Five Month Professional Driver Program??

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Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
Just wanted to share my experience

We do want you to share your experience. What we don't want you to do is start handing out career advice and telling people to ignore our advice because you somehow think you know better. You have yet to grasp how any of this works yourself. That's why you have a whole slew of moderators trying to help you understand things better. That's why you're going to be sitting in a school for 5 months instead of being out on the road making money and learning your trade.

The harsh reality of it is that one year from now the people who began Paid CDL Training Programs at the same time you began your schooling will have made about $30,000 more than you, they'll have more driving experience, more knowledge, and better skills because they were out there doing it while you were at school studying about it. I wish that wasn't the case, but it is.

So please do share your experiences. But we'd prefer you didn't tell people to ignore our advice. It's arrogant as hell that you think you're in a position to be doing that.

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
Just wanted to share my experience- but it sounds like it’s not wanted here.

We're having a hard time communicating with you. Let me say it one more time.

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.

We are happy for you to share your training experience. That's what this whole section of the website is for... bring it on!

Just be careful about giving career advice when you have no trucking career experience. Trying to convince yourself or others that there are tangible benefits to a five month training course to obtain a CDL is just not practical 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.
Big Red (Mike)'s Comment
member avatar

I've read, re-read and read again the OP's first post and subsequent reply. I find him to be professional, articulate, helpful and humble. I perceived no disrespect nor did I discern any sense of entitlement or unearned expertise. I do not know the curriculum for the course he is attending so I would never presume to critique it or provide any negative or positive impressions. Instead, I intend to read his diary (if he is still willing to publish it) and compare it to the myriad experiences of others on this site.

I am fascinated by this profession and eager to learn all the different aspects. The more I learn about the larger corporate objectives, challenges of maintenance managers, nuances of internal and external logistics, the juggling requirements of a FM/DMs, and other industry areas, the more comfortable I will be feeling like I am maxing out my side of the equation. I won't get the majority of this information in my 4-week course or even in 20 years of service if I don't seek it out. And, at the same time, I dont need most of it to be successful. To me, it is more than just money. It's a pretty cool experience in a relatively short lifetime. To others, it may just be a job. That's ok.

Write on, Eggman! As a newbie, I will certainly let you know when I think you are trying to force me in any particular direction. Until then, I will continue to read all TT posts with a healthy dose of skepticism and conduct my own due diligence.

Mike

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.

Fm:

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.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
I perceived no disrespect nor did I discern any sense of entitlement or unearned expertise.

Really? So a guy with two weeks of schooling recommended that people should feel free to ignore the advice of highly experienced, successful drivers. That doesn't strike you as being disrespectful or demonstrating any unearned expertise? Well I guess your perceptions aren't too sharp then.

Eggman's Comment
member avatar

I've had some time to sit and think about some of the responses on this thread. I've determined that there has been some miscommunication. You call me arrogant. You've simply shut me down on all avenues. This thread was supposed to be a unique one, in regards that it actually has some insight on a school CDL program, rather than a company sponsored program. In regards to "career advise"- it wasn't so. However, I suppose I can see how it could be interpreted as advice, because my dad always advises me that you should always do what YOU want to do in life, for you. Never for anyone else, or someone else's purpose. This probably doesn't translate well in the trucking industry, and shouldn't be taken seriously if your making a life-altering decision. My thoughts though is if you would rather desire a school program, for whatever reasonings, you shouldn't let anyone talk you out of it. Just like you shouldn't let anyone talk you into it, because- as it's been made well aware- the "tangible benefits" are not greater. Like you guys also said, you're still going to have to do company training once you get with them too, as most companies it seems to require mandatory 30-40k miles with a trainer. This is where (I'm assuming) you guys are referring to where the REAL learning comes in, and anything prior is a waste of time beyond a couple weeks.

