PRIME 30,000-40,000 Miles Or Local Trucking School?? For CDL OTR Or Local??

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DEE GUIDO F.'s Comment
member avatar

Hello Everyone,

My first post on TT and I find this website very, very helpful and thanks to everyone's input..

First off.. I hope everyone is having a safe NYE and everyone on the road i pray you get where you are going SAFE..

New Drivers and Vet's please help!!!

Just a little information about me first... I am 32 years old, clean MVD record never been involved in a Motor Vehicle accident or a Ticket from Police of any kind and I've had my regular DL from New Mexico for over 16 years now, if that means anything?? IDK

My question... I have been thinking very hard of becoming a Truck Driver for a very long time now and i know its not just a job its also a lifestyle... I am just going back and fourth on what i should do, I want to go to Prime and join the Student Program there but i don't want to be locked into a 1 year contract and 30,000k with a TNT??? I DO understand i have to get my feet wet somewhere and my 1st year is not going to be all GRAVY, but i also want to get my own CDL here in New Mexico and then go searching for a Company to hire me??? You think a company would even consider hiring me because i would have my CDL but no experience??? or do you think i should go with Prime and get experience under my belt???

I simply just don't know what to do... I honestly would like to drive here in NM with a company... I do and I don't wanna drive OTR but i would if i had no other option... I honestly would like to drive Dump Trucks within the state or Gas Tankers OR should i say i would like more HomeTime then out for 3-4 weeks at a time??? Any Advice???

PLEASE BE AS HONEST AND STRAIGHT UP PLEASE... I RATHER HERE THE TRUTH THE SUGAR COATING BS...

Thanks, D BullRiderChampion2009

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.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

Bill F.'s Comment
member avatar

The reality is that what it costs a company to buy insurance for you to drive their truck is super expensive until you get 6 months to a year of safe driving experience on the road trucking. Small companies have a much harder time paying these costs then large companies like Prime and the others. There is no downside to being under contract as long as you fulfill your end of the contract. In fact if you are under contract with Prime they are more likely to forgive the little things like fender benders at truck stops that so many new truckers get involved in because they have time and money invested in your career. Go OTR for a year and most of these local jobs become available to you. Some get lucky and get local jobs right away, but then don't have that year of experience that you really need. You learn so much in that first year that makes you a safer more effective driver.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Rainy D.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi welcome!!! Im a trainer at Prime, and did the student program and TnT two years ago. I intended on just doing the year then going home, but love it so.much i stayed.

Things to consider:

Primes student phase with the permit is driving OTR making deliveries which means you will be driving downgrades, fog, various times of day, various traffic conditions,in major citiies and backing into docks. i drove 10,000 in just over 3 weeks witb my permit. This is a major advantage over a local driving school when preparing for the CDL driving test. You are one on one over the road with the trainer next to you the whole time. There is no sharing the truck/trainer with 3 or 4 other students.

30,000 miles TnT is the TRUCK miles as a team, not your individual miles. It doesnt take forever but that phase counts towards your employment contract. If you go to a local school its 40k because you did not get the OTR experience a Prime student would have. They do provide reimbursement, but pay $600 the first 6 weeks i think, then it goes to $700. If you do PSD at Prime, you get the $700 from the start of the TnT phase. So going to primes school and gets you paid more and do less miles in TnT

The year contract doesnt really matter because no matter where you go, you SHOULD do one year with your first company. There are many reasons for this, but one is stated in the prior post--- your first company will be more forgiving with newbie accidents. and you WILL have some sort of accident or critical event as you are learning to control that trailer and swinging wide. Also, if you job hop the first year, you look unstable to future employers so you could limit future possibilities. Another reason is that learning the industry can be frustrating, and many new driving blame the company rather than the lifestyle. They hop from company to company before realizing "wow, now that ive been doing this awhile i realize that first company was great but i didnt appreciate it".

OTR experience is required for insurance purposes as stated in the previous post. Many oppotunities open up after that. You mentioned gas tanker which is not only HAZMAT but tanker itself is a whole different issue with new drivers due to the surge. When slowing down, the surge can literally push you into an intersection if you do not know how to slow down properly. That is where that year of experience comes in. Most of the fuel tanker companies in my area want 1 to 2 years OTR and HAZMAT. Often OTR pays better than local jobs also.

Hometime: Yes 3 to 4 weeks can suck. But Prime like many mega carriers has various regional and dedicated routes that might get you home more. We do have a western regional division that runs the 11 western states, but i dont know much about it, so be sure to ask recruiting.

Trainimg: No matter where you go, you need training. Getting the CDL does not a trucker make. Many newbies have a false sense of self with a "I have a CDL now im important" attitude. No, without experience you are a liability. You need training. Mastering downshifting can take a couole months, and backing can take 6 mos. Therefore 3 weeks of school is nothing. Trucking is frustrating as a newbie and stressful. Training is not just to train but to weed out those who will not suceed.

