Finding a Balance: How to Pay for Truck Driver Training

Trucker with semi truckIf you are interested in becoming a trucker, then prepare yourself for some changes. For starters, truck driving school was once an option or pathway to getting hired by a trucking company. However, nowadays if you don’t go to trucking school you’ll be hard pressed to find a trucking job that is worth your time. Tack on the fact that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has passed a rule that all new truck drivers will be required to get training. Where do you stand in this new truck driver territory? How to pay for this training?

Cost of Truck Driving School

The time it takes to go through a truck driving school program varies. For example, at Roadmaster Drivers School, Inc. the program is a three to four week session. At SAGE Truck Driving Schools has a comprehensive tractor trailer driver program that lasts for four to five weeks. SEC Training Centers also provides a five-week training program. You will even find some training programs that last for a week, which is a very tight time frame for learning and retaining any amount of knowledge.

As for how much truck driving school costs that’s another matter that varies greatly. You can expect to pay between $3,000 and $8,000 for the program. If you don’t pass the course the first time around, then you are looking at being in debt without having a trucking job to go to. That’s why it’s important to treat truck driving school with a professionalism that you will carry on as a truck driver.

Paying for Trucking School

To pay for truck driver training courses you do have options. It is not viable for most individuals to pay the thousands of dollars out of pocket, and truck driving training schools know this. As a result, most are set up to help you find financial aid or loan programs that will benefit you. Here are some places to get started:

  • If you are a military truck driver you can use your GI Bill Educational benefits to cover your tuition costs, if applicable.
  • Ask the trucking school advisor if you are able to get a grant via the Community Reinvestment Act or Workforce Investment Act, which is available in many states and local communities to help boost employment.
  • Inquire about scholarships at the trucking school; you may be able to get a scholarship through a trucking company that will cover your expenses as long as you agree to drive for that company post-graduation.
  • Check out lending companies that offer student loans; while you will have to pay interest and fees, it may be your only option.
  • Find out if the trucking school has an installment program so you can pay gradually for the training.
  • Ask trucking job recruiters who are contact with you through the trucking school if their affiliated companies offer tuition reimbursement.

This last one is possibly the most affordable option since you will not have to pay anything for your training. Most trucking companies now provide total tuition repayment for new truck drivers who are fresh out of school. However, you must apply for a trucking job within a set time frame, typically within a few months, after graduating to be eligible. Considering the window of opportunity is narrow, you want to make sure you understand the fine print of this option before you commit to truck driving school.

Choosing the Best Trucking School in Your Region

students at trucking schoolFor those interested in going to truck driving school, the biggest task is finding the best school for you. The primary issue is location. After all, you want to find a trucking school near you to avoid having to pay for moving or lodging expenses during the program. Secondly, you need to know what to look for, as there is no standard curriculum or training requirements set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

As a result, some schools will not offer everything you need, depending on your level of expertise and experience with the truck driving industry. For example, some schools offer one-on-one instructor time, while others do not offer road skills training at all. So to help you with this process, we have highlighted a few of the stand-out training programs in the various regions of the US. You’ll notice what these schools offer so you can get an idea of what kind of school would best serve you.

Truck Driver Training in Alabama

There is a truck driving program at H. Councill Trenholm State Community Colleges located in Montgomery, Alabama on the Patterson Campus. This program allows students to receive a Short Term Certificate in Truck Driver Training. The program takes 10 weeks to complete, and tuition costs $1,500 plus $95 for books and $25 for supplies. You earn 15 credit hours and 300 contact hours in technical courses that include several topics, such as basic vehicle operation, commercial driver’s license, and safe operating practices.

Trucking School in Atlanta

The Atlanta Truck Driving School provides training for Georgia truck drivers. This program is licensed by the Georgia Department of Driver Services, the FMCSA, and the Department of Transportation. You get one-on-one driver training including at least 34 hours of behind the wheel training as a Class A driver. The training schedule is flexible to accommodate your current work schedule. This is important as most adults are not going to have the financial means to take off work for 6 to 8 weeks to complete trucking school. As for the length of training, the Atlanta Truck Driving School program for Class A truck drivers lasts four and a half weeks and costs $103 per hour for training.

Trucking School in Delaware

At the Delaware Tech Community College you have the advantage of receiving access to federal student aid, grants and loans. However, to enroll in DTCC for truck driving coursework you have to apply, which requires you to have a high school diploma or GED. Additionally, you will have to pass SAT or ACT test score requirements. However, once you are enrolled in the school you can take courses in the Commercial Transportation Certificate program. This program is only offered at the Georgetown campus of the Delaware Tech Community College.

