CDL school or sign contract?

Discussion in 'Trucking Schools and CDL Training Forum' started by GreenHusker, Oct 18, 2019.

  1. GreenHusker

    GreenHusker Bobtail Member

    Oct 18, 2019
    Thanks in advance.

    34, single, and no kids. Want to go get my CDL, don't care if I have to go OTR. I am fairly bright, but I am just not good with people in an office sort of way.

    Have about $5000 savings.

    Have only about $600 bills a month.

    Make about $2000 a month. (Could go to part time if I needed to go to CDL school.)

    Have never driven a stick.

    Clean driving record. (No moving violations in over 10 years.) (Never had a DUI)(Had a misdemeanor drug charge almost a decade ago, but haven't smoked pot in years.)

    Have access in Nebraska to JTL school ($4500), CDDT ($4500), or Community College ($1500.)

    Is schooling really worth it or should I just enlist with a company that will provide the training and if so which would you recommend. Thanks, sorry if I broke any taboos, this is literally my first post.

    Edit: Forgot to mention, I was driving a van for like 5 years which was towing a short-trailer, brick fired oven and I was backing said oven into back yards, festivals, and over rough terrain in all kinds of weather.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2019
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  3. buddyd157

    buddyd157 Road Train Member

    May 25, 2017
    under a shade tree
    seriously, go on your own and pay for the CDL schooling, rather than to be held down by a contract.

    if you qualify for a student loan, you don;t have to start paying that back right away, i think it was at one time, 6 months after graduation, that you start paying.

    good luck
  4. snowmantrucking101

    snowmantrucking101 Medium Load Member

    Mar 8, 2017
    Go to a community college & pay for it. AVOID them contract's for company CDL school. It's usually under 2,000 for community college training. Much more 1 on 1 teaching also.
    Coffey, FlaSwampRat and GreenHusker Thank this.
  5. x1Heavy

    x1Heavy Road Train Member

    Mar 5, 2016
    White County, Arkansas
    I tell you this.

    If you have the cash money to pay the tuition then get to it. Your CDL A will be yours free and absolutely clear. Meaning any company knows they cannot bind you to a CDL Training Contract which is very close to the old 17th century indentured servitude with you being personally and immediately liable for the thousands in balance due the day they fire you for rubbing your trailer against a no post. Your first year in this industry is the most dangerous in terms of accidents risk and how easily disposible you are when and if you let them run you into the ground. (That is what the ELD is for. You know what your work day or night will be.

    You will need to learn a stick, in big rig it cannot be easier. Because you do not know stick. They will teach you to do it a certain way for every gear. My system is two numbers of the engine RPM's based on torque and horsepower. its time to change a gear up or down.

    This will avoid a automatic restriction on your CDL that all states quickly slapped on everyone not too long ago if they tested in a push button automatic truck.

    Once you get past that and settle into your first truck you might discover the joys of auto in bad traffic. Or perhaps something else. A properly tuned auto transmission is almost human with the engine's needs when it's time to shift.

    Just forget the car. You are going to be involved in something that runs America in a meaningful way even if you delivered meat to NYC and no one gives thanks to you at the dinner table that night. But you still fed NYC. (A little idealistic but some of us like to think that trucking rolls America, if you stopped the trucks we will be a third world power within a month with shortages or even breakdown in society because there is no basic supplies, food or fuel.

    You unfortunately in your time will be confronted with things that are generally not acceptable and will have to make adjustments to ensure your health to be protected etc. The so called kings of the road has died off 40 years ago more or less. But some of us out there carry that on. But many of the newbies doing it today are not exactly what would be professional trucker materials in their flip flops and so forth while unloading hazmat tanker. (Not something you will see. Just a imaginary unacceptable situation...)

    Everything else you will learn in your time.

