Are you looking for a job that allows you to travel the country? What about a job that makes you an integral part of an industry that serves as the backbone of the United States? While there is no law that requires you to complete a program offering training for truck drivers, this is typically the first step to starting a career that involves driving any heavy vehicle. If you don’t have hands-on experience operating a large truck, then you will need to train before attempting to pass the test for your commercial driver’s license, otherwise known as the CDL.
OTR vs. Local Driving
Before you start looking for programs that offer training for truck drivers in your local area, think about how much time you want to spend driving. Over-the-road drivers, otherwise known as OTR drivers, will spend a week or more on the road before returning home for a short period of time and heading back out with the next load. You’re more likely to drive a truck that weighs 26,001 pounds or more, so you will need a Class A CDL for this career path.
If you prefer to stay closer to home or want to drive a box truck for local deliveries, you may still need to go through some training to obtain your CDL. If you drive a truck with air brakes, you will need at least a Class B license, and driving anything over 26,001 pounds requires the Class A license. Many of these jobs will allow you to return home every night, and you may not have to drive outside of your city or state.
How to Find Training for Truck Drivers
There are two primary ways to find local truck driving education, and programs are now available in most large cities. You can sign up for on-the-job training with a trucking company in need of drivers, or you can sign up for classes through an independent driving school. It’s easy to assume that working directly with a company willing to hire you after training is the better deal, but keep your mind open while you learn more about each opportunity.
Independent Trucking Schools
Completing training for truck drivers through an independent school is just like attending a cosmetology or nursing school. The school is not affiliated with any particular trucking company, so you’re free to secure employment with the company of your choice. It’s important to consider the following factors when comparing programs:
• Years in operation
• Reputation with previous students
• Graduation rate
• Job placement assistance programs
• Amount of hands-on training provided
You can expect these truck driving programs to cost approximately $5,000, with some charging a bit more and others a bit less. Here at Truck Dynasty Driving Academy, tuition cost is $3,845 – and that covers 160 clock hours. When you find a school offering training for less than $3,000, you should question what skills are taught and the experience of the instructors. The ultimate goal is to learn enough to pass your CDL test, so a program that fails to teach you hands-on skills is inadequate.
For many independent schools, you must pay for the program upfront. You can apply for federal student loans to cover the full cost, and you’ll have six months after the completion of the program to find a job and start making monthly payments on the loan. Some schools may offer other programs to help with financing.
Employer Training Programs
Many large trucking companies now offer “free” truck driver training, but you know that nothing is ever free. While they won’t charge you upfront like an independent school, they do require you to sign an agreement stating that you will work only for their company for a designated period of time after the completion of training. You may also agree to work for a lower wage during that initial employment period, and that is how you actually pay for your training.
If you know for sure that you want to work with a specific company or you just want the security of knowing that you have a job before you start training, then this may work out for you. Just make sure that you know what how many years you must work for the company and what you will earn during and after that initial period of employment.
You can sometimes receive more specific training for truck drivers when you work with a company in need of drivers equipped to drive flatbeds. While an independent school will train you to drive a truck in general terms, these programs will deliver that information plus skills specific to flatbed trailers.
How Long Should You Train Before Hitting the Road?
There are many truck driving schools that deliver just the basic information needed to pass the CDL test, allowing you to complete training and obtain your license within a month. Other programs last longer and provide more detailed instruction and more hands-on experience behind the wheel. Company programs are typically short, but you will continue training alongside more experienced drivers and instructors once your employment phase begins.
Which program you select comes down to how much time you want to spend learning and your long-term career goals. The good news is that there is always a demand for truck drivers, and you can go from student to employed truck driver in less than a year.
Are you interested in starting your career in the transportation industry? You can learn everything you need to know at the Truck Dynasty Driving Academy, a professional truck driver training program that offers a full 4-week training program that involves 120 clock hours and 3 weeks of professional driver training. Truck Dynasty also offers one and two-week refresher courses. Taking the first step is easy. Simply click here to complete our short application. It will only take a minute.