If you want to attend truck driving school, cost is the most important factor. After all, you are investing in a trucking career. You want to invest enough money so you are getting the skills and training you need. But you don’t want to overspend so you are deep in debt before you start your first CDL job. To understand exactly what it costs to attend truck driving school, first you have to look at how trucking schools are established. Then you can understand what type of costs you will incur.
How Trucking Schools are Set Up
Truck driving school is not mandated by the federal government. This seems odd since the Department of Transportation, a federal agency, is in charge of commercial truck drivers. You would think that the federal government would establish trucking schools, so they could ensure that all drivers receive a standard level of training. Yet you are not required to take truck driving training in order to get your CDL so this is a non-issue for the DOT.
Who is in charge of truck driving schools? There are a few entities including:
- Trucking companies that have their own trucking school program
- Private for-profit companies where the primary function is to make an income from trucking school students
- Technical schools and community colleges that offer CDL training for students
Your first goal is to decide which type of truck driving school you want to attend. If you go to a trucking school through a trucking company you’ll be required to sign a contract stating that you will drive for that specific company for so many months/years after you graduate and get a CDL. However, in most instances you don’t have to pay anything for trucking school, as this expense will be reimbursed to the company over the time that you drive professional for them.
If you choose to go to a private trucking school, this is where you’ll spend the most money. The cost of $3,000 to $6,000 is quite the chunk to spend when you may not have that kind of cash lying around. And you aren’t guaranteed a job when you graduate from these types of trucking schools either; that’s an added cost you have to consider.
If you don’t want to spend a year or two driving for a certain company, i.e. you don’t know if you’ll be able to make it through your first year of trucking, then college is another option. Attending truck driving school through a tech school or community college means you are considered a student. With your student status you are eligible for financial aid, scholarships, grants, work study programs, etc. You could theoretically attend and graduate truck driving school without spending a dime if you play your scholarship cards just right. At the end of your training you may not be signed on to work with a trucking company right out of the gate. However, you also won’t likely be struggling because of the cost of the truck driving program if you receive financial assistance.
Extra Costs for Trucking School
Once you choose a trucking school that you want to attend, you have to consider other costs that you will incur. For starters, if you are in a full-time program you won’t have time to work a full-time job as well. This means your income will be cut back, creating a situation prime for debt. To do your best to avoid this scenario, make sure to have enough money saved to cover your living expenses for the entire time you will be attending trucking school. Programs can last anywhere from 7 days to 14 weeks, depending on the school and the amount of trucker training you’ll receive.
During the time you are at school you’ll also need to survive, and Ramen isn’t going to do the trick. So think about what you need to get by in terms of food, clothing, entertainment, etc. In addition to an expense fund, you will also want to set aside a budget for these small yet costly areas.
Is Trucking School Worth It
This question applies to any and all training programs. You hear it all too often with college graduates who’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a four-year education only to be working a minimum wage job now that they’ve graduated. The truth is any training is only worth what you put into it. Do your best to stay financially afloat during trucking school. Then you’ll have the pressure of your living expenses to keep you motivated to do your best with your trucking jobs. A reputable truck driving school will provide you with all of the tools and knowledge you need to get the job done right.