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At TruckingTruth, we've done a ton of research for you! We've contacted the company recruiters at Swift Transportation and put together a fantastic review of the Swift 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:
Swift is one of the largest carriers in North America, and likely the world. They generate over $4 billion in revenue and operate nearly 20,000 trucks!
After many hours of online research and speaking directly with a driving recruiter, I feel Swift is a great place to begin a career as a truck driver. Their CDL training program seems to be well run and operated with a decent amount of time in both a classroom setting as well as time practicing and refining skills behind the wheel of a truck. The paid training provided after CDL schooling also seems to be very fair and well put together while offering decent pay.
While starting pay after training is a bit lower than the industry average, pay raises come very quickly with 5 raises in the first year. After about 1 year of employment, the mileage pay is right on par with the industry average. And since Swift Transportation is such a large carrier, you will receive the added benefit of much more drop and hook freight than at other carriers which means less time waiting to be loaded and unloaded.
Swift also has an abundant amount of opportunities beyond their OTR dry-van division. While specific opportunities will depend on your geographical location, I’ve found that Swift offers far more opportunities to explore different areas of trucking than most other companies can offer.
While I always recommend you do your own research and thoroughly investigate all possible training companies, Swift Transportation appears to be an excellent option for those looking to start their truck driving career.
Based out of Phoenix, AZ, Swift Transportation began in 1966 and has grown to become the largest truckload carrier in the world. The company now operates more than 20,000 trucks with operations across the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
While Swift mostly operates dry-van equipment throughout the US, they also have operations within flatbed, refrigerated, specialized, auto-hauling, container, intermodal, and just about everything in between.
They have an abundant amount of regional and dedicated freight as well. In addition to their many drop yard locations, Swift also owns more than 40 full-service truck terminals which provide drivers with fuel, maintenance, and repair services.
Swift hires and employs drivers from all of the lower 48 states, but does have some "blackout areas" from time-to-time. During certain periods, they will hire from anywhere, while at other times they have restrictions.
The hiring requirements at Swift appear to be about average for most trucking companies. It's important to be 100% honest with them before you head to their local school location as they perform a final background check after your arrival.
Swift is, without a doubt, the largest motor carrier in the world. This may have many advantages, as well as some disadvantages. But, since nearly every carrier which offers a CDL training program is a larger carrier, the advantages in this case probably outweigh the disadvantages. After all, they are the most successful trucking company on the planet.
The actual tuition cost is $3,900 which can be paid up front or financed interest free through Swift. If a student decides to finance the tuition, Swift will payroll deduct $37.50 each week for the first 52 weeks of employment. At that point, Swift will add an additional $37.50 to a drivers pay each month for the next 52 weeks. So if you stay with Swift for 104 weeks (2 years), the CDL program will cost you nothing.
Each location requires a different amount for up front costs ranging from $154 to $400 plus basic living / food expenses.
Yes, the cash price is $3,900 which will be refunded at $150 / month until you are 100% reimbursed (about 26 months).
The San Antonio location only provides continental breakfast at the hotel daily. All locations provide a free lunch the first day of class. All other meals must be paid for by the student.
Yes, lodging is provided. Students will share rooms with 2 to 5 people depending on location.
This location requires students to obtain a CDL permit before arrival.
Total up front costs: $250 + basic living expenses / food money (Swift recommends $150)
This location does not require students to obtain a CDL Permit before arrival.
Total up front costs: $154 + basic living expenses / food money (Swift recommends $150)
This location requires students to obtain a CDL permit before arrival.
Total up front costs: $400 + basic living expenses / food money (Swift recommends $150)
This location does not require students to obtain a CDL Permit before arrival.
Total up front costs: $310 + basic living expenses / food money (Swift recommends $150)
Once a student graduates and becomes a paid Swift employee, Swift will deduct $37.50 each week for 52 weeks. At this point, all obligations have been fulfilled and the student will owe nothing more. However, for the next 52 weeks, Swift will add $37.50 to the drivers pay each week. At that point, CDL schooling becomes free.
