The Top Three National Truck Driving Schools

    The truck driving school that you choose to attend could have a tremendous impact on your future career.  While there are numerous truck driving schools to choose from, they are not created equal – and failure to get your certification from a good school could make it hard for you to get hired.

    Things to consider when selecting a school

    There are certain things that will make a good truck driving school stand out from a mediocre one.  Some things to look for include:

    • Accreditation – a good school will have sought out accreditation by an agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education
    • Certification – meets or exceeds the Professional Truck Driver Institute standard, including a least 44 hours of actual drive time
    • Cost – consider the cost of the school in relation to the number of hours behind the wheel, and look for hidden fees that may not be included, such as obtaining a permit, drug screening, insurance, and more
    • Drive time – you should have at least 44 hours of actual driving time, not including observation time
    • Equipment – well-maintained recent model tractors and trailers, including weighted trailers (because pulling empty trailers isn’t good practice)
    • Facilities – clean classrooms with audio-visual capabilities, a library, and a practice driving range
    • Financing – reputable schools will have financing options
    • Instructors – teaching staff should have at least three years of driving experience, as well as educational experience
    • Placement assistance – while no school can guarantee you a job, they can provide you with assistance in finding one after graduation
    • Program length – a good truck driving school will be at least 3 weeks long to provide you with adequate drive time
    • Student to truck ratio – the best schools will place just one student per truck, giving you individualized attention

    Driving schools to consider

    The two truck driver training companies that operate locations across the country are Sage Truck Driving Schools and Roadmaster Drivers Schools.

    SAGE has been providing CDL training and testing since 1989.  All of SAGE’s truck driving schools offer one-on-one driving with no more than one student per truck.  This kind of private driving instruction offers students maximum hands-on driving time and no distractions.  The programs are 150-160 hours and take 4 to 6 weeks depending on the number of students.  SAGE focuses a lot of time on driving, with the PTDI program offering at least 44 hours of time actually operating the truck.  About half of SAGE’s schools are partnerships with community college, and the other half are free standing SAGE-operated schools.
    One critical difference between SAGE and most other schools is that SAGE schools do not include “observation time” in the training.  Most schools place 3-4 students in a truck at a time and rotate drivers into the driver’s seat.  Observation time means that the student will spend 6 to 8 hours in the truck, but will only drive for about 2 hours.  However, schools that provide observation hours in the program typically advertise all time the student is just observing as “behind the wheel time.”
    Observation time has some significant drawbacks, including (1) it can mislead students regarding the actual driving hours included in the program, (2) sitting and watching for several hours causes fatigue, (3) students talking, joking, commenting can create distractions, (4) causing stress for the driver, (5) taking the instructor’s attention away from the driver, etc.
    SAGE schools have been accredited nationally and programs have been certified by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI).  PTDI is the only national trucking industry school certification entity, and only about 5% of all school have been certified.
    Christopher Thropp
    Vice President
    The SAGE Corporation

    Roadmaster Driver Schools don’t meet all the criteria for a “Good” truck driving school, but they’re a lot better than most, the quality is consistent, and they have a bunch of locations around the country. An upside to all the marketing they do is that everyone in the industry knows their name, so even if the training isn’t the absolute best, at least no one will turn you down because they don’t recognize your school.

    If there isn’t a Sage or Roadmaster near you or you can’t afford their training, look at other training programs in your region and compare their offerings against our list of “things to consider when selecting a school.” Regional and local schools can be just as good or better than national schools, but there is a wide variation in the quality and price, so do your research and make sure they meet your criteria.



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    { 74 comments… read them below or add one }

    Long Hauler November 27, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Although some schools are better then others there is one thing that is most important. It is that most good company’s want at least one year experiences so even if the school gets you a job that dose not pay well you should still go to that school because any job is better then none, you can always use the bad job as a stepping stone to get the better job. I went to the Smith and Soloman school for one reason. They had a night class and I did not have to quit my job. I was able to keep working while going to school and my driving record was not that great and they still helped me get a O T R driving job.

    Reply

    Karl June 24, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Hi. When you said that you went to school at night, how long did it take? How many nights per week etc? How much doe smith & Solomon charge for tuition?

