Five Month Professional Driver Program??

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Eggman's Comment
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There are tons, (around 80~ish) threads on cdl training. I figured - why not help out by posting my experience as well? I decided to go to a private technical school (using my GI Bill) to attain my CDL. They offered two courses- a typical 4 week crash course to hurry up and get you on the road- or an in depth five month program, really dissecting the trucking industry from a driver’s perspective. If you live in the Midwest- I’d suggest looking into Midwest Technical Institute. At first I was skeptical, but am now really glad I decided to commit the five months. I have zero experience in the trucking industry- and am learning so much. Week one we studied and tested on general knowledge- week two was airbrakes- and the up coming weeks we will go into each endorsement. At the ending of this program- I should have all endorsements (excluding school bus and passenger) as well as several certificates. I can explain more if anyone has any questions.

Two weeks on and already bombarded by recruiters. All wanting us to work for them- each spouting the same “we are a family oriented company- we know you by name- our pay is top in the industry- we won’t sugar coat anything” speeches that sounds, quite frankly- like they are board of saying it themselves. However- there where three companies that stood out Immediately:

Maverick Transportation RBX Inc. Tri-State Motor Transit

Each one sporting unique attributes- each one perfect in their own rights. Through out my diarie- I will explore these companies in depth to determine which, if any, I decide to pursue.

I hope my experiences I post helps just one person in some way. Whether that’s pursuing a company- following through with getting a CDL, or just making them feel a bit more at ease. To steal a reoccurring quote from the recruiters I’ve met with: “I’m a straight shooter”.

I will expose my realistic criticisms and expectations- along with my ultimate outcomes and acceptances. Feel free to join in the conversation.

Until next time- Eggman

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar
Feel free to join in the conversation.

I look forward to following along in your journey. At times you'll think nobodys reading it but i can assure you there are many people that don't respond but are still reading.

Good luck!

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Wow, five months?

That's a long time. Are you aware there are companies out here paying prospective drivers 7 or 8 hundred dollars per week during their training period? I'm not knocking your approach, but it's a lot of overkill with little to no measurable benefit. You're still a rookie driver when you start a job, and that five months of training earns you the same starting pay of any other rookie driver with four weeks of training.

If you're happy with your choice that's great, but it isn't very practical for most people. It seems much more profitable to be getting actual on the job training while earning a pretty decent amount of money during your training. You are probably thinking you're going to be receiving much more comprehensive training, but the reality is that you will still have to go through the same company training as any other driver who shows up with a 160 hour training certificate.

G-Town's Comment
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Good grief...family oriented? I think you may already realize what a load of BS that actually is. Many recruiters try to appeal to what a student knows “now” and what they can easily relate to “now”. Trucking is all about performance; efficiently and safely moving freight. That’s what every company focuses on and the premise of family oriented values is a superficial recruiting tactic.

Please read this: Becoming A Truck Driver: The Raw Truth About Truck Driving

I work for the largest TL carrier in the world; Swift. The people I work with day in and day, all know me by my first name, treat me professionally and as an individual. We are a team. In a huge company like Swift; I interact with no more than 4 DLs, 2 planners, 1 driver coordinator, 1 safety guy (happens to be a planner) and 1 terminal manager. That’s it.

For a top performing driver (and we have many of them in the general forum) that is “how it is” no matter what company you drive for. Top drivers are treated like gold, a status that must be earned over time, even at a company claiming to be family oriented. I’ll bet they didn’t mention that...

Not to rain on your parade Eggman; but 5 months of school does not make you a professional truck driver. And without some level of assistance, most folks can not afford to be spoon-fed for 5 months. Most of the learning will occur in the real-world under a 45,000 pound, time-sensitive load in rush hour traffic as it begins to snow either with a trainer or when solo.

Truck Driver School Graduates

Although I’m glad you are happy with your decision and that it works for you, frankly 4 weeks is all that is necessary to learn basic skills and compliance required to pass the CDL tests. And that is true even if you know absolutely nothing about trucks.

