Prime Vs Swift Vs Millis

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Dina D.'s Comment
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I only have a SMALL amount of savings. Is it truly wiser for someone in this sort of situation to get company training vs the community college kind? I've done a ton of research, and have read that it's best to go into a program that GUARANTEES a job after training, and that requires little to no upfront costs, if a person is short on cash. Also, since almost all new cdl drivers should drive at least one year over the road...all companies sort of require about the same contract or amount of driving experience whether I get a cdl through a company based program or a community college program, right. so i should not be so concerned about the 1 year contract thing. 1. Is all of this sounding right?

Also, I heard that prime's training program is extremely fast paced..2. if one does not pass the tests in the first few weeks or so would I be sent home and expected to pay the full cost of the training..and face unemployment too? I read that swift is a bit more lenient or open to allowing a trainee to retrain, study more, and retest ...3. what about prime and millis?

If I became unemployed due to not passing something ...I think that would be a worse consequence than having to pay almost 4k back while remaining employed part time locally if i went to college locally.4. how difficult are these company training programs anyway? 5. is there such a high turnover rate or fast revolving door at prime, millis, and swift that I should be concerned? no one can help me since i am on my own. i am totally alone and on my own - I always am. i read that it is smart to get a permit ahead of time..6. is that a learner's permit/cdl A that i can get by just paying and taking a written test? 7. should i get a physical done too before taking a bus to a far away place? i want to be careful since i have so little savings, earn little money at my current full time job, and have no one to help me if i become unemployed . i already looked into getting funding through an unemployment office since i earn so little...but i have been going though the application process for over 4 months...it is taking too long i feel...probably will take another 2 to 6 months just to get approval if funding is available and i would have to quit my current job and live on savings to attend for a month and a half or so which would take up all of my small savings.

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.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Questions, questions! Well, Dina, you've come to the right place. Trucking Truth can help you get through all this with as little stress as possible.

Let me tease those out.

I only have a SMALL amount of savings. Is it truly wiser for someone in this sort of situation to get company training vs the community college kind? I've done a ton of research, and have read that it's best to go into a program that GUARANTEES a job after training, and that requires little to no upfront costs, if a person is short on cash. Also, since almost all new cdl drivers should drive at least one year over the road...all companies sort of require about the same contract or amount of driving experience whether I get a cdl through a company based program or a community college program, right. so i should not be so concerned about the 1 year contract thing.

1. Is all of this sounding right?

I went through Swift's program, so my experience is from that, but generally speaking, other company programs are similar.

In my class, many showed up broke or very tight on the money. Obviously, the more money you bring, the less Top Ramen you'll have to eat. Don't schools feed you and/or pay you. I didn't have that privilege.

College programs will take their time and may only run a few days/hours a week. Did you look at here: Company-Sponsored Training and here: Truck Driving Schools?

Also, I heard that prime's training program is extremely fast paced..

Company schools are designed to get you your CDL-A as fast as possible. Some people can't take the pace. But Swift also gives you a second chance on any eval. There's even a third chance. These courses have been accused of "designed to fail" or to "rip students off". Only students who can't take the pace or feel they are entitled to something drop out. (One person complained about BBQ sauce here! Go figure!)

2. if one does not pass the tests in the first few weeks or so would I be sent home and expected to pay the full cost of the training..

See my last comment about chances. But you do sign a contact for the tuition. Nearly every company school will waive tuition of you stay and work with them acertain amount of time.

3. what about prime and millis?

Others with experience can chime in on this.

If I became unemployed due to not passing something ...I think that would be a worse consequence than having to pay almost 4k back while remaining employed part time locally if i went to college locally.

I think the best policy is don't look down. If you apply yourself, you'll do fine.

4. how difficult are these company training programs anyway?

If you can drive a car in traffic, you're 45% there already. Using a shift helps, but there's a debate here whether being able to shift in a car is good or bad.

5. is there such a high turnover rate or fast revolving door at prime, millis, and swift that I should be concerned

Brett brings out the number 100% turnover. Meaning if your company has 100 drivers, over a year, they need to hire 100 more. (some do stay the whole year and some have to be replaced more than once. )

6. is that a learner's permit/cdl A that i can get by just paying and taking a written test?

Yes, the learners permit. Study using the High Road Training Program and I'm sure you'll ace the test. The CDL permit is useless without the medical exam. Something like $40 - $100. Be sure it's a DOT qualified doctor.

7. should i get a physical done too before taking a bus to a far away place?

Questioned answered in #6.

