Most Cheapest/smartest Way To Obtain CDL A?

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Brett Aquila's Comment
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James, look at this from a business perspective. These paid training programs are simple: Trucking companies need drivers so they agree to train you for free if you'll then work for them for one year. The company will pay to transport you to their facility, pay for your hotel, pay for your meals, and pay for your training. They've invested about $10,000 - $15,000 dollars in your training in hopes that you will become a successful driver for the company. After training they hire you and assigned you a $120,000 tractor and $60,000 trailer.

Do you think they have invested months of their time, $15,000 in your training, and paid $120,000 for a tractor so they can send you to a truck stop and park you for the next 12 months? On what planet would that make any sense?

People who have owned businesses tend to do really well as truck drivers because they understand that productivity is the key to success in the business world. That is especially true for truck drivers. Trucking companies desperately need to keep these trucks rolling if they have any hope of making money. As a driver, you want to turn a lot of miles in order to make good money. The company and the driver are on the same page. They both succeed or fail together. Either those wheels are turning or no one is making money.

I have to admit, I'm always amazed that people don't understand this basic premise.

I was 21 when I got started in trucking. There were several large carriers in my area and every time I drove by one of those terminals full of brand new trucks I would think, "My God, when I get my chance I'm going to drive the wheels off of one those beautiful rigs!" And I did. I never for a moment considered the possibility that they might put me in one of those beautiful new rigs and keep me parked most of the time. Why the hell would they do that? How are they going to make any money?

James, if you can understand the very basics of how a trucking business operates then you realize these companies need highly productive drivers in order to make money. They need drivers who are ambitious, creative problem solvers, self-sufficient, and productive. This is an extraordinary job for extraordinary people. If you're worried about being parked at a truck stop then you don't understand how these companies make money.

Instead of wasting your time reading reviews on Indeed you should spend a little time trying to understand how trucking companies operate. Figure out what it takes to succeed as a business owner in this industry. Then you'll understand why these companies operate their own schools and what you need to do as a driver in order to help these companies succeed.

Businesses value employees who can help them make money. If you can help a company make money you're putting yourself in a strong position. If you can't help them make money then why would they keep you around?

Trucking companies need to move a lot of freight in order to make money. They invest in their own training programs in hopes of creating productive drivers. They invest in you, you work for them in return. You turn a lot of miles, everyone makes good money, everyone wins. It's that simple.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

James points out:

Sure, two sides to every story. These are the "horror stories" I'm referring to though.

Yes there is. At least two. In these cases, the two sides are reality and losers. Nearly all company "reviews" are motivated by the poster being somehow "wronged" by that company. The "good" reviews would have been written by drivers who are still working for said company, happy with what they are doing, proud to be driving for that company. And they are too busy happy doing their job and making money to take time to write about their experiences.

If you understand the rigorous requirements of being an OTR driver, you will be successful and earn those big trucker bucks with whatever company you have chosen. If you don't "get it", or the reality of this job does not meet your personal expectations, you will also bail and maybe want to tell the world how the company messed up your career.

Here at Trucking Truth you'll find those who love their job, know how to be successful driving the big trucks, and want to pass on the secrets of the business. Read on.

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.
PJ's Comment
member avatar

In todays world it is much different. It is a very noticable fact in trucking. Older drivers are generally more productive and successful than younger drivers. Before the younger folks get offended read my explanation.

The older drivers grew up with a generally different work ethic and value system. The group comes from a perspective of personal responsibility, as well as understanding the old saying “good things come to those who wait”. In other words, they get the job done.

Younger generations tend to want everything right now. This group also tends to not accept personal responsibility for their actions. Deflect and blame. That is directly in relation to a weak work ethic.

That is the bottom line in my opinion.

No matter what business you're in the same premise is present. Provide a service and make money. How that is accomplished is through hiring strong employees. The strength of the business is in the employee’s hands. Some view that as leverage they have on the company. That is the wrong attitude, because everyone loses.

Life is not fair, so anyone looking for that needs to stay out of trucking. As said this business is performance based from top to bottom. Perform at a top level and everyone wins, in other words, everyone makes money. Nobody will get rich in trucking, but the potential to make a good living is here.

Just my opinion

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
Life is not fair, so anyone looking for that needs to stay out of trucking. As said this business is performance-based from top to bottom. Perform at a top-level and everyone wins, in other words, everyone makes money

This raises an interesting point that I make in my podcast Episode 19: You're Getting Career Advice From The Wrong People.

Here is part of that podcast:

Well, there's one fundamental truth that you have to understand about the trucking industry. Trucking is a performance-based job. It works a lot like the sports world where the best players get the bulk of the playing time and the highest pay, while the underperformers sit the bench a lot and make far less money.