You take a semester worth of classes that include such topics as tractor trailer operations and vehicle systems/report malfunction. Overall you will need to earn 17 credits at the college to graduate from the program. You should be able to take all courses with a couple of semesters. You do not need to have a CDL before you start this program, as it provides you with the training needed for passing the CDL exam. Tuition at Delaware Tech is $2,096 per semester at 15 or more credit hours, or $139.75 per course—if you are an in-state student. Out-of-state trucking school students can expect to pay twice that amount.

Trucking School in New York

At Mohawk Valley Community College, with locations in Utica and Rome, NY, you can attend the SAGE Truck Driving Schools program. This school is voted No. 1 as an Editor’s Pick by TruckSchoolsUSA for its reputation as being the best in the business. SAGE at Mohawk Valley is a Professional Truck Driving Institute certified program. Students are provided with the latest equipment, and each student gets their own rig for 46 behind the wheel hours of instruction. Students also benefit from trucking company recruitment before they even complete the program. Additionally, SAGE guarantees that graduates will receive job placement services as long as their CDL is valid.

Trucking School in Colorado

At the United States Truck Driving School, Inc. in Colorado you have the option of two locations: Denver and Colorado Springs. The program provides comprehensive Class A truck driver training. You can apply for scholarships and student loans via the school to help you pay for the training. For Class A drivers the program includes 160 training hours. Additionally, the school is in partnership with Werner Express, May Trucking, TransAm and several other trucking companies. This grants you with job recruitment services while still in school. The school also hosts regular events to provide supplemental information, such as how to read a road map and starting a trucking career in your senior years.

Trucking School in Indiana

If you are interested in attending a trucking company sponsored trucking school, check out CR England Premier Truck Driving School. This location is in Burns Harbor, Indiana, but you will find that CR England offers truck driving programs in Texas, Georgia, California and Utah. The trucking school in Indiana provides tuition-free training, as well as paying for your traveling and accommodation expenses while in school. The course takes only 17 days, and after that you are prepared to get your CDL. Once you graduate you are hired on by CR England.

Trucking School in Washington

For students looking for a truck driving school in Washington state, consider the North Cross Commercial Driving School. This school located in Burlington and provides training for individuals getting a CDL. The North Cross CDL School has been approved locally by the Washington State Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board. The school has been providing truck driver training for more than 40 years. In fact, the school has a 95 percent success rate for commercial driver’s exam test on the first attempt. The program lasts for four weeks and has a price tag of $2,750. If you want a more in-depth training program you can pursue the six-week course that offers additional prep for the road test portion of the CDL exam.

Trucking School in Texas

At the San Jacinto College in Texas you can take advantage of the truck driving program. This program is part of the Applied Technology and Trades courses via Continuing and Professional Development classes. The total cost for this program is $3,325 and this includes the Class A CDL; your DOT physical and drug test; and books/supplies for the program. A DOT drug test and physical typically cost about $110 in this area. To be admitted into this college program you must be 18, in good physical condition per the DOT physical, and must be able to pass an English proficiency test if you are a naturalized immigrant.

This is a non-credit college program, so you do not have to take academic courses in addition to trucking school training coursework. The course includes 200 miles of behind the wheel training with empty and loaded trailers. You will also cover DOT safety regulations, truck maintenance, and driving courtesy training. When you graduate from the program you will receive an Occupational Certificate and DOT certification.

How to Apply for Trucking Jobs on Trucker Classifieds

If you want to find new truck driving jobs fast, let Trucker Classifieds be your guide. We help you connect with the best paying trucking companies in the US in Trucks at the Loading Dockyour search for a new job. Whether you want to get your application out to prospective employers, or you simply want to scout out the job scene, we’ve got you covered. Discover how you can be more effective when hunting for top paying truck driving jobs that are perfect for you.

Start Your Search

To get right down to it, start your search for trucking jobs by looking for keywords or phrases pertaining to what you are looking for. Want to find truck driving jobs in Chicago? Type that in. Looking for regional trucking positions anywhere in the US? Search for that. Trucker Classifieds also lets you search by city and state or zip code, so you can find the best trucking jobs nearest to you. If you are considering moving to a new city or state for your next trucking job, do a job search according to the information for that new locale. You’ll be able to get a new trucking job that will pave the way for your new future.

Quick Apply in Less than 5 Minutes

Using our convenient and secure Quick Apply feature you can be on your way to a better paying truck driving career in less time than the average commercial break. It only takes 5 minutes to fill out our online form. You’ll include the following details in this quick trucking application process:

  • Personal details and contact information
  • Truck driving experience and CDL information
  • Work history and employment background

We also include a space for you to leave comments to potential employers and trucking job recruiters. Include any details you want, along with important information that will help you stand out in the best way.