I have been going through the aplication process for over 4 months...it is taking too long i feel...probably will take another 2 to 6 months just to get approval

This link does many of the applications for you. Fill out out once, get several phone calls quickly! Apply For Truck Driving Jobs

if funding is available and i would have to quit my current job and live on savings to attend for a month and a half or so which would take up all of my small savings.

I started Swift's school mid December, got hired in late January and my first (tiny) paycheck was deposited by mid February.

One thing about a company school, if you pass the course, you're about as good as hired.

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.

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.

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.

Company-sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

I can only say Prime has a Good Training Program and you will be making pretty good money once you get on a truck with your TNT trainer so whats not to like about that.

Ken C.

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.

Maia B.'s Comment
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Im currently a week into a Swift mill... the training is "OK" at best. I will say that I started out having never driven a manual transmission before and by the end of this week I have been straight line backing very well. So as far as teaching new skills the instructors have been patient.

Its also very cheap ($1950 paid over the course of one year) and the hire with no prior experience. I cant speak for other schools but I can say im happy with how its gone so far.

Dina D.'s Comment
member avatar

I totally want to look before I leap and go in with my eyes wide open. Thank you for your answers! You've helped me and probably many other people that search this site! Before I posted the message above, I did apply to several trucking companies via Truckingtruth's website..and was accepted by several of them (I applied just in case I decided to get my cdl via a college training program). I will definitely follow your advice and study for the learner's permit, Errol V., by enrolling in the High Road Training Program. I definitely want to succeed and am looking up down and all around! Lol! : D Also, yes Ken C. there is a lot to like about Prime such as it's training, fairly new equipment, pet policy, benefits, no touch freight, and pay. Millis I heard, pays more than Prime, but charges more in upfront fee(s) such as I would need to find my own means of transportation to get there $, pay a depost $$, and have to purchase my own meals $$$. I think that Millis has an excellent training program (lower in cost) too - a con is that no Hazmat is required. I would most likely need a cdl a, and dot physical done before going to Millis...same with Swift. Swift has a PTDI certified training program here in Houston...and so does Houston Community College, and ATDS but a certified program is not much better than an accredited one as Brett has said. Millis, Prime, and Swift all seemed to have the same school requirements, lodging (2 to 5 people per room), student to teacher ratio = 1:1, and almost all of the reviews on all three companies were mostly positive rather then not. If I read a great deal of complaining by a few of the reviewers...i empathized but also realize (I think that Brett said this or maybe someone else) that every one's experience is different and that not everyone finds the trucking field to be the right fit for them - perhaps they will find it to be a good fit for them in the future : )

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.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

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.

The Dude's Comment
member avatar

Prime is more interested in making a person a successful driver so the driver can haul their loads than they are wasting a class spot on someone just to send them home. There isn't really some hard and fast deadline where you are cut if you don't meet an expectation. It's your PSD instructor's job to determine when you are ready to test and to groom you to be ready when that time comes. If you are having trouble getting ready to test, they do everything they can to help you. Stan, the director of PSD, will even get on the pad with a student if they are struggling along. They will send you home if you are one of two things, unteachable or unemployable.

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.
Dina D.'s Comment
member avatar

I am grateful to hear your perspective Maia B. ! You know, I've driven mostly automatics, but, a boyfriend taught me how to drive a manual and I drove a car with a manual transmission for about 9 months. I just hope that he taught me the right way! Lol! I am totally open to re-learning the right way when the opportunity comes. And, yes Swift's training appears to be very affordable as you have said - less expensive than Prime's and Millis' (though all can be free provided i work for the required amount of time to "pay" it off.

Dina D.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks Dude! I totally understand what you are saying and trust that other people that are learning from these posts are hearing you out too. The more training the better, and I am glad that Prime's training is about as long as most of the community colleges' programs in my area (only one of which posted its job placement rate on its website - namely Lone Star) !

Dina D.'s Comment
member avatar

Lonestar has a professed 98% job placement rate, and I read a San Jacinto College flyer last winter that said that San J. has a near 100% job placement rate (but that could be a range of 90 to 100%). I called Houston Community College Last week and the recruiter said that the school (although PTDI certified) does not offer job placement, but that recruiters stop by to advertise/ hand out flyers....

Chris the stick slinger's Comment
member avatar

As a recent graduate of a community college program myself, I can attest to the fact of the recruiters coming by to see us sometimes twice a week. Seemed to me its a drivers market right now. Granted that's got a lot to do with the region you live in too.

Good luck to you

.02 from a rookie

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.

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