I would say any system that rewards people based upon their performance is a fair but unequal system. The best performers get the best pay and treatment while the underperformers make less money and get fewer perks. That's fair treatment, but it's not equal treatment.

Now if you're the type that loves a challenge, who loves to compete, and you're excited about showing people how good you can be then trucking is exactly the thing you're looking for. If you're ready to do whatever it takes to get the job done safely, you're up for the challenge, and you're confident you will stand out as a top performer then you're a person who will thrive in trucking.

Unfortunately, most people don't take an ambitious and competitive approach to their careers. In fact, many people don't understand that trucking is like that at all. They may have never had a performance-based job or maybe they didn't play competitive sports growing up. They don't really want to compete with the other drivers for better freight and better pay. They don't want to solve tough problems independently or challenge themselves continuously to get better.

A Top Tier Driver who knows what it takes to perform at the highest level can look at any underperforming driver and immediately see why they're falling short of the mark. Ironically, it isn't always clear to these underperformers they're causing their own problems.

In fact, if you listen to these underachieving drivers they always seem to believe they're doing a good job, or at least they sound like they're convinced they're doing a good job. And I'm sure some of them really do believe that.

But they're underperforming when compared with the Top Tier Drivers. They're not managing their time as efficiently. They're not getting some of their appointment schedules moved ahead so they can squeeze in more miles each week. They're not taking the tough loads they're being assigned without complaining, but they are refusing to run certain loads or to run under certain conditions. They're not showing up for all of their appointments on time. They're not communicating their situation well enough with dispatch.

There is a long list of ways a Top Tier Driver can outperform their peers, and most of the time their peers either aren't capable of performing at that level or they're simply not interested in performing at that level. The work ethic and the commitment it takes just isn't there.

So as a new driver coming into the industry you face a rather scary situation. You're hearing this huge chorus of complainers warning you that trucking is a terrible career where you'll be treated unfairly, and a small number of voices like those of us at TruckingTruth who feel the opposite. We feel that trucking is a fantastic career, and it's one we've enjoyed immensely and have had tremendous success with.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
member avatar

I dont think anyone pointed this out.... but those reviews are from lease ops!!!

That is just further proof leasing doesn't work if you believe the statements

the one said $1495 settlement" and got $500 clear after all deductions.... obviously a lease. 5000 miles down to $500..... lease.

That is because they signed a contract to pay for the truck, fuel, insurance, and all costs.... but then were too new to understand the loads to accept.

As far as making mistakes... almost every person I knew who was on the cusp of being fired for accidents, regardless of the company....was offered a chance to go back into training.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Pete E Pothole's Comment
member avatar

As someone who chose company paid training, I did have to come up with some upfront for schooling as my company requires. The thought of setting forth on this new career and lifestyle, having a partner (my company) who was interested in my success as much as i was was very important to me. First check stub was from march 25, and the most recent was October 21. My gross to this point is $31,890. I am very happy with the choice I made and knowing my company is still interested in my success makes my job a little less stressful. Anyone who has been in that seat knows there are pressures from all around, stress to an extent at all times. I think having to worry extra about a mistake made would end in unemployment would add to that. Not to say I don't worry about screwing up because I do, but I don't fear that something minor would have me looking for another job.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

James I will re-post/reiterate my initial reply to you...

James if you only knew how many people come through this website with the exact same "false" premise as you have...you'll never know how good you can possibly have it, unless you are willing to commit to your first company for at least 1 year. In reality, it benefits you more than you realize or perhaps willing to believe.

Based on your reply, none of the above resonated with you.

Do you trust the advice of people who failed miserably at trucking? People who are not held to any standard of truth, reality or accuracy by the survey company? If you do...then go for it. Listen to Indeed and GlassDoor posts written by former drivers who are out of trucking completely...you'll get awesome career advice from them.

rofl-1.gif

James quoted several Indeed posts about my employer; Swift...

I have been driving for Swift for 4 months. I only made a $1000 two times. I have made $12 in a week. I was making more as a student. They have me sitting on the weekends, and can't get me home in time. I averaged $1800 a month after taxes.

4 months is not very long. No matter the company, the learning curve is steep, and at times very unforgiving. However $12 pay for one week? If they are a company driver, and were available for a load, I call total, unfettered BS on that.

By far the most unprofessional company I have ever encountered. Poor management and no regard for safety. 5,000 miles was 500 bucks lol. You would expect more from the largest trucking company

"Expectations"...here we go. First of all, their claim about Swift having "no regard for safety" is crap. That alone discredits everything this individual posted for their review...everything. I have driven for Swift over 6 years. I will counter with; "Safety is Swift's primary focus and concern". I know this first-hand,... know if for a fact and live-it in real-time every day I drive.

