Is Community College Training A Bad Idea?

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Brett Aquila's Comment
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I totally get the family/health thing. I also get the fact that you paid $2,000 to go to school for 20 hours and then found out almost no one would hire you because you need a minimum of 160 hours of training to land most jobs out of school. So being a free agent can't be that much fun when you have very few choices.

I don't care about the name of the places or anything, but let me ask you, how many trucks did your first company have and how many trucks does your new company have?

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Robert F. verified his previous statement:

I attended community college. I opted for their 20 hour course and got my CDL at first time of trying. Got a job straight away. For a number of reasons I won't go into it wasn't to my liking. Just been offered another job so would have to say the community college route suited me fine and only cost $2000 for everything and I am completely a free agent!

Robert a few things are really important here, not for you necessarily, but for an uninformed "newbie" reading this for the first time:

- Was this a CDL A or B?

- Even at the typical schooling duration of 160 hours of formal "tractor trailer" (Class A CDL) training, a student has barely enough skills and knowledge to pass the CDL test. 20 hours, 2.5 days CANNOT adequately prepare a novice driver to pass the test. Not sure if this was a refresher course or not, but in no way can I recommend a school that only offers 20 hours of CDL instruction as preparation for taking the tests. Think about this; with no previous knowledge or experience you learned pre-trip, how to back, how to shift and basic road handling skills in 20 hours. I recall where I was "at" after 2.5 days; I understood pre-trip (wasn't memorized yet) and could back in a straight line. That was it. Very, very difficult to believe...

- Second, all but a handful of carriers; the very smallest of the small (if that) "might" accept only 20 hours of total instruction. The majority of TL and LTL companies want a minimum of 160 hours of formal instruction to be considered a trainee not only a requirement of their safety departments but also their insurance underwriter(s).

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
- Was this a CDL A or B?

Oh geez. I hadn't even considered that. If it were a CDL B this whole thing would make a lot more sense.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

- Was this a CDL A or B?

double-quotes-end.png

Oh geez. I hadn't even considered that. If it were a CDL B this whole thing would make a lot more sense.

Or possibly school bus... There is a school bus company near me that trains in 3 days.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Here is Robert's first post on the forum...might explain his EXTREMELY MISLEADING reply offering 20 hours of schooling as adequate training...

During my time in the military I was a heavy equipment operator/tractor trailer driver, although this license was a military one only but still gave me plenty of commercial driving experience, including loading and unloading construction equipment onto rigs, medium to long range highway driving of tractor trailers. Since then I have mostly done office based jobs in the UK, but returned to the US in October and would love to commit to commercial driving for the rest of my working life, no way I want to be stuck in an office again! My question is, can anyone recommend a commercial driving program that will suit my needs? I know it's been a while since I have driven commercially, but because of my past experience (albeit a while ago), I don't feel the need to start from scratch as regards taking as much as a four week course or whatever. I feel a weeks' tuition, which would provide me with the minimum 16 hours of hands of driving required for taking the PA practical road test would be enough, I'm sure it will all come back to me!

Robert...you really led us down a blind path. Get real...

Terri D.'s Comment
member avatar

First time I had a chance to get on today. I see I got this post fired up a bit.

Thank you all for the replies. I am not looking to be a free agent by any means. And some of the comments I know to skim by. I think some people can get blinded by a free education and can't appreciate or may not have worked on the management side of any business; therefore, may not understand the reasoning behind offering a free education. It is just good work ethic to stay at least a year in any respectable industry. Newbie or not.

I am hoping to find a good established company that I can not only learn from but also I can also call home.

I guess my ultimate first failure is not knowing enough to make a decision on companies to go through. The community college is close to home and has an outstanding reputation around here. I did have orientation today and classes start Oct 23. 8 weeks, 5 days a week and 11 hours a day.

I literally didn't know Swift, Prime, Ect.. from mom and pop. So ultimately did not know a good company from a bad. I was serious when I said I am an idiot to the ins and outs of the industry. I do know I can learn, take it seriously and excel all without the illusion that I will be anything when receiving that CDL A.

Thanks to this site I am learning a ton. I am a free spirit. Used to working with little to no supervision and excelling at it. I tried transitioning into hospital settings then to office settings. No thank you. I can't stand to be stuck inside a building. I have been lost trying to find my retirement job/ second career. If I take on an endeavor I take it seriously, even if I ultimately fail.

So I guess my next question will be: will these companies hire people who did not initially go through their school? Obviously, they would want one to learn their way of doing things.

Again, thanks for any and all advice.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Big T's Comment
member avatar

The school doesn't teach you the way the company does things. That happens during the training phase.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Terri, the short answer is YES.

Start here:

Then this:

And finally...

Trucking Company Reviews

Good luck!

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Pre-hire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

MyNameGoesHere's Comment
member avatar

Just the opinion of someone on the tail end of my company sponsored training.

I don't know about this "free agent" nonsense but, I certainly don't feel "enslaved" to my company I chose myself. My contract doesn't force me to stay there. I can CHOOSE to leave if I so desire. Sure, if I do it'll cost me the amount of schooling but by no means did I sell myself into slavery.

I chose the company sponsored route do to financial reasons. Also, like Susan has said, why spend my own money when I don't have to (or have it). The only benefit I saw with paying my own way is it opens doors to other companies. There are a lot more companies that take on those who just got their license. Never once did I have a "free agent" mentality. In all honesty, in my opinion the first 6 months will be the easiest and quickest. You're going to be so busy learning the ropes and stressing about all the new stuff that time will just fly by. Then 6 more months of settling in and getting a feel for things.

I think you have a good head on your shoulders and should do fine in any path you take on it. Just make your choices without regret and make the right fit for you.

Company Sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Unholychaos's Comment
member avatar

I went through a community college course, taught by professional drivers of many years, combined 15m safe miles between the 3 instructors. 6 weeks, 4 days a week, 8 hours a day. Trained on old Schneider equipment, all standard transmission. It's a great route if you haven't decided who you want to drive for. I went in with a prehire with Schneider, gave my recruiter Adrian weekly updates on my progress, was on a bus to Gary IN within a week after obtaining my CDL.

For just over $4000 (paid in full by GAP, I didn't pay a dime) and an immediate job, I wholly recommend it.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Prehire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

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