    Reply

    Russ December 20, 2009 at 10:45 am

    I have to agree with Doug on 99% of what he said because I wasn’t always late. Although, the last company that I worked for accused me of being late to a delivery. Any delivery that I would have been late for I knew before pick up that the load would be late. I did get porked by a broker and my dispatcher on those however, the company never said a thing while I was employed by them about one single delivery. They accused me of a late delivery when I attempted to file unemployment. So, with that said, Doug is right about what he said. Not all truck drivers are out of shape but, many of them do have serious health issues. Companies don’t like to get you home if you have a health issue. Or try telling them that one of your elderly parents are in the hospital. I wouldn’t say that the trucking industry is family friendly. Comany recruiters will paint a pretty picture of everything. On the other hand some will be up front with you and tell you that it is demanding, which it is. Right now I am experiencing a health issue and I am deadheading home, having to eat the fuel to make an appointment. Luckily, I am driving a cargo van. I gave up driving a class A truck, at least for awhile. I am actually considering getting out of trucking altogether. I am tired of seeing truckers go down icy roads at 65 mph or tailgate at 65 mph. I am tired of truckers urinating in a parking lot…I had one stop right in front of my truck at a truck stop and pee in front of my truck with me sitting there watching him. I should have given him a blast of the airhorn. Many truck drivers are good people though. There has been a couple of times that I was going to pay for a shower and they offered me their shower points. Sometimes the bad apples ruin the bunch though. It’s sad. I have even seen a bag of feces left out in a parking lot at truck stop. Many trucking companies will lie about the students learning to drive in their schools so that they can scam them out of thousands of dollars. It happened to a friend of mine who tried out Schnieder. They let him go the last couple of days of training and sent him bill for training. My friend finished trucking school elsewhere and is driving to this day for the first company he applied at three years later. Schnieder and many other companies are run by dirtbag liars. You have to be real careful. I was terminated from a company for making errors on my logs. Now, I can see being fired for falsification however, not an honest to goodness error. By the way, I was never cited for logging errors and the company official that fired me knew I didn’t cheat on my logs. l could write a book in the two years that I have been truck driving. The best gig that I have had driving was delivering propane for Amerigas. I had an excellent boss and I was home every night. I am very disappointed with this career because it seems that companies just think you can live weeks and weeks out on the road under any condition. States have stupid idle laws and they expect you to roast or freeze in a damned truck too. Well, there are a few examples as to why you may want to reconsider taking up this profession.

    Happy trails.

    Reply

    Gary December 30, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Truck driving is not a 9 to 5 job.. it is a life style.. you either love it or hate it.. its pretty simple..really..
    your not home very much.. fact.. company wants to make money..fact.. .the dispatcher needs to be your friend..no matter how much you hate him/her…fact… allot of.drivers with only a couple years under their belt are the ones that whine… an cry because they really didnt know what being a OTR driver was like.. an dont enjoy the life style.. remember..its not a job.. it is a life..that will pay good ..for doing something you love .. if you have a family with young kids…or just need to stay close to home.. OTR is not for you ..period..I know I will get flamed for this.. but the truth is hard to swallow sometimes..

    Reply

    betty boop 44 January 16, 2010 at 2:24 am

    Well I have no family with young children or a husband that Ihave to be homet to everynight so I think OTR would be perfect for me. I have lived in a 5 th wheel travel trailer, I know it is not the same, but I do believe this will be the right choice for me.

    Reply

    uncle frank 55 February 3, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    I am retiring from a firefighting career after 30 years. I have had a desire to be an over the road trucker since I was very young. Now my kids are grown and my wife has her own career (registered nurse) and I believe it’s my time to become a trucker. I have driven tractor-trailer units in the past for a concrete block producer delivering products to different locations and the experience has always kept my interest in trucking. I hope to be on the road in the next few months.

    Reply

    Gary January 17, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Betty Boop you sound like the perfect person the get into the business.. ..it takes a special type of person.. good luck..an maybe we will see you out there :)

    Reply

    armando March 12, 2010 at 3:24 am

    I agree with gary, you either love this job or you hate it. I was a driver for 3 1/2 years, I’ve been working as an owner operator for about a year and 5 months now and it pays off good and the most im¥ out of home is 2 or 3 days per week. I am 24 years old and I ve been around big rigs all my life let me tell you the best school you get is hands on. Not in books or in a classroom you have to drive and experience traffic rainy conditions otr experience something that you won’t get at truck driving dchools. My dad, a trucker that has been driving for about 25 years was my teacher.
    When driving you need to have a lot of comon sence you need someone with more experience telling you what you should and shouldn’t do becuase in this job you never stop learning every day is something new there is no such thing as a “PROFECCIONAL driver” because there is always some thing that you know about this profecion that someone else does, a trucker with that has over 20 years otr told me this. Blessings to every one and a safe trip .

    Reply

    Joe November 9, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    For CDL A training, my suggestion is to look at private, vocational school or community college programs that meet criteria for tuition assistance from organizations similar to “career link” as such tuition reimbursement organizations limit their funding to schools meeting specific criteria. My personal experience, I give Luzerne County Community College located in Nanticoke, PA a thumbs up for their program. Visit their new training facility to see for yourself.

    Reply

    Laura February 23, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    I was wanting to go into truck driving, love to drive and be on the road. Started a course at LIT located in Beaumont Texas. Went through a 2 week classroom and was the only one who passed. I quit when I began the driving portion. These people are not teachers, only old has been truck drivers. The classes I paid for were scheduled for 7am to 3pm. Mon-Fri. We went 7am to 11am Mon-Fri. Driving portion was nothing but yelling and screaming at me and was told they did not have time to answer my questions. I would not recommend this school to anyone!

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    Ron October 14, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Another trucking school to stay away from is West Michigan CDL located in Wyoming,Michigan. It cost about 5 Grand last I knew to go there. The large trucking companies I checked into will only reimburse you for only 2 Grand for the schooling. your allready 3 Grand in the hole before you even start ! Not only that…the trucking companies that hire you have it set up that you have to “sign-up” to drive for them for at least 2 to 3 years,and they will pay you low wages…so you’ll never get ahead. That’s a scam used my the trucking schools,and the companies working together to make a profit at your expense. I owned my own truck as an owner/operator for 38yrs.so I could be my own boss. I learned from the old time truckers,not some truck driving school. ABC…”Always Be Covered”. Don’t let some cop,trucking school,or trucking company get into your paycheck. The big companies have taken away the truckers ability to make their own lifetime decisions. We need the independant trucker back into the system,then the big companies won’t be able to “run the show” for thier own profit.Campanies need to use the independant trucker more often,rather than wait for a big companies to find a truck that is close for the pick-up. Use a local driver in your own home town.

