Potential drivers worry about how to afford keeping the lights on while training for a career in trucking. Taking the time to be trained properly to operate, maintain and handle a commercial truck while also learning all the laws and regulations can be difficult financially.
Being smart about the minimizing the costs of training
The worst part about trucking school is the cost of taking the course. Now that Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) is mandatory, schools can basically name their price for this service.
What students must do is minimize the cost of taking the courses while trying to pay their normal bills. Now that the government has mandated the ELDT, there are some tax dollars available that you can leverage to help cover it.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is a federally funded program that helps cover the cost of training in vital areas of the supply chain. Monies in this program go to primarily low-income populations and Native American communities.
There are VA benefits and the G.I. Bill that those who have served in the military can use to transition into trucking after their service career. After applying, those benefits can cover the cost of training completely.
The federal Pell grant is also available, as well as various state tuition funds. Some may even allow stipends for travel expenses to and from class and even boarding fees at larger schools.
Trucking companies my help pay, but buyer beware the contract
Many of the major trucking companies offer to pay for, or even provide, the necessary ELDT training courses to get a CDL. But you – or maybe even a lawyer – must read that contract the company hands you.
Trucking companies see drivers as commodities, and want to ensure they get their money’s worth out of a driver they are paying to train. There will be terms and conditions to the “free tuition” when dealing with them.
Most require a one- or two-year employment guarantee from the student to work for them to repay the training. Drivers will be garnished the tuition cost each pay period, with stiff penalties and interest rates if they decide to quit and move to a different carrier.
The benefit of going to a trucking school at a carrier is that some will pay trainees during the training. Some carriers offer $750-$1,000 per week during training. That will help with the bills, but remember to not bite the hand that feeds you with the mega-carriers, or they will bite back.
Take time to research and watch some videos on trucking driving schools. Read reviews online from students that have been to the schools and company training academies.
Trucking is the most vital part of the supply chain and needs a constant influx of new drivers. Without these drivers, the supply chain would stop and civilization would not last but a few weeks.
FreightWaves Ratings has a list of carriers that pay for training and a “Best Picks” for which has the best program. Click the link to learn more!