Getting a career in the truck driving industry can sometimes prove difficult. There are strict requirements that need to be observed. Thankfully, there are a lot of free truck driving schools and trucking companies that are more than willing to help you. It’s basically a company sponsored CDL training program.
Acquiring the skills and talents to receive a CDL takes time and effort. Money, on the other hand, can be negotiable. It mainly depends on the companies that are offering training courses.
Top 10 free CDL training schools
Frozen Food Express Industries first started their public trading operation back in 1971. Up to this day, they are one of the most well-known temperature-controlled carriers in North America. They cover 13 different locations across the United States and are continuously expanding and providing quality service.
The company’s Student Driver Academy originally opened in Fort Worth, TX but now transferred to Lancaster, TX. They are offering company sponsored training for those who are seeking a Class A Commercial Driver’s License. They are also known to prioritize their drivers, realizing that from there the company has strived and became a success. They are one of the many companies that train own drivers.
Pam Transport, Inc. was founded almost forty (40) years ago, 1980 to be more specific. They are situated in Arkansas, near Ozark Mountains. They mainly operate Dry Van trucks, providing transportation services to whoever needs them. As of now, they currently operate over 6,000 trailers and 2,000 tractors.
With their slogan, “Our Service makes Difference”, they aim to employ only top-notch drivers. To achieve this goal, the company partnered with the best truck driving schools to help you pay your tuition. There is also a guarantee of landing a driving job within the company, provided you pass all of their requirements.
Taking in the company’s offer comes with a price. It doesn’t have to be cash, but you’ll be working with them for a year instead. This is to cover your past training expenses. Of course, you’d also have to pass the training course.
Knight Transportation is a well-known transportation company that started from a small, family-owned business. With their unending success, Forbes magazine named them as one of the top 200 Best Small Companies. That’s not all. The company persevered and maintained their standing for fifteen (15) years in a row. With that kind of acknowledgment, there is no question the company will become even more successful.
You will be required to pass a written exam and some skill tests before you can apply to the company’s training program. You will also have to ask for a CDL instruction permit from your home state. Once these requirements are met, you will begin training for your CDL. Once you are done with the training, you will then proceed with their “Squire Training” which is basically OTR training.
USA Truck has been in the transportation business for over 35 years. They only started with a few tractors under their name. Today, they are now operating with over 1,600 drivers and logistics experts. They are regarded as one of the largest OTR carriers in North America. They are also one of the few that hire and train new truckers.
The company is offering sponsored CDL training to those who can qualify. They are partnered with various school for truck drivers and will assign you to a location near your proximity. Since they mainly operate a medium-haul carrier, routes will be by region.
As with other company sponsored training programs, you will have to work for the company for a year. If for some reason you are not able to conform to the agreement, you will be asked to pay for the remaining cost that the company spent during your training.
The company is huge and operates with over 3,500 devoted drivers on the road. They are well-known to offer quick and safe transportation services. They are handling both short and long-haul shipments, and also dry van services.
CRST is a trucking company that offers schooling for new drivers. They also operate a no experienced paid program. Unlike other companies, CRST does not run credit checks. They will pay for any expenses during your training, provided you agree to work with the company for at least eight (8) months. They will pay you with a lower salary during your first six (6) months, usually $40 deduction per week.
Roehl Transport is one of the largest trucking companies that pay for CDL training in America. They are regarded as one of the best companies that provide national transportation and logistics services. They currently hold over 5,000 trailers and 2,000 tractor trailers. These are operated by over 2,500 employees under the company’s name.
During your training, you will not only be free of expenses, you will also receive payment of $500 each week. The training lasts only about a month. Once you’re done with your training, you will have to work for the company for at least one (1) year. Failure to do so will oblige you to pay for the total cost of your training.
C. R. England
C.R. England is a family-owned corporation and is regarded as one of the oldest transport companies currently operating in the US. They are mostly known for their reliability in delivering refrigerated carriers across the nation. With the company’s huge success, they opened up their own driving schools. To this day, they currently own five (5) schools.
They are offering company-sponsored CDL training that should’ve cost you around $3,000 in total. It’s not absolutely a free program, but a cheap truck driving school with a small non-refundable fee of $50. Once you accept their sponsored training, you will enter an agreement that will ask you to work for the company. If you remain working for the company for three (3) years, a $1,000 will be reimbursed to you.