At the end of your 5 months, you too will be able to pass your CDL tests, but it does not give you an edge or a free pass to proceed immediately to 1st driver (solo) status with your future employer. You will still need to go through road training, which can be as short as 3 weeks or as long as 3 months. By the time you have completed your 5th month, a new driver entering a Paid CDL Training Program right now, if successful can be graduated, with CDL, completed road training and solo for about 2 months earning real money before you have a job.

Sorry for being blunt...calling it like I see it. Like I said, this might be the best fit for you and I do respect the reasons you stated for your decision, and above all else I wish you nothing but success, but it is NOT the recommended approach here and won’t necessarily prepare you any better than a 3-4 week program.

Truckiing Truth’s founder wrote this article: Why I Prefer Company Sponsored Training . I completely agree with his logic.

Enough said,...I too look forward to reading your diary and more than happy to help you out in the event you need it or ask for guidance.

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.

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.

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.

Eggman's Comment
member avatar

Instead of quoting each person, I'll just address statements without context.

Yes. Yes, I am fully aware that there are companies which provide paid training, ending with a CDL and a job. I get 5 months seems a bit of a lengthy process to get something it takes everyone else only four weeks to get. I also understand that nothing beats real life experiences. I'm a firm believer that education in general, whether that be for a trade or higher learning, is NOT a one size fits all. Sure, I could take a four-week course, have my permit in one, train for two more weeks on maneuvers/pre-trip, and spend the last week taking the state test (multiple times if necessary). I understand that, after this four week of no pay, I can go through months (depending on the company, weeks) of OJT with a trainer in his truck until we both are sure I am ready to be alone. I get that, I could have a solid paycheck, and be out there sooner- if that is what my desire was. They say that you have to do your research before jumping in with just any company and if they don't turn out to be right for you-you'll end up quitting and job hunting. The same can be said about an education. You have to facilitate your learning in a way that proves to be most successful for you in the long run. If this means, taking a 4-week crash course, and learning the rest on the road, well shoot, you go man. However, If you decide to take a slower paced class, really try to build a solid foundation, and commit time to gain knowledge in a more controlled environment, then that can work too. I am fortunate to have the Post 9-11 GI Bill, So the school is free and I get paid to go to school with a monthly housing allowance. The five-month program really gives me time to study everything about the industry: from basic knowledge to company standings. It even allows me to learn more technical things in general such as load securement, Q-logs, etc... It's a great approach if your brand new to the industry, and want to spend a bit more time learning in a college setting.

So, to end all further scrutiny: This decision I made wasn't out of necessity, it's a luxury. As such, I feel logging a diary of my experience could inform, and allow other future rookies to determine if they wanna spend a bit more on the luxury? Or rather, rush through company training because they are wanting to get paid quicker. There is a saying that fits this scenario, and I certainly hope it doesn't break any forum rules, but:

"Different strokes for different folks." -Late 20th Century Proverb

With that being said, I certainly hope that anyone even considering a lengthier training program doesn't get discouraged because the vast majority says it isn't worth it. To be honest, if it makes you a safer driver and more efficient in the long run, don't let these old dogs who succeeded without needing it to talk you out of it. Do your research and make sure what is right for you (which is another quote I stole from every recruiter, ever). I need to get off here, as I have to go take my combination portion of my written exam, then my I need to go to class as my instructor lined up a meeting with a recruiter from DOT to talk to us, and tell us why we should drive for him. Any bets on what he may say? LOL

Until Next Time- Eggman

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.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

See, you're under the impression that you're going to come out of this with better knowledge and you'll be better prepared than someone going through one month of training. What we're telling you is that you're not going to come out ahead. You're going to literally waste 4 months of your life in school learning nothing. That's what it's going to accomplish.

The only reason schools like that exist is because the Federal requirements for student loans dictate that the schooling has to be a certain length of time. If the schooling is too short the Feds won't back the student loans. So some schools created artificially long courses so that their students can qualify for loans. That's the only reason the schooling is that long. It's not because it's a better course or you're going to learn more. It's basically the same as spending 8 years in college getting a 4 year degree. It's a waste of time.