Check Out Trucking Companies

Here at Trucker Classifieds we have an extensive network of trucking companies to browse through. Look up the most popular truck driving companies on the highways or those you recognize from reputation. We provide job connections with only the best truck driving companies around.

These companies are repeatedly at the top of lists for having the highest trucker salaries, most impressive benefits packages, and largest annual revenues. When you work for a trucking company you found through Trucker Classifieds, you are working with the best in the business.

Search for Trucking Jobs by Type

Are you looking for truck driving jobs that utilize your HazMat CDL Endorsement? Want to find only reefer trucking jobs for company drivers? We have categorized all of the available truck driving jobs on Trucker Classifieds by:

  • Haul Types
  • Route Types
  • Driver Types

For haul types you’ll find jobs specifically for drivers hauling:

  • Dry Van Loads
  • Tanker Loads
  • Flatbed Loads
  • Reefer Loads
  • HazMat Loads
  • Heavy Haul Loads
  • Oversized Loads

Choose jobs in which you have the most experience. Or go for the jobs that offer the greatest opportunities that will expand your horizons for your trucking career. The choice is yours. Trucker Classifieds simply offers the job search solution.

You can search by route types including:

  • Over the Road Trucking Jobs
  • Regional Trucking Jobs
  • Dedicated Routes
  • Local Trucking Routes
  • Intermodal Trucking Jobs

This gives you the ability to streamline those trucking jobs specially in your wheelhouse. You can also do a search for driver types including:

  • Company Driver
  • Owner Operator
  • Team Driver
  • Student Driver
  • Lease Purchase Truck Driver
  • CDL Graduate
  • Driver Trainer
  • Temporary Truck Driver

These driver categories cover all the bases. Choose the driver type that best fits your description to see where the search results take you.

Added Bonuses for Truck Driver Job Searching

Trucker Classifieds is set up to help you find a new trucking job, but we don’t stop there. In addition to finding jobs on Trucker Classifieds, we also give you the latest trucking industry news. Learn about what to expect when you start out with your truck driving career using our Helpful Tips on the Trucking Industry. We even have up-to-date listings for truck stops and truck driving schools near you.

You’ll be in the know when you go to your first trucking job interview thanks to the information you discovered here at Trucker Classifieds. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and spend a few minutes searching or applying for your next, best paying truck driving jobs in your area!

All About the New Driver Training Standards by the DOT

Trucker Passing Through Construction ZoneIn March 2016 the FMCSA proposed that all new truck drivers, as well as bus drivers, must be trained with new driver training. This training is on par with truck driver training that’s been around for years now through truck driving schools and carriers. That proposal was approved and passed into legislation, to be effective February 2017, which means it is now a requirement. Find out all of the facts about the new driver training standards by the FMCSA and DOT.

Drivers Affected by the Rule

The new rule isn’t in effect as of 2017. It will take until 2020 to see this ruling become actualized. This gives state departments time to create record keeping systems that will meet the FMCSA’s requirements. It also means that rookie drivers won’t be required to take truck driver training courses until February 2020. By that time if you want to get your CDL for the first time you will have to show documentation of passing an approved truck driver training program.

What about truckers who are already driving big rigs and have their CDLs? Not to worry, those truckers will not be affected by this ruling. Also if you are interested in getting your CDL endorsements after 2020, and you already had a CDL prior to this, you will not have to take a training program to get the endorsement.

The new training course is meant to coincide with skills exams aka road testing or behind the wheel testing. Since the endorsement portions of the CDL exam does not require you to take a road test for completion, you will not have to get additional training for endorsement exams. Please note this only applies to over the road truckers with CDLs. If you are a bus driver you must get the P and S endorsements on your CDL for passenger or school bus certification. In this instance you would need training to get the endorsements.

Getting Trained as a Trucker

Who is going to provide this training? How do you know if your trainer is certified according to the FMCSA standards? For starters, any truck driver training school that currently trains truckers is likely to be acceptable. Other places to get trucker training under the rule will include:

  • Technical schools, trade schools, and community education programs at colleges and universities
  • Truck driving schools
  • Rural electric cooperatives
  • Trucking companies and motor carriers
  • Owner operators and independent truck drivers
  • State government agencies
  • Local government agencies
  • School districts
  • Joint labor management programs
  • Individuals at large

These training providers can offer truck driver training for free or for a fee. With so many options for trainers how can you be sure that you are getting training from an approved provider? The FMCSA and DOT will provide a certification program similar to the current way that certified medical examiners are approved for DOT physicals. This will be organized via Training Provider Registration, and applicants must fill out and submit a TPR form to request their certification. There will most likely be a database or registry where all approved or certified training programs and individuals will be listed. It will be up to you to find a truck driving school, program or instructor that qualifies.

