The State of American Trucking Schools

The State of American Trucking Schools

The State of the American Truck Driver Job

A Three Part Series

Part 3 of 3

While the trucking industry grows, we have to stay committed to putting drivers and their needs above everything else. America is home to over 3.5 million truck drivers who haul over 70% of our country’s freight tonnage and likely 99.9% of products purchased in the U.S. have needed a truck driver to get where they’re going.

This series, sponsored by the American Driver Network, provides a detailed overview of American truck driving jobs in 2017.

In part one, we took a hard look at the state of owner operators. For owner operator truck drivers, the American dream of being a hardworking business owner is still alive. Although a comparatively small percentage of drivers are owner operators, their impact on the industry and the U.S. economy as a whole is insurmountable

In part two, we examined the company driver. We determined that company drivers are the core, the heart of the trucking industry. The majority of drivers fit into this category for the majority of their career on the road.

Finally, in part three, we will discuss American trucking CDL schools. As the need for drivers in America continues to rise, CDL schools have the power to shape and guide a future generation of truck drivers.

The State of American Trucking Schools

Being a truck driver is one of the best career choices for people who want big paychecks and a sense of independence in their work. The American Driver Network get questions every day asking for tips on how to become a truck driver. The answer to this question really starts with trucking school or CDL training. Although commercial driver’s license (CDL) training isn’t required, obtaining your CDL without any training can be extremely difficult.

At the end of our annual American driver survey, we asked drivers what they thought about CDL school. Overwhelmingly, drivers share that training is one of the most influential parts of their trucking career. In one case, a veteran driver of 11 years told us that he went to CDL school after being on the road for 5 years. Even though he thought he was a skilled driver, the additional training was a game changer.

“I think every driver needs CDL school. You think you know all the tricks, but a trainer can show you what you’re missing. I am a better, more safe driver now that I have had formal schooling.” says Wesley D.

What is trucking school?

Trucking school, or CDL training, teaches students the basic skills and knowledge needed to obtain a class A, B, or C commercial driver’s license. The training can include a mix of classroom instruction and hands-on training. During class, future truck drivers learn the rules of the road from driver requirements to state and federal transportation laws. Class instruction is the core of every trucking school. Most schools have certified instructors that will teach you how to operate vehicles for the class of CDL you are preparing for. Behind-the-wheel experience may be impossible to come by without trucking school, unless a driver has recent military driving experience.

CDL school can prepare drivers for tractor-trailers including single, double and triple trailers, large freight trucks, delivery trucks, transportation of hazardous materials, large construction vehicles and waste management vehicles.

When we surveyed drivers, the majority attended a private institution (47%) with company-sponsored training coming in second at 30% of drivers. Public schools and programs were the least reported option. We asked drivers what impacts their decision to choose one program over another. The three most important factors when choosing a trucking school are job placement programs, location and cost. Drivers usually looked at between three and five options before making a final decision.

What does trucking school cost?

A big deterrent for CDL training is its high cost. Depending on what program you select, the cost can range from $3,000 to $7,000. To help out, some companies offer free (sponsored) CDL schools and tuition reimbursement.

Sponsored programs include company owned CDL schools, company-sponsored payment of a pre-approved program from a list of accepted schools and reimbursement through bonuses or weekly paychecks for tuition paid to an approved program.

We’ve compiled a list of company-sponsored CDL schools as well as schools with trucking companies that provide tuition reimbursement.

Company Sponsored CDL Schools

Details about the training will vary like how long the program lasts, school location and what type of commitment the sponsoring company seeks from drivers.

If you are already in CDL school and you want tuition reimbursement through a truck driving company, use the list of below.

Trucking Companies With Tuition Reimbursement for CDL School

Tuition reimbursement programs will help offset the cost of training by adding money to your paycheck as a full time employee. Each company sets their own payment options. You can check with a hiring manager or recruiter to approve your CDL school before you accept a job offer with a company.

During trucking school, drivers often meet lifelong friends in training programs. In a follow-up interview to the survey, two drivers shared stories of their closest truck driver friends that began during training. In the first story, a crew of drivers went through company-sponsored training together. After training, they tried to get similar routes as much as possible. They supported each other on the road by eating together and chatting on the CB radio. They are still in contact with each other after over five years of driving. The second story involved just two drivers. After driving with the same company and being friends for three years, the two friends opened up their own trucking business. Now they own their trucks and still work together every day. It has been 10 years.

Trucking school is the gateway to the trucking industry. Drivers learn the nuts and bolts of the road and start building their over-the-road support network of trainers and friends. We encourage all potential drivers to do their research when picking a CDL school because it can make a huge difference in your career. Take the time to call and compare schools. Try to talk to past students and current drivers.

Putting It All Together

In this three part series, sponsored by the American Driver network, we examined the current state of the American Truck Driver Jobs. We surveyed drivers directly to find out what matters most to them, whether they are a company driver or owner operator. We found out that pay still ranks as the most important part of the trucking job. Drivers want fair compensation for the difficult, unique challenges that come along with being a truck driver. When looking at trucking schools, we discovered that job placement programs are important to potential students. They will almost always choose a program with job placement over a program with a lower cost or closer location to their home.

The American trucking job in 2017 is in high demand. Trucking companies have thousands of open positions for company drivers, owner operators and trucking students. Each year, we will continue to ask drivers what matters most to them and we will continue to make sure drivers’ voices are heard. Stay on the look out next year for our second annual truck driver survey.