobs are fairly prevalent in South Dakota and will continue to be as projected growth from 2014 to 2024 is 9% while U.S. growth is estimated at 6%. Salaries are not quite as impressive as other parts of the country, but keep in mind your salary will be different depending on your knowledge, experience, and any endorsements you have.
The average yearly salary for a truck driver is $40,090. The range of salaries goes from the low of $28,100 to a high of $56,960. If you’re an owner-operator and charge by the hour, $19.27 is the average hourly rate, so start out asking for much higher.
The median numbers look much better when you break them down by city – or at least these cities (SOURCE):
- Sioux City: $40,240
- Sioux Falls: $39,000
- Rapid City: $38,420
Median rates are a bit different as they are figured differently. Average is figured by adding a column of salaries then dividing by the number of salaries you just added. To determine the median you look at all salaries and find the one exactly in the middle with 50% higher and 50% lower. The median salary for the entire U.S. is $41,340 while South Dakota is less at $37,840.
Applying For A CDL In South Dakota
You need a South Dakota Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) if you’re operating a vehicle:
- With a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of more than 26,000 pounds or any such vehicle towing a trailer with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or more (Class A)
- Designed to transport 16 or more people (including the driver) (Class B)
- Any size vehicle which requires hazardous material placards or is carrying material listed as a select agent or toxin in 49 CFR Part 73 (Class C)
First, you need to apply for and receive, your South Dakota CDL or Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP). In order to do that you need:
- A valid South Dakota Driver’s License: If your driver’s license or ID card doesn’t have a gold star in the upper right corner, you need to bring your social security card, W-2, 1099, or a paystub showing your social security number.
- Two documents that prove your residential/physical address. Documents must show your name, address, and be less than one year old. A few examples are: utility bill, paystub, phone bill, bank statement, homeowner’s policy, and tax document.
- New applicants, non-U.S. citizens and transfers from other states must show proof of lawful status in the U.S. Examples are: certified U.S. birth certificate, certificate of citizenship/naturalization, permanent resident card, U.S. passport, employment authorization card or a foreign passport with U.S. visa/I-94.
- If you were born in a U.S. territory (i.e. Guam, American Samoa, etc.) you’ll need to provide a U.S. passport, passport card, or Consular Report of Birth Abroad instead of a birth certificate.
- A completed license application form
- A completed medical certificate form (if applicable)
- Payment for the application fee and any endorsement tests you need to take.
After you’ve passed the written portion of the test(s) and have had your CLP for at least 2 weeks, you can take the CDL driving skills test at a third party testing site. Your driving skills test must be scheduled at least two business days in advance.
No testing is required to transfer a valid CDL from another state unless you’re applying for a hazardous materials endorsement.
If you have recent experience driving large military vehicles, you may be eligible to get a CDL without a driving skills test by completing a military waiver. You will still need to take the written knowledge tests, however.
Endorsements Available For Truckers in South Dakota
Double & Triple Trailers (T)
If you’re qualified to drive Class A vehicles you might want or need to pull double or triple trailers. You need a fairly sizeable amount of additional knowledge and skill to do this job safely in all types of traffic conditions and environments. Therefore, there is an endorsement test that must be passed in order to pull multiple trailers.
Passengers Endorsement (P)
Endorsement P is necessary to drive a vehicle designed to carry 16 or more passengers including the driver (usually buses or vans). You must pass a knowledge exam on safety considerations and pass a skills test in a passenger vehicle. This endorsement applies to applicants who want to drive a bus in any class.
Tank Vehicle Endorsement (N)
Drivers of vehicles used to haul liquids or gaseous materials in permanent tanks need specialized knowledge and skills to drive safely. Large amounts of liquids can cause driving control problems because the cargo is heavy, prone to shifting, and has a high center of gravity. You must pass the special knowledge examination on the problems posed by large volume liquid cargo.
Hazardous Materials Endorsement (H)
This endorsement applies to any driver, regardless of the class of vehicle (A, B or C), who will haul hazardous materials or waste in amounts large enough to require placards. You must be 21 years of age or older and pass a written exam on how to recognize, handle, and transport hazardous materials. In addition to the endorsement test, you’ll be fingerprinted and need to complete a federal background check.
Combination Hazardous Materials & Tank Vehicle Endorsement (X)
If you’ll be driving a tank vehicle with hazardous materials or hazardous waste you can add an X endorsement to your CDL. This way you don’t have to get the N & H endorsements separately but you will need to pass the written knowledge exams for both tank vehicles and hazardous materials. And just like with the H endorsement, a background check is required (SOURCE).
South Dakota Trucking Related News
A semi-truck tractor hauling two trailers filled with wheat crashed into a freight train at a crossing in Blunt, South Dakota. The driver, Colt Brink, 16, was taken away by ambulance to Avera St. Mary’s Hospital and was treated for his injuries.
Two men who came on the scene gave aid to Brink and pulled him out of the mangled cab before a fire engulfed it. Traffic was detoured for hours around Blunt because of the crash. At 9:15 p.m. that evening crews were still cleaning up grain and debris from the highway and railroad crossing.
The truck’s cab was so damaged it was difficult to recognize what make of truck it was. Most, if not all, of the 800 bushels of wheat from the front semi-trailer was piled on the highway. The second semi-trailer remained mostly intact with its load of wheat, upright and partly in the south ditch.
The truck had come from the west, down a long hill from the cemetery, it knocked the locomotive off the rails but not off the track bed, and the train moved about 50 feet or more after the collision.
There are no crossing arms or barriers at the crossing, just the “cross-buck” railroad signs with red lights that flash when a train is approaching. While it’s possible to see the red lights flashing from a distance, the long hill can make it hard to stop a loaded semi-tractor-and-trailer rig at the crossing.
Trucks hauling fuel or other flammable loads, and school buses must stop at the crossing (SOURCE).