Training for Truck Drivers

What can you expect to have to learn during this required training? According to the FMCSA you must have this training before you can apply for a CDL. It will become another one of those mandated forms along with your DOT medical exam certificate. The training required combines both knowledge and behind the wheel training. The curriculum used for your training has to apply to your CDL class, i.e. Class A CDL or Class B CDL. However, you do not have to get the knowledge training and the behind the wheel training at the same time or through the same training provider.

Say you want to go to trucking school to learn the theory part of the training for the knowledge or written test. Then you could choose another provider, such as an individual or owner operator, to provide you with the behind the wheel testing. Considering that most trucking schools do not provide what would be considered ample behind the wheel time for each driver, this is an ideal way to make sure you get that road training.

At the current moment there is no requirement on the minimum number of hours of training. However this was part of the proposal for the rule. The FMCSA states that data will be maintained by the agency regarding how long drivers are training for, along with how safe these drivers are, and then a ruling may be included in the future to stipulate training hour requirements. As it stands, the current requirement for the training is that you get enough training to be able to pass the CDL exam with proficiency. It is up to you to make the judgment call in regard to how much training you need professionally.

One area that the FMCSA does not address is what will happen if a truck driver gets the mandated training and then fails the CDL exam. Will the driver have to retake their training, and if so how many chances do they get? Will drivers have to find new training program providers? Along this route is the question about whether or not training programs and providers will have rating scorecards similar to the CSA scores drivers and carriers currently have. This would be an optimal way for drivers to determine whether or not to get trained by a certain provider.

So what do you think about the new rule? Are you considering any trucking jobs within the next five years, and if so, will having to get new driver training make you rethink your decision? For experienced drivers, do you think this new rule will bring more qualified drivers onto the highways?

Truck Driver Training with the Scania Truck Driving Simulator

White Truck Driver Cruising Down County Road

You need to practice driving a semi so you can get your CDL. Yet you don’t know any truckers and have no clue of how to borrow a big rig. That does not matter to your CDL examiner, who expects you to pass the road test and the written exam. What can you do? Consider the Scania Truck Driving Simulator. This video game transforms the way you can practice driving a truck. Find out whether or not it’s a legitimate way to truly train to be a trucker.

 Getting the Truck Driving Game

The Scania Truck Driving Simulator was first released in 2012. It is available on Microsoft Windows and Mac operating systems. Here’s the pricing:

  • For Windows systems $24.99 for a digital download to your computer
  • On iTunes for Mac computers $11.99
  • For iPhones the Scania Truck Driving Simulator 2017 version is $1.99

It’s available in several languages including English, Spanish, French, Croatian, and Russian. Just a glance at the screenshots of the game show that it is a beautifully designed game. It looks very realistic and detailed. On the Mac version it nearly appears like an actual video feed rather than a computer game. That’s a major plus for drivers who want to get a true truck driving simulation experience.

What to Expect

The simulator is set up with truck driver training in mind. You are presented with 10 maneuvering challenges that help you practice these tricky trucking skills without being behind the wheel. In terms of the setup you are put in an open city where you drive freely as you deliver loads. Challenges are arranged in a realistic-looking environment that is based on European landscapes.

You have to avoid hitting obstacles when backing in your trailer. You’re sent cruising around a complex track littered with these obstacles. You have to park your semi perfectly to get a good score. All of these challenges help you to hone your driving skills in the real world.

Throughout the challenges real-time situations arise that are similar to those you will face when driving a big rig for trucking companies like Cargo Transporters, Foremost Transport or Navajo Express. You might have to navigate tight curves on mountain passes. Your drive may be jeopardized with sudden rain storms or heavy side winds. Whoa! Your route is blocked due to a construction zone forcing you to think fast and reroute your way.

Just as with actual trucking jobs your main goal throughout the simulator is to deliver hauls for customers. Here’s where you get some autonomy as you are able to pick and choose the freight you haul. Note this isn’t necessarily the case in the real world, but it does give you a chance to learn how to haul different load types. In the end you are a winner if you can deliver your load to the port ferry for delivery.

Scania Driver Competitions

You can also compete in the virtual version Scania Young European Truck Driver Competition via this simulator. In reality these truck driver competitions are hosted worldwide in more than 50 countries. In fact, more than 300,000 truck drivers have competed in the Scania Driver Competitions, which is the largest truck driving and training event in the world. These challenges include road course races, braking, parking and safety measures that are tested in a competition setting. The finals are held annually at the Scania headquarters in Sodertalje, Sweden.