I made 500 a week while I was with my driver trainer. When I got my own truck ii averaged 173 a week. Boy they came up with some doozes. My last settlement I grossed 1495 for the week but my take home was 468 lol I lost my mind. Some weeks I wouldn't even get a check. Fair is fair I don't put no lies on nobody. If you need to get your cdl they will pay for it but you have to work a year so you Dont have to pay it back

This person is obviously a lease operator (agree with Kearsey on this); although something that every company offers, we are vehemently opposed to any rookie driver entering into a lease contract. All but guaranteed to fail.

James then went on to state this:

Sure, two sides to every story. These are the "horror stories" I'm referring to though.

Yes, I agree with the above statement; stories, they are stories, fictional and embellished. No personal responsibility or accountability is ever documented in surveys.

Please read this...Web of Lies and Misinformation...please, stop wasting your time using survey websites as a research tool. It's nonsense. Last time I looked; less than 200 Swifties have posted to Indeed...they have 17,000 drivers. That is a sampling of about 1%.

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.
James S.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the responses all, especially Brett, Old School, Errol, PJ, and G-Town. I guess I'm mostly too paranoid to sign on the dotted line just yet for a one year commitment. At least we can all agree based on G-Town's link he posted is that the web is full of misinformation. Us newbies come here trying to be objective and making sense of it. I used to be much more trusting and optimistic, but then life has its ways of taking advantage of that. Nothing on you fine people, I believe you all mean well.

(not solicitation, genuinely curious) Has anyone seen something like this? This is from R.E. West that claims their Paid CDL Training has "No Contract." https://cookeville.craigslist.org/trp/d/cookeville-paid-cdl-training-no-contract/7007729751.html I'd be very keen to see their contract cause because at first glance it's baffling. If one decided to quit the day after the training and go to the next company down the street offering a higher CPM , it doesn't do well for this company. I'd imagine there'd have to be some non-compete clause or some minimum commitment.

Another thread here referenced Celadon offering a 6 month contract and CRST offering a 10 month contract. I'll probably end up going the paid route and this R.E. West post has definitely piqued my interest.

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
this R.E. West post has definitely piqued my interest.

It has piqued your interest because you're still learning how successful drivers make top pay, get the most miles, drive the best equipment, and get all those special perks they get. That's what we're here for - to help you understand how it all works.

Let me tell you why you'll want to commit to a company for a minimum of one full year and should be happy about being under contract.

To get started in this industry is a huge commitment. Commitment is a two-way street. The company that takes you off the street, trains you, and then puts you behind the wheel of their 80,000-pound rig is making a massive commitment to you. They're taking a huge risk, losing productivity, and investing a ton of money into your training. Then they're losing even more money waiting for you to learn your trade well enough to become productive at a level that is profitable for the company. It's a massive commitment they're making to you.

That puts you in a fantastic position. You now have a very successful major carrier behind you with a vested interest in your success. If you don't become a safe and productive driver for the company, they lose their entire investment in you. They need you to succeed. You are now part of their business strategy. That's a wonderful position to be in.

But man, you have a tough path to follow. No one can make that first year an easy one. It's hard. It's hard for everyone. You'll see that having a company like that behind you makes all the difference in the world. You won't fear losing your job if something little goes wrong. You'll have a big support team behind you that is tasked with watching out for you.

What you're thinking right now, and many people think this way at first, is that you want to move around from company to company to get your best advantage. On the surface that makes sense. But think about what's happening. You're losing that strong position. If you train for one company and then leave to go to another, you're no longer with a company that has an investment in your future. If they fire you it doesn't cost them anything. So they're not going to spend the money supporting you or allow you to make many mistakes. They're going to throw you behind the wheel and expect you to go make things happen. If you can't they'll simply let you go and let the next guy try. It's no skin off their back.

You also have to develop relationships with the people at your company and build a strong reputation as a safe, productive driver if you want the great miles and the wonderful perks that the Top Tier Drivers get. That takes time. If you change companies you'll have to start again at the bottom as a nobody and build your reputation and relationships from scratch.

There's much more to this story. Follow these links:

Busting The Free Agent Myth In Trucking

Episode 4: Why Stick With Your First Company One Full Year?

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

James as brett stated that contract really is a wonderful thing. One of our members went to private school and went to a carrier without a contract. While he was still in training he fell climbing into the truck and was let go. It's been probably close to 10 months since that's happened and he has had a ton of trouble finding someone to take him on. We've seen a few people that went the private route let go after a couple accidents, yet we have a member that went the Paid CDL Training Programs route and signed a contract and was given much more leeway. After he had his 5th incident he was let go. I'm not trying to throw anyone under the bus, just showing real examples we've witnessed recently as proof that if they have invested in you, you will be better off

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

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