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At TruckingTruth, we've done a ton of research for you! We've contacted the company recruiters at CRST Trucking and put together a fantastic review of the CRST paid CDL training program.
We'll start you off with our opinion of their paid CDL training program and then we'll take you through all of the key features and important information you'll need to know. Some of what we'll cover:
While other trucking companies were destroyed by the recession, CRST emerged even stronger with annual revenues exceeding $1 billion. They operate with zero debt, enabling them to reinvest at a higher level in equipment, technology and human resources.
While CRST seems like a great place to begin your trucking career, you must consider the fact that you will be driving a team truck. Driving as a team is something that some people enjoy, others do not. It's a personal preference.
If you do happen to have a friend, family member, or spouse who you'd like to drive a team truck with, CRST could be a very unique opportunity for you. Furthermore, team operations tend to receive the best of everything - longer length of haul, nicer trucks, more miles, mostly coast-to-coast runs, etc. It definitely offers unique advantages.
While I think CRST could be right for those seeking a team based trucking company, be sure to do your own research and understand the many options that exist when starting your trucking career.
CRST (originally Cedar Rapids Steel Transport) is based out of Cedar Rapids, IA and began with a 50 mile freight radius in 1955. Now, the company boasts a 1,500 mile average length of haul with more than 1,100 company-owned tractors, 2,500 van trailers, 2,000 team drivers, 350 solo drivers, and more than 250 independent contractors.
Since the vast majority of the fleet consists of team truck operations, they are considered an expedited freight carrier with the ability to transport cargo across the country quicker than most other carriers.
In addition, CRST is responsible for training thousands of drivers each year through their CDL sponsorship and training programs.
CRST hires from most states, but may include or exclude certain states and areas based upon demand. See the hiring map below.
CRST operates one of their own driving schools in Cedar Rapids, IA, and they also contract out to multiple independent CDL schools in Dallas TX, Riverside CA, and Jacksonville, FL.
If you need to obtain your Class-A CDL but lack the funds to do so, CRST offers a company sponsored program and no credit checks are required. CRST will pay for the schooling up front and in return, you'll sign a contract stating you'll stay employed with them for a minimum of 10 months. Students who participate in this program will start at a lower pay scale as follows:
Note: You will be running team so the mileage will be split between the two drivers.
CRST will payroll deduct the cost of transportation to the CDL school unless you provided your own transportation. The DOT Physical / DOT drug and alcohol tests will also be payroll deducted (total cost of both is $100).
Finally, if you required lodging at the CDL school, these costs will also be payroll deducted (generally lodging costs $150 per week). Payroll deductions will never exceed $40 per week for all of these items combined.
There are NO up-front costs to attend CRST company-sponsored training. CRST handles all licensing and permit fees.
Breakfast & lunch is provided M-F, no weekend meals or dinner provided, student must bring money with them to cover those meals.
Lodging is paid for by CRST upfront but is payroll deducted after 6 weeks of employment, at a rate of $40 a week
Yes. You may make a prepayment amount of $6,500. This must be paid prior to starting school by way of money order or credit card. In return, you do not have to sign any contract and you will start driving at a higher rate of pay than a contract student.
Under this plan, you do not have to pay the CRST processing fee of $50, for transportation to school, the physical or drug test, or for lodging. You will only need to pay for any CDL permit or licensing fees.
Simply stay employed for 10 months and your obligation will be fulfilled. CRST does not deduct the cost of training from your paychecks. Contract students will start out at a slightly lower pay rate than experienced drivers or prepaid students for their first year.
CRST has a very nice cost structure. They either pay for things outright or cover the costs of training up front. They also allow you to pay for your schooling up front if you prefer, which is rare with these type of programs.
No, you are not required to get your permit before attending school.
No, but a birth certificate is required to obtain a CDL out of state.
A HazMat endorsement is encouraged, but not required.
CRST sends their drivers through 1 of many separate CDL schools. Only one of these schools, in Cedar Rapids, IA, is owned by CRST and the rest are privately run schools, so each program will differ in how the training is completed. The schools are screened by CRST and are designed to provide students with proper training to obtain a Class-A Commercial Driver's License from the state where the school is located.
You can expect the following to occur at any of the 30 CDL schools CRST contracts to:
CDL training will last from 8 to 12 weeks, which starts with 3 - 4 weeks of training for your CDL. That will be followed by a 3 or 4 day orientation session at a CRST terminal within 60 days of graduating CDL school, and a minimum of 28 days and 14,000 miles with a company trainer.
This will depend on your exact CDL school, but 80% of your training will be done outside of a classroom. All state minimum requirements will be met.
Depending on your school the number of students per truck will vary, but generally there are no more than 4 students per truck.
About 20% of the time will be spent in a CDL classroom. All state minimum requirements for classroom time will be met.
It's tough to give specifics about the CDL training through CRST as they use many different private CDL training companies. However, each program that CRST uses has been researched and is known to provide good training, otherwise CRST wouldn't use them. Basically, CRST does your research into finding a great CDL school for you and will hire you as soon as you complete your schooling and receive a valid CDL.
