CDL School's Out! Choosing a Trucking Company

by Farmer Bob

Forgive me, but the title is a bit misleading! Don't wait until school is out to begin applying for CDL Jobs.You should apply to many different trucking companies as soon as you know the completion date of your school. Trucking companies can, and do, take their time going over your application and giving you apre-hire. Start your research early. Follow along and I'll tell you what I did and the insights I gained.

Before I even decided on a truck driving school I was researching trucking companies. I made a handwritten spreadsheet with the company name, contact information, and a list of important questions. Doing this helps me keep the questions and information the same for each company. Some of the questions I asked were:

  • Are you hiring student drivers?
  • What is the location and length of orientation?
  • What is orientation pay?
  • What is the length of training and what am I going to be paid while training?
  • What is the rider policy?
  • How much did the average student driver make last year?
  • ...and any other things you feel are important


It's important to ask what the average student driver made. Pay per mile and average number of miles per week are fine, but your miles per week will most likely vary. It is better to know what the average student driver made.

Call the companies on your list. Be persistent and patient. Getting through to somebody can take some time and repeated phone calls. One recruiter told me that they have thousands of applications and almost as many phone calls. They have to weed through all of these to get to yours. It takes time. Remember to have your questions written down. This will let you get the most information in the least amount of time. Your recruiter will take a liking to you for this. Also remember that the recruiter has two main jobs; to give you information and to sell you their company. Yes, recruiters are salespeople. As with all salespersons, take what they say with a grain of salt. They cannot usually make a blanket promise about training, truck assignments, or working conditions (time off, etc). If they do promise you these things remember that once you have been hired they are not your point of contact. Once hired, you will deal with your student driver manager , fleet manager , or driver manager. They go by many titles, but I prefer to use the title "Boss".

Fill out online applications for all companies you are interested in. Be honest about any driving issues and any personal background issues. The company will do a background check and they will find out anything you may be hiding. This is required by Homeland Security and the companies take this very seriously. If you lie or fail to list something, you won't get hired.

Remember, be patient and understanding. Getting frustrated because things are not going as fast or as well as you would have liked will not make things any better. In my next post I will let you know what has gone on during my orientation and initial driver training.Related Content: You can also find a number of great articles on TruckingTruth with advice on finding the right truck driving job.


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.

Fleet Manager:

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.

Driver Manager:

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.


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.

by Brett Aquila

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