Choosing A Right CDL School

Topic 26082 | Page 1

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Andrey B.'s Comment
member avatar

I am new here, and need an advice which school to choose. Here is my situation. After many years of being self employed as a baker I decided to drive a truck. OTR is not exactly what I need, although I enjoy the road and ride frequently from Texas to New Hampshire and back. But with a wife and four kids I do not want to be away for more than a couple nights a week. There is a CDL school at a local Community College, they charge $4,500, but have federal grants, so it can be free. And then there are a few schools in Dallas (FFE, Raider Express). College school prepares only for CDL test, doesn't pay during the training, but it is in my town. Company schools hire from day one, but there is a 12 month commitment and a few weeks of driving away from home with a trainer. I can do that, but only for training, not for the whole first year. So the question is - which school is better to get a local of regional CDL job? I don't have any high expectations - $50k annually will make me totally happy. Thank you for any suggestions, I am completely new to all this.

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.

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.

Big Scott (CFI's biggest 's Comment
member avatar

Start here.

You will have very difficult time going straight into a local home daily position. By doing that fist year OTR as a company driver you will open the doors to many local positions. It will take you time to hone your driving and backing skills. Most OTR companies have the ability to get home once per month. CFI will train you free and we have a terminal in Dallas and one in Wilmer. 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.

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.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Andrey, it looks like you've done some decent research already. Go through the list of links that Big Scott listed to round out your understanding.

BTW, the High Road CDL Training Program is a free study and practice to get you up to speed for the CDL permit test.

A few additional thoughts:

If you can get your CDL training "for free" through grants, go for it. The thought of a "12 month commitment" is simply that if a company finances your training through either their own school or a contract school, they want to get paid back while your start your career.

The great majority of new drivers, after school and OTR training, start out over the road. OTR is actually the least complicated form of big rig driving. I started out in Swift's school and drove for them. It wasn't hard to go OTR and get home one weekend every two weeks. Home time more often than that might be a bit harder.

But in less than six months, I was reassigned to a line haul route where I was actually home every day. Things like this are possible. 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.

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.

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.

Line Haul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.
Joseph I.'s Comment
member avatar

I would talk with the local companies you are interested in and get there thoughts on the school. You may very well find one that will hire you and pay for the schooling also. My route was different than most on this site, not better or worse just different. I had no CDL but did have 30 years driving experience. I found a company that would hire me as soon as I got my CDL as a probationary employee since I had no CDL history to show to the insurance. I drive for a, I would call regional company, that travel the I35 corridor from Minneapolis MN to Laredo TX and not much East or West. I have 2 teenagers at home and no wife so they have me at home nights as much as I need to be. I have a 450 to 500 mile loop I run a lot of days that leaves me and the truck in my yard at night. I did just come back from a trip to Laredo TX where I was gone for the whole week, I enjoyed it and the kids did not care but would not be the best for me during school year. 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.

Greg H.'s Comment
member avatar

Perhaps some others can fill you in on some other companies or ways to go about doing this. As for me, I chose OTR , and I highly encourage anyone to do it, if not only but, for a short while. It's great experience.

BUT, if you're completely not into it. Swift Transportation doesn't only train OTR, or you're not away from home for 3 weeks. I have a friend who trained on a Dedicated Walmart, with Swift and he was home pretty regularly because his trainer was as well. I have an ex student of mine who decided OTR wasn't for him and he moved to local deliveries. I believe he's home every night. You'd have to live close to a terminal though to do local.

It's probably going to take a whole lot of research of each company because, I don't know about everyone else here but, I'm not fully knowledgeable of all of the different positions that Swift or any other companies offer.

There are so many different avenues you can take with your CDL. You may have to spend that first year doing something you don't want to do thoug

Anyway, bottom line, you don't have to train OTR.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

I was in your same position about 2 years ago. I was about to pay 4500 to go to school myself, but I got into a car accident. The uncertainty of that situation made me hesitant and it also drained that 4500 pretty quickly. So, I applied for the driver apprentice program at FedEx. I'm glad I did. There were other people there that went to the school I planned on going to and the way they described it, it sounded horrible. 5 or 6 students riding in a truck stuffed in a sleeper. I received personalized training and I got paid while I received it. I was on the clock when I took my road test.

I understand not wanting to leave your family. A school is only going to teach you how to pass a test. A company sponsored program passes experience on to you. That's the difference. You're getting set up to succeed, where a school doesn't care what you do once they have your money. I'm not going to lie, I figured Brett and these guys were pushing these programs for kickbacks. After the fact, I realize they're all right. I have my own experience and the experiences of others to compare it.

The last part is even if you do pay for school and get your CDL , you're still having to go out with a trainer. Why not save that 4500 take an expedited course that guarantees you a job in the end. There's no avoiding the training part.

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.
Andrey B.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks everybody for advice, I appreciate it.

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