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CDL Training – How Students Can End their Career, Before it Begins


Allen Smith of Truth About TruckingOver the road trucking is a tough vocation.  It’s even tougher now with the economy struggling as it is.  Many CDL schools are still reporting an 85% – 90% placement rate for recent CDL graduates.  On the other hand, I hear from many students who, after several months or longer, after completing their CDL training, have still been unable to secure employment.

A large majority of these, I assume, has to deal with the fact that the student/grad had negative information on their MVR and the school failed to advise them of the poor chance of being hired.  The CDL school took their money anyway.  However, many of these CDL students tell me that they have nothing bad on their records, everything is “perfect” and still, they are unable to land a job as a truck driver.   This simply has to do with the way the economy is right now.

I recently received an email from a driver who has brought in between $200 – $300 per week for the last several weeks . . . he simply stated that his company has “no freight.”   Other drivers tell me they are running hard and can barely keep up!   OTR trucking is a strange character.   I can’t say when the economy will turn around or trucking will get back on track, but I can explain what you, as a recent CDL training graduate can do, that will most likely end your driving career before it even gets started.

We all know that times are tough right now.  Even though CDL schools are reporting such a high job placement rate, I have my doubts with many of them.  For those recent CDL students who do land a truck driving job, there is one thing you most certainly want to accomplish . . . get that all-important one year of OTR driving in under your belt with that company!

Many CDL graduates are writing me explaining that they were hired by a trucking company and after 30 days, 3 months or whatever, they ended up quitting due to lack of miles or various other reasons as many of us know.  If you’re “fortunate” enough to land a trucking job in today’s economy, if at all possible, you need to try your best to “stick it out” with that first company that has given you the job opportunity.  For years, veteran drivers have gotten away with this “job hopping” but not so much now, and certainly not for newcomers just starting out.

Leaving the truck driving job after only one, two or three months, is like digging your own professional truck driving grave.  First, the trucking company just possibly shelled out thousands of dollars for your training.   Secondly, they will look at you as someone who really is not serious about being an OTR driver and finally, they will most likely turn around and file a negative complaint on your DAC report.  This DAC file could turn out to be your “nail in the coffin.”

Other than having stricter policies, better driver treatment, driver respect and so forth, practically all trucking companies do the exact same thing:  you pick up freight at point A and you deliver that freight to point B.   If you only lasted six weeks on your very first time out, why would other trucking companies believe that you will last with them?  You’ll be doing the exact same thing you were doing the six weeks before.   The reasons you left are not important to them . . . remember, many of these over the road trucking outfits operate in the same manner.

Could you get lucky and find another company willing to hire you and give you a chance?  Maybe . . . but it’s a long shot.  It’s understandable that a new driver would quit after only his or her first several weeks, if they are only making a few hundred dollars per week for running in long distance trucking.  But the economy is what it is . . . it’s tough for many trucking companies and freight is slow for a big portion of them.

The recruiters and many of the not-so-honest CDL schools are going to tell you what you want to hear.  Understand that the trucking industry, for many, are struggling right along with the other various industries in the present economic situation.  Your chances of starting out as a new driver and pulling in $1000 per week right off the bat, is not reasonable.   It could happen, but not usual with a new CDL graduate and beginning your career with one of these “starter companies.”

After finishing CDL training and you find yourself as one of those new drivers who do land a job with a company . . . be prepared to run the road for at least one year.  Some will say for six months . . . but that “one year” is really the magic number.   Keep in mind, that many of the really good trucking companies out there, require two and sometimes three or more years of verifiable driving experience . . . that is why they are the “really good” trucking companies.

Be prepared for the one year of sacrifice . . . plan ahead for your finances . . .  maybe your spouse will have to continue to work for that first year . .  perhaps you will have to dip into your savings . . . whatever the case, just be prepared for the commitment and sacrifice of running OTR for one year.

If after only a few weeks or even a few months, you are just not making it and you have to quit . . . just understand that this is one of the ways a new CDL graduate can almost certainly insure ending their truck driving career before it even begins.

Good Luck,

Allen Smith

Truth About Trucking

© 2009, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

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5 Responses to CDL Training – How Students Can End their Career, Before it Begins. - Post a Comment

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  2. larry redford

    Keep your job by on time pick up and delivery.
    Don’t give the company any reason to fire you.
    Know where your going, how to get there, how much time you need on the road and in the sleeper and know what the destination
    Keep your speeds around 57-60 and you’ll get 7-8 mpg
    Companies like that.
    Don’t get tikets and don’t report trailer bumps in your terminal
    or stupid little scratches that you think you should.
    once you report in about it to your safety dept. it becomes an accident. You DAC will say accident. It won’t say, ” YOU DUMPED ANOTHER TRAILER BUT THERE WAS NO DAMAGE”
    The safety people only know how to report “ACCIDENTS”.

  3. Russ Small

    So true. I have always thought honesty was best but after reporting that i “rubbed” a pole (no damage) i was put on probation with the company. I then got pulled over a few weeks later and recieved a warning for going 8 miles over the speed limit. I Called and let them know and was fired for it.
    If i hadn’t told anyone about the pole or the warning i would have kept my job.

  4. Rick

    I have been driving buses and straight trucks in kuwait and iraq on a B-CDL for the past 7 years. I will get my A-CDL when i ever get back. My question is, how do i choice the best starter company to drive for after training? thanx 4 the help.

  5. Stevens

    I am interested in gettion on the road (OTR). It scares me in what I am reading hear. My brother told me the same things as stated above practically word for word. He been OTR for 37 years. My son is raised and going to college. I did the good dad thing. I figured if I could get a year or two in on the road and bring my wife on we could run as team until I can hopefully retire. I have a good work history and a clean drivers license. How can you get ahead or make a lateral move or simply switch careers if the people who hire you is going to make it so rough on you or set you up to fail. I understand schools are out their for the money and no job is garantee. On job training usually a contract agreement. You pay one way or another. You would think they would want you to work with you to get hours under your belt for more experience and hope you will stay. Unless they just want to keep newbies on for cheap labor and charge you for incomplete training or under done year agreement deal. If your going to make it through your first year, chances are you going to move on if they jerk you around. I guess I’ll have to find out who these good/better companies are.

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