    With all that said, you seem to be in a stable situation. Stay there. Trucking is feast and famine to those who do not carry savings. Without money they have nothing. And it literally does not matter to a company if you are no longer a employee 2000 miles from home. You will find that you will be economically damaged through DAC etc. (Abandonment etc) so you have been warned in that way.

    Our Community College has a big truck program and there were times Ive given the trainee in that truck certain scenarios in my own big rig passing. And found them to be really stable and good teaching. So if that is a option, thats what I would do. In my personal situation all I need is a truck, fees and permit plus a driver to and from the state grounds to get back into CDL A. Because I had it before in my lifetime. But in the beginning back in the 80's I signed uncle sam's loan for 2500 and attended weekend school for 4 months. That was quite enough to make something of this crazy industry.

    You seem to be relatively young. Just remember at a certain point in the future your body might break down. Mine did it at he spine first followed by the eyes and several other things that accumulated.

    You will want to arrange your wishes as well. If you are killed into your first year you do not want your family to have to endure the costs and so forth of transporting your remains. One of our relatives were cremated in Alaska because he was found decomposed in the hall three weeks after his last phone call with us. I went to the post office to collect his remains in a small custom priority mail box stamped human remains. Thats not something you forget.

    Once you have all that taken care of then you can just drive. Build your savings with every load regardless of how big or little. In 10 years or more you will be at that time into the future will not only be able to pick a place anywhere you want to live and build your home for retirement etc. And a little something besides when it's time to put up that big truck for good.

    Just remember, St Peter has many truckers but he has not yet gotten a Dispatcher yet. So those truckers will have to wait a while. You can wait here for loads or you can wait up there either way. /tease... That will be your biggest challenge. Communications with your company will make or break you. If you mistreat them, they will give you rope to hang yourself. If you are good to them you might find oppertunities come to you in form of gifts. One for us was McKesson. Our dispatcher had us on that account one day and that was a life changer. (Long story...)

    Do not allow the recruiters to BS you or dazzle you. It's their job to harvest the fresh meat every week from trucking schools before the newbies have a chance to learn anything good or bad. The old wise drivers are more difficult for them in many ways. And finally one more thing. .34 a mile is top pay 40 years ago and can be considered starvation wages today. You don't want to be in debt at all and need to have savings for those weeks in which there isnt any freight. Winter is coming with the holiday slowdowns plus the usual bad weather etc.

    It's not for everyone. But I like to think today's trucks have gotten pretty nice with the APU's and so on. But at the same time companies have managed to crush some of them to limits like 61 mph or slower in a 75 mph state. Its not good. Big trucks need to run. And they should. But they are routinely casterated because companies need a large fortune to make a small one trying to save on costs.
  6. Sinister310

    Sinister310 Light Load Member

    Oct 18, 2019
    Los Angeles
    I paid for my advise I can give you is to find one that does their own testing ( The road and backing skills portion) It makes life so much easier if you fail the 1st time
    Selva, GreenHusker and Coffey Thank this.
  7. tscottme

    tscottme Road Train Member

    Jul 25, 2008
    Nashville, TN
    Find the company you want to work for and remember you are choosing the company that decides what kind of freight you haul, what traffic lanes you drive, the pay & benefits, plus the time off you will be volunteering to experience for the next 12 months. You will not change the atmosphere or any of the above once you get to that company. Deciding which company to work for is, IMO, the biggest decision you will make in trucking. Make sure you contact any company and insist they put some of their drivers in contact with you. You need their description of work life before you can make a decision. You cannot decide by reading web pages or reading job ads. EVERY company will claim you will make above average pay and have GREAT home time. That's impossible, and they know it, but they also know your hope is more important than any words they put in their ads.

    After you have decided which company is most likely to work best for YOU, find out how they get new drivers. Some companies have their own school or provide "free training". Some companies hire from certain CDL schools. Some companies hire newbies from any reputable school. About half of trucking companies that hire newbies offer Tuition Reimbursement, a fixed amount per week/month they pay you in addition to the wages you earn. Some of the companies with TR only offer TR if you have a school loan, some will pay you TR if you paid for school with your own cash. Ask first before you assume you will get TR.