Many of us here are still with tbe mega carriers who trained us because of the various options (diviision, regional, dedicated) they provide, as well as the new equipment and dedication to safety. Also, changing companies means starting at the bottom and proving yourself all over again

Big Scott loves CFI and gets much better home time than Prime, but I get more CPM than he does. We both get plenty of miles. However, the trainimg phase he had was 7800 miles with his CDL. I did that just with my permit, so my training was much longer. And i dont care how long you train for, any new driver is nervous going out solo. Even 40k miles total doesnt feel like enough lol

Remember that most drivers do not make it through their first year. It can be a culture shock. It can be too stressful for some. Treat training like boot camp, and going solo feels like you just broke out of jail lol. i had "Born Free" playing in my head once I got off the trainers truck lol

I rarely talk to dispatch and often feel.like my own boss due to.my freedom. Ill never be able to go back to a normal job.

good luck and i hope thia helps.

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.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

Dedicated Route:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Over The Road:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

PSD:

Prime Student Driver

Prime Inc has a CDL training program and the first phase is referred to as PSD. You'll get your permit and then 10,000 miles of on the road instruction.

The following is from Prime's website:

Prime’s PSD begins with you obtaining your CDL permit. Then you’ll go on the road with a certified CDL instructor for no less than 75 hours of one-on-one behind the wheel training. After training, you’ll return to Prime’s corporate headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, for final CDL state testing and your CDL license.

Obtain CDL Permit / 4 Days

  • Enter program, study and test for Missouri CDL permit.
  • Start driving/training at Prime Training Center in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Work toward 40,000 training dispatched miles (minimum) with food allowance while without CDL (Food allowance is paid back with future earnings).

On-the-Road Instruction / 10,000 Miles

  • Train with experienced certified CDL instructor for 3-4 weeks in a real world environment.
  • Get 75 hours of behind-the-wheel time with one-on-one student/instructor ratio.
  • Earn 10,000 miles toward total 40,000 miles needed.

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

PJ's Comment
member avatar

Happy New Year!!! First of all you came to the right place for straight answers. Welcome. I understand your wish list pretty well, I had many of the same feelings 4 years ago when I started driving. First off you need a flexible plan in place. Have you explored the oppurtunities you describe as local??? Since that sounds like the ultimate goal you should have an idea what is available once you acquire the needed experience. In my case I had several companies I could drive for close to the house delivering granite. They leave out on sun/mon and are back in thur/fri every week and make good money. That was my ultimate goal. They are all decent size companies for what they do but run very small fleets of trucks. I explored their requirements and set a plan in place to make myself marketable to them. Smaller fleets are not self insured and therefore are dicated to by the insurance industry to a large degree. In my case I had to have a minimum of 2 years experience. Here in the southeast that is common. Not sure where you are. I wanted to be home as much as possible during that initial period, so companies I looked at were the ones with better home time. Bottom line is figure out what your priorities are, make a flexible plan within that framework, and see who can help you achieve what you need. It took me 3 years instead of 2 to get where I am today and I had to change my plan a bit along the way to accomplish my goal, but I did it successfully. You can also.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Welcome to the forum Dee, and Happy New Year!

I agree with Bill's suggestions and advice. There are no shortcuts to this; formal schooling with a 160hrs of instruction is initially required. Schools; regardless of whether you choose

Paid CDL Training Programs

or

Private Truck Driving Schools

they only teach the bare-bones basics required to pass the CDL tests. Nothing more. Once you get your CDL, depending on the company you hire-on with; there is a period of supervised road-training (like TNT) that varies from a few weeks to a few months. Your suggestion that "getting one's feet wet" is a huge understatement.

The best way to enter this industry is explained in these two links:

Becoming A Truck Driver: The Raw Truth About Truck Driving

and

Truck Driver's Career Guide

Coupled with Trucking Truth's High Road CDL Training Program you will have a reasonably good chance of entering any school with grounded expectations and a solid knowledge base. High Road enables the path of least resistance to pass all of the CLP permit exams.

There is a ton more of information here at TT, the above is a good place to begin serious research. 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.

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

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.

CLP:

Commercial Learner's Permit

Before getting their CDL, commercial drivers will receive their commercial learner's permit (CLP) upon passing the written portion of the CDL exam. They will not have to retake the written exam to get their CDL.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Happy New Year!!! First of all you came to the right place for straight answers. Welcome. I understand your wish list pretty well, I had many of the same feelings 4 years ago when I started driving. First off you need a flexible plan in place. Have you explored the oppurtunities you describe as local??? Since that sounds like the ultimate goal you should have an idea what is available once you acquire the needed experience. In my case I had several companies I could drive for close to the house delivering granite. They leave out on sun/mon and are back in thur/fri every week and make good money. That was my ultimate goal. They are all decent size companies for what they do but run very small fleets of trucks. I explored their requirements and set a plan in place to make myself marketable to them. Smaller fleets are not self insured and therefore are dicated to by the insurance industry to a large degree. In my case I had to have a minimum of 2 years experience. Here in the southeast that is common. Not sure where you are. I wanted to be home as much as possible during that initial period, so companies I looked at were the ones with better home time. Bottom line is figure out what your priorities are, make a flexible plan within that framework, and see who can help you achieve what you need. It took me 3 years instead of 2 to get where I am today and I had to change my plan a bit along the way to accomplish my goal, but I did it successfully. You can also.

