With the current demand in the trucking industry of 400,000 drivers needed by the year 2010, many trucking companies (Schneider, CRST, P.A.M., CR England, and others) have opened their own so called "Training Academys". Also, with middle-class well paying jobs at an all time premium for people, and the need to change careers just to make ends meet. By providing training academys companies are able to offer "Company Paid Training" to attract and recruit drivers to supply the demand.
However, beware . . . in the private sector, company paid training means that the company requires you to go through their training program to learn the appropriate procedures in order to perform the duties of the job . . . in these "so called" company sponsored training academys they want to make sure you pay, and pay, and pay for your CDL. These companies really have NO interest in helping you to obtain a CDL, unless of course you meet their criteria and are coming to work for them. They don't want to train the competition's fleet.
These companies have taken their programs right out of TV's "The Apprentice" play book, in as much as you are in reality on a job interview throughout your CDL training classes. Believe me, it will be the most expensive "job interview" that you have ever been on. If indeed you are targeted to be "eliminated" in this case - it is better that you are eliminated early - before you sign the financial contract.
The reason for this is . . . is that you are billed on a prorated basis for the privledge of being able to interview for this company. It's a racket! The objective is to keep you in the program as long as they can, even if they don't think you will be hired, so that you have the enormous bill which is accumulating interest, and you walk away with nothing (except the bill), i.e., no CDL and a lot of wasted time. As I previously said, they do not want to train people to go to the competition - even if they are rejected. So, whether or not you make it past this portion of the "interview" you're paying for it. This is the first PAY I mentioned above.
Realistically, if you have made it through their onsite training program, they could take you to the DMV and get you your CDL, but they won't do that. They know that you are a captive prisoner at this point, before you can go to the DMV you need to be accompanied by a CDL licensed person and have a truck to take your test in. So, they use this to their advantage to keep you a captive prisoner.
The second PAY level is still before you've gotten your CDL (you're driving on a permit) you go on the road with a trainer for 3 (or so) weeks. During this level of the training you are paid between $300-$400/week, but expected to drive 600-700 miles per day. Even at the lower levels of truck drivers pay would be $235/day, but most pay would be closer to the $400/day mark. They are able to get by with this because you only carry a CDL Learners Permit. From this $300-$400/week that you are now getting paid, they begin deducting the so called "tuition" costs that you have accumulated - so your paycheck looks more like $150 take home.
During this "on the road training time" you don't think the company has accepted a "reduced rate" from their customers because they are using a trainee to drive the truck, do you. No. Of course not. So, here's the math . . . $300 x 3 weeks = $900 . . . $235 x 21 days = $4935 . . . So, during your over the road training realistically you have just paid the "company" another $4035 in addition to the $2500-$3500 that you paid for their "academy". Costs and programs vary depending on the company, but even on the lower levels your CDL has cost you $6535 - and you still don't have your CDL License!
Now, you have to return to the company's "academy" to go through their testing program. If you don't make it through this stage, you're not using their truck and the licensed CDL training to go through the DMV for your CDL. You have just wasted 6 weeks working on a CDL License which you still don't have, you have a combined payment of lost wages and tuition of $6535, and to add insult to injury - you also have no job!
Now, you may think you can make it through the "academy" (we all want to believe that we 'can do it'), but the numbers that I've heard are only 40% advance through to the "over the road training" level. That's 60% of the people that enter one of these academys that are being ripped-off, because what they are paying for is the training to achieve a CDL. Another 20% fail after the over the road training. Some of the students that enter these programs already have their CDLs, and are required to take these courses at these expenses before they can be employed by these companies. But, from what I've seen, having a CDL when entering these programs does not guarantee that you will pass the program - but at least you will still have your CDL (and a bill) when you're put back on the street.
Those that do make it through the complete program are also committed to that company for a period of time at a reduced rate of pay - indentured servitude! The third level of PAY! Length of "indentured servitude" varies depending on the company, but all companies have it. If you add the reduced level of pay to the cost of tuition over that period of time - you have the true cost of your CDL. It's not a great deal, believe me.
A far better investment, in my opinion, would be a dedicated truck driving school for $5000 (or so). The primary reason for this is that in a truck driving school, you are the customer. You are the one paying for the education and the instructors are there to work for you. Without you, they are out of business. Your chances of graduating with a CDL are greater. Most schools will also help place you with a company, which you can also interview to see if the company meets your needs.
Company sponsored truck driving academys have one master, that is the company!