Community College Or Company Owned School?

Topic 18541 | Page 1

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Sweet Jimmy's Comment
member avatar

Hi guys and gals! I'm in the process of making a career change and have always wanted to drive OTR. I used to have my CDL A but let it lapse years ago after deciding I'd never need it again, I must point out that I've never driven an 18 wheeler before, only derricks and bucket trucks. I was all set to go to a community college here in Alabama to get trained and get my CDL back, but after reading Turtle's adventure I'm thinking that a company school may be best. My strongest point in all this is that I know that I don't even know what I don't know. I imagine there are questions I should be asking but don't know enough to ask. Any advice will be greatly appreciated, as will any questions that I should be asking.

Have a great day and Y'all stay safe!

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.

OTR:

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.

Sweet Jimmy's Comment
member avatar

I suppose I should add that I've had 4 back surgeries, hence the career change, do y'all think that will blackball me in the trucking industry?

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi, Jimmy, welcome to Trucking Truth. I love this:

My strongest point in all this is that I know that I don't even know what I don't know.

I don't care if you've driven a truck, framed houses, or have been a CPA for ten years, always being open to learn more is a great asset.

And having experience in straight trucks (including your special ones) counts for zero as OTR experience. Two-piece semi-trucks are different.

As for back surgery, it shouldn't affect your DOT physical. Depending on the company you may have some lifting/agility tests, but they aren't required for the DOT physical. If you are continuing with pain medication, you will need to check that with your DOT doctor.

Finally, to your Topic question. Paid CDL Training Programs: a lot of the hiring process happens before you sign in to school, so any problems in your past will be handled before you start.

Good news: they go through the course fast, and you get your CDL (hopefully) sooner. It's full time, all day every day. A community college will take much longer, but they may be better if you need to keep working now.

Bad news: they go through the course fast, and the pressure on you can be brutal. Some people compare company schools to boot camp, but they do the job and you will be a Truck Driver that much sooner.

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.

OTR:

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.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

As usual, Errol is exactly on point with his answer.

I too almost went to my local community college, but instead opted for company schooling because it offered the fastest track to being a solo driver. I needed to continue working my job full time right up to leaving for orientation. Minimizing my loss of income was a huge factor for me.

You will just have to weigh your options, and choose the best route for you.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Joshua J.'s Comment
member avatar

Another thing that comes into play, is if your state offers aid for vocational training, Im aware that some unemployment programs will pay for your CDL training; so if youre in that boat the slower pace and lack of a bill/repayment a CC or school may be the better option.

But as the knowledgeable gentlemen above me said, it depends on your personal circumstances, and how you prefer to learn; if you know high stress environments arent conducive to your learning style, then company training may not be for you. If you thrive in chaos, or perform better under pressure, a school may drive absolutely mad.

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.
Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
member avatar

Something I liked about company training you can't get in CDL school is being thrown into the lifestyle immediately... At least at Prime.

I learned downgrades...including mountains, driving in construction, various weather including fog, rain, and got used to driving all different hours.

There is no way CDL school in NJ can teach you how to drive the grades in NC, KY, TN. I think it gave me way more preparation to drive 10k miles before in took the test than a few hours a week sharing a truck with three others

And I would have been ticked off I'd I had to pay thousands only to be told by companies later that something in my background. Prevented me from being hired.

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.
C T.'s Comment
member avatar

I agree with the guys and gals here about company sponsored training. However, I attended a local tech school by my house. It fit MY situation at the time and made more sense for what we had going on at home. I was able to work nights and go to school in the mornings. I was awarded a workers grant that covered everything. That allowed me to have a really smooth transition from one career to the other. As rainy said, you can't learn everything at a cdl school because where you may be located. My school was in the Chattanooga area so there were some grades and back roads but city driving and night driving were totally new when I started. Just something to think about.

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.

Company Sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

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