Questions About Obtaining A Cdl And Being A Truck Driver

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Christopher Y.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi.

So, um, I haven't really looked through the forum a whole lot to know what has been and hasn't been asked but I have been looking into getting a cdl this past week or so and just have a few questions regarding this process. I'm also not sure how to organize this so it might be a bit jumbled. Sorry.

I applied to roadmaster seeking information (it was late, didn't realize it was a school), they called me the next day and said it was an interview or something (I was heading to work, had just gotten in, was still groggy), and told them a different time would be better. They called me wednesday and talked to me about a bunch of stuff, went over the medical questionnaire and asked for my driving record (it's clean, just submitted it to them) and they are doing a background check on me now. They're trying to get me to go out to Salt Lake City, Utah, as early as July 15th to do a three week course, and they're also saying that they don't take people unless a job is guaranteed. From what I understand, there is a job placement service and you're sort of free to choose who you wish to work for (and there's a bunch of companies).

I'm on board with going. My fiance is also on board with me going, although July 15th wouldn't be the most optimal day for me due to finances, especially if I'm responsible for my own food and housing, so I'm trying to get out on a different date

Here's a little background about me

Currently I live in Alaska and have been going to college to get a degree in computer science. It's been going well except for the mathematics portion which has held me back. I have trouble passing the later part of calculus. I'm also about 60k in debt and a little behind on a few of my bills now. I was working part time over the school year but that eats away at savings. Getting down to the lower 48 for a good job and relocation seems like a good option to me given that.

I don't have a lot of money, and I've heard there is financing available. How does that work? And would that cover housing for the time being while doing my training? Also, with my computer science background, what should I tell other truckers if my education comes up? I was looking into seasonal construction earlier to pay for school and a friend was telling me if anyone asks why I was working to just tell them that "I was doing it to help pay for classes" because if I disclosed that I was pursuing a CS degree the construction workers would get jealous because "I have something [most of them] don't", or something like that. I'm not trying to imply that truck drivers are dumb (if anything, I think it would take a fair bit of intelligence to drive a truck skillfully) but I just want to know what I should expect.

Also I did get an email from roadmaster saying that I have to fill out a pre-hire application with usexpress. They sent me the form. What does this mean exactly?

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.

BMI:

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

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.

Pre-hire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

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.

Britton R.'s Comment
member avatar

Pre-hires are letters from companies stating you meet the basic qualifications for the company. It doesn't mean you are hired or anything. You will still go through a deeper background check and drug test and all of that later.

I would start with researching this site. There are a few articles about choosing a school or going through a company program.

If you are low on funds you may want to look into a company sponsored program. They will charge little to nothing up front for your training. The catch is you are contracted for around a year to that company. Breaking the contract will cost you the price of schooling.

As far a financial aid it works (I assume) just like other colleges. There are also some grants that may be available. Also a lot of companies will reimburse you for your schooling costs. So up front it may be steep, but they will throw you another hundred or so dollars per week towards your tuition.

It all depends on what works for you and what you're comfortable with. Check out the articles on here and you'll get a really good idea of what's available to you.

Pre-hire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

Pre-hires:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

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.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Christopher, welcome to the forum! You've still got lots of options, and did you know that there are truck driving companies that will train you to get your CDL , and then guarantee you a job after you've gotten it? That's right, and I think that's a heck of a deal. You can look into this yourself at the Company-Sponsored Training right here on this site. You won't have to pay any up front money to these guys to get yourself into the industry, but you will have to commit to a one year contract of working for them, and some of them will deduct a little from your pay for that time period. Check it out, I went to a private school, but I think this is a great way to get into truck driving if you're funds are limited. There is also a great learning tool here called the High Road Training Program that will put you miles ahead of the others in your class if you do decide to attend a company sponsored training program.

A pre-hire is when a company has checked you out and determined that you meet their basic requirements, so they give you a letter stating that when you have obtained your CDL and necessary training they will hire you. They are basically committing themselves so that you don't waste your money and efforts fruitlessly. It is not a guarantee of employment, but is sort of a pre-examination of your background, driving record, and things like that which might disqualify you from the industry.

Best of luck to you, and keep coming back with your questions. Everyone here will treat you respectfully and do our best to help you.

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.

Pre-hire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

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.

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.