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    jim February 2, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    I agree. I would also like to add that they will tell you anything to get you out there and once there, even though you’re 800 miles from home if they decide to cut you loose for whatever bullshit reason they can come up with, you are on your own! It could be 10 degrees outside and all you have is you duffle bag and a couple dollars and they’ll give you a ride to the bus station. How you get the money for your ride home is not their concern. They are a money mill of sorts. They say they’ll pay your tuition if you work for them for 9 months and if you leave school after the first week you pay $999, after the second week you owe $1999 and after the entire 16 course you owe $2999! They want you to pay $200 a month at 18 percent interest. They are criminal in my opinion. Check it out THOROUGHLY and get ALL communications in an EMAIL so you can have proof if you have to go to court to get out of paying the fees. Ask LOTS OF QUESTIONS and expect to live like a homeless person with a truck and eat LOTS AND LOTS of Cup O Noodles!!

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    willie February 3, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    i would have to agree with you jim,doug and russ. i went to a local driving school here in sc and the only thing they really did for me was teach me what i needed to know to pass the test at the DMV. very little behind the wheel training. all i know now is self taught and i have been driving for three years now. if you are able to find a local company that will give you a shot then that is the way to go if you are set on driving a truck. that way you are home every nite and dont have to be out on the road that is what i did and like it so much better then OTR werner done me in. they hiried me in to run the south east and when i got out of orientation they put me in a truck running from Florida to California and back. that lasted one month and as soon as i was able to get out of that truck i handed them there keys.

    Reply

    Mark March 13, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    SAGE IS A HORRIBLE CHOICE FOR A TRUCK DRIVING SCHOOL!
    YOUR BETTER THAN THAT.

    Sage truck Driving School breaks federal regulations,? feed answers at test time, and terminate students with a small learning curve with no refund!

    Sage is honestly one of the worst places you can go to if you want to drive a truck. I went to school here and I can truthfully tell you that every single one in the class, all 11 of us, were in some way or another quite frustrated with Sage. I am still really good friends with most of the class and we all still joke about how pathetic it was.

    Sage Technical Schools have a 100% passing rate. Me and my classmates soon understood how they are able to do this. They kicked out several students who were having just a little learning curve, and I truly mean LITTLE. They werent much far behind me and would have passed but Sage kicked them out in halfway through the coarse and didnt return any of their money.

    Truth is, Sage is a racket. If you dont believe me then just do the research yourself. They were on the news in Washington for doing just this. Just one example is Laurie Thomas, who went public on the evening news with how Sage took her money and kicked her aside. She is just one of more then 30 people I have read about and spoken with.

    Should there be a class action lawsuit? There are too many people to speak of who are disappointed with Sage and who all deserve compensation.

    Reply

    Samuel Barradas March 13, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    What location was this? I’ve mostly heard good things about Sage, but if one of the schools is being run badly then you should let future students know so they can avoid it.

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    arron June 23, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    I go to Sage and it is awesome I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about but it’s one of the best schools I’ve ever heard of, it’s an expensive and the instructors give you a lot of one on one time and there are people in my class that weren’t the smartest, but they’ve worked with everyone, and the only way to get kicked out of sage is to Piss hot
    so get your facts straight before you start bashing a good school.

    Reply

    Samuel Barradas June 23, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Woah, let’s take a step back, there’s no need to attack each other. Mark reporting a bad experience and you reporting a good experience doesn’t mean one of you has your facts wrong, it just shows how thousands of students across dozens of schools aren’t going to have the exact same quality of training. Some schools are only affiliated with Sage, not directly run by Sage. Though they have a strong reputation overall, quality can differ from location to location.

    Reply

    John March 15, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Thanks Doug,

    I am a 57 yr. old Marine Corp vet trying to use this vrap benifit, but like a lot of guys I always thought trucking would be a cool way to make some good money and be on the road, with my
    dog or girl or even a girl dog…what ever. But somehow I just had a feeling it was a little overrated. Thanks for the heads-up Doug..Happy St. Pattys day

    John B.

    Reply

    Sean April 15, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    What kind of salary am i looking at approximately lets say after 5 years of trucking, Long haul. im looking at schools right now because i really feel its a good fit for me just want to know that if i put in my time im going to make good money eventually. thanks

    Reply

    Steve April 17, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Hi, I’m a retired WWTP Superintendent the kids are grown my wife is to young to retire she loves being a School teacher and I’ve been retired for several years. I have plans on us running our own truck at some point, I would like to do some OTR driving to learn the ends and outs of the business. I pulled a set of tankers 25years ago so I need to go through a driving school to catch up. I’m just not sure of the one to choose. Being gone is no problem we have a solid marriage so living Ina truck for a year is not something I can’t handle. I would like to make the money to buy a tractor of my own. I just need some advice as to the best school in the CA area.
    Thanks for your help ahead of time.
    Steve

    Reply

    Jesse April 17, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    Can someone tell me anything about the driving school that’s located in Charlotte NC. It’s called Trans – Tech Truck Driving School. the cost is $2875.00 for 4 to 6 weeks. Information would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply

    tigerdad May 10, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    i attended charlotte truck driver training school on hovis road. they basically teach you to pass the test to attain your cdl. am currently working with epes 3 weeks into my 6 week training period and this is where the real training has come in. but, you need your cdl to get to this point. good luck.

