Seriously Considering CDL A School/training

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Dave H.'s Comment
member avatar

Hello everyone, my name is Dave and here is the deal! I’m 44 years old going on 45, own a small landscaping business in the Phila, PA area and for the past 12 years have not been able to grow my business due to unreliable employees. In fact, 39 of them. I have had it and I am looking to change careers before I get any older and undesirable. I have always loved trucks and think this may be the right move for me. I am a very good and safe driver with a clean record. I have 25 years of experience driving pickups and stake bodies with trailers, many people are amazed at my ability to reverse the trailer for long distances and into tight spots by mirror alone.

The reason for this post is to get some insight and advice about getting my CDL A. First: I have an appt tomorrow morning with Allstate Career school to get more info and check out their program. Is this a quality school?? They have job placement after graduation.

Second: Would I be better off and get better training through a paid training company??

Third: I am married with children and need to be home at night and on weekends as much as possible. Can’t go out of state for weeks at a time for training

THANK YOU IN ADVANCE!!!

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.
Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Welcome to the forum! I dont have much time to respond right now but if you post this over in the "general discussions" section you'll get a ton of help due to much more activity over there.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Welcome to the forum David.

You might want to take a look at the Trucking Truth starter kit before going too much further.

The Class A jobs that get a driver home every night typically require experience and are best for drivers that have gotten past the bumps and bruises that occur in the first several months, sometimes the first year of driving.

This is a “pay your dues” type of industry. Although LTL line haul is a possibility, it requires you live in proximity to a terminal. We have a few members like Bobcat Bob who run live haul for Old Dominion.

I suggest reading the links I replied with to get a better understanding of what you are getting into.

What part of the Phila. Area do you reside? I am a lifelong resident and grew up in Delaware County.

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.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

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.
Bullitt_VW's Comment
member avatar

Im from Montco, and im 48 married with a kid.

I looked at local schools, com. College programs and Company programs.

With advice of gtown and others on this site, i decided to go company OTR training route. (I havent started yet, i got delayed.)

If you are dead set on local. A duie pyle has a program out of west chester. i dont know much about it.

Though, i strongly suggest you heed to the advice given by gtown. Also, use the search function and read up on experiences of training and rookie life.

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.

DUI:

Driving Under the Influence

Dave H.'s Comment
member avatar

I live in Delco also, Drexel Hill. Thank you for the info, I have been checking out some of the links on this site the past few days. Obviously still have a lot of reading/research to do before a final decision is made. All I do know for sure is I have to get out of this landscaping business before my body breaks down and into some kind of driving job. Class B tri-axle/box trucks are on my radar as well but I figured I would shoot for the top and look into the class A first

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

I live in Delco also, Drexel Hill. Thank you for the info, I have been checking out some of the links on this site the past few days. Obviously still have a lot of reading/research to do before a final decision is made. All I do know for sure is I have to get out of this landscaping business before my body breaks down and into some kind of driving job. Class B tri-axle/box trucks are on my radar as well but I figured I would shoot for the top and look into the class A first

Something to think about, although a compromise it might fit your initial requirements better than anything else and give you an opportunity to build the valuable experience required for local Class A gigs...

Walmart Dedicated

That's what I do... and I still love it.

Here is the possibility; school in Richmond VA with Swift and training (mentoring) with Swift, commit to the Walmart Dedicated account in Pottsville PA. You can shutdown at the Eddystone PA or Springfield PA (a better option) Walmarts on your day-off or even throughout your work week if you want to sleep in your own bed and eat a home cooked meal (I don't recommend this every day tough).

Walmart Dedicated requires a 5.5 or 6 day work week. They can route your last day's dispatch so you can return through your area, thus parking overnight and Uber-ing home. The two stores I mentioned allow parking for Swift tractors pulling Walmart trailers. The other benefit of this account for you (like me as well), "you know the area"; as in the eastern half of PA (from Harrisburg to the east, north and south), all of NJ, all of DE and northern MD. This is a huge advantage and will expedite your learning curve, enabling you to become a top-performer in less time (I can explain that in greater detail if you want). Within a 5-mile circle of where you live there is Boothwyn, Glenolden, Eddystone and Springfield. All Delco stores. Lost count how many deliveries I've made to these stores.

If this is something you are interested in, I can provide additional information and offer to have you ride with me on a short day trip.

Good luck.

