New From Orange County, CA - Paid CDL Training?

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CK's Comment
member avatar

I'm exploring the world of trucking as a potential career/lifestyle change. I'm 30 years old, married for 10 years with two kids, and everyone is supportive of the potential career move. We live in northern Orange County, California and don't really want to relocate as my wife has a decent paying job that she loves and worked really hard to get to where she is, and all our family are local to LA and Orange County. I'm looking at the different big carriers that offer paid CDL training since I don't have any amount of savings and can't qualify for financing for school.

Though home time is certainly a consideration, I understand that I won't get to be with my wife/kids for weeks at a time - luckily I know we can get by as I was away from them for four months for a government job (OKC while they were home in SoCal) and video calls were a Godsend.

I have read the company profiles/reviews under the Paid CDL Training category of this site for a number of companies; CR England, CRST and Swift seem to potentially be the best fit for me. CR England and CRST have training facilities within daily commuting distance of me (Fontana for CR England, and contracted in Riverside for CRST). The potential draw for me with Swift is the fact that they're the largest carrier, but their nearest training center is in Phoenix, and I'm trying to avoid having to travel for training. Is there a particular advantage to Swift for a newbie with no experience? I see they deduct money for the first year after training, and if you stay for a second year they pay it back.

CR England and CRST have caught my attention since training is more-or-less local, and they don't deduct money for training, and contract terms seem reasonable.

After watching video reviews of drivers on YouTube, a lot of them seem to hate whatever company they worked for at the beginning of their career - most fulfilled their contract and bailed, or left before their contract was up. Are these just malcontents? Or are all the companies that offer paid CDL training really that terrible? At the risk of answering my own question, I understand that you get out of this career what you put in, like most careers.

CRST team driving... how does that affect the paycheck? I've seen videos saying "scam" but my thought is they may not have understood how it works before jumping in. Some of the numbers do seem low, but, I'm a newbie just starting to learn how this all works.

Drop and hook seems like a pretty good proposition, but loading/unloading is not a deal-breaker.

I am open to exploring other companies, but paid CDL training is a must, and local training in southern California is preferred. What is pay really like? It looks like CR England is decent, especially if a driver becomes a trainer - but I did see someone describe CR England as "where drivers go when they have no options." Honest opinions from those who started with them? This is honestly the company that I'm leaning toward the most.

Do any companies do containers to/from the port or rail yards in southern California offer paid CDL training? Or is that more something to look at after having a few years experience?

I'm not knocking any company, I'm looking for honest answers from folks who really know.

Sorry for the rambling nature of the post... there's a lot of thoughts I tried to convey as coherently as possible. I'm really looking forward to your responses.

Thanks!

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.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Grumpy Old Man's Comment
member avatar

I'm exploring the world of trucking as a potential career/lifestyle change. I'm 30 years old, married for 10 years with two kids, and everyone is supportive of the potential career move. We live in northern Orange County, California and don't really want to relocate as my wife has a decent paying job that she loves and worked really hard to get to where she is, and all our family are local to LA and Orange County. I'm looking at the different big carriers that offer paid CDL training since I don't have any amount of savings and can't qualify for financing for school.

Though home time is certainly a consideration, I understand that I won't get to be with my wife/kids for weeks at a time - luckily I know we can get by as I was away from them for four months for a government job (OKC while they were home in SoCal) and video calls were a Godsend.

I have read the company profiles/reviews under the Paid CDL Training category of this site for a number of companies; CR England, CRST and Swift seem to potentially be the best fit for me. CR England and CRST have training facilities within daily commuting distance of me (Fontana for CR England, and contracted in Riverside for CRST). The potential draw for me with Swift is the fact that they're the largest carrier, but their nearest training center is in Phoenix, and I'm trying to avoid having to travel for training. Is there a particular advantage to Swift for a newbie with no experience? I see they deduct money for the first year after training, and if you stay for a second year they pay it back.

CR England and CRST have caught my attention since training is more-or-less local, and they don't deduct money for training, and contract terms seem reasonable.

After watching video reviews of drivers on YouTube, a lot of them seem to hate whatever company they worked for at the beginning of their career - most fulfilled their contract and bailed, or left before their contract was up. Are these just malcontents? Or are all the companies that offer paid CDL training really that terrible? At the risk of answering my own question, I understand that you get out of this career what you put in, like most careers.

CRST team driving... how does that affect the paycheck? I've seen videos saying "scam" but my thought is they may not have understood how it works before jumping in. Some of the numbers do seem low, but, I'm a newbie just starting to learn how this all works.

Drop and hook seems like a pretty good proposition, but loading/unloading is not a deal-breaker.

I am open to exploring other companies, but paid CDL training is a must, and local training in southern California is preferred. What is pay really like? It looks like CR England is decent, especially if a driver becomes a trainer - but I did see someone describe CR England as "where drivers go when they have no options." Honest opinions from those who started with them? This is honestly the company that I'm leaning toward the most.

Do any companies do containers to/from the port or rail yards in southern California offer paid CDL training? Or is that more something to look at after having a few years experience?

I'm not knocking any company, I'm looking for honest answers from folks who really know.