Scania Group Trucking Manufacturer

If you want to get more game play you can visit the virtual Scania Demo center in the simulator to view Scania big rigs. These trucks are the latest models being hailed by this European big rig manufacturer. That’s right, Scania is a real trucking company, and it is based in Sodertalje, Sweden. In fact, Scania is a leading brand of semis in Europe and the UK, as well as Asia and South America. For example, they have offices in Latin America, China, Russia, and India.

Scania trucks are renowned for being energy efficient and low in carbon use. More than 69,000 Scania trucks were sold in 2015, along with more than 8,000 Scania engines. While you are using this truck driving simulator you get a taste of what it would be like to drive trucks in Europe and Asia. As an added bonus the game’s scenery lets you escape for a semi-vacation to some faraway European destination.

 

Line Haul, Specialized and Dedicated Trucking Jobs: What You Should Know

Trucking into a StormSearching for a trucking job involves dealing with a lot of different job types. Flatbed trucking jobs, tanker loads, dry van deliveries, reefers, and cattle haulers are just some of the haul types you’ll get a chance to work on. If you are interested in branching out to other types of trucking jobs you need to know the difference between line haul, specialized and dedicated trucking jobs.

Line Haul Trucking Job

If you are interested in over the road trucking, then line haul trucking jobs are what you want. These are trucking jobs that require you to move loads from one major city or port. These two places have to be at least 1,000 miles apart. For example, Chicago trucking loads are just over 2,000 miles from Los Angeles trucking loads. Truckers handling these loads are in the line haul business. One good thing about line haul jobs is you earn a decent pay check. Also, since you are over the road for at least a few nights with these long distance loads you get reimbursed for lodging, meals, etc. come tax season.

Specialized Truck Driving Jobs

Another category of haul types is called specialized trucking jobs. These are niche positions that only haul a particular type of load, often which requires a certain type of trailer. These pay more because of the CDL endorsement requirements along with the experience they detail, and the specialized trailer required. These things add up when it comes time for you to get paid. Here are some examples of the most common specialized trucking jobs on the market:

  • Ice road trucking, something we’ve all heard all about thanks to that TV show
  • Oversized loads that are going to pay you more but will take you longer, and will require more paperwork and bureaucracy
  • Tanker truck loads hauling liquids, gasoline, hazardous materials, chemicals, etc. that require you to have a tanker endorsement on your CDL
  • Speaking of hazardous materials, jobs hauling hazmat require the hazmat endorsement on your CDL
  • Car haulers of exotic, sports, vintage or imported autos

As you can see these specialized trucking jobs bring in the bank when it comes to earnings. Ice road truckers, for instance, we know earn anywhere from $80,000 to $250,000 and this doesn’t involve a TV endorsement deal. Plus you are only working a couple of months max out of the entire calendar year. You would be able to come back down to the Lower 48 to work for the rest of the year, increasing your bank account all the while.

Another type of specialized trucking job that pays very nicely is team driving. If you are a team driver you have another CDL driver with you in the truck. Since you are both hauling the same load, you would expect to get a smaller paycheck. However, there are two drivers in the rig, allowing the truck to stay rolling for 8 more hours a night than solo drivers. This really puts you ahead of the competition. As such you are able to get more hauls in and make more money for each of you on the team.

Dedicated Truck Driving Jobs

If you prefer to stay close to home and stick to the same route, then this might be your cup of tea. Dedicated trucking jobs allow you to run the same route week after week. Most typically these jobs are drop-and-hook loads, meaning you don’t have to do anything regarding loading as your trailer is ready to go. You aren’t required to tarp or strap these types of loads either, which reduces the amount of work you have to do outside of the truck.

As a dedicated driver you are a company driver, for sure. This can sometimes mean you’ll get more flexibility with your schedule. For example, at Schneider dedicated truck drivers can choose from part-time and full-time work. You are better able to keep a regular sleep schedule and social routine because you always know when you’ll be home. This can be an ideal situation if you have a family at home.

When you are searching for better paying trucking jobs these are some job categories to consider. If your current job isn’t paying too well think about applying to one of these types of trucking jobs.

Student Loans, Grants and Scholarships for Truck Driving School

Trucks at the Loading DockInterested in going to truck driving school? You aren’t the only one. This has become a popular way for finding trucking jobs if you don’t have a CDL (commercial driver’s license). When you go through truck driving school, you are prepared to take the CDL exam and likely to be recruited by trucking companies. Several trucking schools are set up through trucking companies and utilize contracts to give you a trucking job as soon as you graduate. The one drawback with going to trucking school is that it costs, a lot. Find out how to pay for trucking school without getting roped into a contract with a trucking company.

