Despite the fact that modern supply chains have become incredibly sophisticated, truck drivers remain the backbone of the United States economy. Without truck drivers, vital goods and materials would never arrive at their intended destination, which would cause national productivity to grind to a screeching halt.
As demand for goods continues to surge, the ongoing shortage of trucking professionals has reached a tipping point.
In response, countless freight carriers have doubled down on their recruiting efforts in the hope of attracting talented drivers. The federal government has taken steps to make it easier for individuals to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License or CDL.
These actions are geared toward forging a stronger trucking workforce and giving new drivers an opportunity to break into this rewarding profession.
While these recent efforts have gained well-deserved attention both locally and nationally, far too many individuals are unaware of the many apprenticeship opportunities available to those interested in becoming truck drivers.
The right apprenticeship can jumpstart a driver’s career while also ensuring that they have the skills necessary to be successful in their new profession.
What Are Trucking Apprenticeships?
A trucking apprenticeship is an on-the-job training opportunity designed for non-CDL holders. While the structure of each apprenticeship is unique, these programs generally share a few key similarities.
For instance, apprenticeships are paid training programs that will equip new truck drivers with the knowledge needed to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle.
During an apprenticeship, participants will complete classroom-based coursework as well as hands-on learning and log hours behind the wheel of a commercial truck. Apprenticeships allow new truck drivers to obtain their CDL while also obtaining a higher level of training.
Benefits of Participating in CDL Apprenticeships
CDL apprenticeships are a great recruiting tool because of the many benefits that they provide to new truck drivers. By joining an apprenticeship program participants can:
Get Paid While Training
Apprenticeship programs provide participants with a continuous, uninterrupted stream of income. Paid apprenticeship programs are much more appealing to prospective drivers as they can earn an income while they train. Participants are paid during all phases of the apprenticeship and will immediately begin working as truck drivers upon completion.
This income allows them to avoid taking out any student loans or going into debt in order to make a career change.
Secure a Job Fast
Upon completion of an apprenticeship program, truck drivers will be able to start working immediately. Trucking companies that offer apprenticeship programs complete the employee pre-screening process before allowing individuals to participate.
As such, all participants have already been “hired” and will not have to endure the stress of seeking a job after obtaining their CDL.
Receive Extensive Training
Even the best trucking schools out there are designed to teach students the basics of safety and vehicle operation. The information provided during these schools will equip students to pass state CDL exams and practical driving tests. However, apprenticeship programs are designed to provide participants with the most comprehensive training.
When serving as an apprentice, participants will receive one-to-one training from an experienced driver. They will also log plenty of hours behind the wheel and undergo extensive safety training. Cumulatively, this will make them better drivers and ensure that they are adequately prepared to work independently.
Top Apprenticeship Opportunities for Aspiring Truck Drivers
When exploring apprenticeship opportunities, aspiring truck drivers will encounter a multitude of options. Most carriers will gladly foot the bill for an individual’s CDL and also offer them additional training to prepare them for life as a truck driver.
Of the many apprenticeship opportunities out there, some of the best are offered by companies such as:
Schneider National, Inc. is a Green Bay, Wisconsin-based carrier that partners with private schools throughout the nation. Through these partnerships, Schneider offers paid apprenticeship programs in Dallas, Texas, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Indianapolis, Indiana.
Participants receive free lodging, transportation to the training site, and $80 per day. In addition, Schneider provides several meals during the week, which further minimizes the costs associated with attending this program.
Upon completion of this five-week program, apprentices will be able to test for their CDL and will receive on the road training from an assigned driver mentor. In order to be eligible, applicants must obtain their CDL permit prior to applying.
Roehl’s apprenticeship program is one of the most comprehensive available and is divided into three phases. During phase 1, participants will train for a total of 3 weeks. Upon completion of this training, apprentices will test for their CDL.
After obtaining their CDL, new truck drivers will begin on-the-job training. This training will last for approximately 19 days but may be extended if needed. After completing phase 2 and demonstrating the skills they have learned, drivers will be assigned their own truck and complete one final month of training.
Swift Transportation operates its own commercial trucking school known as Swift Academy. Students can apply for scholarships or sign post-graduation work agreements in order to have their tuition and other expenses paid for by Swift.
Those accepted into the program will be paid at a flat weekly rate during their apprenticeship and will receive additional training after obtaining their CDL.
If you are interested in becoming a commercial truck driver, these programs offer great paid training opportunities. You can also investigate local apprenticeships and other programs if you would like to find employment closer to home.