Newbies - How To Get Training
Your Training Isn't Done
Receiving training from a truck driving school is important. What a lot of drivers don't realize is that just because you complete this training and receive a Commercial Driver's License (CDL), it does not mean that you are ready to go out on your own as a truck driver. Many of the major carriers that hire students right out of school, private or carrier-sponsored, still require you to go through one of their training programs. Be prepared for this as you get ready to join the workforce of over-the-road truck drivers.
Why do carriers require drivers with a CDL to go through their training program? The reason is not to teach you the ways of the company as many people think--that is what the basic driver orientation is for. Rather, it is to teach you how to be a truck driver. Many carriers see the schools as a valuable source of training to receive a CDL, but that's about it. There are limited driving opportunities in these schools and there are few, if any, opportunities to see what it really means to be a truck driver. Therefore, most carriers do require additional training. These training programs differ from carrier to carrier, although some aspects are quite similar.
Most of these programs will last anywhere from six to twelve weeks. During this time you, the student, will be assigned to a qualified trainer (typically of the same gender). "Qualified" is the key word in that sentence. Carriers usually pick their best and safest drivers to become trainers. These trainers are then trained on what to teach you and how to evaluate you. It's during this training period that you will have the opportunity to drive in conditions that all drivers face. You will have to back into crowded docks, you will learn to handle freight, you will learn how to read a bill of lading and you will learn how to keep a log. Much of this is taught in school, but not with the time and intensity that you will have during your training at a carrier.
Your qualified trainer is the one who will ultimately determine when you are ready to be assigned your own truck. Because of this, it is very important to listen carefully to his/her instructions, suggestions and ideas. At the end of your training, if the trainer does not feel you are ready to be on your own you will have to continue the program. Of course this works the other way too. If the trainer feels you are ready prior to the scheduled completion of your training then the trainer will let the carrier know and you will get your own truck.
Another aspect of the training that you should be aware of is the compensation. Most carriers will not compensate you at their regular mileage rates. Instead, you will be compensated at a lesser rate or even with a base salary. Don't get frustrated by this. Your money will come once you complete the training program.
It is important that you don't quit in the middle of your training. Even if you have almost completed the training program, you would probably have to start over at another carrier if you were to quit. In fact, many carriers may require you to go through their training program if you have less than six months experience, even if you have completed a program elsewhere. Job-hopping is never good, but it is especially detrimental to your career during the first six to twelve months--the time when you are in training. Take this training period seriously. You will learn more than you did in school and most major carriers will require you to go through additional training.