Tennessee is famous for many things like Graceland which is Elvis’ home in Memphis. Beale Street Historic District is a street in Memphis voted the most iconic street in America by USA Today. The Grand Ole Opry – a concert hall in Nashville that has been live since November 28, 1925 and is a staple in country music. Vanderbilt University, and its affiliated hospitals, is the largest employer in Tennessee.
Even though Nashville is the capital of Tennessee, Memphis has a higher population. The five largest cities are:
- Memphis: 646,889
- Nashville: 601,222
- Knoxville: 178,874
- Chattanooga: 167,674
- Clarksville: 132,929
The state has a rich history with a variety of business industries which provides truckers in the state an opportunity to work for a variety of those industries.
Tennessee CDL Truck Driver Job Growth
Tennessee employs quite a few truck drivers – 58,120 to be exact. Pay is not bad either with an average salary of $41,680 and a more recent number of $43,860. As you probably know salaries are always dependent on your years of experience and skill as a driver so your actual salary could be higher or lower (SOURCE).
If you attend a CDL driving school it will take anywhere from six to eight weeks to complete, and a lot of the time the trucking companies will pay for drivers to take the classes. Certainly beats going to college for four years and the bill that comes at the end of that experience!
The top five industries in Tennessee all lend themselves to trucking. No wonder there are so many truck drivers here.
- Health Care
- Automotive Manufacturing
- Film Production
No doubt country music falls in there somewhere, and provides plenty of roadie opportunities.
Driving in Tennessee you may have a chance to see some of the greenest part of the country as you drive through the bordering states of: Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Virginia, Mississippi, and Missouri.
Tennessee CDL Truck Driver Salary Information
Median salaries fluctuate as much as city populations do. For the whole of the U.S. the median salary is $41,340 and the state of Tennessee comes in a couple thousand lower at $39,430. But take a look at the median salaries in several TN cities and you can see how much the salaries fluctuate:
- Cleveland: $48,690
- Morristown: $48,470
- Memphis: $43,240
- Kingsport: $41,150
- Nashville: $40,820
- Knoxville: $40,550
- Chattanooga: $36,420
- Jackson: $35,110
In many states there is a shortage of truck drivers, but projections show that for the entire U.S. the increase in trucking jobs from 2014 to 2024 will be 6%. In Tennessee it’s predicted to be twice that at 12% (SOURCE).
Applying For A Tennessee CDL License
Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL) include three Classes – A, B, and C depending upon the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR), and what’s being transported. State law defines a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) as any vehicle or combination of vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds.
If hazardous materials are transported, or if the vehicle is designed to transport more than fifteen (15) passengers including the driver, or if the vehicle is used as a school bus, a CDL is required, regardless of the weight of the vehicle. Drivers who need a CDL should get a Commercial Driver’s License Manual at any driver’s license station.
An applicant for a CDL must be able to provide proof of U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Resident status in order to qualify for a Tennessee CDL.
NOTE: If a person holds a valid CDL (Class A, B, or C), this license is also valid for operating a Class D vehicle. No separate license is required.
You must determine what type of commerce you operate in and self-certify to Tennessee Department Of Safety and Homeland Security (TDOSHS) which one of the four types of commerce you operate in:
- Interstate Non-Excepted: You are an Interstate non-excepted driver and must meet the Federal DOT medical card requirements.
- Interstate Excepted: You are an Interstate excepted driver and do not have to meet the Federal DOT medical card requirements.
- Intrastate Non-Excepted: You are an Intrastate non-excepted driver and are required to meet the medical requirements for Tennessee.
- Intrastate Excepted: You are an Intrastate excepted driver and do not have to meet the medical requirements for Tennessee.
If you’re subject to the DOT medical card requirements, provide a copy of each new DOT medical card to TDOSHS prior to the expiration of the current DOT medical card.
Tennessee CDL Endorsements and Requirements
Under the provisions of the USA Patriot Act, rules of the federal TSA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) the TDOSHS may not issue a hazardous materials endorsement until the applicant has submitted to a fingerprint-based background check.
TSA must determine that the applicant does not pose a security threat before the hazardous materials endorsement can be issued for anyone regardless if it’s an initial, renew, or transferring from out of state. The hazardous materials endorsement can be given only after the TSA background check is completed and passed.
Bring the following documents when applying for a CDL:
- Valid DOT Medical Card, if needed
- Tennessee driver’s license or ID, or a valid driver license or CDL from another state
- Proof of residence in Tennessee
Applicants for a CDL or permit will be required to present two examples of domicile verification
What types of U.S. citizenship documents are authorized?
• Valid U.S. Passport
• Certified birth certificate filed with a State Office of Vital Statistics or equivalent agency in the individual’s State of birth, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
• Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) issued by the U.S. Department of State
• Certificate of Naturalization issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
• Certificate of Citizenship issued by DHS.
What proves Lawful Permanent Residence?
Unexpired Permanent Resident Card, issued by USCIS or INS.
What to bring to prove domicile
All documents must include a Tennessee residential address–the SAME residential address must be on each document presented. No photocopies accepted!
How to obtain a CDL learner’s permit
To obtain your permit, you must take and pass the CDL general knowledge test. Check with any Full-Service Driver Service Centers throughout the state to verify that they offer the CDL general knowledge test and the knowledge tests for any endorsement(s) you need.
Required tests for adding an endorsement to a CDL
|Endorsement Name||Code||Test Type|
|Double / Triple Trailers||T||Knowledge Test|
|Passenger||P||Knowledge and Skills Test|
|Tank Vehicle||N||Knowledge Test|
|Hazardous Materials||H||Knowledge Test and Background Check|
|School Bus||S||Knowledge and Skills Test|
How to schedule a CDL skills test
CDL skills tests can be scheduled by calling 615-251-5217 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. CST Monday through Friday (SOURCE).
Tennessee Trucking Related News
In Tennessee, approximately one out of every 13 jobs belongs to a truck driver, according to the American Transportation Research Institute. Even so, there’s a massive driver shortage caused in part by the recent hurricanes, and many companies have been trying to recruit new drivers.
Wal-Mart truck driver John Lex really loves his job. “The view out my office window changes every time these wheels turn. I’ve never wanted to do anything else but be a truck driver like my dad.” His father drove a truck for Publix, and the company allowed employees to bring their children to work. “I remember my dad waking me up in the morning and saying, ‘you want to go to work with me?'”
Another reason he loves his job is, “I don’t have anyone hounding over me. I’m the captain of my own ship here.”
There is room for improvement however. “It’s hard committing to an industry when you have to work weekends,” he acknowledged, “and I think our industry is finally realizing that and allowing drivers to get home more often.”
Sadly, the dangers truckers face are all too real with 75 percent of semi-involved crashes blamed on the smaller vehicles on the road. “At 80,000 pounds at highway speed, it’ll take the length of a football field to come to a complete stop.”
Despite that, it’s a job that has connected people, not only with the products they use every day, but also during disasters like the recent hurricanes in Houston and Florida, which have made the driver shortage even more significant (SOURCE).