Is It Possible To Just Jump Into A Truck And Learn Enough To Get A CDL Without School?

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Vincent S.'s Comment
member avatar

Please just extinguish the flame throwers for a second and hear me out...

I've been looking into taking night classes at a community college and their next class doesn't start until January. Cost is 3,600.

In the meantime I've convinced management at my current job to let me practice driving in their lot. I've already spent about two hours behind the wheel shifting and backing, and one of those hours was with a driver with a company driver with almost 30 years experience coaching me along while backing. It really seems like I'm picking it up quickly.

Is it true that schools only teach pre-trip inspection , backing maneuvers and driving test specific stuff? Because I'm pretty confident that by the time class starts in January, I'll pretty much have all that stuff nailed. The obvious question at this point would be; Why spend 3,600 dollars and drag it on for an additional 3 months beyond that point? If I couldn't convince management to let me use their truck for the test(which I think I could), there are some local companies that specialize in renting trucks to take the CDL in.

Surely there are some companies that could look at my logged hours, plus the fact that I passed my CDL test fair and square and they'd be willing to sign me on and put me through a paid training program at that point? I can't be the only person whose thought about/tried getting started this way...

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

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.
Jamie's Comment
member avatar

I'm still new at this, but I've heard that it's a lot harder to find a job if you go that route. I could bring wrong, someone with more experience will comment when they get the time.

Mike D.'s Comment
member avatar

I thought about that too. There is a guy in San Antonio that's what he does as a business. He will get you time behind the wheel and take you to the DMV and let you use his truck to pass the tests. But I think it comes down to the trucking companies insurance requirements.

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.

Vincent S.'s Comment
member avatar

I think it comes down to the trucking companies insurance requirements.

That was my main concern. I read some things that led me to believe that this issue could be a show stopper, but then our warehouse manager told me that if I get my CDL , I could drive the trucks at my current company no problem. Surely if my cheapo companies insurance allows it, there has to be several trucking companies that would also be able to hire me...

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

It's very possible and perfectly legal if all you want is a CDL. If you want a decent trucking job as rookie driver you need a 160 hour training certificate.

I still don't understand your resistance to the Paid CDL Training Programs.

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

At Jim Palmer/Wil-Trans they will bring you on but you'll still do 40k mile before you can solo. 20k C-seat and 10k B2 and 10k B2.

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.

Vincent S.'s Comment
member avatar

I still don't understand your resistance to the Paid CDL Training Programs.

Honestly the fact that it's been so aggressively pushed, by both recruiters and this forum(the only forum that pushes it. Multiple others have suggested the opposite) is very off-putting and a bit suspicious. When I talked to the RoadMaster recruiter, the guy almost sounded defeated when I told him I could pay for my own schooling. I mean why push paying for my schooling so hard? It's bizarre.

Another question is why you keep pushing for it so hard? I don't need a loan for 3,500 dollars. Is there some kind of problem, or even a difference between who pays the bill for CDL school? What if I simply prefer paying my own way? What's the difference? It's literally the exact same school I'd be attending. Again, it's a little bizarre...

Why wouldn't they prefer someone pay their own way? Companies don't do things like that because they're just nice. There's some sort of profit motive behind it... I'm not saying I'm buying into the "free agent" myth. Obviously I still need training...but I don't think I need to spend 3,500/reimburse something "valued at 5000 dollars" and sign a lower paying contract on something I can easily pay for up front, myself. Yes I realize I still need to stay at the first company for a year anyways, I get all that...but I still prefer not to enter any binding contracts, if it all possible. I do the same thing with cars. I buy them from the new car lot, cash, because it's more simple to see what I am actually paying out that way. That's just how I have always preferred to do business.

Again, the schools I am looking at to self pay are the exact same schools that the company sponsored programs use. What is the difference in who foots the bill?

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.
Vincent S.'s Comment
member avatar

At Jim Palmer/Wil-Trans they will bring you on but you'll still do 40k mile before you can solo. 20k C-seat and 10k B2 and 10k B2.

So the 40k rule- If I attended a 160 hour school, would it be any less, or is it the same 40k rule regardless of how I got my CDL?

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.

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.

Robert D. (Raptor)'s Comment
member avatar

If you can answer me three pre-trip questions?

1. Is the water pump on all big rigs, belt driven or gear driven?

2. Are all of the tires the same tread depth requirements?

3. What is the spring pop out pressure parameters?

I'm not trying to be funny here but it is a lot more than just driving down the road in an oversize vehicle.

There are things you need to know for your qualifications, before you even do the drive test portion of your testing at DMV. You need to know a bunch of stuff. Even if you know already how to drive a stick shift, trucks are different than regular car and pick up truck shifting. Can you maneuver in tight quarters, can you know which way to turn your steer axle to get into an alley dock without taking out someone's car that might be near by. Or a building near the the building you are going to dock with and not take off it's overhang. Do you know what lane to be in to make a sharp Right turn, or a Left turn? What is your trucks height? These questions are things you will learn at the Paid CDL Training Programs, company paid. and so many of them here.

I'm not trying to be an a**, but you should go through many of the helpful links here at TT, they will steer you in the right direction.

And 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.

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.

Vincent S.'s Comment
member avatar

If you can answer me three pre-trip questions?

1. Is the water pump on all big rigs, belt driven or gear driven?

2. Are all of the tires the same tread depth requirements?

3. What is the spring pop out pressure parameters?

I'm not trying to be funny here but it is a lot more than just driving down the road in an oversize vehicle.

There are things you need to know for your qualifications, before you even do the drive test portion of your testing at DMV. You need to know a bunch of stuff. Even if you know already how to drive a stick shift, trucks are different than regular car and pick up truck shifting. Can you maneuver in tight quarters, can you know which way to turn your steer axle to get into an alley dock without taking out someone's car that might be near by. Or a building near the the building you are going to dock with and not take off it's overhang. Do you know what lane to be in to make a sharp Right turn, or a Left turn? What is your trucks height? These questions are things you will learn at the Paid CDL Training Programs, company paid. and so many of them here.

I'm not trying to be an a**, but you should go through many of the helpful links here at TT, they will steer you in the right direction.

And good luck!

I learned all that stuff you mentioned on this very websites free training materials section while studying for my CLP. I've already passed all the tests except the last one and it got too late in the day, so I have to go back tomorrow and finish testing to get my CLP. If all the materials are available online, from multiple sources, and I have trucks available to practice on, why would I pay thousands of dollars and wait months to attend the class? I even have drivers with decades of experience who are more than willing to mentor me/ride with me on the road once I get my CLP next week.

I guess I just need to call around tomorrow and see if any companies would hire someone without the 160 hour cert., with just a CDL and some logged hours driving.

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.

CLP:

Commercial Learner's Permit

Before getting their CDL, commercial drivers will receive their commercial learner's permit (CLP) upon passing the written portion of the CDL exam. They will not have to retake the written exam to get their CDL.

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