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar
Third: I am married with children and need to be home at night and on weekends as much as possible. Can’t go out of state for weeks at a time for training

This may be a problem even if you are able to land a local job. I had that kind of schedule when I got started by doing foodservice work. That work was brutal on the body, after a year and a half I made a switch to something different. My typical day had me clocking in at 330am and ended around 4pm. Get home, shower, eat and then only have an hour or so to spend with my wife and kids before needing to crawl into bed to be fit for duty the next day. It was quite rare if i had less than 60 hours in a 5 day week. I unloaded between 15-20k of product by hand and 2 wheeling it inside. I made a switch now still making great money but family life still isnt what it was before trucking. Honestly, my wife has told me numerous times she feels it'd be easier on her, and our 3 young kids if I went OTR because I may physically be home but im going to sleep shortly after I get home so we really aren't getting quality time when I work. It puts me in a tough spot of how much sleep do I actually need? I dont want my children and wife to feel neglected, but I also need to get sleep so I am not a safety hazard to myself or others on the road. Most days I'll get about 4 to 5 hours of sleep and then take an hour nap during my shift while getting loaded/unloaded. Now I try to start around midnight and get done by 2pm. 50+ hours in a 4 day work week, up to 65 if I work 5 and i now work weekends. If you're looking for a more "normal" schedule P&D for a LTL company is going to be your best bet. Their hours from my understanding tend to be 7am-5pm M-F. That is definitely not the best way to begin a career as we've seen numerous people get into minor accidents and now have a useless CDL due to limited experience and multiple accidents. We have a member here, Banks, that got his CDL through FedEx. The only downside is you may get stuck working the docks for a year or more until you have enough seniority to "bid" on a driving route, meanwhile your new skill isnt getting the repetition needed to improve. If I'm not mistaken he also does primarily overnights on the dock. Local jobs for the most part all operate on seniority regardless if they're union or not. I got started local pulling a 28' trailer in a pretty small market and feel like I got lucky I had no incidents.

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.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

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.

P&D:

Pickup & Delivery

Local drivers that stay around their area, usually within 100 mile radius of a terminal, picking up and delivering loads.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers for instance will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

Banks's Comment
member avatar

Most of the people at FedEx start 830-930 and get back 1900-2000 leaving the building at around 2030.

I explained most of FedEx training process in my diary. I drive sometimes, but not that often. Mostly grab a set of doubles and drive 100-150 miles. I currently work overnight dock and I hate it, but everybody keeps saying "stick with it, we all started there". I try to stay optimistic.

Apparently, this isn't the norm and it varies hub to hub. I've spoken to guys from allover the Northeast. From Vermont/ New Hampshire to Winchester, Virginia and they drive everyday with similar start dates. It depends on the need of your domicile terminal.

I don't have the bid sheet handy, but a rough number for my terminal is 75 city drivers. This does not include line haul drivers. That's a whole other list that I don't have access to. There are about 35 set routes. Then there's volume deliveries when there isn't any more room on a trailer and there's more stuff to go out and the days people call out or schedule off. I'd say the top 45 drive city routes everyday. I'm number 66. In August I was number 70 so I'm slowly moving up.

FedEx is understanding of the rust a new driver with limited drive time will have. They're very forgiving of accidents as long as you report everything. Integrity is big here and they remind you constantly. They say "report it and get dock work until you're retrained or hide it and get promoted to customer". I work with 1 guy that has hit low clearance bridges, destroyed lawns and taken mailboxes. He still drives regularly because he's reported everything. We bust his chops, but he still has a job.

The company is self insured so the actions they take are up to them and their review board. That being said, you don't want to rack up incidents or accidents because it limits your options. I do plan on going otr somewhere in the far future.

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.

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.

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.

Dave H.'s Comment
member avatar

Thank you to all for the information provided, it is really helping me understand the industry and aiding in the process of making this decision. I went down to the Allstate career school today to get more info on their programs. They are asking close to 12k/24 weeks for CDL A training which I dont think I can do. The day classes wont allow me to keep steady income. I’m afraid if I do the night classes, more often than not I will be exhausted from work and not retain the training/info properly. And 24, 20hr weekends will put even more stress on home life. If I do go CDL A it will have to be the paid training route. On a better note, the CDL B classes are around $4k and only 3, 20 hr weekends so that remains as a backup option. I also started the training program on this site and currently have a score of 96% with one read followed by quiz up to page 30

Thank you G town for the info on Swift and Walmart, a situation like that sounds like it may be a good fit for me. And I appreciate the ride along offer, I would definitely like to see what its like out there before jumping in blind. Unfortunately, I am stuck finishing out this landscape season which doesn't wrap up until around Christmas which limits my availability. I have commercial contracts and commitments to residential customers to fulfill

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.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar
Thank you G town for the info on Swift and Walmart, a situation like that sounds like it may be a good fit for me. And I appreciate the ride along offer, I would definitely like to see what its like out there before jumping in blind. Unfortunately, I am stuck finishing out this landscape season which doesn't wrap up until around Christmas which limits my availability. I have commercial contracts and commitments to residential customers to fulfill

Not a problem. I usually will host a rider on the weekends; Saturday or Sunday. Just let me know when you are available.

Good luck.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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