How To Survive Financially During Training

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Mark B.'s Comment
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Hello, Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Blanchard and I live in the small town of Poland Maine (home of Poland Spring water). I am currently debating with myself whether or not to get into CDL driving. My background includes 10 plus years as a non-CDL delivery driver for UPS.I have also worked many years in shipping/receiving and I believe I have a pretty good grasp on what a CDL driving position entails. I currently work on the road as a repair tech for a vending company. While I actually enjoy the job and really like the owners and co-workers, the job just does not pay me what I am use to making. I am looking at CDL driving because as I look for jobs that I qualify for it seems CDL driving pays the most. I will turn 60 in October and retirement is finally within my sights. I would love to cash in on these (hopefully) final ten years. I am very confident that I can past the required tests and exams. I am in better physical condition then most men half my age so I feel I can handle the physical part of the job. So what's my hang up? Finances of course. I have a life. It includes a home, a car, credit cards, etc, etc. Based on my research which includes this website it does not seem like many, if any, companies pay very well during training. While in training I will still have to pay my bills. So, finally, my question is are there other financial resources available to drivers during training? I have seen training pay as low as $400/wk to as high as only $600/wk. After taxes that is not much in my situation. I do have savings and I could dip into my 401k but I would prefer not to. Any information and help is greatly appreciated. Even if it is I will just have to suck it up for a while. Eventually, I know I will catch up and then surpass this situation. I have more questions of course but I will leave it here for now. Thanks for listening and be safe!

Mark Blanchard

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.
Dennis L's Comment
member avatar

Hello Mark

I am just finishing up my training phase with Prime Inc to upgrade into my own truck. I documented my experience in two training diaries.

“My Prime Inc Orientation/PSD Experience” and “My Prime Inc TNT Progress Updates”. (I’m having trouble putting in links to them - maybe Ms Anne can help?).

During the CDL training phase (aka PSD at Prime) I was not paid since I wasn’t an employee yet. Prime did pay my travel expense to Orientation up to $350. Prime provided a hotel room until I was put onto a trainer’s truck plus free meals for a week.

After the first week, Prime provided a weekly advance of $200 as an interest free loan to cover expenses for food. I received a total of $1,000 that I’m now paying back at $25 per week since I was hired on 03/03/22 when I passed my CDL exam. Because I passed my CDL on first attempt Prime gave me a $250 bonus.

My second phase of training as a company driver is called TNT. It required driving as a team with a trainer for a minimum of 30k team miles. It took me 7 weeks to reach the milestone and qualify to upgrade to my own truck.

During TNT I was paid $900 gross per week prorated for any days that I was not on the truck available for dispatch. My take home was $733 per week, except the first two weeks when the $125.25 cost of my TWIC card was deducted. Deductions for insurance benefits don’t start until June after 90 days employment. By then I’ll be making mileage pay (I hope).

My daily costs on the road probably averaged $15-$20 for food and drinks. I was probably more frugal than some. I had a nice steak dinner 3 times when the opportunity presented itself. I did bring some food with me on the truck for snacks or a quick microwave box meal. Bread and peanut butter are good for a quick snack.

Laundry cost $5-$6 per load (bring plenty of quarters). I only did laundry 3 times over 7 weeks. Could have done more frequently but you tend to lose track of days and time while team driving.

I paid $15 to shower three times (once in PSD and twice in TNT). My trainer got me one free shower with his points. I eventually earned fuel rewards points for showers or food discounts with Pilot/ Flying J and once with Love’s during TNT. Prime had us buying fuel mostly at Pilot/Flying J during my 7 weeks. I probably showered on average once per week (my trainer showered less frequently). Again, you just lose track of time going from load to load.

“Trucking Along With Kearsey” (aka “Rainy”) has done YouTube video and written about budgeting for training in the TT blogs.

Prime is my only experience, that is what I’m sharing. I’m not a recruiter for Prime.

Hope this helps.

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.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

PSD:

Prime Student Driver

Prime Inc has a CDL training program and the first phase is referred to as PSD. You'll get your permit and then 10,000 miles of on the road instruction.

The following is from Prime's website:

Prime’s PSD begins with you obtaining your CDL permit. Then you’ll go on the road with a certified CDL instructor for no less than 75 hours of one-on-one behind the wheel training. After training, you’ll return to Prime’s corporate headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, for final CDL state testing and your CDL license.

Obtain CDL Permit / 4 Days

  • Enter program, study and test for Missouri CDL permit.
  • Start driving/training at Prime Training Center in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Work toward 40,000 training dispatched miles (minimum) with food allowance while without CDL (Food allowance is paid back with future earnings).

On-the-Road Instruction / 10,000 Miles

  • Train with experienced certified CDL instructor for 3-4 weeks in a real world environment.
  • Get 75 hours of behind-the-wheel time with one-on-one student/instructor ratio.
  • Earn 10,000 miles toward total 40,000 miles needed.

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

Dennis L's Comment
member avatar

PS. I used both cash and a credit card. I went back through my credit card transactions that occurred from 03/11-04/28/22 during my TNT training. The total was $615.

I also used ~$600 in cash for same 7 weeks.

Total expenses ~$1,215 or ~$174/week

I hope this helps

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

NaeNaeInNC's Comment
member avatar

PS. I used both cash and a credit card. I went back through my credit card transactions that occurred from 03/11-04/28/22 during my TNT training. The total was $615.

