CRST Trucking School: Company-Sponsored CDL Training

CRST trucking paid cdl training truck

Introduction To CRST Trucking Paid CDL Training Review

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:

  • Student Hiring Requirements
  • Truck Driving School Locations
  • Driver Pay During Training
  • Advantages Of Working For CRST Trucking
  • Cost Structure Of CDL Training
  • CDL Training Itinerary
  • CRST Trucking Pay And Benefits
  • Vacation Pay And Home Time

CRST Has An Incredible Financial Position!

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.

CRST Trucking Review

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.

About CRST International CDL Training

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.

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Getting Hired With CRST

CRST Minimum Hiring Requirements

  • Must be at least 21 years old.
  • No open container violations in the last 3 years.
  • No DUI or DWI violations in the last 5 years. No more than 1 DUI in the last 15 years and no more than 2 DUI's in your lifetime.
  • You must have a good driving record and have been licensed in the United States for a minimum of 18 months out of the last 3 YEARS.
  • Must pass a DMV/D.O.T. (Dept. of Transportation) physical and a pre-employment drug screen.
  • All criminal convictions are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and are all reviewed by management.
  • No loss of foot, leg, hand, or arm.
  • No history of diabetes that requires insulin for control (oral medication is okay).
  • No impairment of hand or finger that interferes with power grasping or no impairment of arm, foot, or leg that interferes with the ability to perform normal tasks of driving a motor vehicle.
  • No history or current diagnosis of rheumatic, orthopedic, muscular, neuromuscular, or vascular disease that interferes with the ability to control and operate a motor vehicle.
  • No history or diagnosis of respiratory dysfunction likely to interfere with the ability to control a motor vehicle.
  • No current diagnosis of high blood pressure (140/90 is the maximum) likely to interfere with driving a motor vehicle.
  • No current diagnosis of myocardial infarction, angina, pectoris, coronary insufficiency, thrombosis, or other cardiovascular disease known to be accompanied by syncope, dyspnea, collapse, or congestive heart failure.
  • No mental, nervous, organic or functional disease of psychiatric disorder likely to interfere with operating a motor vehicle.
  • Distant visual acuity of at least 20/40 (with glasses or other correction) in each eye, field of vision of at least 70 degrees and the ability to perceive red, yellow, green and amber.
  • No history or current diagnosis of epilepsy or any other condition that is likely to cause loss of consciousness.
  • Ability to perceive a forced whisper in the better ear at no less than 5 feet, with or without using a hearing aid.
  • No use of a 'Schedule 1' drug, amphetamine, narcotic, or any other habit-forming drug.
  • No current clinical diagnosis of alcoholism.

CRST Hiring Areas

Where do you hire from and what are your no-hire zones?

CRST hires from most states, but may include or exclude certain states and areas based upon demand. See the hiring map below.

CRST International Facility Locations

CRST CDL Training Facilities

Where are your schools located?

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.

CRST trucking CDL training hiring map

CRST Drop Lots And Terminals

Full Service Terminal Locations
CRST terminal locations
  • Fontana, California (Orientation Center)
  • Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Orientation Center)
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (Orientation Center)
  • Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Additional Terminal Locations
CRST terminal locations
  • Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Dallas/Ft Worth, Texas
  • Riverside, CA
  • Jacksonville, FL
  • Jurupa Valley, CA
  • Oklahoma City, OK
  • Carlisle, PA

CRST Paid CDL Training Cost

Cost Structure Of CRST Paid CDL Training

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.

  • 1st 28 days with trainer: $.30 cpm
  • You'll get a one cent raise each month for your entire first year
  • At the end of your first year you'll be at 42 cpm
  • Students who pre-pay their tuition will start at a higher pay scale than company-sponsored students.

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.

What are all of the up-front costs?

There are NO up-front costs to attend CRST company-sponsored training. CRST handles all licensing and permit fees.

Will my meals be paid for?

Breakfast & lunch is provided M-F, no weekend meals or dinner provided, student must bring money with them to cover those meals.

Will my room be paid for?

Lodging is paid for by CRST upfront but is payroll deducted after 6 weeks of employment, at a rate of $40 a week

Can I pay for my CDL training up front and have no further obligation?

