Which Private School Or Go Company School?

Topic 18645 | Page 1

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ChosenOne's Comment
member avatar

I have been unemployed for 7 months, been lurking around here for just as long, if not longer. I submitted my package for a Grant (WOIA Funding) to get my CDL Training paid for at a local school. The folks at the Work Center said that I will most likely be approved, but it would take 2 or 3 weeks to run it through the process and get the funds. I am in Los Angeles and have narrowed my Schools down to GSF, Alliance, and Hi-Desert, all have mixed reviews, some like them, so hate them, if anyone has attended any of them I would like to read about your experience.

Hopefully the State approves and it is as easy as the WorkCenter folks made it out to be. Either way I still need to find a good place to start, with or without my CDL in hand as I have no experience. I am looking at Prime (Negative is the lightweights), Swift, CR England, Freymiller, and Jim Palmer/Wil-Trans (To me they are one in the same, both owned by Wilson Logistics). I have read the starting out and choosing guides, but any insight is welcome.

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.

BMI:

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

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.

Wil-Trans:

Darrel Wilson bought his first tractor in 1980 at age 20, but, being too young to meet OTR age requirements, he leased the truck out and hired a driver.

Through growth and acquisition, Wil-Trans now employs over 200 drivers, and has a long-standing partnership with Prime, Inc. to haul their refrigerated freight. The family of businesses also includes Jim Palmer Trucking and O & S Trucking.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Hey Chosen...welcome.

A couple of thoughts for you,...a school, be it private or Company-Sponsored, is only going to teach you the basics, usually just enough to pass the CDL tests. That's basically it. What happens after that is when the essence of schooling begins; road training. My personal opinion? Company sponsored training offers a seamless transition from school to road training with absolutely no additional effort or legwork by the student. They all but guarantee employment and have a vested interest in "their" schooled drivers making it through training into a first seat upgrade. There is a contract, however since we strongly believe it wise for a new driver to commit to their fist company for no less than one year before moving to the perception of greener pastures, the commitment is acceptable.

My history; I attended Swift's Academy in Richmond VA and mentored with a veteran Swift driver of 15 years, 1.5 million miles of experience. It was a great experience and provided a solid foundation for the initial 3 months of OTR and for my present job (which I still have over 4 years later) as a Swift Dedicated Driver assigned to Walmart; delivering grocery product to their stores and Sam's Club. The cost for the schooling was cut in half (to $1995); deducted in the weekly paycheck for the first year. If a driver chooses to leave before the 12 month, a prorated amount will be billed to the driver. After 12 months of service, the training obligation is met. However continuing on with Swift will be rewarded with a CPM increase and a weekly deposit reimbursing the driver for their training payments until reaching zero a year later. My Swift schooling and lodging was free after two years.

Your comment on the Prime light weight tractor is interesting and amusing to me,...in tight spaces like I deal with most of the time, the LW tractor is much preferred due to it's shorter length and tighter turning radius. Due to it's lighter weight, I can also handle loads the condo sleepers cannot legally run with. A lot to be said for the LW, that at first, may not be so obvious.

If you decide to attend a Private Truck Driving School, I strongly suggest reviewing the contents of these links and get pre-hires lined up before committing to any school. As follows:

Good luck! Happy to assist with any further questions.

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

Pre-hire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

Pre-hires:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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.

BQ 's Comment
member avatar

In response to your lightweight comment, like G Town stated, they are easier to maneuver in tight spaces and can make more loads available to you. In addition, you are not forced to take one and can take condo if you prefer. I personally would rather have the extra pay in exchange for a little living space. If you are driving alone, you only need one bunk, the company can remove the passenger seat, which is very common. I don't have a fridge, tho many do, I just don't care if my beverage is a little warm. I feel I have plenty of room for clothes, tools, paperwork and other supplies. I also have a tv hooked up above foot side of bed with directv, works out wonderfully. The truck itself pulls just as well as my trainers full size did. I believe the gripe about lightweight trucks is drastically overstated but to each their own.

ChosenOne's Comment
member avatar

Thank you all for replying. I was told this morning my grant was approved, and I should be receiving a voucher in the mail next week. I am a bit nervous, the largest truck I have driven was a Mazda truck 10 years ago, driving a Fiat 500 now. I don't mind sticking around after being trained, at the end of the day no one gets a free ride, if a company is giving me a CDL , I need to give them something in exchange, and if it is a commitment for x amount of time, then that is the payback. I have not applied anywhere yet, but if I take the school locally I understand it is just to get me a license, the 3 schools I narrowed it down to all told me the same as the folks here, I still need to get trained, which is the reason I chose them. Some of the schools I eliminated told me I was good to go once I had my license and could go buy my own rig if I wanted, and the reason they are no longer on the list. If I take the local training, I am leaning towards GSF, all the students I talked to spoke highly, and I messaged some of the graduates form last year on the Facebook page and they said they would still recommend them. I keep hoping one of the jobs I applied for in my old field will come through and I can go back to the 170K a year job like I had, but the other side of me says, no degree when the competition has one, and being over 50 probably does not help either. I was asked why trucking, I remember going out with my grandfather every summer growing up, loved the adventure. I have also traveled for work, as long as I can remember, never liked sitting behind a desk in a cubicle or office. Decisions, decisions.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Diver Driver's Comment
member avatar

Since you are getting a grant, I'd indeed go with the local school.