To be honest, if it makes you a safer driver and more efficient in the long run, don't let these old dogs who succeeded without needing it to talk you out of it.

See, that's just it. It doesn't make you a safer driver.

And for anyone that's trying to decide what career path to take, is this the guy you really want to listen to? He has zero knowledge and zero experience in trucking and yet he's telling you to ignore the people who have had very long, highly successful careers at the highest level.

Eggman, you're one of a million people with no knowledge or experience in the industry and yet you think you know better than people who have been doing this for many, many years. Do you really believe that?

I also love the fact that you feel you're qualified to give career advice now too.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Not surprised with your Contrarian response Eggman. I expected it.

Totally agree with Brett. 100%, no exception. Did you read my post to “reply and rebuke”, or read it to “understand”? I am not here to learn from you...or engage in the futility of your debate.

I’ve experienced it firsthand; Paid CDL Training Programs work. Thriving for 6 years driving on a difficult, northeast regional Dedicated account, with zero accidents and a 100% on-time delivery record speaks volumes louder than your untested opinion.

I was schooled by the Swift Academy for 3 weeks and easily aced the PA CDL exams on my first try. 240 hours of additional, “finish” road training effectively prepared me for solo driving. It’s only bragging if it’s BS. It’s all fact. And for the record; my learning never stops.

You must take us for a bunch of toothless, “Old Dog” Hillbilly's...as if you are somehow an authority in “such things” with zero real world trucking experience.

I strongly advise to “chill” on the insusults and humble-up Eggman. You are a neophyte, in no position to counter the advice backed with decades of safe and efficient experience in very challenging driving assignments. You have much to learn and can choose to debate us, or absorb and apply our advice. Up to you.

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.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

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.

Old School's Comment
member avatar
To be honest, if it makes you a safer driver and more efficient in the long run, don't let these old dogs who succeeded without needing it to talk you out of it. Do your research and make sure what is right for you

Eggman, we weren't trying to be critical of your approach (if it works for you), and I thought we made that clear. What we were trying to clarify is that it doesn't make you safer or more efficient. The extra time you are spending is basically what you want (we are fine with that), but it doesn't have tangible benefits. That is where you are totally misunderstanding this career. You could train for a year in a school setting and it still never set you up any better in the "long run." You will figure all this out one day when you are learning the ropes under some actual "on the job experience and stress." But for now you might want to just share your training experiences, and save your commentary on how to succeed in this industry to those who have been immersed in that success for years (You know, those "Old Dogs"). There will be plenty of people interested in your schooling experiences, but are not going to benefit from your advice on the industry. You seem to think all your research has provided you with valuable insights, but unfortunately you were mistaken.

I'm interested in your training diary, or else I wouldn't even have been poking around in here, and I can assure you that others are also. It's just a little alarming when we find a total newbie giving out advice that is contrary to everything that helps people find the path to success out here.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Im going to chime in here.

IF the course did in depth trip planning and time management, as well extensive examples of Hazmat and possible reviews of accidents and how to avoid them then as a new student, i can understand how someone might feel more comfortable. i probably would have being a book worm.

Something many students complain about is not getting enough trip planning or time manage info during training. Most drivers do not understand the 8/2 split and i know trainers who refuse to teach it.

on the flip side...all that info is useless and is comprehensible if you do not put it to use. I try to teach students how to use the 8/2, but unless they see it in action, it doesnt click.

People have different reasons for their choices. If this choice helps this guy, great! It sounds like some of his class time is dedicated to the permit written exam which is something that can be done with the High Road here.

Honestly, no amount of training would have made me confident to go solo. One thing we often discuss here is that most drivers need to go solo to really know and understand how to get things done. it is your decisions you make solo that teach you the most.

i understand this lengthy approach and if it works for this driver awesome. But that is not to say it would work for everyone.

good luck

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

Eggman's Comment
member avatar

There you go. Your right- what do I know. :) Just wanted to share my experience- but it sounds like it’s not wanted here.

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