Private Schooling Versus Company-Sponsored: The Basic Differences

by Brett Aquila


There is always a little confusion over which type of CDL training to go with, a company-sponsored CDL training program or a private truck driving school.

Before we dive into the differences, let me say that our Truck Driver's Career Guide explains all of these options clearly and in great detail. Our CDL test preparation program, The High Road Online CDL Training Program, will prepare you for your CDL permit exam and the start of your official training.

Both the career guide and training program are free to use. I strongly believe that everyone should read through our career guide and use our training program to prepare for the start of their career, regardless of the type of schooling you ultimately choose.

Now let me go ahead and give a quick rundown of the major differences between the two types of CDL Training.

Company-Sponsored Schools

  • Are owned and operated by trucking companies
  • Require very little or no money up front
  • Will often take tuition payments out of your paycheck once you're on the road (more on this later)

Private Truck Driving Schools

  • Are independently owned and operated schools not directly associated with any trucking companies
  • Require tuition to be paid up front in the form of cash, student loan, or grant

Tuition Costs

Tuition costs can vary tremendously between schools. Private school tuition can range from $2000-$10,000, and company-sponsored programs can range from being free up to maybe $4000. You really have to do your research when it comes to tuition costs. There are ways of getting free CDL training and there are ways of paying entirely too much.

Similarities Between Company-Sponsored And Private Schooling

Both of these schools do the same thing - they teach you what's required in order to pass your CDL exams and get your CDL license. That's pretty much it.

Regardless of which type of school you graduate from you will have your CDL license and will then enter into a new phase of training - you'll be on the road running team with a mentor. That phase will last anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months depending on the company. But every driver will go on the road with a mentor after graduating from either type of school. You will get paid during this phase of your training. Once you complete this phase of the training you will become a solo driver for the company.

Differences Between Company-Sponsored And Private Schooling

Once you graduate from a private school you are free to pursue a job with any trucking companies that hire inexperienced drivers. Once you graduate from a company-sponsored school you will only have the option of working for the company that owns the school.

At a private school the experience will generally be better because you're a paying customer. The pace is a little slower and they'll be more patient with you. They'll work with you more individually. With a company-sponsored program you're more like a player trying to make the team. It's like a tryout, and not everyone makes the team. The environment is usually fast-paced and there is a little less tolerance for those who aren't picking up on the skills as quickly. It's a totally different approach.

Choosing Between The Two Types Of Schooling

For me, the major difference comes down to whether or not you have the money available for private schooling. If you can afford to go through private schooling it's the preferred path overall. The experience is a little better and you'll have the option of working for any company that hires students from your school after graduating. But please be aware of something...not every trucking company hires from every private school. Make sure you find out which major companies hire from the school you're considering before signing up.

If you don't have the money for private schooling or you would like to work for one of the trucking companies that have their own school then go with company-sponsored training.

Let me be clear about this though - there is nothing wrong with either type of schooling. They will both get your trucking career off to a great start. It's really just a matter of deciding which one suits your situation and preferences better.


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.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.


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.

by Brett Aquila

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