    Reply

    Jim Bishop April 22, 2014 at 9:35 am

    Jessie, what was your outcome from your inquiry?

    Reply

    james lang May 1, 2013 at 11:14 am

    I have to disagree with this article about the two cdl training schools you have picked as the best . I’m retired from the exec. end of the trucking industry for over 33 years. Those two schools are different in a lot of ways. Sage is a company that leans on community college’s for the purpose of using the school’s financial aid program for there students. The problem with Sage ,is that they dont really employ all there people. Remember I know all about these schools and what they offer. Sage is very poor training center for employment. Roadmaster is not as good as they make themselves out to be. First off they are in bed with Werner Int. Roadmaster does not have a real student loan system even though they tell people they do. They will always ask for $2500.00 to $3000.00 down and bring you into school under what is called an open start. Open starts are letting people start school ,but ost are pulled out of school the second week and told there loan didn’t go trough and they are out the door. They will also tell you that the only company that hired you is the company they are in bed with. This means you are put to work ,but not by the company you would have chosen. When you get to that company ,you will have to sign a contract with that comapnay and they will send 2 to 3 cents out of every mile you drive to pay back to Roadmaster that you did not pay them for.

    The best cdl training school in the US is CDI/TDI which has 12 locations nationwide. They do employment and you have to prove to them you can be hired before you start training with them. If you attend one of there schools you will have 5 to 8 job offers a week before you graduate and you get to pick your own company and no one signs contracts to work for anyone period. They offer a student loan through SFS (student Loan Financing ) which has been doing business with them for over 15 years. Fact is SFS wont write loans for any other cdl training school in the US but CDI/TDI . The first thing they do for there people is to verify employment before they bring them into training or offer them a loan. They are the best of the best if your looking for a cdl training school…..James Lang

    Reply

    Tim May 12, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Sorry James…TDI will rope you into their school and charge you plenty to do it and if you cant get a co-sign you are out…they did that to me after one week of hard class work…also their instructors are rude and don’t really care about you they just want to teach class get out and go fisihing

    Reply

    Jonathan July 15, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    I will agree with James. I had a good experience with TDI Oxford Al, the teachers were very professional and went out of there way to answer questions in the class room, the driving rang and with driving directions and techniques during the road phase of the class. They had about 25 too 30 different recruiters come through with no obligations to any of them I had 15 job offers by the time I graduated and about another 10 after graduation with my cdl. The VA paid for 70% of the tuition and I paid the balance of the loan back to SFS with a $900 knocked for paying it back early. Thanks Master Chief I hope all is well with you.

    Reply

    Redrival May 2, 2013 at 12:13 am

    I just had meeting at PDI (Professional Driver Institute) Rochester, NY. Had to give $100 registration fee to get the ball rolling. I was told they are Affiliated with government agencies that offer grants therefore that would help me pay $5595 tuitions plus I will have to pay for CDL fees, medical screening, and for permit, road test,and license cost. I have been trying to find any kind of reviews or comments about this Institute and can’t seem to find anything besides the website they made. They are not affiliated with the BBB so that made me wonder? I have an 18, 20, and 22 year old daughters and my husband keeps getting laid off. I need a good paying job with good benefits. I already spent too much money on my Associates to have to pay for another school that will get me no where like the first.

    Reply

    Devon May 2, 2013 at 12:24 am

    How about CR England in Dallas? I’m supposed to start there in two weeks. I work at a truck stop as a cashier now, but am looking for a long haul career where I can see the US.

    Reply

    Kathy July 9, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    I am thinking about signing on at CR England. Devon, please let me know how things are going with that company. I have another company in the town next to me that trains, USA Trucking. Does anyone have any comments on that company as far as training and working.

    Reply

    Xander February 5, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Hi Devon and Kathy! Just my opinion but from what I have heard from many, many in the industry CR England is a good Training School but not a long time employment. Get experience till your contract expires in 9mo to year and go somewhere else. Kathy, Stay away from USA and Prime. They are the worse in training and respect. There are lots of Trucking Training Co. but Stevens, Prime, Swift USA you want to stay away from. Just my thoughts. Happy Trucking.

    Reply

    Eric April 10, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    I’m at Prime right now and they seem great. I had a problem with the Missouri DMV not taking my Maryland birth certificate so I need to go back to Maryland now to get my license, but that is no fault of Prime’s. Their equipment is all top-notch and the staff has been very friendly. They have a simulation room with five full size tractor-trailer simulators and about a hundred computers for doing online training and CDL practice tests and studying. The hotel has been accommodating and the Prime shuttle will just about take you anywhere in town. They’ll pay you $200 a week for food once you start training one-on-one with an instructor driver until you get your license. The Prime drivers I’ve seen here all seem happy and not miserable, so that must be a good sign lol. I still plan to come back to Prime after I get my license from a local school in Maryland.

