Newbies - Tips From the Trainer

Welcome! This is your personal online trainer. I will strive to provide insightful and 100% accurate information regarding questions you have about the first few months in the life of a new driver--from driving tips to industry policies. Get in on the action. Email your questions to me.

You ask a lot of questions about your career change into trucking, so I'll separate them to clarify things.

Q I just passed my CDL test and I have my license, finally. I have been shopping for jobs online for the last month. Why is it that the first few weeks of pay are just so terrible? I know I have no experience, but this pay is terrible!


The pay for drivers in training varies, but on average it's probably around $350.00 -$400.00 a week salary for the first couple of weeks. The pay usually goes up a bit as you progress through the program. There are some fleets that pay mileage pay to the trainees, but I personally would avoid these programs. Anytime a company tries to tie a student driver to a production number rather than a salary, in my opinion, they are not looking out for the welfare of the student and are simply using them as a means to generate revenue. You need to find the training fleet that splits the difference in time in training and pay for the training. A lot of this has to do with how you feel in the truck. If you are nervous and/or uncomfortable in the truck in real world situations, the training may just take longer at the lower pay. If you have a lot of confidence then the shorter training periods may work for you.

Q Are there any time guarantees out there for a mentor after orientation?


Getting a mentor or trainer depends on many factors. Some times of the year there are many students and few trainers. Other times there are a lot of trainers and few students. If you are a non-smoker or female, or are trying to train on special equipment, the wait could be weeks! During this time you will usually be compensated for sitting. It can be frustrating, but the trainer will eventually get there and then you can start your training phase. Time sitting can be used wisely for study of your new company's policies and getting used to being away from family.

Q I have been talking to truckers online and they say most of the companies I'm interested in won't get me home. Are there any guarantees for home time? Thanks for any guidance you can give me.


Most fleets have "guaranteed time off" and the guarantee is how much time you get at home. There really are no fleets that can guarantee that you will be home exactly when you want to be there. Unfortunately, this is the nature of the beast. Freight sometimes just doesn't run the way that drivers or fleets need it to. Most companies do a decent job at getting you to the house within the time frame you want. But they cannot guarantee it. Most fleets offer a set period of time off for a certain number of days out on the truck. For some companies, you will get one day off (24 hours) for every seven full days out on the truck. So, to get a three-day period at home, you will need to stay out for 21 full days. Other carriers offer a little more, but all the time you are at home; you are not getting paid at all. Getting and keeping the wheels rolling is what pays for your livelihood.

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