What you need to know, this is a great thread.
On top of all I've read on this thread about money these schools say you can make, let me share with you my findings.
When I decided to make my carreer change, and choose truck driving, like many I'm sure, did alot of research on what is told to us on what we can make and how "the industry" needs 400k+ drivers. It looked like a great carreer to get involved with.
So a natural process is what school is best?
Ive found PDTI, prof. truck drivers institute to be the guidelines for what is called accredited schools.
This means many things, like training you would recieve, such as Hrs. on the road behind the wheel (BTW) or Loaded miles (OTRBTW) on the road behind the wheel, or night time driving again (OTRBTW) just to name a few.
Now in my research, because of my background, I figured I needed to get into the best accredited school possible, accredited also meant I would qualify for government loans with like a 8% payback, no problem right, being like you would make 30-40k a year first year right? That seems like a great investment, so I choose Fox Valley Tech. in Appleton WI. being it was a 10 week, 43hr a week school, and many posts, and friends said I should go to because they were the countries best, and with my self employment background 20+ years, and my record, I needed all the help I could get getting into the business, so naturally I thought to offset where I was lacking I should attend the best school possible. On top of what school you attended, your record, employment history that most companies look into, I found one thing most correct, and thats to find a company that will hire you before you sign up to one of these schools.
This is a big issue, and you hear of the term "CDL mills".
Im going to go out on a limb here and say that CDL schools are ALL businesses, there to make money so believe nothing that you hear, and I recomend you read on as I went to a again 10 week,43 hr a week, =400+ hrs. of training right, well hear is how this broke down upon graduation for me as it did for most of those I seen "graduate"
After all this time this is how it broke down.
I had 392.25 hours in school, ( 2 days off for school holidays, and a day and a half aprox. 13.5 hrs I missed after I figured out how this works, basically because I figured out I was paying almost $3k dollars to be trained in a accredited school, which would mean that I'd have some of the best exp. leaving a school, all be it still a rookie. and that my best "training" is no better then any other, so called CDL mills, or shorter corses, mind you there are 4 week accredited school out there.
All of them seem to bad mouth each other or chuckle about each other, it's a competitive business, truck driving schools.
First they hype up the accredited part, which is really based of of PDTI, profesional truck drivers institute, because they set really the guidlines for the "minimum" training standard. Like 44 hrs. BTW on the road etc.
There are other ratios like students to a truck, or instructors to student ratios, etc.
So in my 10 week, 43hr. weeks I attended 392.25 hrs.=740 miles.
I had 46.5 BTW on the road. which I didnt get till my last few days after I brought it to their attention, on my last week I had 35 hrs. BTW on the road, after I figured out things and after a apology from the dean and another head guy, I was offerd another free week to which I replied, why would I waste another day here? Im still getting my deploma like the rest.
Other hrs. were I had 10 hrs. pulling loaded trailers =253 miles.
1.5hrs pulling doubles =53 miles.
1hr pulling tanker = 10 miles.
40 hrs. driving on the range, basically in the parking lot, backing like alley dock, streight line, blind side, offset and 90 degree, along with coupling and pretrip inspecition time etc.
I had 17.5hrs with instructors, on the road BTW time.
I had 58.75 hrs. = 722.5 miles co-riding other students, being I did great, got my cdl first, and passed my tests right away as I studied.
I had 0 night time hours.
so basically I had 159.5 hrs in various trucks?
and 199 hrs class room?
Something else I found, say like the guys that didnt get their CDL's till the 8th and 9th week actually got more hrs, twards what we were suposed to have to meet the accredited requirements.
And the guys that did great and could actually drive the trucks were used as CDL co-riders, being told we could learn alot taking out the screw ups. It was all really about business.
We where required to purchase overpriced books, required materials, of which we didnt use, unless you say opening a map book twice is using the books, and at the end of it we were told the school had a buyback policy, basically theyd give you $4 bucks for like a 60+ unused book.
Recruiters were mandatory and there where ALOT of them. If we choose to skip a recruiter say, Snider or Rail, of which I knew already said they wouldnt hire me, they would take your truck the next day, which meant you co- road for others.