    I have heard, also, that CR England is an awful company to work for, as well as CRST, but I’ve never been there, so that could just be hearsay.

    Reply

    Dan May 23, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    Eric, I’m in Md as well, would you let me know which school you end up at and if you would suggest it. Btw Prime should have known that Md CDL laws changed this year making it very hard to get your license outside of the state (or so I have been told by several recruiters from different companies). From what I’ve been able to dig up Roehl is a decent place to start off a career. They also have a school (limited to residents of set states only w/ Md not being one unfortunately) seems to have mixed reviews, as most schools seem to, but I saw more positive than negative reviews on the blogs here.

    potential trucker May 13, 2013 at 12:35 am

    Does anyone have any opinions or feedback on Fox Valley Technical colleges CDL truck driver training program in Appleton WI? Thanks….

    Reply

    Jim Harvey July 3, 2013 at 8:13 am

    Excellent program. Their program is used extensively in J. J. Keller training videos for truck driver training. Their lead instructor is an executive member of the National Association for Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools.

    Reply

    Luisa Nims May 15, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Hi Samuel,
    May I use the ‘checklist’ in this article for an upcoming issue on the trainee crisis? I am working with a few drivers to put together an advocacy type issue for new trainees. I will of course link back to The Truckers Report, give you full credit, etc.

    Kind Regards,

    Luisa Nims

    Reply

    Samuel Barradas May 15, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    Sure thing, Luisa.

    Reply

    Rich635mustang June 28, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    Any recommendations for a CDL training school near or in South Jersey, Philadelphia, or Delaware?

    Reply

    badbob1 December 2, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Im looking into getting into trucking and Ive been trying to research schools, listening to opinions so I can make an informed decision about a school. Let me tell you Ive read nothing but horror stories about all of them. I live in Southeast Ks. and one of the schools Ive checked into is Driver Solutions in Springfield, Mo. partnered with or in bed with, not sure which, PAM. Could someone please tell me something, anything from personal experience about Driver Solutions, C1 or PAM so I can make an informed decision. Thanks

    Reply

    Jim Harvey July 3, 2013 at 8:07 am

    “Roadmaster Driver Schools don’t meet all the criteria for a “Good” truck driving school…”? Do they meet ANY of them? Lets see…

    1. They herd you in, telling you not to worry about the cost assuring you a student loan even though you tell them your credit sucks, then, after 2 weeks tell you “your financing didn’t go through”, offering you financing through their own financing company (Career Path Training owns Roadmaster and Pathfinder) at an insanely high interest rate and requiring an additional down payment. Don’t want that? Ok…go home. You’re done. Oh yeah…and you will be getting an accelerated pro-rated bill for the training you received.

    2. The student to instructor ratio is ridiculously high, often with only one instructor on the “skills pad” with a whole class of 20+ students fighting for behind the wheel time in the 4 or 5 trucks they have out there. On the road, 1 instructor to 4 students that get a total of 5 hours a day for road training. This equates to about 35 – 45 minutes per student (long breaks between students). Scheduling (instructor or equipment related) sometimes does not allow students to get road training every day. So a student is lucky to graduate with as much as 8 hours of actual on the road behind the wheel time. The school allows that you get an additional “hour” of BTW time each day while training on the skills pad to make it sound better. At an average of 30 mph (generous), that might have you up to about 200 -250 miles of driving before you take your CDL test.

    3. The equipment is horrible and not up-to-date. 7-8 year old tractors with 600,000 to 800,000 miles on them that have been “ridden hard” in their previous fleet lives then beaten to death by student drivers before you. Often, air conditioners that do not work (enjoy THAT on a hot Florida/Oklahoma/California day). 48′ trailers (do they even use those anymore in the industry?) with no ABS (too old to require them) on the “skills pad” with brakes disconnected and tires singled out. Road trailers that are never loaded (don’t want the students to hit anything with weight on their unit, plus, it saves on the clutches and drive train maintenance) and with so much rot and rust on them that the tail lights are about ready to hang by the wires and doors about ready to fall off the hinges.

    4. Classroom time consists almost entirely of CBT (Computer Based Training) where you are parked in front of an ancient computer that may or may not work without freezing, and required to endure “E-Tread” lessons that, although are quite comprehensive, are usually rushed through with the sole goal being to get them done with little to no retention of the material. Usually, the “instructor” only proctors the class to make sure everyone stays there. Actual “instruction” by the instructor is discouraged by corporate policy to ensure uniformity between training sites.

    5. Tuition is insanely expensive, which is justified to the student by telling them that most trucking companies pay “tuition reimbursement”. What they DON’T tell the student is that only the FIRST company that you go to work for MAY offer this at the rate of $100 a month for each month that you work for them. If that company (usually Werner Enterprises) doesn’t work out for you and you move on to another company, you get nada from company 2. A $7500 student loan financed at 23% interest reimbursed at $100 a month…hmmmm…doesn’t even pay the interest! Oh yeah… and lets not forget what happens if you “loan application” doesn’t get accepted and you go home after 2 weeks. You will get a bill for 75% or more of the total tuition, which, if not paid, will be turned over to collections and will trash any efforts you may be making to re-establish your admitted poor credit that you divulged when the recruiter roped you in for an interview and had you sign the training agreement that cryptically explained that you were obligated for the tuition whether or not your financing was approved.

