What Is Company Sponsored Training Really Like?

Topic 8340 | Page 1

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Daniel B.'s Comment
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Many of us will be going the Company-Sponsored Training route. I'm sure we've all wondered just exactly how it goes. Is it really as fast paced as everyone says it is? Will I be sent home if I don't succeed on my first attempt? Is it truly free? So many questions go through our minds before we depart to our chosen company!

Its funny how much getting started in trucking is so similar to getting started in the military. It takes much thought and soul searching for both, it takes constant nights worrying about if you're making the right choice.

Many people don’t realize just how difficult truck driving is. Virtually everyone thinks they are a great driver. But driving a truck is much different than driving a Ford Explorer or even a U-Haul truck. Not to mention all of the bookwork and studying that needs to be done! Truck driving school is hard and its meant to be that way. Do not go into this career thinking it’s going to be easy. Whether you’ve been driving a truck for 4 days or 40 years, the first day you stop learning something new is the first day you become a dangerous trucker. Go in with the attitude that this is going to be tough, because it will be!

So be ready for long days, lots of studying, a little bit of sweating while in the drivers seat, and the challenge of a lifetime. Think I’m exaggerating? Take a peak at our High Road Training Program and you’ll understand just how much information you’re expected to learn! But at the same time, the experience can be incredibly fun and exciting. You’re learning how to drive huge and powerful trucks which you’ll soon be taking all over the country crisscrossing nearly every mile of interstate. Trucks are cool - enjoy the experience! You’re embarking on something most people would love to do, but are simply too terrified to give it a shot!

Within the first week of truck driving school, you’ll notice some cliques forming. There’s no doubt that a bond forms between students but be very careful with who you’re hanging around. There will be those who study hard and do whatever it takes to be the best. Not just to pass their exams, but to be the very best. Then, there are others, who have an attitude. They feel as if truck driving is easy and they don’t need to put in much effort. They think anyone can be a truck driver. Overall, they are negative and generally don’t have anything positive to say. People like this show up in virtually every class. Steer clear of those people. They are typically the ones that have problems later on. Always stay positive and try to only hang out with those who bring more positivity into the situation. Don’t aim to pass your CDL exams. Aim to be the best!

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.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

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.
Daniel B.'s Comment
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One of the biggest obstacles most new drivers have to overcome is their nervousness. Now is a great time to learn how to control your emotions. Many students do just fine during class, but come test time, they get nervous and fail an exam due to poor decision making skills. Is it fair to be judged under this kind of stressful situation? Absolutely! You’re going to get yourself into some sticky situations as a truck driver. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Every driver has a story to tell about getting lost in a major city, driving through a wicked snowstorm, dealing with congestion, roads which weren’t designed for trucks, and many other unique situations where stress and emotions run high. You absolutely must learn how to keep cool under pressure. Everyone expects you to be nervous both during training and during your exam. But you must be able to show that you can control your nervousness and make sound decisions at the same time.

Quite a few students never stand a chance at ever obtaining their CDL. Why? Because they give up before they even have a chance to start their career. Time and time again we hear from people who struggle with various aspects of their truck driver training. Whether they are having trouble shifting, backing, learning how to properly pre-trip a truck or anything in between, some people get real down on themselves. During these struggles, do not compare yourself to other students in your class. As an example, if everyone is backing the truck perfectly except for you, don’t let that get into your head. Work with your instructors and keep pushing forward. When it comes to driving techniques like shifting and backing, drastic improvements can be made in a single day. Most people do struggle for a while until something just seems to “click” one day. For some people, that “click” comes sooner than others. But don’t ever feel like you’re doomed to failure if you don’t catch on as quickly as other students in your class. All it takes is that one day when it “clicks” and you’ve got it.

Getting through the training is tough, but it almost always comes down to one thing - attitude! Always think positive, always know that you can do it (you can!), always be willing to put in the hard work, and always be ready to learn something new. If you have the right attitude and stay positive, it’s nearly impossible to fail.

I urge you to not go into these programs with a chip on your shoulder. The industry has a way of putting you back in your place the moment you think you know it all. The golden rule amongst veterans is that you're always learning and a person who knows everything doesn't exist.

Here on TT, we actually have a few diaries from folks who went into these Company Sponsored Training Programs. I was one of them, and all of us documented our day to day for you to read and learn from our experiences and our mistakes. Enjoy!

Daniel B.'s Training Diary

RedGators Training Diary WEL

Steve's Training Diary Prime Inc.

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.

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.

Errol V.'s Comment
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Hey! Don't forget

Swift Academy, Memphis, TN

Chris the stick slinger's Comment
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Epic post Daniel B.

I was the guy at the top of my class. Aced the book work and test. ( passed hazmat with 10 minutes of studying) Only one better driver in our class of 16, a 19 year old natural. Hit the road thinking I was the s h it. Turns out i ain't s h it.

