When I started looking at truck driving schools, I did the usual “google” and came up with a whole boatload of company run / sponsored driving schools.
Some of them (most actually) required the student driver to travel quite a distance to even get to the school, sometimes at their own expense, but often on the sponsoring company’s dime, and usually by bus. Once at the school, the student would be trained to the company specifications, obtain a CDL, and go to work for the company.
Now on the surface this looked ok. But the deeper I dug, the more I saw that I just didn’t like.
For instance, even though a company may put you through school, you are not hired until you complete their hiring orientation. This may be as long as a month after you graduate, depending on the company’s schedule. So the time between the school and being hired can be a long, dry spell as far as income goes, and there is no guarantee that the student will be hired. There is no way to know until the time and money have already been spent. And the student can’t get either of those things back…
Let’s say that the student fails to get hired by the company after going through the school, which happens a lot if you believe what you read on the internet. Poor driving history, unverifiable employment gaps, a criminal record, having more than 30% body fat, unable to pass the pre-hire physical or an agility test, lots of things can derail a student between the stages of graduating and actually being hired. Guess who picks up the training tab in these cases… you got it, the student. So now they’re out of a job and in a lot of debt.
The real kicker for me, though, was the fact that if the student made it through the hiring process, they would be required to sign on and work for the sponsoring company for xx amount of time until that training was paid off through paycheck deductions, or be tagged with the balance of the bill plus interest. And I’m not talking about cheap education here, some of the people who go through these schools end up owing as much as $10,000. I’m not kidding!
Now this isn’t horrible, actually it’s probably a good deal if one is hurting for money, but not something I wanted to sign on for. I didn’t want to risk being stuck, beholden to a company, if the miles were lousy or the equipment was worn out or dangerous. In my case, I had enough resources to pick my school, and as it turns out, the school I chose was far, far less expensive than even the company schools.
The second option I found were the commercial driving schools. The cost of these programs alone was more than enough to send me scurrying away! The ones I researched ranged between $5,000 and $10,000. I just couldn’t justify that kind of money, and I was not impressed with their facilities for the most part. The ones I looked at had a metal building in the middle of a dirt lot, at most, and were situated in congested areas in large cities. They were definitely crossed quickly off of my list.
The school I eventually picked was Central Tech in Drumright, Oklahoma. The reasons were multiple. They are a top rated school and respected by the industry and have a 97% placement rate. They are a state run technical school with state licensed teachers who are also former truck drivers. The school is PTDI approved, which is a huge deal. Some of the best paying companies will not hire students from non-PTDI approved schools. They also had the very best facility which includes a driving range with multiple turns and dedicated backing areas. The tuition was very reasonable (about $2,500 for OK residents) and included everything.
By everything, I mean tuition, all books, all license fees and testing fees, and even housing. The only things I had to pay were my hazmat fees, food, and transportation.
If you are in the process of looking into truck driving schools, do your research and know the options that are out there! And definitely make your choices with your eyes wide open.