FFE Trucking School: Company-Sponsored CDL Training

FFE Transportation paid cdl training truck

Introduction To FFE Transportation Paid CDL Training Review

At TruckingTruth, we've done a ton of research for you! We've contacted the company recruiters at FFE Transportation and put together a fantastic review of the FFE Transportation 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 FFE Transportation
  • Cost Structure Of CDL Training
  • CDL Training Itinerary
  • FFE Transportation Pay And Benefits
  • Vacation Pay And Home Time

FFE Started The Frozen Food Transportation Revolution In The U.S.!

FFE transporation was first led to success by Cy Weller who realized the trucking industry had a huge problem. Though the trucking industry already had refrigerated trucks, there were no trucks in mass production at that time with the deep freezing capacity to transport perishable goods over long distances. Cy was soon purchasing Army refrigerators that were used for international shipment of food and installing these refrigerators into trailers. These were among our nation's first deep refrigeration trailers.

How cool is that, right? Read on!

FFE Transportation Review

After doing a lot of research and speaking with several different recruiters, we're very happy with the program that FFE has put together. The CDL program is truly a cost-free program, provided you stay employed with FFE for one year. Most companies have some sort of payment structure where a certain amount is deducted from each paycheck, but FFE's schooling truly is absolutely free. There are no down payments and nothing will ever be deducted from your paycheck to pay for schooling.

We're also happy with the duration of the company paid training program. And although they have a higher amount of freight which drivers are required to unload, you will be compensated for this added responsibility. Their willingness to offer regional and dedicated positions after only 3 to 6 months of experience also gives them some extra bonus points in our book.

It's always important to do your own research in order to find the best company to meet your own personal needs, but overall we believe FFE is a fantastic place to obtain a CDL and begin your truck driving career

About FFE Transportation CDL Training

FFE Transportation (Frozen Food Express) was founded in 1946 and currently operates more than 1,800 tractors and 3,000 trailers. They mostly haul refrigerated freight and specialize in high value, temperature sensitive food products across the entire lower 48 United States in both LTL (Less Than Truckload) and TL (Truckload) freight sectors. Their main headquarters is located in Dallas, Texas.

Advantages Of FFE's CDL Training Program

  • No Out-Of-Pocket tuition expense!
  • Accelerated 18-day program.
  • Cost-free comfortable housing at our Academy.
  • Cost-free transportation to our Academy.
  • Job guarantee
  • Zero payroll deduction.
  • Fully licensed and accredited education for you to obtain your Commercial Drivers License (CDL-A).
  • Opportunity to purchase a truck through a Drive-To-Own program.
  • Experienced training staff.

Getting Hired With FFE Transportation

FFE Transportation Minimum Hiring Requirements

  • 21 years of age or older
  • Good driving record
  • No reckless or careless driving convictions less than 3 years old.
  • Be able to pass a DMV/DOT physical and pre-employment drug screen
  • No DUI, DWI, or open container violations in the last 5 years. If the DUI occurred in a tractor trailer, you don't qualify. No more than 1 DUI in the last 10 years.
  • No felony convictions in the last 10 years. All felony convictions must be approved by FFE management and are handled on a case-by-case basis. No violent felonies or major drug crimes in applicants lifetime.
  • No misdemeanor convictions in the past 3 years. Any drug, sex, or theft misdemeanors must be at least 10 years old.
  • Good driving record and have been licensed in the United States for a minimum of 2 years out of the last 3

FFE Transportation Hiring Areas

To earn a CDL-A, FFE’s Student Driver Academy only accepts students that are Texas residents. However, those who have a CDL-A but less than one year experience on the road can apply to FFE’s 14 Day Refresher Course Program.

This program accepts Recent CDL Grads from all over the country and it is designed for those wanting to get back on track with their driving careers. After graduating from this program, Drivers will have the opportunity to join FFE’s fleet as a professional Company Driver.

TruckingTruth's Take On The Requirements For FFE's CDL Training Program

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FFE seems to have a slightly more strict policy concerning an applicants criminal history. They make special note that if you're getting turned down by other carriers, not to apply. However, they perform all of their background checks before CDL schooling which guarantees you a job with them provided you successfully complete the program. They offer some very unique advantages, such as zero payroll deduction for CDL schooling, which we'll get to a bit later.

FFE Transportation Facility Locations

FFE Transportation CDL Training Facilities

FFE operates a state of the art CDL training academy in Ft. Worth, TX which opened in 2011.

FFE Transportation Drop Lots And Terminals

FFE has terminals in the following locations:
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Stockton, CA
  • Miami, FL
  • Winterhaven, FL
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Burlington, NJ
  • Norman, OK
  • Portland, OR
  • Wyalusing, PA
  • Memphis, TN
  • Dallas, TX
  • Lancaster, TX
  • Laredo TX
  • Waco, TX
  • Salt Lake City, UT

FFE Transportation Cost

Cost Structure Of FFE Transportation

What is the cost structure of the schooling?