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.

What are the obligations for paying back the schooling after graduation?

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.

TruckingTruth's Take On The Cost Of Training At CRST

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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.

CRST Preparation For CDL Training

Items To Bring To CRST CDL Training

What important items will I need with me?
  • Valid United Sates Driver's License (If your license has a vision restriction you must bring your glasses and prescription sunglasses (if you have them)
  • Valid Social Security Card (Must be original, can't be worn or illegible)
  • Acceptable immigration documentation, if you are not a US citizen.
  • Any employment documentation required to complete the CRST Expedited driver application (unemployment records, tax forms for self-employment, notarized letters, etc. These documents are very helpful for the Referencing Department during the hiring process.)
  • Voided Check for transfer to your bank account
  • Original copy of Birth Certificate or Passport
  • Money for meals (breakfast & lunch are provided free M-F), and other miscellaneous. All licensing fees are paid by CRST.
  • 7 days of clothes (jeans, sweats, short and long sleeve shirts, coat, winter clothing if necessary)
  • Toiletries (towels, wash cloths, toothbrush, tooth paste, shaving materials, soap, deodorant, etc.)
  • Hat, sunglasses, and work gloves
  • Battery Powered Alarm Clock
  • Work Boots/Treaded Hiking shoes. NO cowboy boots, NO smooth-bottom shoes!
  • Bedding for the Truck (sleeping bag or pillows blankets (twin size sheets)
  • Flashlight
  • Notebook, pen, etc
  • Medication if you are currently taking any
  • Bus Confirmation Number (if taking the Greyhound)
  • Motor Carrier Atlas, Truck Stop Guide and Calculator (CRST Expedited does offer this Atlas Package for $28 and is mandatory to have- it can be deducted from your payroll at $7.00 a week for 4 weeks)

Preparation For CRST CDL Training

Do I need to get my CDL permit before attending school?

No, you are not required to get your permit before attending school.

Do I need a US Passport?

No, but a birth certificate is required to obtain a CDL out of state.

Which CDL endorsements are required or encouraged?

A HazMat endorsement is encouraged, but not required.

CRST CDL Training Itinerary

CRST CDL Training Itinerary

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:

  • DOT Physical Exam; DOT Drug Screen; and an Agility Test will be conducted on the first day of school
  • 20% will be classroom time and 80% will be driving time. Expect to be very busy on a full-time basis
  • Scheduling will be Mon-Fri, and possibly on a Saturday or Sunday, depending on your training location. A few schools also offer part-time weekend training and/or evening classes. Please ask about these locations.
  • If you are attending a school out of your state of origin you will be required to transfer your license to the state in which the training school is located.
How long is the training overall?

CDL training will last from 3 to 4 weeks depending on the school you attend. 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.

How much time on the range backing up?

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.

During the practice range phase, how many students share one truck?

Depending on your school the number of students per truck will vary, but generally there are no more than 4 students per truck.

How much time in classroom?

About 20% of the time will be spent in a CDL classroom. All state minimum requirements for classroom time will be met.

TruckingTruth’s View On CRST Training Itinerary

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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.

On The Road Training Itinerary With CRST

Is the training period based on number of days, number of driving hours, number of miles, or some combination?

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. Generally, trainees go with a trainer for 2 to 3 weeks then take a few days of home time before completing company training.

How much will I be making when I'm on the road with a trainer?

While driving with a trainer you will earn 30 cpm for half of the miles the truck travels. For example:

  • Drive 4,000 miles per week and earn $600 (2,000 miles X 30 cpm)
  • Drive 5,000 miles per week and earn $750 (2,500 miles X 30 cpm)
  • Drive 6,000 miles per week and earn $900 (3,000 miles X 30 cpm)

On The Road Training Policies at CRST

Do they run you and your trainer as a team operation or like a solo truck?

Initially, the truck is dispatched as a solo operation. But within 4 to 7 days the truck will be operated as a team truck.

Is there more than one student per trainer and truck?

No, only one trainee to each training truck.

Do you have a "No sleeping in the top bunk while the truck is rolling" policy?

Yes, all drivers must utilize the bottom bunk while the truck is in motion.