Required training time will be based upon number of days as well as number of miles driven with a trainer. The minimum number of days required is 28, while the minimum number of combined miles (you and your trainer) is 14,000. The total length of the training program is 8 - 12 weeks. During that time, trainees go out on the road with a trainer for 2 to 3 weeks then take a few days of home time before completing company training.
While driving with a trainer you will earn 30 cpm for half of the miles the truck travels. For example:
Initially, the truck is dispatched as a solo operation. But within 4 to 7 days the truck will be operated as a team truck.
No, only one trainee to each training truck.
Yes, all drivers must utilize the bottom bunk while the truck is in motion.
All disputes are handled on a case-by-case basis. Trainees can contact dispatch 24 hrs per day 365 days per year in the event of an emergency situation. As a worse case scenario, a new trainer will be provided.
Yes, all trainees can specify their smoking preference.
All trainers must be approved by both the Operations and Safety Departments. In general, trainers must have a minimum of 6 months to 1yr of OTR experience. This must include four months of winter driving in the last 12 months, to include driving OTR between the months of November and March. Once trainers are approved, they must attend a Lead Driver Class to learn teaching techniques.
The duration of training and pay during training is about on par with the industry average. You should be in training for approximately one month which is a good amount of time to learn not only how to drive, but how the company operates and how company procedures are handled.
You have a choice of either attending a company-sponsored school training program and signing an 10-month contract, or simply choose to prepay the tuition with no contract to sign and a higher starting pay.
The below pay is based upon split mileage pay for all miles driven (you receive half and the driver you team with receives half for all miles driven).
During the first year you will receive a minimum of 3 pay increases. After that, expect a pay raise every 6 months to 2 years depending on your experience.
Currently there is no fuel bonus plan in place.
Gap Medical Coverage is available within 10-14 days of hire. You are eligible for the CRST group plan (Blue Shield PPO) the first of the month following 60 days of employment.
After 13 months, CRST will contribute 50% to the driver's 401k up to a maximum of 6% of the driver's pay contributed to the plan.
Example: A driver earning $40,000 per year contributes 6% of his salary or $2,400. CRST will then contribute another $1,200. CRST pays its contribution weekly. Employer contributions are fully vested after six years.
Drivers can receive health coverage beginning on the first day of employment. 401k is available after 90 days and all other benefits will kick in after 6 months to 1 year.
Insurance plans vary depending on individual needs and chosen plans (many plans are offered at many different cost structures).
Paid vacation time becomes available after 1yr and is as follows:
While the first 6 months of mileage pay is below the industry average, especially for contract students, that income increases quickly and by the 1yr mark pay is above some other well known training companies. It's important to think long term as far as pay is concerned. Once you've proven yourself and have been around for 1yr, the pay rate is competitive.
No pets are allowed on any CRST equipment.
While lease operators are allowed to take riders with them, CRST company drivers are not allowed to take a rider with them as trucks are typically team operated.
Dedicated positions become available at different times of the year and are available nationally. Generally, drivers must drive in the OTR division for 6 months to 1yr before a dedicated position becomes available. The ability to haul dedicated freight depends on the drivers home area, driver performance (preference goes to higher performing drivers), and freight availability.
While CRST does run NYC freight, drivers will have the ability to turn down any freight going into NYC.
While company drivers are forced dispatched, they may turn down NYC freight. Lease operators and owner operators are never forced dispatched.
Drivers receive guaranteed home time. If you are unable to get home on the day you request, CRST will set up alternate transportation methods to ensure you get home. All drivers are entitled to receive 1 day off for each week on the road, with a minimum of 3 weeks out at a time. Unique home time programs can also be taken advantage of including:
20/10 program (certain major cities only): With this plan, drivers run for 20 days and take a full 10 days off. This program is only offered in certain major cities because drivers typically run the same number of miles in 20 days as they normally would in 30. To make this happen, drivers must live in specific freight lanes.
Approximately 80% of the freight at CRST is drop and hook.
A CRST recruiter indicated they do have regional positions available, but that these positions are not common and most drivers never obtain a regional position. Dedicated freight is more of a possibility, but depends upon many factors. For the most part CRST is a long-haul OTR carrier with a very long average length of haul (1,500 miles).
Their home time policy is about average for the industry (1 day off for each week out - minimum of 3 weeks out) but living in some major cities will allow you to take 10 days off after being out for 20 days. The recruiter we spoke with claims these positions are very location specific as they need to maximize time and efficiency in order to give these drivers a competitive number of miles to compensate for the added down time.
While a leasing program is offered, CRST takes a "no pressure" approach to the program.
CRST is 100% dry-van operated with some dedicated positions available. Flatbed is available through their sister-company but is an owner operator based company.
CRST has freightliners and most are under 3 years of age.
Yes, all trucks are running e-logs
Most trucks are limited between 62 and 65mph.
Most trucks do not have APU's at this time, but drivers are allowed to engine idle while not driving.