There is zero money down and no tuition costs are ever payroll deducted. Simply stay with the company for one full year and nothing is owed with no further obligation.

What are all of the up-front costs?

Students should come with $100 to $150 cash for CDL permit fees. If students wish drive or fly into DFW Airport (instead of taking a Greyhound bus), they must pay upfront and will be reimbursed up to the price of a bus ticket upon arrival. All other expenses, besides food and basic living expenses, are covered.

Will my meals be paid for?

During the CDL training academy, low cost meals are available but are not paid for. After the CDL training academy is complete, 4 days of meals are paid for during company orientation.

Where will I stay during the initial part of the training?

Students stay at the MCM Grande Hotel in DeSoto, TX free of charge during training. Students may be required to share a room with another student.

Note from FFE: Any student caught in the hotel bar will be immediately terminated from the academy and will not be eligible for hire.

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

No upfront payments are accepted for the training. If a driver leaves before 12 months of employment, the charge is $3,000.

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

Students are not required to put any money down and nothing is payroll deducted. If the student remains employed at FFE for 12 full months there is no further obligation. If the student leaves before 12 months, the schooling must be paid in full at a cost of $3,000.

Official FFE 10 Minute Video About Life At Their Academy

TruckingTruth's Take On The Cost Of Training At FFE Transportation

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This is truly a free CDL training program. There is no deposit required and no payroll deductions once hired as a full time driver. Most companies will deduct schooling costs from your payroll, but FFE only requires that you stay for one full year and your contractual obligation is complete. That makes the FFE CDL schooling one of the most straight forward and simplest company sponsored CDL training schools in the country.

If you leave prior to one full year of employment, the charge is a full $3,000 no matter how long you've been with the company. We always recommend staying with your first company a minimum of one full year anyway, but in this case it's extra important.

FFE Transportation Preparation For CDL Training

Items To Bring To FFE Transportation

What am I required to have with me?
  • Social Security Card - Make sure your card is an original social security card and not a stub or copy. The name on the social security card should match the name on your driver's license.
  • Birth Certificate - you will need to bring a copy of your birth certificate or passport to orientation.
  • Valid Drivers License
  • Work boots/shoes (no flip flops, cowboy boots, or open toed shoes are allowed).
  • 5-7 changes of clothes to include winter work clothing.
  • Bedding for a truck (sleeping bag, blankets, and pillow).
  • Alarm clock, flashlight, sunglasses, plus any glasses you must use when driving.
  • Personal hygiene materials (soap, deodorant, shaving materials, etc.).
  • A couple towels and washcloths.
  • A good pair of work gloves and work boots.
  • Cancelled or voided check for direct transfer of your paycheck, optional.
  • Foreign Born applicants must have correct and proper documentations with a card that does not expire for at least 8 months.

Preparation For FFE Transportation

Will I need to get my permit before I attend school?

No, students will study for and receive their CDL permit at the Ft. Worth, TX training academy.

Do I Need A U.S. Passport?

No, but a passport is recommended and can be used for identification/ background check purposes during orientation. FFE does not haul freight into Canada or Mexico.

Which CDL endorsements are required or encouraged?

FFE does not haul HazMat, doubles, or triples. However, if you're interested in one of FFE's local oil field positions in Midland/Odessa, TX you'll need a tanker endorsement.

TruckingTruth's View On Preparing For FFE Transportation CDL Training

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As always, bring any documentation you think may be required including forms to verify employment (pay stubs, tax forms, etc), medical records, and anything else you think may be needed. If you think you may need it, bring it with you. It's better to have too much paperwork than not enough. The essential items include an original and signed Social Security Card, Birth Certificate, and a valid drivers license (you must have originals, copies are not accepted).

FFE Transportation Itinerary

FFE Transportation CDL Training Itinerary

  • Classes begin the day after arrival (usually on Monday with classes starting on Tuesday) and last for approximately 18 days. The first week is spent studying for CDL driving permits and passing written exams.
  • The remainder of the eighteen days students spend on the training pad and learning to drive on local streets in preparation for their official CDL testing. Once the CDL testing is complete and you've earned your CDL, students go through a four day company orientation and are officially hired as FFE employees in the OTR division. They will then go on the road with a trainer.
  • The 'on the road' portion of training is paid training and lasts about 6 weeks. You will be teamed up with a trainer during this time. Once this phase of training is complete, students will take a series of post-training tests. Then students are sent home for 5 to 6 days of home time before getting their truck assigned to them and going solo. FFE pays for your transportation home (mode of transportation is handled on a case-by-case basis).
How Long Does Training At The Academy Last?

