Have CDL But No Experience, Where Do I Start?

Topic 17814 | Page 1

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Richard B.'s Comment
member avatar

Got my Class A CDL on my own, but have no CDL driving experience. I've been working as a non-CDL required commercial delivery driver the past few years (FedEx Ground). Would Swift or Stevens make me go thru their academy or would they put me straight on the road with a trainer?

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.
Old School's Comment
member avatar
Would Swift or Stevens make me go thru their academy or would they put me straight on the road with a trainer?

Richard, welcome to our forum!

Just about anyone can go through the motions and get a CDL if they are so inclined. The problem with that approach, as I assume you have discovered, is that no one will hire you without a training certificate indicating 160 hours of training. So the answer to your question is yes you are going to need to go through someone's academy or a private school and get that training certificate.

We've had a few people come through here in your predicament and they found employment, but it usually was not the most desirable place to work. You could try scouring Craig's list in your area for transportation jobs, and you might score something, but the truth is that you are going to be commandeering an 80,000 pound vehicle which can do some really massive damage in an accident, and personally I would want to go with one of the large carriers who can train you properly so that you don't kill your career before you even make a decent start of it.

I will tell you that Western Express has a program for drivers in your situation. They will put you in a team truck with another driver just like you who has a CDL but no experience. I think it is a twisted way to get started - two newbies without a clue, trying to run as a team and teach each other about a job that neither one of them really understands? After about a month or two of that, if they think you are ready, then they will put you into your own solo truck. I'm throwing it out there for you. but I don't recommend it.

You could go through any of the Paid CDL Training Programs and even get paid as much as 700 dollars a week minimum at Prime while you are in training. That is the approach I would take, were I you.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Richard B.'s Comment
member avatar

Thank you for the informative response, it's much appreciated.

Could you possibly give me an estimate on the time away from home while in one of the schools? Any days off while In school, like Saturday or Sunday? Swift and Stevens have the closest locations to me, both are 1 to 2 hours away. My goal is to eventually get a regional or home daily route with Swift or Stevens as they have advertised for both of those positions in my area.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Old School's Comment
member avatar

Richard, hopefully some of our Swift drivers in here can answer this properly, but I don't think you will go home during training. For the most part I would look at it as a six week commitment before you go home during that training period. That may sound crazy to you, but it will be an intense time that you will need to be really focused on starting this new career. It's not easy being away from your family, I understand that completely, but you will probably have some difficulty landing a home nightly job right off the bat. I always recommend that folks try to do one year of over the road first before they start switching into local work. It is a big commitment for both you and your family, but it will be well worth your efforts once you do switch over to a local job. The local jobs have things about them that are really tough for a rookie driver to deal with on a daily basis.

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.

Farmerbob1's Comment
member avatar

Got my Class A CDL on my own, but have no CDL driving experience. I've been working as a non-CDL required commercial delivery driver the past few years (FedEx Ground). Would Swift or Stevens make me go thru their academy or would they put me straight on the road with a trainer?

Stevens driver here. My understanding is that to get on the road with Stevens, you either have to go through their 160+ hour CDL program, or attend a CDL school that Stevens recognizes, which provides you with a 160+ hour CDL school certificate.

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.
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