Beginning Truck Driving - School Or On The Job Training?

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Bruce B.'s Comment
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I'm in Georgia and I am just starting out on the road (pun intended). I am preparing to get my CDL (without schooling) of course that really means my CDP (Student permit). So after that I need to get hands on training. I had two conflicting advice's from different sources. One told me don't get "ripped off by a driving school (well both said that) and suggested I take a job looking for student drivers, which will train and pay me at the same time. That sounded good, coming from someone who has not spent 1 second in the business. the other source said don't go to a PRIVATE" school, but go to a Community college and take a course there. He said the private course are rip offs and there is not enough time to really learn what you are doing. He also said community college courses finish you with all of your endorsements and you are completely ready to drive independently when you finish. His counter advice to the other person was these companies hire student drivers for "insurance reasons", and so they can pay someone less than a non-student driver. so now I'm trying to figure out what really is the best route - is there a company out there hiring student drivers who really intends to make them competent, fully endorsed drivers, giving them the time to learn and upping their compensation accordingly at completion of a REAL program? or does that NOT exist, and instead I need to look into a reliable learning resource before taking any type of job? I have to weigh the value of taking a three month course against taking a job that pays and trains - but it all depends on if there are honest joes out there on both sides. Any advice?

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.
Bolt's Comment
member avatar

THere will be several that will post several links to help with your research,but until then. All schools have one goal......to train you to get your cdl A license. Independent truck driving schools or community colleges either one will help you with this. You will have to pay 3000-5000 dollars for this knowledge.

Company sponsored schools are generally about 3 weeks long and will give you the same knowledge.....to pass the cdl skills test. Neither will be paid. WIth company sponsored schools after your training you will go through orientation, offered a job then start road training. Road training can last from 3 or 4 weeks to a month or so. You will be paid during this time. After road training you will then get to go solo and make what ever that company is paying for entry level drivers.

Remember company sponsored schools have a vested interest in you not only obtaining your cdl but being successful. Yes these companies will want you to sign a contract and stay with them between 9 and 12 months. They will deduct a small monthly payment to pay for the school. After the required time with the company is completed your "school loan" is paid off.

I hope this helps some.

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.
LDRSHIP's Comment
member avatar

I will breakdown this reply into 2 sections. Company sponsored and Private School (including community colleges). Here is the skinny.

A) Company Sponsored. A company sponsored program (I.e. Prime, Swift, Knight, etc..) will train you the way they want to drive. They require little to no money up front. They will however require you sign a contract. The contract is usually around a year. Coincidentally we encourage you stick with your first company for a year anyways. Usually companies that put you thru their training will be slightly more forgiving of rookie mistakes. They need to recoup the money spent training you. It is in their interest to help you become a professional driver. The training is usually broke up into 2 phases. The first phase training you how to pass your CDL exams and the second doing your "finishing" training.

B) Private School. The sole job and the only thing they will really teach you is what you need to pass your CDL exams. After you get your CDL they have done what you paid them to do. You will still have to get a company that accepts new drivers to hire you. After their orientation you will go on to complete "finishing" training with your chosen company.

Remember, A CDL does not make someone a truck driver. Just a person who maybe capable of becoming a truck driver.

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.
Andrew R.'s Comment
member avatar

Bruce I was in the same boat as you. There are private schools that work with several trucking companies that take students that graduate their program. The process typically starts with getting you pre-hired with one of these trucking companies. Once pre-hired you start training. After graduation and getting your CDL you then starting over the road (OTR) training with a company mentor. Note, these companies do tuition reimbursement but ultimately you are responsible for the tuition. Most of these schools offer tuition financing and as long as you remain with a company that does tuition reimbursement the company will make these monthly payments for you. Option A that Patrick explained is correct. I decided to go with driver solutions which recruits for Pam Transport. Driver solutions is one of the schools listed here on truckingtruth. I went with them because i didn't have to come our of pocket for anything except licensing costs at the DMV. I have to sign a one year contract with Pam and if i remain with them then tuition is covered. They do no deduct the tuition from your pay. However the pay is on the low side, but i guess that is a trade off for them paying for school. If you decide to leave prior to the year then you will be responsible for the tuition that Career Tech billed driver solutions. Based on my home work, most if not all drivers usually have a rough first year and typically do not make a lot of money. Do you own home work and take a look at the list of companies that have programs like this, the list is here on truckingtruth.com. Good luck!

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.

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.

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.

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.

BQ 's Comment
member avatar

I wondered the same thing prior to beginning my career. After much research I discovered private cdl schools often cost between $2000-8000, you may find some cheaper but remember, you get what you pay for.