I guess I should follow that up with a question, as I really am here to learn. Is there really any negatives to pursuing an artificially lengthened program? What I mean is does it really matter? Won't I come out of this class exactly the same as anyone opting for a 4-week program? The only difference I can see is that unlike sponsored programs that put you right with a trainer once you have your license and start your 40k ish miles of training, I will have to find a job with a company willing to hire me to do this. Yes, I have read the article that clearly defines the reasoning why it's better to sign a contract, as the company put an investment in you and will be less willing to let you go, and that you will want to stay with your first company for a year anyway. I also acknowledge the fact that someone who begins driving sooner, makes more money sooner. I simply mean, besides the obvious negatives of doing a private school, before actually doing any OJT training with a company, and if your fine with investing your personal time, Will you be any less prepared as someone who just did a four-week CDL class and got their license?

I want to move on and add a formal apology. It seems I have made an offense with this "old dogs" comment. What was meant to be a flavor text has turned into a weapon against me. It wasn't intended to be interpreted as an insult, and I am sorry. This site has an invaluable combined wealth of knowledge and experience- and there is tons of respect for that.

I certainly hope this can now begin to be more of a conversation, rather than what feels like a trial. I am not here to argue, cause problems, and certainly not feel less about myself in any way.

In regards to how my class went today, I passed my combination portion of my exams. I now have general knowledge, air brakes, and combination done. WOOT! Next week we begin studying our endorsements. Department of Transportation came out and spoke with us on the range (where the training trucks are). He boasted family-oriented environment, 60k salary starting out, and 80k for drivers after a couple years. He stated that DOT (from this region) only recruits from this school, due to the reputation it holds in the area. I have heard this a couple of times, but I have a sneaking suspicion that there is more to it than that. He did bring us subway for lunch, so that was nice of him. He talked about having uniforms, and that they work with food freight mostly. Benefits and Decent home time was boasted too. He did claimed to have a 12 percent turn over rate, compared to 90 percent in the industry? I keep hearing these numbers, but am not sure what is fluff or not.

Now to enjoy my weekend off- and practice the air brake pre-trip. Ta Ta -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.

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

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

In the end things will turn out fine for you taking the route you've taken. You'll graduate from school, you'll get your CDL , and you'll land a job with a company.

I've mentioned in the past that in my opinion a highly experienced Top Tier Driver learns about 2% of what makes him great in school, the other 98% is either character traits or job skills learned on the road.

Even the time you spend on the road with a trainer is of limited value, though the things you learn will be very important. They're just limited in scope.

Trucking is one of those things that requires very little technical knowledge but a lot of basic skills that you'll learn over time by doing it yourself. I like to relate it throwing a baseball. There isn't much you can teach someone about throwing a baseball. You give them a few basic techniques, critique them a little as they get started with it, and then tell them to go throw it 1,000 times. Eventually they'll become good at it by doing it. You can spend a lifetime reading about how to throw a baseball but after the first hour you're wasting your time. You're better off with an hour of instruction and 100 hours of practice than the other way around.

Another thing about trucking that requires experience to learn is our own preferences for everything, and I mean everything:

  • Eating habits
  • Sleeping habits
  • Parking preferences
  • Time of day we prefer to run
  • Types of freight we prefer to haul
  • Comfort items we like with us
  • Tools we prefer for for navigation and communication
  • How we like to interact with dispatch
  • How often we like to get home
  • The way we prefer to plan our trips

Not only that, but there's a lot of little things you also learn by doing:

  • Watching and managing incoming weather
  • How to develop a strong relationship with dispatch
  • Negotiating and planning for city traffic
  • Getting the most driving time possible out of the available logbook hours
  • Squeezing in time efficiently for showers, meals, fueling, paperwork, shopping, and laundry

There are just a million little things you have to learn to become both happy and highly productive, someone who always arrives on time and turns big miles but in a safe and sustainable way.

You'll learn none of that at school, unfortunately. You'll learn very little of that on the road with a trainer, either, though you will learn some.

In the end, trucking is a fiercely individual pursuit. Give 100 drivers the same load going from Los Angeles to New York and you'll see 100 different ways of handling their trip planning, eating habits, sleep schedule, communications, and entertainment.

So yeah, you'll wind up just fine in the end. But trucking isn't about learning a lot of technical knowledge and you won't get very good at it by practicing in a controlled environment, though it will help a little with basic maneuvering skills.