Two, yes two weeks with a trainer and bam I'm on my own. Six weeks later and I am 20 times the driver I was.

Still manage to do well because I am humble. (And scared shi tless)

It is most DEFINITELY not as easy as it looks.

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

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar
Two, yes two weeks with a trainer and bam I'm on my own. Six weeks later and I am 20 times the driver I was.

Yes, that's how it is: you get the basics in class & with your trainer, then it all comes together when it's just you and your truck. Good luck there, Chris!

classA's Comment
member avatar

Hey! Don't forget

Swift Academy, Memphis, TN

And if you want some of the best smoked ribs ever, check out the Rendezvous while in Memphis, TN. It's just off of 2nd Street near the Peabody Hotel.

J. Snow's Comment
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Yes. This. I can't say how many times I thought 'What have I gotten into?' during school. I watched a few guys come in with that chip on their shoulder, and watched them disappear in a matter of days...

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.

James925's Comment
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Company Training, or otherwise known as the most emotional, blood pressure rising, stressful two and a half weeks of my life. But taking the driving test and being told I passed was one of the happiest moments in my life. Lots of people come and go from trucking school. I don't think people realize how unforgiving the coursework is, or how hard it is to learn how to shift a rig after driving a manual in a car for over 10 years.

No one can prepare you for what happens when you're actually out in the world on your own for the first time without a trainer. You will get lost, you will take 10 minutes to back up on what seems like a "simple" back, you will get routed out of your way to the receiver because of a construction detour, and anything else that can go wrong, will.

As was mentioned, you definitely have to be humble out here, and if you don't have humility, trust me the trucking Gods will mix in some humility for you. Treat every day like a new adventure, and if something goes wrong, stay in the moment. After you're done, you can do whatever it takes for you to relieve stress (mine is a King size bar of peanut butter twix) and put the situation behind you. Tomorrow is always a new day, and a new adventure.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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Seriously James......that was very well said. I mean......people should literally have to memorize every word of that before even setting foot in a classroom or getting into a truck for the first time.

The incredible ups and downs:

Company Training, or otherwise known as the most emotional, blood pressure rising, stressful two and a half weeks of my life. But taking the driving test and being told I passed was one of the happiest moments in my life.

...and how unbelievably challenging the training process is:

Lots of people come and go from trucking school. I don't think people realize how unforgiving the coursework is, or how hard it is to learn how to shift a rig

...and of course there are a million things you simply have to learn the hard way out there - doing it by yourself:

No one can prepare you for what happens when you're actually out in the world on your own for the first time without a trainer. You will get lost, you will take 10 minutes to back up on what seems like a "simple" back, you will get routed out of your way to the receiver because of a construction detour, and anything else that can go wrong, will

...and what a great attitude you'll need to have if you want to get anywhere in this industry. You have no authority out there as a driver. You have to learn how to be kind and professional so people will want to help you because nobody has to help you. When you deal with dock workers, shipping clerks, DOT officers, load planners, dispatchers, safety managers, and waitresses you can be sure of one thing - you have no authority over anything they do that pertains to you. Sooooo....

you definitely have to be humble out here, and if you don't have humility, trust me the trucking Gods will mix in some humility for you

...and remember that every day you'll find a thousand reasons to be happy and a thousand to be miserable. Whether or not you're happy and successful out there will depend largely upon how you view your life out there moment to moment:

Treat every day like a new adventure, and if something goes wrong, stay in the moment. After you're done, you can do whatever it takes for you to relieve stress (mine is a King size bar of peanut butter twix) and put the situation behind you. Tomorrow is always a new day, and a new adventure

From the day you begin training until you reach six months of solo experience it will be one long, relentless series of challenges. Getting your career started in trucking is an incredible roller coaster of events and emotions. The lifestyle and difficulties are such a radical change from what most of us have experienced that the whole thing will go by like a blur at times, like you're in a dream. You'll forget what day it is, you'll forget what state you're in, and you'll barely remember your own name sometimes you'll be so exhausted and overwhelmed.

But making it through the various stages - graduating from school, getting your CDL , going on your first professional run with your first company, completing on-the-job training, completing your first solo run, and completing your first year in the industry - all of those goals will have you jumping out of your socks you'll be so excited and proud of your accomplishments.

Getting started in trucking is a grand adventure. You'd better go into it with the approach that none of it will come easy and nothing will be handed to you except the opportunity to show what you can do. Be ready to prove yourself continuously. Also know that sometimes it's going to be so exhausting and overwhelming that you're going to want to quit. You're going to think you've chosen the wrong career at times or maybe the wrong company. But just stick to what you're doing and see it through.

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.

Dispatcher:

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.
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