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

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G-Town's Comment
member avatar

I did go on to ask him specifically if I would qualify for training to drive a tanker, but he hasn't responded. I assume "we would send you through our hiring process just like any other candidate" means that it's a possibility.

He never answered your question about formal schooling.

Like I said be careful and also please heed my advice about tanker. I’ll be more blunt, an entry level driver should not be placed in a tanker, smoothbore or otherwise until demonstrating several months of safe driving.

Good luck.

Vincent S.'s Comment
member avatar

He never answered your question about formal schooling.

double-quotes-start.png

I did go on to ask him specifically if I would qualify for training to drive a tanker, but he hasn't responded. I assume "we would send you through our hiring process just like any other candidate" means that it's a possibility.

double-quotes-end.png

He never answered your question about formal schooling.

I mean it seems pretty clear that their requirement is "a class A CDL". I'll try again tomorrow from a different number to seek further clarification. I'm a little skeptical myself. I'm thinking maybe drive a dry van for 6 months or so...then I could move to tankers and wouldn't have to change companies.

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.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Your tanker plan is sound.

Caution on the other thing. It’s not that clear to me and is a major departure from the norm.

Rainy D.'s Comment
member avatar

Theres a few reasons why we recommend company sponsored schooling as opposed to local schools.

1.) companies are more selective than local schools

One perfect example is what Monika is going through on another thread here. She got her CDL at a local.school then went to Stevens for a job. Stevens is a great choice and they do offer paid CDL training. When she got there, it turned out that she had something in her medical background she did not expect to be an issue. when you go to schools, you get a 2 yr medical card, but many companies have DOT physical.requirements beyond what the DOT dictates. Therefore, every company will.put you through another physical and drug test.

So after paying for school, she went to stevens who told her they want her to go back to her doctor for a.medical release. It cost her time and money to get a doctor to approve it. it took 2 weeks for her to repsond thats 2 wasted weeks.

CDL schools will say anything to get your money, and they often overlook things that companies wont. For example, DUIs, tickets and criminal backgrounds. Schools will tell you they wont be a problem, but most likely they will be depending on how long ago they were. even then, some companies have lifetime limits on DUIs or felonies. and even if something is expunged, it will show on your record, and they will find it.

So if it takes you a few.months after school to find a job because of a ticket or.medical.issue you didnt see as a problem, your 160 hour training certificate becomes less potent and after too long, many companies will want you to go through the whole program again. which means no tuition reimbursement and you still have the 1 year contract.

Had Monika gone company instead of local, she would have known right away about her issue, not forked out a ton of money, and could come up with a plan to get things done without the stress she is having now. Now she is in debt and worried she wont get a job.

2.) The free agent idea is a myth. Any new driver should stay at their first company for a year, regardless of whether they went company or local. Its insanely expensive to insure a new driver, and many people think they will come in for a few months then go local. That isnt impossible, but unlikely due to insurance. Plus, the more you move companies, the more you show potential trucking employers that you will leave them. However, stay a full year with the first company, do it safely, and be early and you can write your ticket to any company you want. We see this on the forum a lot. A driver will jump two or three companies during the first year and gets trapped. The higher paying better companies wont look at them any more. Plus, there are perks to staying more than a year....many companies reduce insurance premiums and up the bonuses the longer you stay with them.

3.) Sometimes your training will be longer for less pay if you come into the company will a CDL. For example, someone who gets their CDL through Prime gets paid $700 per week gross for 30,000 team miles before upgrading to solo. If you come to Prime with your CDL, you get paid $600 per week for the first 6 weeks then goes to $700 for the remaining miles. and they must do 40,000 miles teaming instead of 30,000. this is because companies want you to learn their way and feel the need to untrain you to eliminate bad habits.

4.) CDL schools usually use old equipment with lots of students. SOME, not all companies, but some like Prime, Jim Palmer, Wil Trans, gives you one one training on the truck you would be driving. So I learned on a brand new Cascadia and a Peterbuilt. Since, i have had a 2015 and a 2016 Cascadia, 2017 International.

5.) At company sponsored you get immersed into the training. Its exhausting to have to go.to work all day then schooling all night. Then to have to test while exhausted??? But at the company sponsored, you can fully concentrate on learning without the distractions of work or home. Most company sponsored will be in a school like setting with much smaller groups and classes. But some, like what I did, put me on the road one week after i got my permit. I was delivering loads all over the country, at night, in fog, in rain, over mountains over 9000 miles before I even tested. i drove through Atlanta, chicago and NY/NJ traffic before i even tested for my CDL. that was some one on one awesome training. It made me a great driver. I got so much more one on one time than local.schools will give.

6.) Companies will give you extra one on one time to pass. If you struggle and fail the first couple of times, companies will give you an instructor to work on your issues before you test again. Local schools are getting paid and will only give you the time in your contract. If you fail, they may charge you for extra pad time. Or additional testing, so read that contract carefully.

7.) Companies who trained you will be more forgiving when you hit something. They invested money in your training. You know what happens if you leave your first company after three months and hit something at your next company? you could be terminated. They didnt hire a driver with no experience. They hired a trained driver with a few months experience. They expect you to be better than that.

Brett explains this in this article

Why Company Sponsored Over Local CDL School?

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.

DUI:

Driving Under the Influence

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Let us know how all that works out for ya.

Have you noticed how many times in our forum people thought they were a "shoe in" at their chosen company, only to be sent home for some completely unexpected reason? That very thing happened to me three times in a row! That's right. I got an invite to orientation (which is what your recruiter meant by "we would send you through our hiring process just like any other candidate") then I got rejected.

You are going into this completely contrary to everything we teach, including the fact that you don't have a plan B or C to fall back on. I think it's a very foolish way to try and do something that has close to a 95% failure rate. But what do I know?