Christopher Y.'s Comment
member avatar

The companies that do company sponsored training , how do I get ahold of them? How likely would I be to get in to a sponsored program? MCT looks interesting because they say they offer dedicated routes to their veterans after awhile. I don't mind lower pay as a form of reimbursement. Seems quite fair to both parties. Also how flexible would they be in my schedule?

Dedicated Route:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

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.

Christopher Y.'s Comment
member avatar

By schedule I mean how flexible would they be in choosing when I get to go down and start training?

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.

Britton R.'s Comment
member avatar

As long as you meet the basic criteria most companies will bring you in for their cdl training. Once you get there they will do a deeper backgrund check and drug test.

To get with them you can fill out an application online then call a recruiter.

Usually they can get you started pretty quick. Within days or a week. Personally I applied on a saturday talked to them monday and probably could have started the next week. I have to wait until my lease is over in augusylt before I can actually go and start. The recruiter just said to call her back once I know for sure when I can start.

I don't think getting a trip in is hard, it will be staying in that is difficult. Passing all of the checks and learnng everything. If your background is clean, and your work history is solid then you should be good. After that you need to make sure you're mentally prepared and have the right attitude to go in and become successful.

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.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Hey, welcome aboard Christopher!

We have an excellent article about the pre-hire process and you can find it here: Understanding The Pre-Hire Process. Have a look at that.

Now we have a new feature where you can fill out one application and send it to a whole mess of different companies. The ones that accept students out of school would be a pre-hire for you if they accept you. The system is new so I haven't separated the ones that require experience from the ones who accept students so you can just pick a bunch of em and the system will tell you which ones you qualified for after the app is submitted. You can find it here:

Apply For Truck Driving Jobs

Also, go through our Trucker's Career Guide. It has a ton of awesome information about every topic imaginable that pertains to getting your trucking career underway.

And if you're interested in Company-Sponsored Training , you can simply call those companies or fill out an app on their website.

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.

BMI:

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

Pre-hire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

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.
Christopher Y.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks.

My mom just mentioned a truck driving school in Palmer, Alaska. She lives in Wasilla, which is very close. It also does heavy equipment, so I might not have to relocate just yet afterall (which would be hard to do given my current state of funds). I also like the high road training thing, wish I had that when I was going for my driver's license way back, because it still took me a couple of tries even with a lot of studying.

Christopher Y.'s Comment
member avatar

Just applied to a 6 week heavy equipment and professional driving course through

NIT Heavy Equipment Training: 6 Week

Turns out that Salt Lake won't work out as well as I thought because by giving up Alaskan Residency I also lose the pfd (and there's a lot of steps to getting a commercial license out of state). So assuming I pass a DOT physical, and get accepted, and get a loan, I should be in. According to craigslist there is a lot of demand for local drivers.

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.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

I was looking at their website and a couple of things came to mind.

Now normally before going to a private school you would apply for pre-hires to various trucking companies that hire inexperienced drivers so that you know you'll qualify for work once you graduate from truck driving school. We have an excellent article written by Tanya Bons, the owner of Spirit CDL Training outside of Chicago about understanding the pre-hire process for those of you who aren't familiar with the process.

Have you tried contacting companies in your area to see who's hiring students and what the demand is?

I'm also curious about this course you're applying to. It's only 6 weeks but they're going to get you a Class A CDL and certifications for heavy equipment in that amount of time? I know in the lower 48 most trucking companies require a minimum number of hours of training at school and will only hire from approved schools. And $8,750 is about double the price of the schooling in the lower 48.

If I were you I would definitely speak with some companies in your area and make sure you're going to be able to find work once you graduate from school. Don't take the school's word for it. Look into it yourself. Try to get some pre-hires if companies up there do that.

And Craigslist is kind of the "bottom feeder" level for truck driving jobs. You'll find a lot of owner-operators and tiny mom-n-pop companies advertising on there all the time but that may not be the kind of thing you're looking for and they may not hire students straight out of CDL training, unless the specify that of course.

That's just an awful lot of money for a very short course that seems to claim they teach you an awful lot. I don't want you to fork out a bunch of cash hoping you'll be able to land a job afterward. You should find several companies willing to offer you a job after graduation before committing to the school. Graduating from a school and getting your CDL does not mean anyone will hire you. You have to make sure you qualify based on your background and your schooling. So I just wanted to make sure you really looked into it before committing.

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.

Pre-hire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

Pre-hires:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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