If a driver leaves before the first 52 weeks, the driver will owe $75 for every week remaining. For example, if a driver leaves after 6 months of employment, the following will be owed:
The cost of the schooling would be about average for the industry, were you to pay it up front. To sweeten the deal, after 52 weeks you will receive $37.50 back until everything is refunded after 104 weeks. This seems to be a fair structure as compared to other sponsored programs and we always recommend staying with your first company for a minimum of 1 year anyway.
This depends on the location of the school they send you to and the state you are from. You may need to take an online course and obtain your CDL permit before you go to the Swift Training Academy, but other locations don't require it.
While a passport is not required, it is always highly recommended.
A valid class-A CDL is all that is required, but it is highly recommended to obtain a HazMat certification and a doubles/triples endorsement to be eligible for future opportunities.
While we usually recommend drivers to obtain a HazMat, tanker, and doubles/triples endorsement, it’s especially important with Swift. These endorsements are not required, but many opportunities are available at Swift and you want to make yourself as marketable as possible. So we highly recommend taking all endorsement exams as well as obtaining a US Passport if you don’t already have one.
Depending upon which location you attend, the course may be 2 or 3 weeks long.
For the 2 week long courses, you will spend a week at home taking online training modules for one week. At the end of the online modules, you will go to your local Department of Motor Vehicles and take the CDL written exams. Upon successful completion of the written exams, you will be issued a CDL-A permit and can then attend the Swift 2-week driving academy.
Once a student arrives at the Swift training academy, there will be 2 weeks of instruction consisting of classroom, driving, and backing maneuvers. Usually, 4 days are spent in the classroom with the remainder of the time mostly spent driving with a few hours of additional classroom mixed in. The driving academy operates 11 hours per day, 6 days per week. Hours are generally from around 5am to 4pm, so expect to be up early.
For the three week course, students do not arrive with a CDL permit and do not take the online course. All studying and CDL written exams are conducted during the first week of instruction. After that time, the itinerary is identical to the two week course.
About 10 days are spent both driving and practicing backing maneuvers.
Normally there are no more than 4 students per truck and students rotate to allow for equal driving time.
A minimum of 40 hours are spent in the classroom. In addition, some students may complete an online training module from home before heading to the Swift Driving Academy.
The duration of CDL training is about on par with other company sponsored programs. It’s a very fast paced CDL course and you should expect a lot of information and learning in a very short period of time, so be prepared. The number of hours spent both in the classroom and driving trucks are comparable to the other company sponsored CDL programs we’ve reviewed.
Also note the very early schedule. We were told classes usually start at 5am and you do not want to be late to class. It’s extremely important to arrive on time each and every day.
Time spent with a company trainer is based upon number of driving hours. Trainees need a minimum of 200-300 hours before they are eligible to run solo. Generally, this takes about 5 to 6 weeks.
Weeks 1 - 4 = $450 per week
Weeks 5 - 6+ = $550 per week (if necessary)
For the first week or so, trucks are only dispatched solo freight. Gradually, trainees will begin driving more and more each day. The trainer will make the ultimate determination of when to switch over to a team truck.
No, all training trucks only have one trainee.
Yes, while the truck is in motion all trainees sleep in the bottom bunk.
Trainees are required to call their personally assigned Driver Manager at least once per week to check in and discuss the progress they are making in the training program.Any issues can be discussed at that time, or trainees may call the main dispatch line to discuss any issues at any time. Disputes are handled on a case by case basis, but if a new mentor is needed one will be provided.
Yes, trainees may request to have a non-smoking trainer.
All trainers must have at least 1 year of experience and have an acceptable service and safety record.
Training pay and training duration is very comparable to other company training programs. We find that 4 to 6 weeks of training is the “sweet spot” as far as training duration is concerned and Swift fits right into that time frame.