Training at the academy is about 18 days

How much time do you spend on the backing range?

There is no set number of hours, but a minimum of 9 to 10 days are spent practicing for the driving exams including local road driving, backing, and maneuvers on the practice pad. The amount time spent in each area depends on the individual trainee's strengths and weaknesses.

How much time is spent in the classroom?

Classroom training lasts for one week and is a minimum of 40hrs of instruction.

On the backing range, how many students share one truck?

All training trucks are specially equipped for training purposes. The trucks are outfitted with a drivers seat, front passenger seat (for the instructor), and three air ride passenger seats in the bunk area allowing 4 students to share a single truck with 1 instructor. The ratio will never be more than 4 students to 1 truck and is often less, but FFE feels observing other students is an important aspect of the learning process.

TruckingTruth’s View On FFE Transportation Training Itinerary

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Overall, this appears to be a fantastic CDL training program. The 18 day course is a bit more accelerated than most truck driving schools, but shouldn't be too overbearing. Having 4 students to 1 truck is common and acceptable in the industry. Observation time can be just as beneficial as performing the maneuvers yourself. This seems like a very good option for those needing to acquire a CDL-A drivers license.

On The Road Training Itinerary With FFE Transportation

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

Company training lasts approximately 6 weeks. Students then take a series of tests including a road test, basic knowledge test, DOT drug screen, and physical. Students will then receive 5 to 6 days of home time and are issued a truck upon their return (transportation for home time is provided by FFE - Mode of transportation is handled on a case-by-case basis).

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

The truck is run as a solo operation until the trainer feels confident in the trainees driving abilities, at which point the truck is dispatched as a team truck.

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

The guaranteed weekly pay is $455 per week. They also offer an optional $75 per week advance if a driver needs extra cash during the training phase, but this $75 will need to be repaid. The cash advance is 100% optional. If you don't use it, you owe nothing.

On The Road Training Policies at FFE Transportation

Is there more than one student per trainer and truck?

During company training (after CDL instruction), the truck is one trainer to one student.

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

FFE has a strict policy against students sleeping on the top bunk while the truck is in operation.

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

FFE understands that not all trainers and students personalities will be a good match. Students will check in a minimum of once per week via phone call. Any issues can be discussed during these calls and if a new trainer is needed one will be provided. Students are issued a number to reach someone 24hrs per day, 7 days per week.

Can you get a non-smoking trainer?

Yes, a smoking or non-smoking trainer can be requested.What are the company's minimum qualifications to be a trainer?

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

Minimum time employed with FFE 6 months and a good safety record. Most trainers have at least 1yr+ driving experience.

TruckingTruth’s View Of FFE Transportation On The Road Training

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Company paid training at FFE seems to be an excellent program. A 6-week training period is just long enough to get the full use of your time in training. Anything more than that is probably unnecessary, so the 6 week program is a great duration.

The $455 weekly pay during training is slightly above average for most training companies, but remember that your career will last for many years (hopefully), so it shouldn't be a deciding factor into your decision to join or not join FFE. This program certainly seems to be a good one.

Working For FFE Transportation

Advantages Of Working For FFE Transportation

  • OTR drivers average 2,750 miles per week (regional averages 2,400 / week)
  • Medical (with a choice of EPO or PPO coverage), dental, life, & vision coverage
  • Paid Vacations
  • Pet policy
  • Paid both loaded and empty miles
  • Late model Freightliners
  • Open Road Legal Plan (free access to CDL law attorneys)
  • Recession-proof refrigerated freight, in demand year-round
  • Weekly payroll & direct deposit
  • Rider program
  • Ability to purchase your own truck through a Drive-To-Own lease program (see link below).
  • 75% drop and hook and 70% no touch freight (unload pay at $1.25 per 1,000lbs with a $25 minimum on light loads)

FFE Transportation Company Driver Pay And Benefits

FFE Transportation Company Driver Pay

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

After upgrade, trainees will receive the following compensation:

  • 0 to 6 months: 29cpm
  • 6 to 12 months: 30cpm
  • 1 year: 31cpm
  • 2 years: 32cpm
  • 3 years: 33cpm
  • 4 years: 34cpm
  • 5 years: 35cpm
More About FFE Transportation Company Driver Pay
  • Beyond 5 years, drivers receive a 1/2cpm increase every 6 months up to a maximum of 44cpm.
  • For those who choose to have a small pet on the truck the pay rate is decreased by 1cpm.
  • Driver unload payments (30% of freight is driver unload): $1.25 per 1,000lbs with a $25 minimum payment on light loads.
  • Layover pay: If a driver is available for a load assignment for 24hrs and hasn't been dispatched, the driver will be paid $75.
  • Quarterly Performance Bonus: If drivers accrue 8,500 paid miles per month and meet safety requirements, a performance bonus of $300 per calendar year quarter is paid.
  • Fuel Saving Bonus: Drivers who run efficiently and raise their MPG above the standard for their truck, they will earn a share of the fuel cost savings.
  • Mutli-stop and detention pay.
  • Breakdown pay.
Do you offer a fuel bonus?

