If drivers were given the option of paid training versus unpaid training, they’d likely choose paid training. This is also true of paid CDL training, which helps aspiring truck drivers gain their commercial driver’s license (CDL) and earn money at the same time. This comprehensive article explores what truck drivers need to know about paid CDL training, and how companies can benefit from offering it.

What is paid CDL training?

Whether a driver wants a full-fledged trucking career or just to drive a commercial vehicle part-time, a CDL is required. Each state will have its own testing before an individual is certified to drive a commercial truck on highways. You’ll first need to get a commercial learner’s permit. Then, you’ll need to go back to school.

When you take paid CDL training, you’ll get company-sponsored instructions instead of paying to attend a private trucking school on your own. To take advantage of paid company CDL training, you’ll need to sign a contract with that fleet agreeing to work for them for a set period of time after your training is complete. This could be eight to 12 months.

What are the advantages of paid CDL training?

You don’t have to pay $3,000 to $6,000 upfront before you even have a job lined up. Instead, you earn while you learn, knowing that you have employment at the end of the course work. Many trucking companies that offer paid CDL training don’t require credit checks and will offer sign-on bonuses, full benefits, and yearly pay raises.

There are some drawbacks to consider though. The fleet wants to get you on the road as soon as possible. So, you’ll be in an intense learning environment. Some companies will have 10- to 15-hour training days. You may even be required to attend school nights or weekends. You may also need to travel a distance to train at the company-sponsored school. 

How do I qualify for paid CDL training?

You’ll need to be at least 21 years old and legally eligible to work within the United States. You’ll also need a valid U.S. driver’s license without any moving violations in the last three years. You must not have any DUI/DWI convictions in the last five years and be able to pass a Department of Transportation (DOT) drug test and medical exam.

What to expect from paid CDL training programs

You may think that you already know how to drive if you have your driver’s license, but driving a truck is a different experience. You’ll be learning the rules of the road for trucks as well as how to maneuver and navigate the truck in tight spaces.

Expect some book work and training in map reading, trip planning, Hours of Service (HOS), and compliance. You’ll also learn how to perform vehicle inspections and maneuver trucks on the road. Manuevers include advanced backing techniques, shifting up/down (double clutching), taking corners correctly, entering and exiting the road safely, defensive driving, up/down grade management, and overall traffic and weather situation management.

Do you always get paid for CDL training?

No, so when interviewing for a trucking company, you should ask, “Will I get paid for CDL training here?” An important follow-up question is, “Will I be required to repay my tuition?” Some companies may expect you to pay back some or all of the training costs once you’re out on the road. Also, ask where the training is offered. If you have to travel, you may have to pay for your own living expenses.

What companies pay for CDL training?

Many trucking companies offer paid CDL training. Truck Driving Schools Info reviews 26 of the best companies for you. Some to consider include:

  • Knight Transportation
  • Prime Trucking Company
  • KLLM Trucking Company
  • FFE Trucking
  • Roehl Transport
  • Schneider 
  • Swift 

Smart Trucking suggests taking your paid CDL training with one of the bigger carriers. They’re more likely to expect a certain amount of bang-ups as you learn and not penalize you as heavily. Plus, they’re more likely to have equipment that’s easier to work on while you get started.

How and where to find CDL paid training

Find CDL paid training programs by searching online or visiting a trucking industry information hub. For instance, TruckingTruth.com has you fill out one application for simultaneous consideration by several companies offering paid CDL training. You could also directly contact a company where you want to work and ask about their training programs.

How do fleet companies benefit from paid CDL training?

It’s probably not news to you that there’s a driver shortage. The number of drivers needed is at a “historic high,” according to the American Trucking Associations (ATA).

Company-paid CDL training helps fleet companies grow their candidate pool. Aspiring drivers will be more interested in working with a company that offers paid training. At the same time, you’ll get better-qualified drivers

When drivers are under-equipped for their role with your fleet, it can prove costly. Even the best optimized routes may take longer if the driver isn’t up on HOS requirements, involved in accidents, or running trucks so hard that they require more out-of-service maintenance time. As part of your paid training program, cover HOS documentation and maintenance reports as well as how to understand ELD inspections and how to prepare for them. All this will improve driver efficiency and overall fleet productivity.

Continue coaching after CDL training with Motive

Helping drivers to be their best doesn’t have to stop with paid CDL training programs. Motive’s fleet management software improves driver productivity and increases safety department productivity by providing insights into areas that require further coaching.

Using the DRIVE risk score, you can identify individual drivers who could use more training regarding braking, accelerating, cornering, speeding, or more. 

Motive draws fleet data and insights across its vast network to benchmark driver safety and objectively determine risk. Motive’s platform also automatically analyzes, contextualizes, and prioritizes safety events and tracks coaching impact to gauge improvement in driving behaviors over time.

Motive’s platform also simplifies roadside inspections, which benefits not only your company but also the rookie drivers. In fact, our team even trained with Arizona’s Department of Public Safety Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Troopers to ensure we build tools that best suit drivers and fleet managers.

Paid CDL training can help you recruit new and more skilled drivers. By providing ongoing coaching, you can retain the drivers you’ve invested in already. Request a demo today.