It’s also good to see that the first week of training, the truck is dispatched as a solo operation. Many other companies start their trainees off in a team dispatched truck right away.
Starting pay is $.36 cpm, plus bonuses.
Drivers will receive an increase to $.38 after 1 year, and then get increases every year up to 15 years.
Swift offers a mileage bonus, as well as on-time and safe driving bonuses. Quarterly bonuses could be as much as $.08 cpm (a potential of around $2800 per quarter.)
Swift offers 3 medical plan options, 3 prescription drug options, life, dental and vision coverage, as well as a company wellness program. A company match 401k plan is also offered where swift matches your contribution up to 3% of your pay.
Cost of benefits depends entirely on which options a driver chooses and how many dependents need to be covered.
Health benefits begin 90 days after employment begins with 401k options available after 1yr.
After 1 year drivers receive 5 days of paid vacation at $400
2 - 4 years drivers receive 10 days of paid vacation at $1,000
5 years or more is 15 days paid out at $1,800
The payment structure at Swift leaves a bit to be desired, only because it’s a complicated scale. Pay is based off of the length of haul and geographical region for any given load assignment. While starting pay out of training is fairly low compared to other motor carriers, there are more raises in the first year than usual (5 in the first 12 months).
We always recommend you stick it out with your first company for a minimum of 1 year, and by that time, your pay will be right about average compared to the industry standard.
No pets are allowed on any company equipment.
Drivers are allowed to have 1 rider at a time at least 12 years of age or older. If the rider is school aged, they may not ride while school is in session. Females can’t be knowingly pregnant and ride in the truck. An annual $100 insurance fee is deducted via payroll deduction on a monthly basis.
While some drivers do run a regional or dedicated account directly after training, most drivers remain in the OTR division for 6 months to 1yr. However, drivers may choose a “comfort zone” in which Swift will make every attempt to keep drivers within a 1 to 2 day trip back home and remain in an area drivers are more comfortable with.
While Swift does occasionally pick up or deliver in NYC it is never forced on a driver.
While a driver is not forced dispatched, rejecting a load will place a driver at the end of the que line for another load. Drivers are sent loads based upon their available driving hours, current location, and freight availability.
OTR drivers earn 1 day off for each 6 days out. Typically drivers are expected to remain on the road for 3 weeks before taking home time. Regional drivers tend to get home weekly while dedicated accounts vary.
Over 85% of Swift freight is drop and hook.
A couple things to note here is the high percentage of drop and hook freight and the driver comfort zones. While drop and hook freight allows for less time sitting to be loaded or unloaded, the comfort zones also offer a more “regional” feel. Staying within a comfort zone will not change the standard OTR home time policy.
But it will allow you to drive in a region your more comfortable with and give you peace of mind that you’re close to home in case of an emergency situation. Please note, however, that drivers aren’t guaranteed to stay within the comfort zone. The way it was explained by a recruiter is that they make their “best attempt” to keep you within that zone, but you are still considered an OTR driver with availability to carry freight nationwide.
A leasing program is available for those who desire to become an independent contractor, but drivers are not persuaded or incentivized either way.
Swift offers many options. Most drivers begin their career in the dry-van division. The majority of freight is no touch and drop & hook. Their divisions include Convention Services, Container, Flatbed, Heavy Haul, Intermodal, Refrigerated and Dry Van. Dedicated and regional freight is available along with a limited number of local positions.
Swift Transportation is one of the largest carriers in the nation so they have a very wide variety of opportunities available. You can spend many years at the company moving around from division to division and never run out of new opportunites.
Swift uses late model Freightliner and Kenworth tractors, which are sold after reaching 500,000 miles.
Swift trucks are governed at 65mph.
No, Swift does not equip trucks with APU units, but all trucks are equipped with Smart Idle systems and auxiliary bunk heaters.