Some Questions Before Starting CDL School

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Evelyn P.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi everyone!

My name is Evey. I know, it says Evelyn on my profile, but being called that makes me feel like I'm 73 years old and on my way to a Red Hat Society luncheon, haha. But I digress. A while ago I made the decision to get my CDL and become a truck driver. I've worked in the restaurant business for most of my career, with a couple of diversions, but I can't see much of a future for myself there anymore. I work multiple jobs and barely scrape by.

After making the decision to change careers, I spent a lot of time researching and trying to find the best course of action. I've spent many hours haunting the forums here on Trucking Truth, and reading Brett's newsletters. What a great resource this has been! A good friend of mine drives a dedicated route , and gave me lots of good advice and encouragement. I contacted the school where he had trained 20 years ago or so, and never heard back from them. I contacted the local community college, and couldn't seem to get them to communicate with me or answer questions I had about their program. I applied for paid training through Jim Palmer, and everything seemed to be going well, until they turned me down and wouldn't tell me why. They just said it's very competitive and they get hundreds of applications. So, I found Sage. They have a school in Cheyenne, close to my home. I can commute there for most of my training. They have been super easy to work with and very helpful and communicative. And they are very expensive! I have an appointment to tour the school and give payment, fill out paperwork, etc. this Friday. I plan to start there on October 15th. But I've read some advice on here that private school can be risky if I can't get hired afterwards. I'm kind of freaking out because I have quit one job as of Friday, I've given 3 weeks notice at another and my weekend gig at the Farmer's Market ends in late October. So I'm going to be fully unemployed very soon. I have a loan for $3500 , and some money in savings and a modest amount of credit card credit to fall back on which means with the cost of Sage ($5000) I have enough to live on for a month during training and then I need a source of income.

My fear is that there is something that will make me unemployable. (Why did Jim Palmer turn me down?) I have passed the DOT physical and have a clean driving record. I have stellar references. But my credit has a bankruptcy from a couple of lay-offs during the recession. I have taken an anti-anxiety drug only for a short time while going through a rough patch , but I quit it because it made me feel so numb. When my husband died I went through a depression (no surprise there). I have a couple of gaps in my work history from the aforementioned lay-offs and also a voluntary "sabbatical" when my husband's health was failing and he wanted an early retirement. We lived in an RV in the mountains for the summer. That was amazing!...………... I don't know? Are these things going to keep me from getting a job? I know that I should have gotten some pre-hire letters by now, but with working 3 jobs I haven't had much time and that's something that I just haven't gotten done yet. Am I making a mistake going into debt to attend Sage? Should I look instead at other company training programs? At least then I'd know I had a job going into the training and before dropping 5 grand. I know there are several folks on here who trained with/work for Prime and they seem like a good choice. I'd appreciate any insight or encouragement, or straight talk for that matter. If you think I don't have a chance, let me know.

Wow, sorry, that is a lot of info. But like I said, I'm kind of freaking out. I know that I have what it takes to be successful. I just need someone to give me the chance. Meanwhile I'm afraid that I'm risking too much for an uncertain future.

Thanks! You guys are awesome!

P.S. My short list of companies that I'm interested in is: Stevens, Schneider, Werner, May, Prime, Southern Refrigerated. The common denominators here are that they all hire new CDL holders, have tuition reimbursement, and allow pets. I'd like to maybe bring my cat along, and also considered that having a dog while traveling alone might not be a bad idea. I think Prime is the only one of these that offers company training. Are there others that I should consider?

thank-you-2.gif

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.

Dedicated Route:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

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.

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.

Steve L.'s Comment
member avatar

Given your situation, I’d recommend paid training. I did private school and started with Schneider. They were great.

I have no idea why Palmer didn’t hire you. But, if a company does enough checking to bring you into their paid training, it seems they’re gonna be more inclined to hire you provided you can learn and pass your CDL test.