I'm in a similar pursuit right now with regard to "learn by doing" - alpine climbing. There are some technical things you need to know - anchoring, avalanche detection, wilderness EMT for injuries, and things like that. But like trucking, 98% of what makes a highly experienced Top Tier Climber so great will be learned out in the mountains by doing it, not from some book or in a controlled environment.

I appreciate what you said about not meaning to come off as arrogant. Believe it or not, way more people fail to get anywhere in trucking because of their attitude than because of their driving skills. To be more precise, there are a lot of know-it-alls that don't last two weeks and they're on a bus home. That's our biggest concern. People underestimate how challenging trucking will be and they hang on tightly to their own beliefs and expectations, which generally leads to disaster when they get out there and realize nothing is the way they thought it would be.

For the most part, driving the truck isn't that hard. It just takes practice to get the feel for it. The hard part is learning those million little things that all come together every day out there and enduring the solitude of the road, the extremely long days, the time away from home, and the stress of doing a dangerous job.

Because trucking requires very little technical knowledge but a ton of experience to really become great at it, you won't realize until you've been out there for some time just how valuable the information is that we're giving you now and that we have throughout this website. If you read our trucking blog you'll see that almost none of it is about how to drive the truck. It's all about the million things that experienced drivers have learned over time, the things in that list above.

Make sure you read through these if you haven't already. You'll be glad you did:

Truck Driver's Career Guide

Becoming A Truck Driver: The Raw Truth About Truck 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.

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Eggman I appreciate your latest, thoughtful reply and hope you can see this for what it really is. There is no trial here and I hope you reread all of the replies that led up to this point. There is valuable information in all of them that should (hopefully) have some positive impact on you.

You seem to be fairly intelligent, I’ll assume a reasonably quick learner. I’m sure you’ll correct my assumption if not correct.

That said, my take on the 5 month trucking course (other than what has already been said), is you’ll likely have everything, all the skills and knowledge necessary to pass the CDL tests after 2 months. What happens at that point? How much filler and window dressing must you endure before they cut you loose? We consistently suggest patience is really important in trucking, I believe the length of this corse will test yours

IMO unless you are a very slow learner and/or have some elevated fear requiring a protracted classroom and controlled environment to gradually work past the angst, you might get bored, lose interest, etc. Who knows, but time will tell. And yes that’s only my “Older Dog” perspective.

I just cannot fathom what they could possibly be teaching you to fill-up 5 full months, 800 hours or more. It will be interesting to see how this progresses, because as of this moment, I cannot recall anyone in this forum going to trucking school fulltime for 5 months. Can you post an outline of the curriculum? That might be helpful if not interesting.

The basics of trucking is not rocket science; although I have no idea how to make a clock, I don’t need to in order to tell you what time it is. That is perhaps the simplest analogy that has relevance to this discussion. Like Brett said; most of what is learned to become a top-performing driver occurs after training. I am proof of that; came off the trainers truck with a whopping total of 40 documented backs over a 6 week period. Once solo on the Walmart Dedicated account I averaged that every 7 days.

For now, I suggest reading some of the articles in the Blog section and perusing the general forum for topics that interest you. It all supports the learning process.

I do hope you take the time to continue sharing your experience. It has value and I think we’ll all benefit from the additional knowledge. I look forward to it.

Peace.

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.

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.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

I've read, re-read and read again the OP's first post and subsequent reply. I find him to be professional, articulate, helpful and humble. I perceived no disrespect nor did I discern any sense of entitlement or unearned expertise. I do not know the curriculum for the course he is attending so I would never presume to critique it or provide any negative or positive impressions. Instead, I intend to read his diary (if he is still willing to publish it) and compare it to the myriad experiences of others on this site.

I am fascinated by this profession and eager to learn all the different aspects. The more I learn about the larger corporate objectives, challenges of maintenance managers, nuances of internal and external logistics, the juggling requirements of a FM/DMs, and other industry areas, the more comfortable I will be feeling like I am maxing out my side of the equation. I won't get the majority of this information in my 4-week course or even in 20 years of service if I don't seek it out. And, at the same time, I dont need most of it to be successful. To me, it is more than just money. It's a pretty cool experience in a relatively short lifetime. To others, it may just be a job. That's ok.