It can be done with your approach, but very seldom does it work out. If Schneider puts you into your own solo truck, you'd better be at the top of your game. If you screw up your chance with them, I don't know where you'll be able to turn for a job.

I sincerely wish the best for you, and I hope you'll keep us posted on how things are going for ya.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

You are going into this completely contrary to everything we teach, including the fact that you don't have a plan B or C to fall back on. I think it's a very foolish way to try and do something that has close to a 95% failure rate. But what do I know?

Plan B is to attend the night schooling when it starts in January while working my current job. If that somehow doesn't work I have plan C, which is to forget the whole thing and continue working for the job that I didn't have to quit; While I may not like it, I would still be making a decent living if all else fails. So the worst case scenario would be that I get the CDL and absolutely no one will hire me, but I might get some OT hours making runs when our other drivers run out of hours during busy times. Since I have to wait on school anyways, I don't see what trying to get it on my own could hurt.

IMO the absolute most foolish thing to do at this point would be to walk out of my 60K a year stable job of 15 years and take a shot at something with a 95% failure rate, before I even have a second job secured. At least with my plan A and B, I could get an actual job lined up before quitting this one.

I understand this would be a completely unorthodox way of doing things, which goes against all generalized advice...but I think I also have a very rare set of circumstances that make it a viable option for me.

It can be done with your approach, but very seldom does it work out. If Schneider puts you into your own solo truck, you'd better be at the top of your game. If you screw up your chance with them, I don't know where you'll be able to turn for a job.

I sincerely wish the best for you, and I hope you'll keep us posted on how things are going for ya.

It seems like things going south at your first company before your first year is up would be pretty bad news regardless. I do have money in the bank, so maybe I could attend a 3-4 week program in the even that something like that happens. I'll definitely be on top of my game and I'll definitely make sure I get a ton of practice driving the trucks for my current company before making the leap. I'll keep you guys and girls posted for sure. I haven't ruled out going to school yet, but my current plan is to attempt to get the CDL on my own and then attempt to get a job. I have until January to do that and if it doesn't happen by then, I'll start attending the night classes.

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

Vince, everything you say sounds reasonable to any non trucker. To me it sounds like you'll never make it because you lack the Commitment. Your approach is sort of, "I'll try this and see how it goes."

I hope I'm very wrong in my assessment of your approach. My personal experience at getting started in trucking was that I hit every road block imaginable, but I had the mindset and commitment that said, "I'm going to make this happen." Therefore I took all the necessary and proper steps to get it done.

Maybe my experience colors the way I see that it should be done, but I seldom have seen people who are able to steal second base while keeping their foot on first. They either stay on first base or they get tagged out. Maybe your comfortable with that approach, and I'll quit trying to encourage you to commit to getting to second base. But, I will be very interested in your updates. I give you all my best wishes for your success in trucking.

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Vincent what kind of work are you in right now? Would it be possible to have your employer cover school and transition you to a driver position? Sysco had offered me that before id left for my current company that i felt was a better match. This isnt the recommended path to take but maybe its what you're looking for. Just know if its local driving its not recommended for newbies due to long hours and close quarter maneuvering. I started my career local and feel i wouldn't have been as successful had my training not been 12 weeks (after the 4 weeks of school). With that being said, we had a driver that finished his training 2 weeks ago. Today he hit a parked car while backing. It dented their bumper in but because they invested their time and money in him they're giving him additional training rather than firing him. Who knows if they'd handle it the same had they not fronted the cost of him to obtain his license. This is an example of why many members agree paid training (with contract) is best/safest route to go.

Vincent S.'s Comment
member avatar

Vincent what kind of work are you in right now? Would it be possible to have your employer cover school and transition you to a driver position? Sysco had offered me that before id left for my current company that i felt was a better match. This isnt the recommended path to take but maybe its what you're looking for. Just know if its local driving its not recommended for newbies due to long hours and close quarter maneuvering. I started my career local and feel i wouldn't have been as successful had my training not been 12 weeks (after the 4 weeks of school). With that being said, we had a driver that finished his training 2 weeks ago. Today he hit a parked car while backing. It dented their bumper in but because they invested their time and money in him they're giving him additional training rather than firing him. Who knows if they'd handle it the same had they not fronted the cost of him to obtain his license. This is an example of why many members agree paid training (with contract) is best/safest route to go.

Our company is in the trade show/convention industry. They wouldn't cover school, but they would most definitely use me as a part time driver if I got my CDL on my own. I already know that if I did something like hit a parked car, they wouldn't fire me. I'm pretty confident that they would continue letting me drive, even. They definitely would not fire me over it as I play a key role within the company supervising an entire department. I also know of employee's who have been in many accidents, both in the trucks and on forklifts, and they continue to operate.

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.
Vincent S.'s Comment
member avatar

Vincent what kind of work are you in right now? Would it be possible to have your employer cover school and transition you to a driver position? .

I didn't really think about it at the time when I read it, but this was a great post! Thank you for that. I did just have a talk with our ops director and he loves the idea of me helping out as a driver. I generally put in about 40-50 hours a week currently, but he said anytime it won't interfere with my regular responsibilities, not only would he use me as a driver, but they would even pay me more money while I drive!(on top of the OT I'd already be receiving). Essentially I would be making over 40 dollars an hour while I drive the truck. Staying with this company might not be such a bad thing after all...I mean with that additional income it kind of cancels out the fact that I am having to pay a ton of money for healthcare.gov insurance.

Oh and he would be letting me use the company truck to test in.

I'm still interested in eventually transferring to that tanker job. How would that work as far as verifiable driving experience? Do I just keep copies of all of my driving logs?

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