Sorry for the rambling nature of the post... there's a lot of thoughts I tried to convey as coherently as possible. I'm really looking forward to your responses.

Thanks!

First, stop watching Youtube videos. They are almost all by drivers with a bone to pick, most likely because they are not top performing drivers, so they didn't get miles, etc. Think about it like a review of a restaurant or business. Happy customers rarely bother to leave a review, but people who feel like they didn't get great service always do. And many times it was their own fault.

The first question is why does training need to be local? You already said you expect to be gone for weeks at a time, so why would training be any different? There are many great companies out there with approximately 6 week training courses, so why would 6 weeks be a killer, if you could afterwards be home every weekend, or every other weekend, etc., depending on the company you choose?

I'm going to take heat for this (and rightfully so, considering I haven't even started driving yet) but I think there are better choices available than England and CRST. That is based solely on my research (CRST mostly because they are team only), and they are probably fine companies, so take that with a grain of salt.

I would go here, apply to all, then compare what the ones that are interested have to offer. Forget local training unless there is an absolutely compelling reason you can't survive 6 weeks apart. But be aware, even local training facilities are going to send you out with a trainer for 2 to 6 weeks, depending on the company.

There will be someone with more experienced advice along shortly, but this will get you started.

Apply for 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.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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.

Grumpy Old Man's Comment
member avatar

A few other links you should check out to get you started:

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.
Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

CK, you are probably going to get a lot of good advice from the regulars and moderators here. I certainly have. Like you, I have read many negative comments. There are complainers, gripers, malcontents in every industry. I had a 49 year construction career and I can't count high enough to total up all the negative people. 99% of the time they were responsible for their own complaints. At the end of the day, most jobs turn out to be what you yourself make of them. Think about it. All companies just naturally want happy employees. It's in their best interest, just like a contented cow gives more milk. But there are limits on what they can do for each individual employee. If you are a self starter, high effort, positive attitude person you will likely be treated very well and be happy with your job. I have to laugh when I read some of the complaints. They make it sound like their company has a department called "Employee Irritation and Torture Department". That department doesn't exist, so just do your best and sign on with a company to train with that fits your circumstances.

CK's Comment
member avatar

@ Grumpy:

Training doesn't have to be local, the advantage is that I would be able to be home rather than living in a motel/dorm/hostel type situation - there was a YouTube video discussing training for one of the companies, where he said he was sharing a room with 7 people. I'm not sure I'm social enough to make that work. Another added advantage is the cost savings on meals during that time, assuming meals aren't paid for by the company.

Obviously I have a lot to learn, and every company is different, which is why I'm here to pick the brains of those who actually know. What companies do you feel are better than CR England and CRST, that also offer paid CDL training, and why?

I appreciate the links and will read them thoroughly. Thanks for confirming what I suspected about the YouTube drivers.

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.
CK's Comment
member avatar

@Bruce K:

Thanks for your reply. I used to work in management and agree wholeheartedly about the complainers being responsible for their own circumstances, in most cases. I am very task oriented and driven with a positive attitude most of the time, which is why I believe this career choice sounds like a good fit. Funny you mention cows, we had a hobby farm for 3.5 years with milk goats! I understand and agree with the sentiment - happy employees are more productive for the company.

Anyway, I'm certainly not looking to be "babied" by my employer, but I am looking for what is going to get me on the road with the lowest up-front cost, that will allow me to make the most money as a newbie and still allow me to get home at least every three to four weeks for a couple days.

Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

CK, goat milking is really getting popular in Wisconsin and a number of dairy farmers are switching to goats because there is a big demand for goat cheese. And they need truckers to haul the milk (just smaller trucks, I suppose.)

I think you answered your own question about schooling. If you want low up front costs, sign up with company training. I just hired on with Schneider today and did so after checking out several dozen companies. If you have children, make sure they have a rider policy that will let you take one of your children, usually over 10, with you in the truck after you have had a specified amount of safe driving experience. That was very important to me because I have a 14 yr. old grandson.

Big T's Comment
member avatar

Swift has a school in Fontana.

Grumpy Old Man's Comment
member avatar

@ Grumpy:

Training doesn't have to be local, the advantage is that I would be able to be home rather than living in a motel/dorm/hostel type situation - there was a YouTube video discussing training for one of the companies, where he said he was sharing a room with 7 people. I'm not sure I'm social enough to make that work. Another added advantage is the cost savings on meals during that time, assuming meals aren't paid for by the company.

Obviously I have a lot to learn, and every company is different, which is why I'm here to pick the brains of those who actually know. What companies do you feel are better than CR England and CRST, that also offer paid CDL training, and why?

I appreciate the links and will read them thoroughly. Thanks for confirming what I suspected about the YouTube drivers.

The entire training process is one long interview, including the bunkhouse, from what others have said here, and it makes sense.

They want to see if you can get along with strangers, after all, you will be representing them to strangers every day. Best to apply to all, see who says yes, then pick the one that has the most options that satisfy you.

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.
CK's Comment
member avatar

Swift has a school in Fontana.

I realized that after posting. Their website lists one in Jurupa Valley, but this website doesn't have it on the review page - maybe it opened since then?

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