A titan of a company, Swift Transportation holds over 16,000 trucks, currently in operations in Northern America. They currently are expanding since the early 1940’s and expected to become the nation’s leading common carrier services.
If you’re planning to get a CDL license for free, Swift training can be of help. With the reputation they hold, getting into training courses with the company will be a boost to your trucking career. The total cost of a 23-day course is approximately $3,900. You can choose to be sponsored by the company but will mean you’ll have to be employed for twenty-six (26) months. Though it may be a long constricting contract on your part, the reward is great and will open up a lot of opportunities.
Prime Inc. services a variety of trucking jobs, including flatbeds, tankers, refrigerated and intermodal carriers. They are known to provide fast and safe service across North America. With forty (40) years of experience, they claim to have learned how to properly deliver world-class customer service. They also are recognized as one of the best-rated trucking companies.
Unlike other trucking companies that pay for school, there are no hidden fees when entering their driver training program. The CDL training is free, as long as you work for them until the agreed time of employment has passed. On top of that, they are also one of the most positively reviewed training programs for starting drivers.
Stevens transport would be a good company to jump-start your trucking career. It has received numerous prestigious awards during its operation since the 1980’s. They offer diverse trucking jobs, including flatbed and intermodal.
They are one of the many companies that offer truck driving jobs with training. They also don’t accept upfront payments before qualifying for their training program. During your training, you will also be enlisted on the company’s payroll.
Free Truck Driving Schools – Is It For Real?
The word “Free training” is not be taken lightly here. Free CDL training is indeed free from expenses, but it will instead be paid through labor. You will enter an agreement with the company, a contract if you will, stating you’d work for them in a year. The time of employment varies from company to company.
It’s not as bad as it sounds. In fact, it should be seen as an opportunity. Not only will you receive a salary, you’d have a year of driving experience. With that in your resume, landing a driving job in other companies would be as difficult as having no experience at all.
When an individual fails to comply with the agreement between him/her and the company, there will be a penalty. The penalty usually is a refund of how much the company spent on your training. This includes your tuition, lodging, and other expenses. It would be wise for you to complete the contract as not to have a record for future references.
How do they work?
Training programs vary from company to company, but they usually have the same gist. There will be requirements you need to pass before being considered as an applicant. Once they are met, the company will then provide you the training you need. It may be with the company’s training academy, or a driving school that they partnered with.
A common program that is offered by trucking companies is the “We pay your tuition but you’ll have work for us”, kind of deal. It isn’t that bad and normally doesn’t last more than a year. On top of that, you will also receive a salary as much as the other drivers.
One uncommon program being offered is reimbursement. It’s not free per se since you’d have to pay for your own tuition. The company would instead pay your expenses back when you’re finished with your training and started working for them.
There are different types of programs out there. You’d only have to look for the best ones that would suit your needs.
Choosing paid CDL program or paying for private school
You will have the option to pay for yourself or have a sponsorship from trucking companies. Since being sponsored has usually strings attached to it, you might want to consider the former choice. This opens up a wide array of opportunities that are more lucrative and reliable.
CDL or Commercial Driver’s License:
To put simply, a CDL is a requirement for almost all companies. One must have a license before they can operate semi-trucks or other larger vehicles. The budget usually can go from $2,000 up to $7,000, depending on the location and company.
Paid CDL Program:
Paid CDL program is basically a no-cost training. While some companies will require a small fee upfront, some don’t and will take it out of your weekly wages instead. That being said, a paid CDL driving school will require you to work for the company who provided you with your sponsorship. According to some reviews of companies sponsored CDL training, the contract usually lasts a year.
Paying for your own Training:
If you have the financial capability to pay for your own training, might as well do it. It would free you from any commitment towards a company you probably wouldn’t even like. Private trainers also are well-versed about the driving industry and might give you tips on landing a job.
Basic requirements to enter trucking company’s CDL classes
Getting into CDL training programs will require certain conditions. Due to the importance of delivering cargos in time and securely, you will have to comply with their moderately strict requirements.
Applicants should be at least twenty one (21) years old. Other companies are willing to accept twenty-two (22) and twenty-three (23) years old applicants.
- Applicants must have a valid U.S. driver’s license for at least a year.
- Applicants must be legally allowed to work within the US. Become a citizen or have a green card.
- Applicants must accept a criminal history background check.
- Applicants must pass DOT medical examination and drug tests.