Yes, the amount varies depending on fuel savings and average MPG on a sliding scale.

What health insurance and benefits do you have?

Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance, life, dental, vacation, 401k, and employee stock plan.

FFE Transportation Company Driver Benefits

How long until you qualify for benefits?

90 days from date of hire (CDL training does not count towards this 90 day waiting period).

What about vacation time?

1 week of vacation is earned after 1 year of continuous employment, paid at approximately $680.

2 weeks vacation after 2 years of employment paid at approximately $1,400.

TruckingTruth's View On FFE Transportation Company Driver Pay

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The pay and benefits, including bonus pay, seems to be right on par with the industry average for refrigerated carriers. But make note that 30% of the freight at FFE requires the driver to unload the freight. This is significantly higher than most other carriers. Depending on the individual, this could be a positive or negative aspect.

On one hand, truck drivers tend to lack exercise and this is a great way to help stay in shape on the road. It'll also help increase paychecks since drivers are paid extra anytime they unload (that can add up!). But if you have any physical ailments or simply don't want any physical labor responsibilities, it's something to keep in mind.

FFE Transportation Employee Policies

Pets & Travelers Policy

Do you allow pets?

Yes, one small dog (under 50lbs.) or cat. Charged \$100 deposit and decrease in pay of 1cpm.

What is the company's rider policy?

One rider 12 years of age or older is allowed with proper company approval and paperwork for insurance purposes.

FFE Transportation Dispatching Policies

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

Some drivers can transition directly into regional or dedicated positions immediately, but typically must wait a minimum of 3 to 6 months before these positions become available. Regional and dedicated positions are only given to drivers with a safe driving record and on-time performance.

A relatively new position that has become available at FFE is hauling water to and from oil rigs in the Odessa / Midland, TX area. This is a local tanker truck operation and students must live or relocate to the local area. But if this is something that interests you, they are currently qualifying CDL students to transition directly into one of these local tanker operations. Please note that you must be pre-qualified to transition into this opportunity.

The following regional positions exist:

Southeast: Texas to Florida and as far north as North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas.

Southwest: Texas to California and as far north as Colorado and Utah.

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

No NYC freight.

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

To ensure drivers receive the most miles possible all trucks are under forced dispatch.

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

Drivers who live near major cities may get to the house every 1 to 2 weeks for 1 to 2 days of time off. This is not guaranteed home time and varies greatly depending on the city. OTR drivers should plan to be out for 3 weeks and home 3 to 4 days with a maximum of 5 days off at a time. Home time is earned 1 day home for every week out.

Regional drivers are usually out 2 weeks and home for 2 days but drivers who live near a major interstate or freight lane may see home more often.

Approximately 70% drop and hook freight.

TruckingTruth's View On FFE Transportation Dispatching Policies

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Future opportunities in dedicated or regional freight seems to be available. While regional opportunities are mostly limited to the Southwest and Southeast portions of the United States, dedicated accounts are offered nationwide. Living near major cities and interstates will help land one of these positions and the time required to drive OTR (3 to 6 months) before opportunities become available is fairly generous.

If you're interested in a regional or dedicated position in a relatively short period of time, FFE could be a great option for you.

FFE Transportation Company Driver Opportunities

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

Yes, a lease program and a "Drive To Own" program are available for those who wish to become independent contractors. Some incentives include choice of trucks and features (APU's, decals, etc.).

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

Dedicated and regional opportunities are available in addition to OTR.The fleet mostly consists of refrigerated freight specializing in high value food products, but some dry-van freight (mostly non-refrigerated food) is available.

FFE also recently started running a tanker operation hauling water to and from oil rigs. This is a local position for drivers living near, or willing to relocate to Midland / Odessa, TX

TruckingTruth's View On FFE Transportation Company Driver Opportunities

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FFE actually stands for Frozen Foods Express, so you can imagine they almost exclusively haul refrigerated freight in the food industry. Few local opportunities are available but regional and dedicated positions appear to open up on a fairly frequent basis.

A lease-to-own program also exists, but as with all other companies, we highly recommend you stay away from any leasing program. The lease program benefits the trucking company much more than it benefits the individual driver.

FFE Transportation Equipment

What kind of trucks do you have?

Mostly Freightliner Century and Cascadia models. Average truck age is 24 months, the transmissions are 10-speed manuals.

Do you run electronic logs?

Yes, the fleet is currently switching to e-logs.

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