If you do private school, ask the school which companies hire from them. If there’s only 2-3 companies hiring from that school, I would be very hesitant to go there. Tell them everything you’ve told us and see what feedback they can offer. They won’t be very successful if their students don’t get hired, but there’s also no guarantee they will get you a job.

I hope this helps.

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.
Big Scott's Comment
member avatar

I don't know about Southern Refrigerator but the others you mentioned all train. I was trained by and drive for CFI. As long as you get your CDL permit and DOT medical, the transportation, room and food and training is all free. They will run your background check before accepting you and after training you only owe them one year of driving. Their pet deposit is only $500.00 and I think they will payroll deduct that. With 100% bias, I highly recommend them. You do not have to go into debt to get into this career.

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.

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.

MightyQuinn's Comment
member avatar

I second what Steve says. Company paid training is the route I would take. There are several company cdl sponsorship programs out there that will pay for your schooling or put you through there cdl schooling as long as you sign a contract to drive with them for a period of time. Some of these programs pay for your lodging while your there or have their own accommodations, feed you and pay for transportation there. Some even pay while you train to get your cdl and others pay once you’ve gotten your cdl. Look on the this website under cdl sponsorship programs they have bunches of company’s on there and details about each individual company paid sponsorship.

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.
Grumpy Old Man's Comment
member avatar

Hi everyone!

My name is Evey. I know, it says Evelyn on my profile, but being called that makes me feel like I'm 73 years old and on my way to a Red Hat Society luncheon, haha. But I digress. A while ago I made the decision to get my CDL and become a truck driver. I've worked in the restaurant business for most of my career, with a couple of diversions, but I can't see much of a future for myself there anymore. I work multiple jobs and barely scrape by.

After making the decision to change careers, I spent a lot of time researching and trying to find the best course of action. I've spent many hours haunting the forums here on Trucking Truth, and reading Brett's newsletters. What a great resource this has been! A good friend of mine drives a dedicated route , and gave me lots of good advice and encouragement. I contacted the school where he had trained 20 years ago or so, and never heard back from them. I contacted the local community college, and couldn't seem to get them to communicate with me or answer questions I had about their program. I applied for paid training through Jim Palmer, and everything seemed to be going well, until they turned me down and wouldn't tell me why. They just said it's very competitive and they get hundreds of applications. So, I found Sage. They have a school in Cheyenne, close to my home. I can commute there for most of my training. They have been super easy to work with and very helpful and communicative. And they are very expensive! I have an appointment to tour the school and give payment, fill out paperwork, etc. this Friday. I plan to start there on October 15th. But I've read some advice on here that private school can be risky if I can't get hired afterwards. I'm kind of freaking out because I have quit one job as of Friday, I've given 3 weeks notice at another and my weekend gig at the Farmer's Market ends in late October. So I'm going to be fully unemployed very soon. I have a loan for $3500 , and some money in savings and a modest amount of credit card credit to fall back on which means with the cost of Sage ($5000) I have enough to live on for a month during training and then I need a source of income.

My fear is that there is something that will make me unemployable. (Why did Jim Palmer turn me down?) I have passed the DOT physical and have a clean driving record. I have stellar references. But my credit has a bankruptcy from a couple of lay-offs during the recession. I have taken an anti-anxiety drug only for a short time while going through a rough patch , but I quit it because it made me feel so numb. When my husband died I went through a depression (no surprise there). I have a couple of gaps in my work history from the aforementioned lay-offs and also a voluntary "sabbatical" when my husband's health was failing and he wanted an early retirement. We lived in an RV in the mountains for the summer. That was amazing!...………... I don't know? Are these things going to keep me from getting a job? I know that I should have gotten some pre-hire letters by now, but with working 3 jobs I haven't had much time and that's something that I just haven't gotten done yet. Am I making a mistake going into debt to attend Sage? Should I look instead at other company training programs? At least then I'd know I had a job going into the training and before dropping 5 grand. I know there are several folks on here who trained with/work for Prime and they seem like a good choice. I'd appreciate any insight or encouragement, or straight talk for that matter. If you think I don't have a chance, let me know.