When I started I also got a grant. The stipulation was that if for any reason I didn't finish school, I was on the hook for the money.

Now with that being said; after being out here for a year, if I had to pay out of pocket I would have signed a contract for a company school. Like it was said, driving school is just enough to get you to pass the CDL test and pretty much nothing more.

Example: in school one of our parking maneuvers was the 90 degree alley dock.

The instructor states: "you are allowed 2 pull ups and 2 get out and looks. You can pull straight up, or to the left. If you pull up to the right of the parking space boundary ( on the right, you have to start over. "

When asked, he couldn't or wouldn't give a reason why that was such a big deal.

Now fast forward to my on the road training. My trainer is teaching me how to park at a truck stop. I tell him (before moving the truck) that I want to pull up to the right. He tells me not to do that. But this time, it's explained to me. "By pulling up and to the right you are now making it a blind side maneuver at best. If there is not enough room to get turned to the right, you are now completely blind, and you don't move the truck at all of you are blind.

Consider CDL training as Driving 101.

*I haven't gone to "college" so I don't know what the road training would be considered. Lol

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.
ChosenOne's Comment
member avatar

Since you are getting a grant, I'd indeed go with the local school.

When I started I also got a grant. The stipulation was that if for any reason I didn't finish school, I was on the hook for the money.

Now with that being said; after being out here for a year, if I had to pay out of pocket I would have signed a contract for a company school. Like it was said, driving school is just enough to get you to pass the CDL test and pretty much nothing more.

Example: in school one of our parking maneuvers was the 90 degree alley dock.

The instructor states: "you are allowed 2 pull ups and 2 get out and looks. You can pull straight up, or to the left. If you pull up to the right of the parking space boundary ( on the right, you have to start over. "

When asked, he couldn't or wouldn't give a reason why that was such a big deal.

Now fast forward to my on the road training. My trainer is teaching me how to park at a truck stop. I tell him (before moving the truck) that I want to pull up to the right. He tells me not to do that. But this time, it's explained to me. "By pulling up and to the right you are now making it a blind side maneuver at best. If there is not enough room to get turned to the right, you are now completely blind, and you don't move the truck at all of you are blind.

Consider CDL training as Driving 101.

*I haven't gone to "college" so I don't know what the road training would be considered. Lol

Thank you for the information, that was what I was looking for. The recruiters I have talked to all want me to attend their company training, and not use the grant/voucher. My thought is they would rather have me on the hook for 1 year by attending their school, if I show up with zero experience and a CDL I still have to go through training. I understand any school is just there to get you past the DMV tests, the real learning starts afterwards when you hit the road with a trainer. Thank you all for the help, now to pick the company for the after I get my license training.

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.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

Phil P.'s Comment
member avatar

I am coming out of retirement to drive again. Going to a local school, yesterday was my first day. I chose school for two reasons, (1) I can pick any company that suits my life style. And (2) being a senior the school gave me 50% discount on my training. My first training was with a company in 1999. And free, I got what I paid for, very poor training. My first day was more than all the training I got with the company/with a few exceptions. Today the school is closed because of snow storm. Most local companies will hire old timers for local and part time driving, which is right up my alley. I will bring more info as I can. Wish me well.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

If anyone decides to go through a local school, like Phil P. is, there are many out there, all which will take your hard earned cash. The good news is you can generally watch from a distance before you go in and ask questions. This helped me eliminate almost half of my short list. I saw students with no one helping them at all trying to figure out how to back (No instructors on the lot), saw a large class where everyone had 1 chance at it from the time they walked out to the pad and back into the building, and my best observation yet, an instructor yelling at a student and pointing his finger as he yelled. No thanks. Now the reality of the others, they all do 1 on 1 for anything in the truck or backing, but you must reserve your time, in blocks of 2 hours, it is on you, not them, but you have the truck and instructor to yourself. Questions to ask: What is your pass rate? 1st time through DMV/DOT Testing? How many a second time? How many failed? Do you charge if I fail the first test? How many free tests do you allow? Do you provide remediation training for any areas failed? Do you learn in the same truck you test in? There are others I found here on the site, but I found some schools publish their results, some do not. If the company has a Facebook page, I looked at it, the comments, but also messaged prior students that posted on their page. They were a wealth of information, and probably the best source out there. Ignore Yelp Reviews, and Google Reviews, I found most of them either dated, or posted because folks were upset.

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.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

ChosenOne offers a great suggestion:

The good news is you can generally watch (private schools) from a distance before you go in and ask questions. This helped me eliminate almost half of my short list. I saw students with no one helping them at all trying to figure out how to back (No instructors on the lot), saw a large class where everyone had 1 chance at it from the time they walked out to the pad and back into the building, and my best observation yet, an instructor yelling at a student and pointing his finger as he yelled.

Really good idea and worth the time.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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