Following said training, most companies that would hire you will require you to go through their own training program and most are the larger companies, mainly for insurance purposes. There are smaller companies out there but they can be hard to come by for a non-experienced driver, though not impossible.

I did some research on company sponsored training , checking into things such as training pay, starting pay, length of training and overall reviews from those that have done it. I decided upon Prime and am glad I did.

Prime provided me with a bus ticket to MO to begin, they put me up in their hotel and covered food for the first week. Said week consisted of physical, getting CDL permit thru local DMV , some simulator training and other basic orientation tasks. Contrary to what Bolt stated, I met my trainer that first Friday and my actual road training began the next day Sat, precisely 6 days after I arrived. I spent about 3 weeks driving OTR with said trainer, who was awake and observing/correcting me along the way. During this phase (PSD), Prime loans you $200/wk for food, to be paid back at $25/wk after obtaining license and becoming an employee. When myself and trainer felt I was ready to pass tests, we returned to terminal where I did just that. After testing, I filled out some paperwork to become employee and made a trip to DMV, as well as post office for passport. The next day we were back on the road for the 2nd phase of training, TNT. During this phase, you drive 30,000 combined miles, dispatched as a team, this generally takes between 7-9 weeks and you are paid a minimum of $700/wk gross. If you go over 5,000 miles, it is 14cpm. After the mileage mark was meant, as long as trainer feels you are ready, you return to the terminal to upgrade to your own truck. Upgrading consists of some simulator training, videos and a couple other classes over a 2-3 day period. When this is complete and you have been assigned a truck, you will be dispatched a load. You will also be given a list of things you must get for the truck, all of which are available at company store, driver lineup or the permits office (these purchases can be taken out of your pay in weekly increments). Depending upon what kind of trailer you pull and truck you take, you will start between 41-46cpm. I started at 46cpm as soon, pulling a reefer in a lightweight truck. Lightweights pay an extra 5cpm, have less space but easier to maneuver in tight spaces and can haul heavier loads, making more loads available to me. You will be contracted to work at Prime for a year, if you do, training is forgiven. If you leave early, it runs about $3500, paid back at a prorated rate (if you stay 6 months, you owe half, stay 3 months you owe 3/4, etc..) You also must bring about $160 to training, $100 for registration, rest for permit. You can bring more if you'd like, there are several restaurants and a Wal-Mart within a short walk. Sorry this is kind of sporadic, I just remembered things as I went. I would hardly consider prime to have been a "rip-off."

Whatever route you choose, do research and don't sign anything or throw money down until you have thoroughly vetted the company.

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.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

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.

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

PSD:

Prime Student Driver

Prime Inc has a CDL training program and the first phase is referred to as PSD. You'll get your permit and then 10,000 miles of on the road instruction.

The following is from Prime's website:

Prime’s PSD begins with you obtaining your CDL permit. Then you’ll go on the road with a certified CDL instructor for no less than 75 hours of one-on-one behind the wheel training. After training, you’ll return to Prime’s corporate headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, for final CDL state testing and your CDL license.

Obtain CDL Permit / 4 Days

  • Enter program, study and test for Missouri CDL permit.
  • Start driving/training at Prime Training Center in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Work toward 40,000 training dispatched miles (minimum) with food allowance while without CDL (Food allowance is paid back with future earnings).

On-the-Road Instruction / 10,000 Miles

  • Train with experienced certified CDL instructor for 3-4 weeks in a real world environment.
  • Get 75 hours of behind-the-wheel time with one-on-one student/instructor ratio.
  • Earn 10,000 miles toward total 40,000 miles needed.

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

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.

C T.'s Comment
member avatar

Hello and welcome to TT. I decided to go the community college route. I live in GA as well, went to a small school in Rock Spring, GA called Georgia Northwestern. Tuition was under 2k but was covered with a workers grant I got. This route gives you the option to choose a number of companies if signing a contract isn't your thing. Others are right however, you should try and stick with whoever you land with for a year. I went with Maverick, a flatbed company. Started kinda in the middle of the year but was on pace for 50k.

Ps what part of Georgia are you from?

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.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Patrick separated out the two major types of school - Private and Company-Sponsored Schools.

BQ wrote

Following said training, most companies that would hire you will require you to go through their own training program

And I want to clarify that. A driving school gets you the CDL , and that's it. Trust me, you're not ready to hit the road OTR just yet. You could call this "training".

Then any company that hires recent grads will put you through orientation (3-4 days) then hook you up with a road trainer for several weeks of that OJT. There's no repeat of classroom time. Once you get into orientation, you'll be lined up for a paycheck.

Company schools simply pipeline you through school, orientation, and into your road training, 1, 2, 3.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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