Alternative Routes for Paying for Trucking School

You have three main ways to cover tuition cost for trucking school that don’t involve signing up with a trucking company for a few years of work. These include:

  • Loans
  • Student grants
  • Trucking school scholarships

Let’s look at the pros and cons of each of these options.

Student Loans for Truckers

The easiest, yet most expensive, way to pay for truck driving school is by getting a loan. If you choose this option you will have to pay back all of the money you borrowed, as well as interest fees and associated costs. You have a few options of getting a loan:

  • Get a student loan through the federal government.
  • Borrow the money for trucking school from a bank.
  • Ask a generous relative or friend if you can borrow the money from them.

If you want to get a student loan through the federal government, you will have to go to a federally approved trucking school. No, that small time trucking school offered by some individual won’t be included. You’ll have to attend trucking school through a community college or technical school. These schools are part of the collegiate or technical institute system, and they must be accredited.

Additionally, you will have to fill out the lengthy Free Application for Federal Student Aid. After you fill this out either online or in print you will receive a letter stating how much the federal government is willing to offer you in federal aid. This will include both student loans, and the next topic, school grants. While the application for FAFSA is free, the loans are not and they do come with interest. Plus, a student loan through the federal government cannot be dropped due to bankruptcy; it will follow you past the grave if you are unable to repay it.

On the other hand, a loan from a bank is less restrictive, doesn’t require as much paperwork, and can be forgiven during certain bankruptcies. However, you will have to have good credit, which is not a requirement with federal school loans, and you’ll most likely have to put something up for collateral. It’s a risky move, but if you are certain you can repay the bank loan it can be a way to get your CDL without having to be tied to a sole trucking company.

Another key point to consider during the battle between federal and private loans is interest. If you get a student loan you are held to the federal interest rate, which means you might only have to pay 1 or 2 percent interest. Since it’s not reflected by your credit, even bad credit borrowers can save. On the other hand if you go to a bank and get a loan you will most likely have to pay a lot more back in interest. This is a point to compare before you choose a particular loan type.

Trucking School Grants

Grants are from the federal government, which means you’ll have to fill out that oh-so-fun FAFSA form in order to qualify. As with the federal student loan process you will receive a letter stating which student grants you qualify for. The benefit of getting a grant is that you do not have to pay any of this money back. This money is given to you to cover your trucking school tuition and related expenses. Most typically grants are provided to those who are low income or who qualify as some sort of minority.

Truck Driving School Scholarships

Just like student grants, you do not have to pay back a truck driving school scholarship. Also, the money must be spent on trucking school. In fact, most scholarship recipients don’t even see this money, it goes directly to the school where it is paid forward on a student’s expenses.

How do you get a scholarship for trucking school? There are a few options. Start by looking for scholarship opportunities at the trucking school you’ll be attending. You will likely have to submit a scholarship application stating why you should be the winner of this funding. If you are attending a public college or tech school you’ll have far more opportunities for scholarships than if you choose a trucking school through a trucking company. Secondly, ask your truck driving school instructor for information about scholarships. You never know that they are out there if you don’t ask!

How to Find Your CSA Score and What to Expect on the Screen

Swift Transportation truckThere is so much at stake when it comes to a truck driver’s CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) score. This score can make or break your trucking career, causing you to miss out on better paying trucking jobs if it’s not up to snuff. The federal government certainly puts a lot of credit on truckers’ CSA scores, which is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has recently placed CSA scoring under review. OK that’s all well and good, but as a trucker how can you find your CSA score? Here’s what you need to know.

Start Here

When you get ready to view your CSA score, go to the FMCSA CSA webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen unless you are using a smartphone. In that case you’ll need to zoom in to be able to read the information, since the CSA website is not optimized for mobile devices. That would certainly be an improvement the FMCSA should look into for over the road truckers interested in keeping track of their scores.

Now that you are at the bottom of the webpage look for the golden yellow banner that says, “Motor carriers, log in to the SMS to view additional safety data.” This is where you are going to enter one of the following:

  • Your carrier name
  • Your US DOT (Department of Transportation) number
  • Your MC (Motor Carrier) number

You only need one of these pieces of information to be able to pull up your Motor Carrier Safety and Performance Data. However, if you are a motor carrier aka trucking company owner, and you want to pull up additional safety data for a potential or current driver, you would click on “log in” in the golden yellow banner. This takes motor carrier users to a separate login page. You would need your US DOT # and US DOT # pin in order to bypass this page. For FMCSA and state enforcement users, such as DOT inspectors, you can no longer access CSA scores from the CSA page. You would need to go to the FMCSA portal.