PJ, considering Dee's ultimate goals closely align with the path you took, perhaps it would be helpful to explain the schooling and training you experienced along the way. Thx.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Dee, I'm just going to add to the chorus. The best plan to stay your trucking career is the most established, and I believe the safest path: 1) certified 160 hour training course to get your full CDL-A. 2) Hire on to your chosen company and go through their road training with can take several weeks (you'll get paid a training rate) 3) Stick with your first company for a year.

With your clean driving background many companies will be happy to talk to you.

Two routes to get your CDL are either a private school or a company school.

If you go to a private school, you'll sign a contract for the tuition, study/practice for your CDL, find your company (maybe the company will cover your tuition) and drive a year for them to pay off the tuition loan.

You can also go to a company school. In this path you will be all but hired by your company when you start your CDL training. You'll still have to do the CDL basics, and go road training and then stay with them for a year before you should move on to another company.

As others have written, each step trains you just enough to prepare you for the next. There's enough liability and danger in pulling around a 40 ton beast that any company wants to make sure you know what your doing with a semi before they cut you loose on your own. Several know-it-alls have posted here saying they have been driving six months so they know what they are doing. We just laugh..

Your first reads. The High Road program is a great (free and worth your time) way to prepare for your CDL written test:

For many more resources, touch on the three-bar menu at the top left to learn about trucking schools and companies and many more details.

Best if luck in this New Year!

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.

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.

Steve L.'s Comment
member avatar

Don’t let the one-year commitment stop you from considering a company. You’re likely gonna stay with any company for that first year.

If you’ve never been away from home, this will take quite an adjustment. It’s (in my opinion) much like joining the military, in that you’re gonna be away and put up with crap you never expected.

If you bring a good attitude, good (basic driving) skills and an open mind, you should succeed whichever path you take.

I did private CDL school, my first two years with Schneider and am now driving dedicated for a Southeast Regional company.

Keep researching, narrowing your objectives and stay positive.

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.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

PJ's Comment
member avatar

G town I'm happy too, didn't post that before just to keep it short.

Dee I knew my ultimate goal from the beginning. My girlfriend at that time, now wife was in the granite business so I learned alot about it on the shipping side from her and knew we could make that work long term. She also knew all the players and where we desired to get to. However we also knew the turnover is very low with these companies. We knew going in I had to have 2 years min. driving due to insurance requirements. So with all that in mind we developed a plan for the mid term. I went with a company sponsored school through Roehl Transport. It fit OUR situation the best. They gave me great training and at that time were the only ones I found without a contract. They told me the cost of the school, the miles I needed to drive for them to forgive that, and if I left before how much I would owe them. Very straight forward. I got my feet wet, learned a lot, and started my driving career. Which is my second of life. I knew starting out granite is hauled on flatbeds. However starting out I went dry van. I felt the learning curve would be steep enough at that point for me. Doing what I do now is pulling a flatbed, but since I always haul the same product I didn't need to know how to secure everything.

Roehl's hometime policies were important to me, and there school was top notch. The recruiter was also very open and straightforward with me. I too do not like to be locked into things so the tuition payment options were the final tipping point for me.

I stayed almost a year and another opportunity came around I really wasn't looking for but I looked at it and took it. Had I been locked into a 1 yr contract that opportunity would have passed me by. It wasn't my final goal, however a great stop over in between.

I got my 2 yrs in and low and behold due to low turnover where I wanted to be I had to wait. Another year the way it turned out. I made the best of it, learned a lot more during that time that makes be better at it today.

I hope this gives you some hope that if you work a plan it can happen. Just remember to always be flexible

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.
Big Scott's Comment
member avatar

Wow. I couldn't have given you better advice. I have been solo for 6 months now and my backing is finally starting to improve. You are always learning. I am a huge fan of Paid CDL Training Programs. Get paid training for a grand total of 2 to 3 months, depending on company, then upgrade and get keys to a shiny, slightly uses truck. Verses paying several thousand dollars out of pocket, going to school for 4 or more weeks, then starting the hiring process. Yes, I love CFI and I'm very happy with the training they gave me. The one year commitment is nothing. Time will fly by. To do that it's best to choose the company that fits you best. There are many things to consider when choosing a company. For example, Prime, Schneider and Swift offer several types of driving. CFI is only dry van. However, if you have a passport we go to Canada. Here is more info for you.

You have much to consider. 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.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

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.

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