If you chose to get your CDL through a company, it is critical to make sure you understand all the commitments and requirements involved. Companies change their programs frequently, so make sure to talk to recruiters before seriously considering any program. Make sure to get the details in writing before you commit, and take time to read through and understand everything. The deal should not be convoluted or hard to understand. Most training jobs commit you to one year of service with the company. Be sure you understand exactly what the consequences are if you decide to leave before your year is up. You might end up owning the company thousands of dollars if you quit too soon.
According to the company’s website, C.R. England has programs in Salt Lake City, UT, Burns Harbor, IN, Dallas, TX, and Mira Lorma, CA. Everyone who completes the program successfully and gets the CDL has a guaranteed job with C.R. England. You do have to pay tuition for this program. You can either pay it up-front at a substantial discount or the company will loan you the tuition money at a whopping 18% interest, which they will later deduct out of your pay.
Central Refrigerated Service Inc. has a training program located in Salt Lake City, UT, Fontana, CA, and Conley, GA. According to the company’s website, Central Refrigerated Service offers a three-week program in which students pay tuition (financing is available) and earn $450 per week while training. You pay all your CDL fees out of pocket; that cost varies by state but should not be more than $100. Once you start working for CRS, you repay the cost of tuition at the rate of $100 a month for 12 months. Prime, Inc., Roehl Transport, Inc., Star Transportation, and USA Truck also offer CDL-training programs that require the driver to stay with the company for a set amount of time.
In addition to companies that provide CDL training, a few companies hire people who have already completed their CDL, but have no OTR experience. These companies may place you with a trainer for your first few weeks until the trainer certifies you to drive solo. This type of program requires you to put up the cost of CDL training, but should not obligate you to repay the company for tuition.
Knight/Squire hires new CDL holders and pairs them with a trainer for four to six weeks. During that time, you earn $400 per week until you are certified to drive solo. At that point, drivers move to a per-mile pay rate. Knight also offers tuition reimbursement for your CDL classes.
Maverick Transportation has a similar program that pays $450 per week while students work with trainers and a graduated per-mile scale after finishing school.
Turnover rates in trucking are very high, especially at the entry level, where drivers are looking to get experience so they can move on to higher-paying jobs with better perks and home time. When you first start off, your only requirement you have might be free training, or a job that will take you with less than six months experience. Companies who are willing to provide free training and hire inexperienced drivers may do so because they have a hard time keeping people, or because they compete on price and prefer low-wage workers. For many drivers, the first job is all about experience. If you choose a truck driving job with training, try to stay focused on the training aspect when times get tough. The best thing you can do is make sure you understand from the beginning what the company is going to pay you, and what your commitments are. And be sure to get everything in writing.