When you look at the initial CSA web page, before you search for your data, you will notice several dates. The site indicates when the data is considered current, which is monthly. However, there isn’t a set day each month for when the data is updated. So if you are searching for your CSA score, note the date it’s most current. If you have had a DOT inspection or incident noted on your driving record, this may not show up on your CSA score depending on the date of the incident.

How to Search for Your Data

After you have entered your name, DOT # or MC# you are redirected to a new page. If you are working for a trucking company enter that name in the “Carrier Name” box. Then filter down the selection according to service center/area, state and county. If the carrier is outside of the US you can indicate that as well. Next do a search to see what comes up.

Use a motor carrier for an example to see what you can find. Let’s go with Swift Transportation. After entering “Swift Transportation” as the name in the box on the CSA main page, you are redirected to a list of 9 results matching Swift Transportation. You’ll see that any carrier with the name “Swift” as part of the legal name is included, i.e. Waymon T Swift and Jonathan Swift Transportation, Inc.

From this point you can see what type of trucking operation is operated and where in the US, along with the total number of power units, inspections and crashes of the carrier. For Swift Transportation:

  • 25,685 power units
  • 39,829 total inspections
  • 2,198 total crashes

Now for the fun stuff. Click on the DOT # to the left of the legal name for the motor carrier or company. Here you are taken to the CSA score card. You can find out about safety ratings, licensing and insurance, and the BASIC (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories) data. For example, for Swift Transportation as of July 22, 2016, drivers for this company had:

  • 4,044 unsafe driving violations
  • 3,830 driver inspections with unsafe driver violations
  • 0 unsafe driving acute/critical violations

You will notice that two categories are not available for public viewing, the crash indicator and the hazardous materials compliance. However, anyone with a name of a truck driver or their trucking company can pull up the rest of the CSA data in a few clicks. Furthermore, while the website clearly states that the CSA score should not be the end-all information for a particular driver, it clearly holds a hefty weight with the federal government. Therefore, if you want to keep your CDL or truck driving job, make a regular check of your CSA score and do your best to keep a good score.

How to Find the Best Flatbed Trucking Company to Work for

flatbed semi truckOne of the worst things about working for someone else is finding out that the company is not that great to work for and you find this out after you’ve gone through all of the required training and have made a significant time investment with the company.

You have a choice to put up with the issues, which could be as minor as being an annoyance or which could be as dangerous as losing your life because the company does not abide by safety regulations.

Finding the Best Flatbed Trucking Company to Work For

When you look for a job, take the time to research the company and learn about its record. Check into the company’s safety record, how long they retain employees, why employees leave, if possible, whether the company takes care of its trucks and more.

These are questions that you can ask the potential employer during your interview. Hopefully, the employer will answer those questions truthfully. Though the employer cannot divulge specific reasons attached to specific people as to why they left the company, the employer can tell you that a person left because of personal reasons, because someone found a better-paying job or because a driver left because that person didn’t think the trucks were well-maintained.

If you get a response like that, simply have the employer explain to you the maintenance schedule. You might also ask more questions about truck maintenance, for example, how often trucks are thoroughly audited by the company and what the procedure is when the truck breaks down on the road.

You may also want to check into how often the company upgrades its equipment and how many technicians the company uses to maintain its fleet of trucks.

Additional questions should include pay, whether hourly or per mile; health and dental benefits; the type of health care available; retirement-matching; vacation and sick days; and other administrative questions.

How Employers Can Cut Turnover and Make the Company Better

If your company does not offer a minimum of some reasonable number of sick days and vacation, you might not be the best company to work for. If you have low rates for your drivers or pay your technicians a low wage, you could be asking for high turnover. One of the things you can do to make your company attractive to drivers and technicians is to pay your employees a wage that is in line with other trucking companies that are the same size as you.

Bonuses and extras such as holiday parties, an acknowledgment of an employee’s birthday, retirement matching all say that you care about your employees and helps keep moral up. And, it also helps keep turnover low.

You don’t have to get crazy with the extras: Employees will appreciate any acknowledgment of their good work, even just a word of praise that is heartfelt.

The other way to cut employee turnover and to make potential employees want to work at your company is to tell the truth about the job opening. You need to explain about working conditions – good and bad, break times and hours the person is expected to work. Don’t tell someone they’ll get 40 hours and then cut the hours because a relative will come in and work for free. Likewise, don’t tell a potential employee that he or she might get overtime “once in a while,” and then expect them to work overtime every day. If the job requires overtime, be sure that is what the employee wants.

