Trying to get my CDL on my own time and money

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Roo 8 months, 3 weeks ago.

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    Matt McClamma

    Hey there I’d like to first say I love your videos and advice you seem to be very level headed and I enjoy watching you on YouTube…Im 32 and I live in Florida I’ve been with my current employer for 15 years and want a change professionally and financially…with that being said on to the questions I have a few.

    First is getting your CDL’s on your own time and dime a good choice if your thing about getting into the business?

    Second how do I get into a truck for practice drives and backups? I have my CLP (learning permit) so I can technically drive with someone who has a CDL but I’m not sure who or how to go about it…do I try local trucking companies or am I going to have to pay someone to let me practice drive? I’m trying to avoid driving school for the simple fact that I need to make money while I learn…I can’t afford to go to a driving school for 4 weeks and not gain any income…and I don’t want to pay thousands of dollars either.

    Third is the money worth it? I don’t really mind being away from home for long periods of time if the money is right…my plan is to work as a company driver for a year maybe a year and a half then venture to the owner operator side I hear that’s where the real money is…but I’m having a hard time getting started…any advice is greatly appreciated.

    Oh…also I was told by the DMV when I got my permit that I can’t do any training or third party testing for 14 days after I got my learning permit…is this true?

    • This topic was modified 8 months, 4 weeks ago by  Matt McClamma.


    I’m not Red. I’m just his “expert dry van” driver. I have a couple decades of experience driving.

    Many trucking companies have Tuition Reimbursement that will help you repay a student loan if someone needs one for CDL school. Roehl, pronounced RAIL, pays people going to their CDL school $500 per week. That is not an advance on future earnings that you will repay. Also many/most states have a program through their Unemployment office called WOIA or WIA that will fully pay for CDL A school for people unemployed or seeking better employment. There is a message on this board discussing Indiana’s program.

    Red is a big advocate in paying for your own school. I’m less of an advocate. The companies that provide “free” CDL training require you to work for them 1 year after school. In my opinion you should only consider companies you are ABSOLUTELY going to stay with for a year. Less than that is not a good sign, although it’s not seen as bad as in the past. Too many potential drivers see CDL school as a time when they will make up their mind about companies and then make a decision. I strongly suggest you don’t start CDL school until you have picked a company or narrowed your choices to 1-3. Many CDL schools are fast & busy. You may not have enough time in 3 weeks to learn everything & pick a company. Your school will invite particular companies to present at school & many students take that as an endorsement from school. It’s not a recommendation, necessarily.

    In my opinion unless you find someone with a semi-truck & trailer you are not going to rent one to practice on. The truck rental places rent to established businesses that operate trucks, not individuals with just a credit card.

    CDL schools & community colleges are good ways to learn, but they are just teaching you to get a license. The real learning comes from your first company.

    “Is the money worth it?” Only you can judge that. School costs anywhere from $3500 to $8500. Average 1st year pay for Over-The-Road driver is probably $45k. Red posted videos about his pay and he worked hard and made $65k, IIRC. Your pay & working conditions are largely determined by which company you work for, what type of trucking you do, and how hard you work/how long you stay away from home. Don’t believe ANYONE claiming all vpaies are alike and then trusting you are guaranteed average miles, average pay, and average home-time. There is a big variation across the industry & within companies.

    Yes, it’s common for states to have a minimum period between getting a permit and testing for the CDL. You can start studying now. All of the rest questions & answers are available. Red links to sites that have all of the questions. I have used Trucker IMO study for the written portion like you are memorizing answers for a multiple choice test. There are mo essays, just A,BC,or D. Read the question then read the correct answer and nothing else. On test day the familiar answer is the correct answer. The written test is not a seminar, it’s not a discussion about best practices, and not sufficient to measure your practical working knowledge of topics in the industry.

    • This reply was modified 8 months, 4 weeks ago by  scott_hanson.
    • This reply was modified 8 months, 4 weeks ago by  scott_hanson.

    Matt McClamma

    Hello Scott thanks for the info I appreciate it greatly…so I have my CDL learning permit and in order to get it I had to take General Knowledge, combination vehicle and air breaks written test…to my knowledge now all I need is to complete is the pre trip inspection and road test with is graded by a certified third party tester…I’m in FL if that makes a difference…I wouldn’t mind going to s school but I don’t want to pay thousands of dollars if I can avoid it…you mentioned community colleges I never thought to even look into that…hey non the less thanks for your advice/info I’m gonna look into this WOIA or WIA.



    Here’s a link to a previous post about Indiana’s WIA program that helps pay for CDL school.

    Financial help for Indiana CDL students

    Beware that SOME companies are going to want a CDL school completion certificate and/or they only hire students that complete 160 hour CDL school programs.

    Discussing this industry for many years I have noticed there is a widespread perception among people outisde of it that they can just rent a truck and get their CDL. It’s very uncommon, but occasionally I hear someone saying that they did exactly that. Hertz/Penske are not going to rent you a commercial truck unless you have substantial business credit line. They aren’t keen on handing over a $150,000 truck to a guy off the street. They also will want a licensed CDL driver to drive it.

    A few companies have free training for 1 year of employment, there is Roehl earn while you learn, 3 week CDL school and semester-long community college training. They all have their good points and bad point. I was flat broke and about to be homeless so I opted for 3 week CDL school so I would be working in 3 weeks plus one weekend. To me it’s less important how youu get the CDL than who you work for. THAT decision can decide if it work or doesn’t work for you.

    Please be sure to see the links at the top of page and take the personality profile before going any further. Trucking isn’t for everyone. It’s hard and lonely for some.



    Hi Matt,

    I’m in nearly the same position as you. I’m 32 looking to get into trucking from Florida. I have found a couple of opportunities that are working for my situation. Where are you located in Florida?

    I know that Roehl is not hiring out of Florida right now. Neither is Prime for student drivers. There are other options, but all of them are basically $0 pay for 3-4 weeks while you are in school. If you have any other insights, I’d love to hear what you have found.

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