Write on, Eggman! As a newbie, I will certainly let you know when I think you are trying to force me in any particular direction. Until then, I will continue to read all TT posts with a healthy dose of skepticism and conduct my own due diligence.

Mike

Welcome Mike

...reading the information on the Trucking Truth website with a “healthy dose of skepticism” is neither necessary or prudent. Here is a healthy dose of reality Mike; how on earth can you evaluate the relevance and fact-check what is written here without any first-hand experience? You can’t. What is your base of knowledge needed to evaluate the truth and accuracy of our work and contributions? It’s a rhetorical question...

You claim to thirst for knowledge about this business, etc. Thats great, but highly unlikely to be part of any truck driving school’s curriculum.

The absolute best place to find and ingest all of the information you mentioned, is here, on the Trucking Truth website. Invest several hours here before rendering further judgement..,

I suggest starting with these three links:

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.

Fm:

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.
Big Red (Mike)'s Comment
member avatar

I guess I should follow that up with a question, as I really am here to learn. Is there really any negatives to pursuing an artificially lengthened program? What I mean is does it really matter? Won't I come out of this class exactly the same as anyone opting for a 4-week program?

Eggman, is there any way you could post an overview (screenshot, photo?) of your school's 5 month curriculum? It would be interesting to compare it, side-by-side with the standard "160 hour" programs that are out there.

Thanks and thank you for your service to our country. I mean it. Veteran's Day isn't just about days off and discounts. :-)

Eggman's Comment
member avatar

I have been asked to share the curriculum for this course I am attending. I wanted to upload a picture of the module highlights, but I can't seem to find the paperwork just yet. Once I do, I will upload that Picture. However, I was able to get a basic outline from the school's website, which I'll share now:

Weeks 1-4: CDL permit test preparation • CDL endorsement preparation (doubles/triples and tankers) • Vehicle inspection for daily operation and safe practices • Hazardous material (hazmat) training

Weeks 5-12: • Vehicle inspection for daily operation and safe practices • Read and identify instrument control systems • Basic control of the truck • Coupling and uncoupling • Range maneuvers • Road training • Hours of service/logging • Trip planning/map reading • Communication • Shipping and receiving • Wellness • Defensive driving • Hazard awareness • Extreme driving conditions

Weeks 13-20: • Vehicle inspection • Forklift training • Load securement/cargo handling • Preventative maintenance • FMCSA rules and regulations • Weigh stations • Transportation security • ELDT (entry-level driver training) • Company speakers • Resume building • Life on the road • Professionalism/soft skills • Preparation for state range and drive test

300 clock hours classroom 24 clock hours range and observation 24 clock hours over the road 252 clock hours remedial Total: 600 clock hours.

Overkill, I am sure. I will be posting my honest opinions about the course as it goes. I am already discovering there is a lot of downtime when we could be focusing on something productive. However, the material we have gone over is really clear in my head, with no questions. We do 6 hour days, Monday through Friday. I can honestly say, I wouldn't be able to afford this approach without my GI Bill, but is a luxury I'm enjoying. If the classes where 8 hours a day we could shorten the training by one month. I can certainly feel how it's constructed to benefit those teaching it ($$). However, I actually did read through every article that has been posted here on my thread about a month or so ago, weeks before I started my training. I feel I understood there would be no real gains, but I liked the idea of taking this on in a slower approach. It also gives me time to resolve some issues with my MVR as well.

I discovered that there was a driver in another state I live previously who shares my same birthday and same license number. Needless to say, I've already been turned down from most companies I am interested in because of this dilemma and was told to call back once I've resolved it.

Anyways, back to enjoying my day off school before work starts in a couple hours.

-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.

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

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.

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

Fm:

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.

MVR:

Motor Vehicle Record

An MVR is a report of your driving history, as reported from your state Department of Motor Vehicles. Information on this report may include Drivers License information, point history, violations, convictions, and license status on your driving record.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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