People become commercial truck drivers every single day, and most of them attend a truck driving school or a company-sponsored internship to obtain that licensing. It’s certainly not a requirement to go to a trucking school or work with a company at all to get the license, but doing so increases your chances of success and of finding a job. Both private truck driving schools and employee apprenticeships are viable training options, but they are very different. Here’s a breakdown of each option to help with making the right training decision.
Truck Driving School
There are specific requirements that interested drivers must have in order to get into truck driving school.
- High school diploma or equivalent
- Proof of citizenship
- Valid driver’s license in the same state as the school
Going through a top-quality private trucking school offers candidates the following:
- In-Class Instruction - Training in a classroom to help with passing the written CDL test.
- Testing Vehicles - Many schools offer access to vehicles for use on the CDL driving test.
- Procedural Training - Private schools focus on broad procedural training that can help students learn to work with any company, and to do well on the general CDL exam.
- On-Site CDL Testing - At some private schools, it’s possible to take the CDL test right on site, where the surroundings are familiar.
Paying for School
There is more than one way to pay for truck driving school, and the varied financial aid and funding options make it relatively affordable for most new drivers.
- Financial Aid - There are plenty of student loan opportunities that connect students with low-cost funding to go through a course. Some students even qualify for subsidies that lower the cost of education further or cover the full cost.
- Tuition Reimbursement - Many schools work right with trucking companies that can help pay off student loans immediately after graduation. This is a good way to get started without debt.
- Veteran Benefits - Most veterans should be able to qualify for grants and funding to go toward driving school often covering the entire cost.
- Job Placement - Quality schools may offer job placement for their students after they graduate. These schools typically work with trucking companies and can connect students with positions once the training is complete.
Many schools are visited by on-site recruiters actively looking for qualified students to fill positions. Sometimes these connections are made even before the program is fully finished.
Another method to get the training necessary to become commercially licensed is through an employee apprenticeship. This training option is offered by some trucking companies and comes with its own set of rewards.
Just as students at a private trucking company, drivers accepted into company apprenticeship programs enjoy benefits as well. These benefits may include:
- Free or low-cost training
- Sometimes paid during training
- Guaranteed employment upon successful completion
- Time gaining experience with other company drivers
- Company vehicle provided for CDL testing
The requirements to enter an apprenticeship program are company specific and varied. Other than meeting the requirements to obtain a CLP (commercial learner’s permit) there is usually a clause in the contract obligating the candidate to remain in the employ of the company for a set amount of time. This ensures that the company sees a return on the money invested in the training process.
If you have a love of driving, a career as a commercial driver may be a good fit for you. Be sure to explore all of the options available for training to get you out there, enjoying the open road and getting paid to do it!