I also used ~$600 in cash for same 7 weeks.

Total expenses ~$1,215 or ~$174/week

I hope this helps

Holy crow. Showering ONCE A WEEK? That is disgusting and unrealistic.

With Prime, there is ZERO excuse for that. We have shower power at both Loves and Pilot/Flying J. Yeah, you have to fuel once to activate it every month, but reefer fill-up would do it. I have gone a MAX of two days without a shower. If I don't sleep at a truck stop, I extend a 30 for a shower.

OP, Prime has a 900/wk gross guarantee during the TNT phase. I am used to making pennies scream, and I made it on the road for about $100 a week. Yeah, it was rough and a lot of sandwiches, but I made it!

Honestly, if you can get a loan against your 401k, it's a better tax free option than just doing a draw. Not sure if it's an option if you are switching employers though.

Call and speak to some of your creditors/regular billing accounts, and ask if you can defer payment for 8 weeks or lower payment for same time frame. The worst they can say is no.

Don't chose a company based solely on training pay, if you can avoid it. Make sure you are choosing based on your needs.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

DWI:

Driving While Intoxicated

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

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.

Delco Dave's Comment
member avatar
Holy crow. Showering ONCE A WEEK? That is disgusting and unrealistic.

Was thinking the same thing!!!! Maybe every other day in the winter months for me but never more then 2-1/2 days without a shower. I could sacrifice shaving for a bit but would definitely find 15 minutes for a shower somewhere, somehow.

Dennis L's Comment
member avatar

I’m just telling you how it was on this truck during my PSD/TNT with this trainer irregardless of Prime’s policy of every other day. Who is out there on the truck to enforce it?

In the beginning of PSD we had an agreement of every 3 days. That only happened once.

He is a good trainer and it wasn’t worth it to me to report it to Prime or change trainers (a crap shoot for what you will get). His truck is filthy. He lives in it full time. Maybe I should have reported it to help him take better care of himself.

Whenever there was an opportunity with the truck being shutdown for a couple hours I tried to take it.

When I’m on my own solo it will be every other day at least to shower and laundry more frequently.

PSD:

Prime Student Driver

Prime Inc has a CDL training program and the first phase is referred to as PSD. You'll get your permit and then 10,000 miles of on the road instruction.

The following is from Prime's website:

Prime’s PSD begins with you obtaining your CDL permit. Then you’ll go on the road with a certified CDL instructor for no less than 75 hours of one-on-one behind the wheel training. After training, you’ll return to Prime’s corporate headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, for final CDL state testing and your CDL license.

Obtain CDL Permit / 4 Days

  • Enter program, study and test for Missouri CDL permit.
  • Start driving/training at Prime Training Center in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Work toward 40,000 training dispatched miles (minimum) with food allowance while without CDL (Food allowance is paid back with future earnings).

On-the-Road Instruction / 10,000 Miles

  • Train with experienced certified CDL instructor for 3-4 weeks in a real world environment.
  • Get 75 hours of behind-the-wheel time with one-on-one student/instructor ratio.
  • Earn 10,000 miles toward total 40,000 miles needed.

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

Mark B.'s Comment
member avatar

Thank you very much Dennis. This does help. At this point I am resolved that I will have to get into my savings at least during training. Good point, I am sure I can make it back! Good luck to you! You are well on your way!

Mark

KID's Comment
member avatar

Yeah that's gross having to shower once a week my friend.

But I wish you the best of luck.

Davy A.'s Comment
member avatar

I'm assuming that by training you mean both CDL school and then subsequent training. Very few companies pay you during the school portion but have covered lodging etc. Yet do pay once training starts.

It's an important distinction I think that the school portion is separate from training at some companies while at others trainingos done in conjunction. If it is a motivation, as it was for me, I chose to go with the company I did because you're an employee from day one and making money while in CDL school. They also, at two weeks OTR training and one week Top Gun training, had the shortest OTR training portion I found.

I was paid 460/wk in school (18 days) 875/ wk. Top gun and training (3 weeks)

I was solo after that for 30k miles at .44 to .48 cpm. After which it went to full rate .46 to .50 cpm.

There are good and bad points to each companies approach. For me, the short training period worked, others it may not have.

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Schneider paid us $80.00 per day during our training. Length of training depends on your experience and the account/job you apply for. If you go into it with just your permit it is 5 weeks unless your account specifically requires special training. They also pay for your transportation to the training facility, any minor expenses liked checked luggage, your lodging, 2 meals a day plus the free breakfast at the hotel. OC has a free laundry facility.

When your out on the road for 1-2 weeks with the training engineer you have to fend for yourself for meals.

No the training pay was not great but with all the other expenses they covered and the fact you leave with your CDL and a guaranteed job… I thought it was a great deal. The contract is also one of the shorter, only 9 months and is valued just above 2k if you do not fulfill your contract and have to pay it back.

Everyone’s financial situation is different but you should be able to find a way to make it through a month of training, give or take. Like you mention in your OP I used what I needed out of my savings but it really was not much.

Also, they are willing to get you rolling asap once training is complete so you should not have much of a gap there for earning. I was home for 6 days after training before I was headed to pickup my truck and that was during Christmas and New Years. I imagine without the holidays I could have been rolling quicker.

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.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

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