    Community College type schools are almost always a longer and more thorough CDL training. But, they also may have a long waiting period or be much more expensive. In reality, the CDL school is only meant to give you the skills to pass your state tests. It takes weeks and months of daily hand-on experience with trucks to even approach knowing enough to work on your own. This is almost always taught by the first company that hires you and the trainer you will share a truck with for maybe 2 months before you get your own assigned truck. IMO, as long as you have a trucking company employer picked, any school they accept is just as good as any other school. Your school's benefit goes away the day you have your CDL.

    Since most newbies terribly underestimate how imprtant the amount of home time will mean to their future happiness, don't assume your only way into the industry is working for companies that only get you home every few months. Depending on where you live and your pay/benefits/home time requirements it may be possible to start in trucking and have a job where you sleep at home every day or never stay away from home more than 1 week. Every company will let you stay away from home longer, but you are not going to talk a trucking company that keeps drivers gone for a month or more into letting you get home every couple of days. Pick your company wisely.

    Since you can already back what must be a very difficult combination like small truck and small trailer, backing should not be much trouble. For most people they all have difficulty mostly with back and moderately with shifting gears, if your school isn't automatic trucks only. While it's nice if the school has manual trucks and you test in a manual, autos have all but taken over the industry. IMO you won't miss very much if you get the license that only allows you to drive automatics. Yes some jobs will require it, and it's a PITA to remove the license restriction later compared to learning it from the start. 80-90% of new drivers may never shift a manual truck. I don't think I would pay much money to avoid having the auto restriction on my license unless you have future plans to work where manuals are required. The dirty secret is about 90% of newbies quit trucking by the end of their first year. Shifting or not shifting has NOTHING to do with that. IMO, new drivers that are young have been coddled and led by the hand and have a lot less independent thinking skills and grit because parents and school have catered to them. This industry does a lot of throwing newbies to the wolves and being happy anyone sticks around. That's why you MUST talk to drivers at any company before you make a decision about working there.

    Under no circumstances consider working for CR England. Under no circumstances consider leasing a truck as a way to enter the industry. You want to be a company driver (W-2 employee) for a company that pays for the truck expenses and pays you a wage and gives benefits. You can always make a "million dollars" after you learn this job or whether you want to stay in the industry. You WILL fail if you try to become a lease driver or owner-operator before you even know what it's like to drive a truck in a strange city.
  8. Chinatown

    Chinatown Road Train Member

    Aug 28, 2011
    Henderson, NV & Orient
    The $1500.00 community college program is the best deal. That's really cheap as most community college programs are and usually very high quality.
    We can give you a list of companies that will hire from there.
    Here's a couple of trucking company cdl schools if you choose that route:
    Jim Palmer Trucking
    Wilson Logistics
  9. Chinatown

    Chinatown Road Train Member

    Aug 28, 2011
    Henderson, NV & Orient
    Don't mention the misdemeanor drug charge unless specifically asked. The question may ask if you've been arrested or convicted within the last XYZ years, which may not encompass the time of the drug charge. If asked though, be truthful; a 10 year old charge is not important.
    Either way, plenty of companies will hire you.
    Magnum Ltd. is a good one that hires new cdl grads. Drivers there can "take home" over a thousand a week or more.
  10. Chinatown

    Chinatown Road Train Member

    Aug 28, 2011
    Henderson, NV & Orient
    Which city/town are you near in Nebraska?
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  11. Chinatown

    Chinatown Road Train Member

    Aug 28, 2011
    Henderson, NV & Orient
    Romans Motor Freight - nice trucks, but don't know how good the weekly pay is.
    We are now able to add recent driving school graduates to our fold with our newly formed ‘Driver Finishing Training’. If you’re interested in learning more, please contact our recruiters.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2019
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