Find your first job before going to CDL school, for best results.

Discussion in 'Trucking Schools and CDL Training Forum' started by tscottme, Jan 24, 2023.

  1. tscottme

    tscottme Road Train Member

    Jul 25, 2008
    Nashville, TN
    It doesn't make sense to me to go to CDL school and only later start looking for a job. CDL school can be as short as 2-3 weeks. Many CDL schools have to provide 160 hours of training in that time. You will not have enough time during school to do the research to find a trucking company that will match your needs. You wouldn't shop for a wedding chapel, reception hall, catering, flowers, etc. and then hope after you scheduled and paid for all of the arrangements to settle for whatever spouse you happen to find on your drive to the wedding chapel. Many trucking companies require new-hires to have attended a CDL school offering at least 160 hours of training. Attending a CDL school that offers less than 160 hours may not be a bargain, even if they charge much less money as you may severely limit the companies that can hire you. Some companies only hire newbies with more than 160 hours of training. This is one reason you need to know who you will work for before picking a CDL school.

    Some trucking companies that hire newbies have their own school and/or will pay you to complete CDL school. Why spend your money on CDL school when you could have attended free? Should you attend one of these "free" schools? Only if that trucking company is a good match for you and your needs. EVERY "free" CDL school requires you to sign a contract with the trucking company that obligates you to 12 months of work as a CDL driver or you have to repay all or part of the cost of the CDL school.

    Almost every CDL school will know of companies willing to offer a loan for school to their students. If your credit is terrible, your interest rate on that loan may be too high to accept. If your credit is average or better you may get a better loan from your bank or credit union.

    About half of the trucking companies that hire newbies will pay new students some amount of Tuition Reimbursement (TR), in addition to the wages they earn driving the truck. TR will usually be paid by a weekly or monthly amount added to your weekly paycheck. TR is not usually the same amount as whatever loan payment you may owe the school for your training. If you take out a loan for CDL school, you are obligated to pay the amount in the loan agreement in the time stated in the agreement. Your actual loan payment per month could be more or less than the trucking company TR payment each week. Most TRs will only pay you back the cost of your CDL school, not the maximum amount the TR COULD pay. In some cases, even if you have enough money in you hands to pay for CDL school it could be better to take a loan for school and pay it back over time. Some companies that offer TR will not pay TR if you do not have a school loan outstanding. How will you know if a company TR is right for you? You need to do research by asking the company for TR details and also talking to current drivers at the trucking company. Recruiters are NOT a reliable source of information, even if you think they should be such. No trucking company is going to honor the vague "promise" of a recruiter any more than a Army Drill Sergeant is going to let you sleep until 8 am, just because your recruiter said you could. During orientation, or "onboarding" the company may tell everyone in the room that only the details told to you during orientation or in the company manual will be honored. Recruiters may not even work for the trucking company. There are plenty of independent recruiters that are paid for each person that shows up to orientation. Recruiters may lie as much as necessary to get you to make a decision that helps them. Nobody in trucking but you cares about what is the best deal for you and your situation as much as you should.

    You cannot rely on working for the largest company, or the average company, or the place where many other newbies are hired to find the right company for you. If you have anything other than a clean driving and criminal record, you are not eligible for hire at some trucking companies. If you are using drugs, even if they are legal in your state, or you support legalizing drugs, or you claim to drive better when using drugs than not, trucking is a Federally regulated industry. The drug laws of your state and your opinion about those laws are utterly unimportant. You will be required to pass a drug screen before CDL school, before you are hired as a CDL driver, randomly after you are hired, and after certain types of accidents. Failure to show up or refusal to take the test will be recorded as a refusal and the consequences are the same as if you failed the drug test. All trucking companies are required to test your urine for certain drugs and some trucking companies test a hair sample from you before they decide about hiring you. Once again, your opinion does not matter in that process. Showing up with not one hair on you will not let you sneak past a hair sample or hair follicle test. Some of the companies testing your hair have a certain amount of hair they must gather to test and shaving your head only means they take hair from other parts of your body. If there is not enough hair on you to get a good sample they won't hire you, even if you claim some excuse.

    If there is something in your driving record or criminal history that MIGHT keep you from getting hired, you need to get answers from that company and current working drivers at that company BEFORE you go to CDL school. Going to CDL school and not getting hired is not going to help you. Also, if you are not sure if you want to be a CDL driver, don't go to CDL school. There is a disturbing number of messages from newbies that finish CDL school, get their CDL, and then don't work as a CDL driver. Your best chance for getting hired with no experience is the day you finish school and have your new CDL. If you wait, sometimes as short as 90 days to get hired, you may be required to pay for Refresher Training. That could cost hundreds to a few thousand dollars out of your pocket, all of it unnecessary if you had picked an employer before you went to school.

    Here are a few posts of mine for newbies to read.
    Money for CDL Training
    Every new CDL driver needs Tanker endorsement.
    Passing your CLP/CDL Endorsement Tests - HowTo
    Check Company Score - SAFER WEB
    TacomaCatdaddy Thanks this.
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