What is your policy for handling disputes between trainer and student?

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.

Can you get a non-smoking trainer?

Yes, all trainees can specify their smoking preference.

What are the company's minimum qualifications to be a trainer?

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.

TruckingTruth’s View Of CRST's On The Road Training

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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.

Working For CRST International

Advantages Of Working For CRST

  • CRST is a non-union and family owned trucking company which has been in business for more than 50 years.
  • Guaranteed home time. If they can't get you home using your truck, they'll find another mode of transportation.
  • Schools are located throughout the United States.
  • Classes begin weekly to obtain your CDL class A license.
  • Full benefits including medical coverage from day 10, free life insurance, paid vacations.
  • Longest average length of haul in the industry (1,400 - 1,500 miles).
  • Twice-a-week paychecks for Expedited division.
  • 80% drop and hook, 99% no-touch freight.
  • Per Diem tax benefit.
  • Become a trainer in as little as 6 months.

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.

CRST Company Driver Pay And Benefits

CRST Company Driver Pay

How much will I be making once I'm running solo in my own truck?

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).

Contract Students (those who join the CRST Company Sponsored CDL program):
  • 1st month (28 days with trainer): 30 cpm
  • You'll get a one cent raise each month for your entire first year
  • At the end of your first year you'll be at 42 cpm
Recent Grads (those who payed for schooling up front or attending a CDL program outside of CRST):
  • Starting Pay: 36 cpm
  • You will receive a penny raise every month until 12 months
  • You'll be at 42 cpm at the end of your first year
Experienced Driver Pay
  • 12-17 months $.42
  • 18-29 months: $.43
  • 30-41 months: $.44
  • 42-53 months: $.45
  • 54-71 months: $.46
  • 72-95 months: $.47
  • 96+ months: $.48
When will I receive pay increases?

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.

Do you offer a fuel bonus?

Currently there is no fuel bonus plan in place.

What health insurance and benefits do you have?

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.

CRST Company Driver Benefits

  • Twice-a-week paydays
  • Medical coverage from Day One
  • Blue Shield PPO, including dental and vision
  • 401k retirement plan after 90 days
  • Accident and disability insurance
  • Paid vacations
  • Free life insurance
  • Per diem tax benefit
  • Internet payroll access
401k Retirement Plan

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.

How long until you qualify for benefits?

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.

What is the average cost of benefits?

Insurance plans vary depending on individual needs and chosen plans (many plans are offered at many different cost structures).

What about vacation time?

Paid vacation time becomes available after 1yr and is as follows:

  • 1 week after 1yr: $300 flat wage
  • 2 weeks after 2yrs: Pay is based upon previous year's weekly average
  • 3 weeks after 10yrs: Pay is based on previous year's weekly average

TruckingTruth's View On CRST Company Driver Pay

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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.

CRST Trucking Employee Policies

Pets & Travelers Policy

Do you allow pets?

No pets are allowed on any CRST equipment.

What is the company's rider policy?

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.

CRST Dispatching Policies

Can a new driver run regional or dedicated right after school?

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.

Will there be any NYC? How soon would a new solo driver be expected to go there?

While CRST does run NYC freight, drivers will have the ability to turn down any freight going into NYC.

Are you forced dispatch? Is the driver given any options for different loads?

While company drivers are forced dispatched, they may turn down NYC freight. Lease operators and owner operators are never forced dispatched.

How often can I expect to be home? For how long at a time?

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.

What percentage of freight is drop and hook?

Approximately 80% of the freight at CRST is drop and hook.

TruckingTruth's View On CRST Dispatching Policies

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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.

CRST Company Driver Opportunities

Do you have a leasing program, and will I be persuaded or incentivized to lease?

While a leasing program is offered, CRST takes a "no pressure" approach to the program.

What divisions do you have? (local, dedicated, regional, tanker, flatbed, reefer)

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 Equipment

What kind of trucks do you have?

CRST has freightliners and most are under 3 years of age.

Do you run electronic logs?

Yes, all trucks are running e-logs

What are your trucks governed at?

Most trucks are limited between 62 and 65mph.

Do you have APU units?

Most trucks do not have APU's at this time, but drivers are allowed to engine idle while not driving.

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