Here's What Every 88M Needs To Know About Civilian CDLs After They ETS

5 October 2016
 Categories: , Articles

If you drive a truck in the military as an 88M and are coming up on your ETS date, you may be wondering if you will be able to use your truck driving experience to get a job in the civilian world. The good news is that you can. In fact, 30 states offer skills test waivers to qualified military truck drivers. However, there are a few important things to take care of now that you are a short-timer. Here are a few things to consider and what you'll need to do before getting out of the military. 

Military vs. Commercial Truck Driving Considerations

There are a few important things to consider before you set your eyes on driving trucks for a living. Driving a civilian truck can be vastly different from driving a military truck. First of all, most military trucks are automatics, whereas most civilian trucks are manuals. Because of this, even though the state where you'll get your CDL may offer a military waiver to bypass the skills test, you'll most likely need to get training behind the wheel of a commercial truck. 

Another thing to consider is your specific driving experiences in the military will be different than driving a commercial truck. If you've driven off-base during your military career, you likely were in convoys. This meant that you did not have to figure out where you were going and a specific time schedule, including how often you'd need to rest. As a civilian truck driver, you may need to determine your routes and schedules. If, however, you only drove on-base, you should definitely considering going through training to drive on highways and streets. 

Documentation to Obtain

As you count down your time left in service with, "XX days and a wake up," you'll want to start getting everything ready for your transition to being a civilian truck driver. Of course, you'll be given a transition checklist for your outprocessing, but there are other things you'll want to take care of as well. To get a CDL skills test waiver and qualify for various employment opportunities as a civilian truck driver in the future, you'll want to make sure you have the following documentation: 

  • military ID
  • military driver's license
  • log books
  • DD214
  • medical records
  • application for military skills test waiver

It's important to note that the skills test waiver application requires a signature from your commanding officer. While the application can be completed after being discharged from the military, it cannot be accepted without your last commanding officer's signature. It's important to get this application completed while you are still in the military. Since military members often PCS, go on TDY, and ETS, you may not be able to easily locate your commanding officer if he or she relocates. Also, your last duty station or your commander's new duty station may not be close enough to home to have it done in person in the future.

After your ETS when you are ready to get your CDL, make an appointment at your nearest commercial driver's licensing office. Provide the documents that are listed above, as well as an application for a CDL from your state. You will then be given a written knowledge test or scheduled for one at a future date. Passing the written test will result in the issuing of a CDL. Without the military waiver, you would be issued a CDL learner's permit at this point, instead. As was discussed previously, given the differences in driving a military truck vs. a commercial truck, you may want to consider taking a CDL driver's training course even though you already would have a CDL.