    Folks…save your money! If you really wish to become a truck driver, look into a local community college that has a program. It is about 1/3 to 1/2 the cost. They are usually 6-8 weeks/320 hours long (as opposed to 160 – more training to the dollar). The classes are much smaller. Equipment is better maintained. Facilities are more modern and technology current. Sure…it’s 6-8 weeks of training, but you are learning to operate an 80,000-pound vehicle on the highway. Isn’t it a better idea to learn it well, than to simply learn enough to (maybe) pass the basic state requirements to get a CDL?

    Reply

    Garry September 5, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    You just saved me from getting screwed. Thanks Jim!!

    Reply

    eric December 12, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    thank you for the information… I have been considering multiple “truck driving schools” for months now and after reading all of the above reviews – it seems yours is the best of all

    Reply

    Jason June 22, 2014 at 8:12 am

    First off I am employed as a trainer at roadmaster, just want that out there, equipment can’t be more than 5 years old and corporate doesn’t allow more than 4/1 student teacher ratio on skills pad or in road trucks, and the main point you .eft out is you can back 10 hrs a day and learn nothing, it’s the quality of instructor that makes the difference, we actually teach people to back a trailer not count or use marks like a lot of schools do,( had a lot of students come from other programs with this problem). Guess we will just have to agree to disagree

    Reply

    MandarinOrange July 11, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    Who would you recommend in New Mexico? Thanks.

    Reply

    Ken Lynch July 15, 2013 at 1:14 am

    Always try your local technical college first! If the tech schools are governed by the state technical college systems you will complete with better training and usually a guarantee. We have one of the best programs in the state! Always ask question before you choose the right course for you. Ask questions like;
    What is your enrollment numbers and what is your graduate numbers?
    What is you placement rate?
    What is your licensure rate?
    How many contact hours is your program and how many of those hours are actual “behind the wheel time”?
    And finally;
    What is the cost? Don’t get hooked into a $10,000 loan to get a CDL or a contract of any sort. You are training! Here’s one thing you don’t want after signing one of those “work for me a year” deals. You don’t want to be stuck! Lets say you get into one of those contracts, That means that they can pretty much treat you how they want to treat you. Six months down the road you may be starving especially if you aren’t trained properly. If you are choosing this as a career, lay a good foundation. This will be the key to your success. Make sure your training prepares you for the industry and not just enough to get your CDL. If the school does not provide this, STAY AWAY!

    Reply

    Pattie Vandling July 16, 2013 at 3:58 am

    Anyone have anything to say about Prime in Springfield , MO?
    My application was just accepted, next to schedule orientation, but am nervous because I have read a lot of bad things on the web about them.
    Please inform me of good/bad with this company.
    Thanks!! : )

    Reply

    Eric April 10, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    So what happened with that? I’m at Prime now, but I have to go back home because of the DMV not accepting my birth certificate from Maryland. I still plan to go back to Prime after I get my license back in Maryland. So far Prime seems good, but I would like to hear some first hand accounts from someone who has done it themselves.

    Reply

    Joe July 29, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    Looking from the outside in… My wife just completed her schooling at Sage in Fort Pierce Florida. She had never been in a truck before this time. She is 5’2″ in her5 mi9d 50′s and honestly tilts the scales around 125. This was always something she wanted to do.

    First off the Pro’s- The staff is amazing! They are so dedicated and supportive to their students it’s almost unreal. The cost is around $5,000 and when they tell you that in 4 – 6 weeks you’ll be finished, you wonder if you’re going to get ripped off. Nope, as long as YOU take the instructors, bookwork and time in the cab with dead seriousness, you will walk out completely able to pass the DOT skills exam. The treated her like anyone else and expected her to dig deep to be her best.

    Cons- few. Instructors need to be reminded not to ride on the running board to give instructions, a female driver is shorter and it blocks their mirror. I would also advise this and every company that 44 hours is the DOT’s MINIMUM time spent behind a wheel, I’d increase it by 8 hours to instill extra confidence in the new driver. She felt too much time was in redundant classwork which could be transferred to the driving time.

    I highly recommend this school! (husband of a newly licensed happy CDL-A driver!)

    Reply

    Jose April 10, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Thanks bud you just clear doubts about the school, I`m retired on about mth 1/2, and looking to OTR experience of 1 to 2 yrs to be honest. It`s very disappointed heard all this story about schools, I guess what`s matter is you will to work and strive to do you best according to you abilities and of course God always first. Again thank you Joe to clear the path for this school, God bless both in you careers.

    Reply

    Bob August 5, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    I am considering attending school at Interstate Trucking out of St. Paul Minnesota, I would like to get some feedback on this school. I also am wondering if if any schools someone might recommend in this area.

