You may have heard otherwise, but there really is no such thing as ‘Free’ CDL Training !
We talk with individuals regularly that are interested in becoming a CDL Class A professional truck driver. Many are looking for company paid cdl training, which they often refer to as “free training”. Uh-uh … no such thing….while the opportunity to get your CDL Class A license and have a job when you graduate from training is very attractive and convenient, there are disadvantages you need to know about up front.
The idea of ‘free training’ sounds great and almost too good to be true … and that’s because it is too good to be true. It’s important to understand that in all cases, “free cdl training” obligates you, under contract, to work for a specified period of time for the trucking company who is providing you with that “free cdl training”. That obligation can vary from 8 months to more than 12 months, with 12 months being the typical time frame.
You are required to sign an employment contract agreeing to work for that company regardless of pay or working conditions. Let’s repeat that because it’s important: you are required to sign a contract agreeing to work for that company regardless of pay or working conditions, which can be poor in both cases.
If you quit or are fired before your contract is up, you owe the company for your “free training” – plus interest. And the penalties for breaking that contract are huge. And maybe the worst part is that you will have a Class A CDL License, but you will have no physical certificate or diploma and no verifiable actual real world driving experience.
Few, if any, trucking companies will hire you at that point. So, now you:
are stuck with a huge student loan bill
- have no physical CDL Class A certificate
- have no verifiable driving experience
- have no truck driving job
- have no income to pay off that debt
If You Fail Your Training Period …
You Owe The Company The Entire Tuition And You
Have To Fund Your Own Way Home !
Trucking companies that offer paid cdl training (most of the few remaining companies offering paid cdl training are large companies) have little interest, vested or otherwise, in your long-term career. It’s not that they don’t care, (let’s just say that you are not a priority) but they are training as many as 50 to 60 students in each class, and for every student that fails training, there are 5-10 more waiting. If you fall behind because you are not getting enough one on one time with the instructor, or enough seat time behind the wheel, you can count on being cut from the class and sent home with a large bill for all your time, effort and troubles. Not only will you owe the tuition and various other related expenses, but you will have to fund your own way home.
Trucking companies are very aggressive in their attempts to collect on a loan, and your loan may be turned over to a collection agency. We know of at least one instance where an entire floor of a large office building is exclusively for the collection department. Sadly, there are many trucking companies that rely on high profit margins from just this type of business practice.
If you do not pay back the costs for your “free training” you may find:
that your credit is wrecked
that a lien has been placed on your home
that wages from a future job are garnished
A Non Contract Driver Can Make As Much As
$15,000 To $20,000 A Year More
People new to the industry often don’t realize how much less money you will make when you are under a contract. Most student drivers who have graduated from a private CDL school with a clean driving record and no criminal history can make anywhere from .31 to .34 cents per mile, approximately $850.00 to $1,000.00 a week and even more. Hard working drivers that work for top-tier carriers, not under contract, can make as much as $60,000 in their first year.
Compare that to a contract driver making .22 to .24 cents per mile and making $600.00 to $700.00 a week. That’s only $32,000 to $35,000 per year.
A non contract driver can make as much as $15,000 to $20,000 a year more than if he had trained for “free” and worked for a contract carrier.
When it comes to home time, it is not uncommon for a contract driver to not be home week after week at any given time. The same driver working for a quality carrier NOT under contract will be home 3 to 4 times more often. And, the driver not under contract still has the freedom of choice to move to another carrier that pays more money – without any contract violations. Typically, contract drivers get less home time because the company works them harder. And, the driver not under contract still has the freedom of choice to move to another carrier that pays more money – without any contract violations.
Some Trucking Companies Offer Tuition Reimbursement
Tuition reimbursement often makes the difference between whether you go for paid cdl training or independent driver school training. Many private CDL training schools have job placement assistance. And usually the trucking companies that these schools associate with offer tuition reimbursement. There is no guarantee that a trucking company will hire you directly from an independent driving school, but you do have employment opportunities. If and when you are hired, many companies will reimburse you for the money you spent for your private cdl training over the course of one year of employment.
Many schools accept WIA Grants or other types of federal or state Grants. Some offer in-house financing but that is the exception and not the rule. An extensive listing of reputable cdl training schools is available in .pdf form in our Truck Driving School Guide.
It’s important to remember that before you enter into any agreement do so with your eyes wide open, and read the contracts before you sign anything. Often the need for a job can cloud your judgment but you need to be careful to what you are committing. There are other options. Check into getting your CDL license from an independent cdl driver training school as an alternative to cdl paid training.
Remember … if you are planning on getting your CDL training through a company paid cdl program, you will go under a contract. Take responsibility for knowing your facts. Protect yourself as much as you can and read those contracts carefully. Because …
There Is No Such Thing As Free CDL Training !!!