Wow, sorry, that is a lot of info. But like I said, I'm kind of freaking out. I know that I have what it takes to be successful. I just need someone to give me the chance. Meanwhile I'm afraid that I'm risking too much for an uncertain future.

Thanks! You guys are awesome!

P.S. My short list of companies that I'm interested in is: Stevens, Schneider, Werner, May, Prime, Southern Refrigerated. The common denominators here are that they all hire new CDL holders, have tuition reimbursement, and allow pets. I'd like to maybe bring my cat along, and also considered that having a dog while traveling alone might not be a bad idea. I think Prime is the only one of these that offers company training. Are there others that I should consider?

thank-you-2.gif

If you can't get paid training, look at Millis. You can simply pay for school if they won't hire you or you don't want to work for them, and it is only about $2K. And seems to be a good school, and good 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.

Dedicated Route:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

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.

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.

RealDiehl's Comment
member avatar

Hi, Evey! Don't get too discouraged that a company wasn't willing to hire you. I too was turned down by Prime, Jim Palmer, Swift, and Roehl for one reason or another. In October of last year I eventually got in touch with a school in St. Louis called MTC. They are affiliated with U.S.Xpress, Werner, and Covenant. Once/if you give them your info, they will get in touch with one of these companies and see if they have a position for you. As long as you don't lie on your application (medical history, legal problems, etc) you are guaranteed a job upon completion of the program. To be honest, a lot of the students I trained with complained about the school. Then again, who's to say they wouldn't have complained about ANY CDL training program they attended. As for me, I have a CDL and a job I'm thrilled with, and that was my goal.

If you are interested and have any questions about MTC, simply respond and let me know. I'll be glad to help.

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.
Evelyn P.'s Comment
member avatar

Thank you so much you guys! I think you've confirmed my gut feeling that company training is the way to go. I'll still go up to Cheyenne on Friday to meet with the Sage people and find out more about their hiring partners. Meanwhile I think I'll cover my bases with some aps to these companies.

Grumpy Old Man's Comment
member avatar

In case you haven't seen this, you can click on Learn More, then check each company out.

Company Paid CDL Training

Reviews of different trucking companies in one spot

Trucking Company Reviews

And a link to apply to eight different company schools at once.

Apply for CDL 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.
Dave (formerly known as K's Comment
member avatar

The advice I will give is be 110% honest on your application. As far as work history, they really only care about the past 3 years (I know this to be a fact with Jim Palmer). As to why Jim Palmer turned you down I can't answer.

Evelyn P.'s Comment
member avatar

Hey guys, I just wanted to give an update and say thanks again for all of the input and advice. Last week I applied for driver training through Prime, and intended to apply with some others as well. Meanwhile I gave one more try at contacting Careers World Wide, this time by phone instead of through their online form or e-mail. Long story short, they seem like a much better fit for me than Sage and much cheaper. $3500 if I have cash up front. No problem, I already secured a loan for that from my credit union. They are the trainer for Stevens, which is one of the companies on my "wish list" and work with several other reputable OTR companies. They have excellent reviews. I start there October 22nd.

Meanwhile the Prime recruiter called me, and when I told her my decision she asked me why I would pay $3500 when I could come to Prime for only $150. She has a point. But by going through CWW I have a little more time at home to wrap up personal matters and spend some time with family and friends before heading out on the road. Since I'll be training locally, I'll still be able to do my antelope hunt with my Dad this year. That's pretty important to me since I don't know how many more chances we'll get to spend that time together. Then hopefully I can get on with a company that offers tuition reimbursement. Stevens would probably be a good place to start, haha.

So, that's where I'm at. I hope I'm making the right decision, but my gut is telling me I'm on the right path.

I really appreciate all of the great advice. Safe travels out there!

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.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

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