Mind you I seen 60+ students , level 1 level 2 and level 3 and level 4 graduates.
Now they also picked and choose when and with whom these rules applied, for examle.
I missed one recruiter on monday of my 9th week, was told my next day there I couldnt have a truck for my last wensday possibility for night time driving, after 5pm BTW on the road. Prior to this I missed no days and spent most of my hrs, co-riding and helping other students having problems.
That verry same day the same instructor right after telling me NO, took out a guy who missed like 9 days in a row, missing log books etc, missed the same recruiter and MANY others, the guy probally missed 3 weeks, if which we were told you could only miss 16hrs.
He waved at me and smiled as he left the parking lot with this guy, knowing he held me to account and I had to basically co-ride 168 miles that day, basically a completed wasted 11.5hr day. No other instructor could overturn his call, even though I knew they thought it was really ignorant. And there were like 6 others that missed recruiters and still got truck the next day.
Mind you this is an adult education were told, of which we are PAYING for.
We were told there were things to learn from recruiters, that is laughable yet some bought it hook line and sinker.
I could go on and on about this 10week/43hrweek/400+hr driving school but it would only get worse, when you consider Im not the only one and there are hundreds that are put through schools like this and others everyday.
My advice is even if you have a squeaky clean record and excellent employment record, your chance of employment is one in the thousands that are put through these schools everyday.
Also I'd ask about what I mentioned above and maybe get it in writing, if they are an "accredited" school, this means something.
How many hrs. is the class,
Whats your student to truck ratio
Whats your instructor to student ratio
How many hrs. btw on the road will I have? 44? thats the min. by the way accredited and set by PDTI
How many loaded hrs? 12 is what your suposed to have, again by PDTI stardards
How many night time hrs?
How many hrs with various types of trucks, say van, doubles, tanker, loaded, 48'-53'?
Again do your research on the schools! Accredited is suposed to be the BEST that most companies hire from.
The 10week/43hr a week/400+ hr school I went to had a 100% graduation rate... things that make you say hmmmm, as I found upon graduation most still couldnt back up the damn truck without 6+ pull ups. And their hrs in various trucks were all over the place.
In the end it's all about money and the big companies, insurance companies and not about you or how hard you work or want it.
Yes alot are hired by big compaines, but many more are not. Check into it.
I question schooling now and these big companies that get these accredited schools/govenment loans on so many things, my latest is that who are they really looking out for?
How bout mexico and letting what they say is "only" 35 mexican company drivers across the border with there trucks.
They say they have to meet the same CSA standardards, same truck standards, and same training standards?
I had did my best, and was told I was damn good, but dont think you are rewarded for it, don't assume ANYTHING.
Even if you have streight A's through your course, show up everyday and do awsum, have a accident free record, it don't mean youll find what your looking for.
To be fair, I am a felon 1986/1996 and have a dui record last 2003. you will find that most don't or limit dui's to 1-2tops. No matter how great you did, It will be not considerd, companies have MANY MANY to choose from. Don't mean you WON"T get a job, as I start one, suposed to on Monday, 2days! That came with alot of hard work, a hundred apps, and in the end. LUCK
Everything now days is regulated, and everything is getting more regulated.
It's not only not for everyone, it's alot harder job then "just driving a truck" or going to a particular school.
There and YOU will have ALOT of compition.
In the end I will tell you accredited is accredited don't matter the time length.
what matters is felony/misdomenor record, dui's, accident record, your willingness to do what you don't want to do, your work history and much more.
Even if you meet all this, know you may still get a lame excuse as to why they aren't hiring right now.
I have found you WILL get a job, if you are willing to do whatever it takes, they say if you have a CDL and no job it's because you dont want one, that is misleading.
It is hard to know what you are getting into when you decide to become a truck driver, my advice is also to "WANT IT LIKE YOU WANT NOTHING ELSE". Thats is your start and to be willing to not let ANYTHING including being away from your family get in your way.
In a closing thought.
Pay your respect to the old timers in the business, they are a dieing breed, they have made their honest living doing what most people take for granted everyday, lived a life that breaks most men.
As the Rev. above says,
TRUCKIN' AIN'T FOR WUSSES!!!
Drive safe and see you's on the road!