Create an Awards System

Creating an awards system to reward employees also goes a long way to being the best flatbed trucking company or other trucking company to work for. You might acknowledge an employee for having the best driving record that month. You might recognize a technician for completing all work on time and keeping the trucks safe and on the road. Rewards can be something as simple as writing that employee’s name on a notice board, giving out a plaque, or if money permits, giving that employee a gift.

Remember…

An employee doesn’t like having to switch truck driving jobs. That means learning new routes, waiting at least two weeks for the next paycheck, getting used to a new boss, making friends with new co-workers and more. For some people, this is nothing, yet others prefer to stay in one place.

Employees should not be unrealistic in their expectations for a job or career. As long as employers are within reason with pay and benefits, adhere to safety regulations and ensure that the trucks are kept in good shape, you’ve got a great employer to work for.

The best thing you can do in the interview – for both parties – is to outline your expectations so that you know that you, as an employer, are getting a great employee; and you, as an employee, know that you just chose the best trucking or flatbed company to work for.

 

The Best Company Sponsored Truck Driving Schools

students at trucking schoolEverybody wants to be the best, know the best, and have the best. Same goes for truck drivers searching for trucking schools. They want to go to the best company sponsored truck driving schools. The thing is, whenever a person asks a trucking company driver about the best company, everyone says someone different. Every truck driver has an opinion about this topic. So what’s the answer, which truck driving schools truly are the best?

Swift Transportation

It’s not a surprise seeing Swift Transportation on this list. Swift is consistently at the top of the best trucking companies’ lists including #5 of the Top 50 trucking companies in 2016 according to the Journal of Commerce. If you are trying to get into truck driving school affiliated with the same company, start your search with Swift.

You will begin by attending a 23-day comprehensive commercial driving course at the Swift Driving Academy. Tuition for this truck driving school costs $3,900. You have to pay for the training up front. After you graduate from truck driving school and get your CDL you will start working with Swift immediately. Then if you work for Swift Transportation for the next 26 consecutive months you’ll be reimbursed for the entire cost of the tuition.

An issue of going to trucking school and then driving for Swift is that you will start out with lower paying trucking jobs. You have to work your way up by gaining experience and taking different haul types. Trucking school gives you the tools to be a trucker, but it will take behind the wheel experience before you can earn the big money as a truck driver. This is the case with any trucking company. Why should a rookie driver come in with zero years of experience and take all of the highest paying trucking loads?

Fair is fair, but some rookie drivers get up in arms about this thinking that they should start out making more. Another perk of Swift drivers is that they can quickly climb up the pay ladder by taking more and more trucking jobs. Since Swift is such a large national carrier the company is consistently busy. The more loads you can haul, the more money you can make, so this is a win-win.

Roehl Transport

Unlike Swift, Roehl Transport does not make you pay for truck driver school tuition up front. It is free as long as you work for Roehl Transport for at least a year after you get your CDL. Another difference is that Roehl will train truckers while they work. This means you get paid, $500 a week, while you are training to be a truck driver. The training course offered at Roehl Transport is for four weeks. As soon as you finish training and get your CDL, you are placed with a driver coach. This training period, which is typical of most trucking companies, lasts for up to 3 weeks.

While you are in driver training at Roehl Transport you make $90 a day. Once you are trained and ready to roll, you’ll start driving a big rig and taking OTR trucking jobs. The more types of hauls you take, the more experience you will gain behind the wheel. This is where your real schooling begins. Best of all, Roehl is one of the better paying trucking companies. Truck drivers at Roehl earn approximately $50,000 before their first year of driving a Roehl rig.

Prime Transportation

Like Swift Transport, Prime Inc. is one of the most successful trucking companies in the US. Prime is #14 out of the Top 50 trucking companies according to the JOC. The main reason for Prime’s growth, with a 3 percent revenue increase from 2014 to 2015, is through diversity. Truck drivers for Prime haul everything from reefer loads to flatbed trailers and tanker trucking jobs.

In order to train truck drivers to handle this variety of trucking loads, Prime takes a different approach than the competition. When you go to truck driving school at Prime you are paired with a CDL instructor. Compared to most trucking schools where you are in a classroom setting, Prime’s training is far more intimate. This is great as it allows you to receive one-on-one attention during real-world training scenarios. That’s right, when you train through Prime you are sent on actual trucking jobs to train on the go. You are trained on trucking jobs.

Best of all, Prime trucking school is free pending a contract. Your contracted length that you have to stay with Prime after graduating trucking school will vary. Prime trucking jobs have a reputation for being some of the better paying trucking jobs in the US. Gaining that one-on-one training is the real value you gain from training with Prime.