- Applicants must have a clean working history for the past three (3) years.
- Applicants must have no incidents involving moving violations for the past three (3) years.
- Applicants must have no DUI or DWI convictions for the past five (5) years.
If you are applying for a company-sponsored CDL training, chances are you will be required to work for the company for at least one (1) year.
As you may well be aware, a CDL is a strict requirement for all trucking jobs. May it be Class A, Class B, or Class C. To get a better perspective about these licenses, here are some basic information about these different types of CDL’s.
- Class A:
Having this class of driver’s license will let you operate medium to large vehicles. That is as long as the gross combined weight of your cargo and vehicle (GCWR or Gross combination weight rating) does not exceed the 26,001 pounds limit. You will also be allowed to tow a vehicle but should not exceed the weight limit of 10,000 pounds.
Vehicles you are able to drive include:
- Flatbed trucks
- Tractor trailer buses
- Tanker vehicles
- Livestock carriers
- Class B:
This class of driver’s license will let you operate on larger vehicles. Also, you are allowed to operate vehicles with higher GCWR than Class A CDL. That means you can drive vehicles that can weigh more than 26,001 pounds.
Vehicles you are able to drive include:
- Straight trucks
- Segmented buses
- Box trucks
- Dump trucks
- Large buses
- Class C:
Somewhat similar to Class A CDL, but instead of cargos, you’ll be transporting passengers instead. With this type of license, you will be allowed to drive a vehicle that carries ten (10) or more passengers including yourself. Some endorsements will be required of you.
Other than transporting passengers, you will also be allowed to transport hazardous materials. That is as long as the proper endorsements are fulfilled.
Quality of training
Expect both low quality and high-quality education when enrolling in driver training schools. With countless free truck driving schools made available at your doorstep, you might want to do a research on how good the school or the company actually is. Ask around your fellow truck drivers and gather enough information before applying.
Remember, your training is a valuable investment towards your truck driving career. Also, you can’t have it any other way since a CDL is required in order to land a job as a driver. Not to worry, you’ll be given options to whether pay for it yourself or get a sponsorship from companies.
Job opportunity within the driving industry is endless. As transport companies keep on expanding their business, they will require more and more drivers. As stated by distinguished magazines and agencies, truck drivers are in demand.
If you applied for a CDL training, you can get sponsored by a company. The way this works is by letting the company pay for your expenses during your training. In return, you’ll enter an employment contract with them for at least a year with weekly deductions on your salary. Even during your training, you’re already guaranteed a year of employment.
Tuition fees mainly depend on what companies or schools you’ve trained with. But unlike high school and colleges, you will be required to pay a single price for the whole training course. Some schools offer cheap CDL training, while some are company sponsored. It also wouldn’t matter if other schools have state-of-the-art equipment or newly released trucks. The cost will remain generally the same within the price range.
The total cost of expenses of taking a CDL training class can go from $1,500 up to $8,000. That includes some of the good semi driving schools and other major truck driving schools. For additional endorsements, you will be required additional fees that can go around $100, more or less. A HAZMAT alone can cost you $187 additional fee, while a Passenger Transport Vehicle Operator endorsement just around $14. For other endorsements, you’ll need to go to a different tractor-trailer driving school.
Length of schooling
Training for a Class A CDL takes dedication and time investment. Once you’ve decided to enroll, you will need to give at least forty (40) hours a week for your training. It would also take you five (5) days a week, and could probably last for seven (7) weeks.
Class B training will require lesser time to complete. Since you’ll be training for a few specific vehicles, it can last only one (1) week or even less.
The length of training will also depend on which state you plan on enrolling to. Some even only require only 3 week CDL training. Some states are stricter than the usual when giving out CDL’s. Some may require more driving hours or more testing. To avoid misunderstandings, it is recommended that you contact the training school first before enrolling.
With many driver training schools all across the U.S., you will probably have one just a few miles near you. This would no doubt significantly reduce expenses with your training, but it isn’t always the better choice.
As mentioned earlier, it is best to pick a good, honest reputable school that can provide you all the skills and knowledge you need. If it’s the one near you then well and good but if it’s not, you should consider training with the other states. Make sure you check their truck driver school reviews which are usually posted on the internet.
It may be time-consuming, expensive and more difficult, but it’s well worth it. By the end of your training, you will have higher chances of getting a job if they see you’ve trained with one of the top CDL schools.