    Reply

    David Stahl August 6, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    I am in the process of setting up a new truck driving school in Tangent, Or. I really like reading all the feedback I am reading on here. I am following the PTDI guidelines for setting up the school, I have over 35 years OTR experience and at the moment have a small trucking company that I have been operating since 1995, any feedback from prior students or trucking companies looking to hire new drivers will be appreciated. what are new students lacking? Other than experience. Good luck to all of you on here and don’t get suckered into the lease purchase plan from some of the companies out there. Some have an excellent lease purchase plan but, most don’t. Get a minimum of 5 years behind you before you even think about purchasing a truck. Prosper in your career and be safe. David Stahl

    Reply

    chall August 14, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Anybody ever had experience with Truck driving schools in or around Sacramento, Calif.
    Thanks

    Reply

    HLeeming August 30, 2013 at 10:39 am

    If you are smart you will stay away from this industry. You get treated like garbage, by both carriers and customers, there is no money in it. You chance your life everyday on the road, having people cutting you off and then applying their brakes. You give away more time then you get payed for. You are constantly lied to by employees of carriers. If you refuse to pull a load you will be reprimanded, usually means you get no miles and left sitting, no miles no money. Pushed over hours, because if you don’t do someone else will, If you get caught the carriers will deny it. It is a head game. So unless you can find a good carrier, you are screwed. They are far and few between. And if you go owner operator, you have no labour laws protecting you, if you get into an accident and get caught driving over hours, the carrier you are driving for will throw you under the bus.

    Reply

    Miranda September 2, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    What about Central ReRefrigeratoed’s ? Also known as TDA?
    I have been around trucks all my life because of my family and now that everyone
    Has passed away I can’t ask questions about it all. I would like to
    Get on my feet and drive like my dad did for over 50 years but Im not
    Sure what path in the trucking business to go. I have studied hard for my CDL and every
    Endorsement I can get and Im ready to get the CDL and start driving.
    Any information about this company would be helpful.
    Thank you!
    Miranda Stovall.

    Reply

    Miranda September 2, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    Sorry about the wording and spelling lol Im using a cell phone
    And it love’s to add word’s. It’s Central Refrigerated Services. TDA. Sorry
    About that.
    Thanks once more
    Miranda Stovall.

    Reply

    Recco September 4, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    I’m looking for the right school to go to. Is Mid Florida Tec a better school than Road Master? Road Master is 3 weeks and Mid Florida Tec is 8 weeks, Roadmaster costs 6,500 Mid Florida Tec costs 2,300. I’m not sure what to do.

    Reply

    Jose April 10, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Was any good? better than Sage? How about housing?

    Reply

    BigRed October 10, 2013 at 10:28 am

    Has anyone have any experience with the training program at Truck Driving Institute in South Bend, Indiana or PAM Transport CDL Training? Any feedback or rumors would be greatly appreciated….

    Reply

    greg kerchmarick October 23, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    To me it seem like the people that have the problems either thought it would be fairly easy and found out other wise,Have families,or thought they would be home every week end.The list could go on. The bottom line as a 1st year soon to be driver I certainly don’t expect to much,but at the school where I am attending (Baker Collage of Flint, MI) they flat out tell you not to expect much your first year.Except it as a learning tool.Then move on. I may complain about how much time we spend in the class room ,but I know in the end it will serve me well.Because I choose to go through this school there is opportunities for making serious money hauling cars because I try to do my best ,pay attention and listen to what these 30 vets are saying to me . If it doesn’t work out that I can hall car then so be it. Good luck to all who can make it work.

    Reply

    john j November 19, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Anyone have any recommendations for driving schools in new england? I’ve heard Connecticut is much easier to get a CDL than Massachusetts because of different laws. I’ve also read alot of bad things about NETTTS being a ripoff. Where can i go to get good quality training and people that care? I live near worcester, MA

    Reply

    Lee December 4, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    Does anyone know anything about CRST? I am thinking about doing there training program. Only thing is you have to work for them for 8 months. I know they pay for your bus ticket to get there but I was jut wondering if anyone knew anything about them. I don’t want to make the wrong decision and be stuck.

    Reply

    deane January 5, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    well, i wanted to go to crst,, but i found out that it was a team operation, now looking into roadmasters, and $7,000 is a lot of money to sigh a contract. i am stumbled, also checked in with Prime transportation, they only want a year

    Reply

    Jazzinsky January 29, 2014 at 8:21 am

    CRST gave my college educated son a bad deal. The training driver he was with for a month would not bath and would not stop long enough for baths or meals even at truck stops. Some people can’t sleep in a moving, bumpy, swaying vehicle either. Especially if it smells bad. They will let you drive in Texas to California with a broken air conditioner too. Try that in July and August. There’s more if you want to try them. You will not be happy!

    Reply

    Jim December 20, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    It’s not easy to find the right trucking company to work for once you have completed your CDL training. However, for those companies that will hire “recent graduates” , list them down on a check list with a rating of 1 to 10 (10 being the best). Call them and ask lots of questions (expect lies from many of them) on turn over rate. Companies with less 2k/wk. However, it takes time to get used to hearing that refer unit kick on and off while your in your sleeper. I always tried to park as faraway from them as possible. Flat bed I really liked and found it more challenging and interesting than dry box or refer. In most cases you picked up a load (no waiting) strapped/chained it down to secure the load. When you got to your destination you didn’t have to wait to unload. You got plenty of miles and very little down time. The bad news is if you need to tarp the load…not easy to cover your load in wind, freezing rain and snow…you get extra pay, but not enough…also chaining down a load in bad weather can be bad news, wet and slippery is not good. Tanker’s is my personal favorite, in most cases it will require you to have a HazMat endorsement. I find Tanker drivers a special breed of drivers, that once they start driving Tankers, they never want to drive anything else. It pays the best, even for recent graduates….0.35 to 0.37/mile. NOTE: not all tanker companies will hire recent graduates. Tanker drivers average 2500 to 3000 miles/wk. With 1 to 2hr Loading and unloading within your scheduled appointment time, makes for more time on the road, not waiting at a terminal for your dock light to turn green, so you can go. The top Tanker companies do not have forced dispatching. They will give 3 to 4 options and you pick. NOTE: this is where it really pays to have a good marriage with your dispatcher. Having good equipment is without question just as important as getting paid. You don’t make money if your equipment is always breaking down and in the shop for 2 to 7 days…and your not getting paid. Make sure when you do get your assigned truck, you go over it with a fine tooth comb. The mattress is first on my check list…unless it’s still wrapped in plastic, get a new one. Make sure all the sleeper lights work and the instrument lights and Gage’s work. The driver seat is also important, with 11hrs a day behind the wheel, make sure the seat fits. Make sure side mirrors are not loose and vibrating all over the place, it will drive you nutty. No crackes in the windshield or big pits in your line of sight. If the cab is clean when you get it, it tells you the previous driver in most cases took care of his truck (check truck history). If that truck spent more time in the shop vs miles down the road…get another truck. Make sure you go through the trucks book in the side door and check that it’s authority to run interstate is up dated… DOT will nail you and not the company, this is your responsibly. Remember, this is your truck in every sense of the word, except you do not own it. Do a good, out side pre-inspection…tractor lights,trailer lights, tires, exhaust pipe, brakes,etc. DOT really likes newby drivers…so make sure your prepared.
    The above information is mainly for those recent graduate drivers who have no idea what to expect out on the road. Every driver has to pay their dues the first year, but it doesn’t have to start out on the wrong foot… Consider it a 1 year learning curve. Don’t try changing jobs until you complete 1 year. After that pick the company that best fits you! Don’t forget to ask a lot of questions about each trucking company you think you would like to work for at the end of your 1yr. There still is a lot of good trucking companies out there that take care of their drivers.
    Good luck and safe driving to all the new drivers coming on board.
    Jim

    Reply

    Jim December 20, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Sorry about some missing info that some how got deleted. So some parts may not make sense.

    Jim

    Reply

    Billy February 14, 2014 at 3:02 am

    I’m from Panama City, Florida and am considering going to truck driving school in Chipley, Florida, just north of me. The truck driving school there is offered by the Washington-Holmes Technical Center. Can anybody out there in the trucker’s world send me an email telling me if this is a good and reputable trucking school or not? Thank you.

    Reply

    Big D April 17, 2014 at 9:10 am

    DO NOT GO TO SAGE SCHOOL THEY ARE CROOKS WHO STEAL MONEY!

    Reply

    Jakes May 30, 2014 at 11:58 am

    I am seriously considering going into trucking. I have only scheduled appointment with a recruiter in Stevens to be interviewed for getting into their 17 days CDL training in their facility at Dallas.
    please does anyone have knowledge of how good is the training offered Stevens and terms of their no out of pocket sponsored CDL training?
    how long does one have to work for Stevens if eventually trained by them?

    Reply

    jefft August 13, 2014 at 8:34 am

    Sounds to me like all these schools suck. Just when you think you hear a favorable review someone else counters. It makes me real skeptical about even going into this industry.
    jefft

    Reply

    Bobby Ray August 26, 2014 at 11:52 am

    This column is a crock of sh–! I just went through a Sage school and got crammed into a tractor with two other observers on numerous occasions. Also, I didn’t get to drive nearly enough and went a week without driving before taking my CDL test. Just the facts.

    Reply

    Samuel Barradas August 26, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Hi Bobby, which Sage location did you go to? I think they’re a great option overall, but a few bad apples can spoil the whole bunch. If they have schools that aren’t living up to their claims, students should be given that information so they can avoid them. Counting ONLY the time you were behind the wheel and driving the truck, how many hours of training were you given?

    Reply

    Dan August 27, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Does anyone have experience with schools in Georgia or Alabama or with companies here who say they pay for your schooling? I’m interested in getting enough experience to go to North Dakota to work in the oil industry, possibly as a water truck driver.

    Reply

    Skip August 29, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    Hi Dan. I’m in North Dakota right now. I put myself through school in Watonsonville, CA. I came here with a job offer but the insurance company for my employer would not insure me because I do not have three years of experience. I have been here for three weeks and so far every company has told me the same thing. There is plenty of work avaliable but not driving. And the rental rates here are the highest in the US. A one bedroom apartment is at least $2000 per month. If I can’t find something in the next week I will have leave.

    Reply

    Ian September 21, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    I see you guys talking like the industry isnt family friendly. Ive been OTR for 15 years now and started with covanant transport. My father had a stroke and I was on the other side of the country. They of course tried to find me a load to take after none was found they let me come home bobtail and paid me the miles anyways. And my log book has been off a few times and Ive never been fired or even threatened instead they just say well we can sit you down and give you a refresher on log books. Several companies I know of are like this.

    Reply

    Ian September 21, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Best way to go to school is find someone near you that is backed by your home state. Going through a company school is crazy because you will be under a contract with said company and make bottom of the barrel cpm while under contract.

    Reply

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