If you are reading this then it’s our guess that you are probably thinking about becoming a CDL truck driver.  That’s great news! We would love for you to become an active member of the CDLLIFE community.  Trucking can be a lucrative and rewarding career path and as a potential new trucker you have several options available to you.

CDLLIFE gets questions submitted to us all the time from prospective truck drivers asking us about the various CDL training programs out there.  To help new drivers that are thinking about entering the trucking industry we thought we’d take a moment to share some information about one of the driver training programs we get asked about most often — CRST Expedited.

The Real Deal About CRST’s Training Program

If you’re a trying to get your start in the trucking industry here is everything you need to know about CRST Expedited’s training program. CDLLIFE contacted CRST Expedited and asked them to provide us with an overview of their company sponsored training program.

Here’s what they had to say:

” Every year, we sponsor hundreds of students at certified truck driving schools across the country. Classes are held weekly and usually last just three weeks. Approval is based on your driving and work history—not your credit history. With our Company Sponsored Class A CDL program, CRST covers the CDL fees. 

CRST‘s training program is a three and a half week course, followed by a four day orientation. We provide lodging, transportation, and pay for licensing fees up front. We also provide breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday.

Once drivers complete the school and orientation, they will go out in the truck with a lead driver for about 28 days to finish their training. At this point, they will be in the truck getting miles and will therefore start earning a paycheck.

After they spend 28 days with their lead driver, CRST will help you find them a co-driver in their area.  After this, the dirver goes home for five days. When they are done with their home time, they will go out with their co-driver on a regular schedule of 3-4 weeks out followed by 3-4 days at home. As long as they sign and complete a contract to do this for 10 months, then they don’t owe anything for tuition.

Our fleet consists of mainly of Freightliner tractors. The Freightliners are equipped with Detroit S-60 engines (435 horsepower) coupled with Eaton Straight 10 transmissions, in addition to automatic transmission. All tractors feature top of the line specifications including anti-lock brakes, sky-rise bunks, air ride suspensions, power steering, stereo/cassettes, premium interiors, and Omnitracs satellite communication equipment.  CRST Expedited operates its tractors on a 3-year cycle and trades each unit for a new model when it is 36 months old.  This means the average tractor is less than 18 months old.  Trailers are also quite new.  The vast majority of the company’s trailers are Great Dane 53’ dry vans that are less than 3 years old.   The result is that CRST Expedited’s combined fleet is one the most modern fleets in the transportation industry.

We understand turnover within the industry is a constant, at CRST we are focused on attracting and retaining drivers. Our operations team looks for constant feedback from the current fleet by conducting regular driver surveys. We are also working on developing our drivers through coaching, mentoring, and ongoing support. While compensation, time-off and equipment are part of driver satisfaction, they are not the only factors related to employee retention. What is more important is the engagement, advancement, work / life balance and being part of the solution in their daily work routines. Drivers don’t remember what you said; they remember how you made them feel.

If you are considering training with CRST then you need to know that they offer new drivers two different options for CDL training.

OPTION 1:

With the first option, you can choose 100% company sponsored training. With this option, you’ll enter into a commitment to drive for CRST, but the company points out that this option features “one of the shortest employment commitments in the industry.”

OPTION 2:

Your second option is to pay up for your training up front.  You will pay $6,500 at the beginning of your training, but then qualify for higher wages and a sign on bonus.

Are you still unsure about CRST Expedited’s Training Program? In the video below, the company’s Million Mile Drivers take a moment to give students coming into the training program honest advice about what they can expect.

Here’s The Scoop On How Driver Pay Works At CRST for New Drivers & What Your Career With CRST Expedited Will Look Like After Your Training Is Complete

CRST students start out at .25 CPM. The pay quickly jumps up to .30 CPM at 3 months and increase to .33 CPM at the 6 month mark. The payscale tops out at .46 CPM for experienced drivers and because CRST runs teams, co-drivers split weekly miles, not pay.

CRST Expedited told CDLLIFE that the thing that makes them stand out from other trucking companies is that they offer the industry’s longest average length of haul of 1,400 to 1,500 miles which allows their drivers the chance to make more money with fewer stops.

CRST Expedited also told us that the thing that makes them stand out is that company leadership focuses on meeting the needs of the drivers rather than making drivers adapt to the needs of the company. The company’s “Comfort Zone” policy puts drivers in charge — meaning that if they don’t feel comfortable driving, they shut down.

In addition, CDLLIFE also learned that CRST Expedited has a Train Your Partner Program. With this program, experienced CRST drivers are able to train their own partner. This is a good option for drivers that want to drive with their friends, family members, or spouses. The drivers partner can get their CDL training sponsored by CRST while you train them on the road in one of their trucks.

CDLLIFE also learned about CRST Expedited’s 20/10 Program. 

From CRST:

The 20/10 program matches three drivers to form a trio that runs the truck constantly.   The concept is that each driver is on the road for 20 days straight and then home for 10 days straight.   The truck is routed through the terminal or common location every 10 days so that the three drivers can swap out.  For example, if you lived in Los Angeles and you were part of a 3-man team in the 20/10 program, you would leave the Riverside, CA terminal and return with your partner in 10 days.  Your partner would go home and the 3rd driver would get on the truck with you.  The two of you would go out for another 10 days and then return to Riverside. You would then get off the truck for 10 days while the other two drivers continue to run. These drivers receive preferential treatment to keep the truck moving and to ensure they are back in the terminal every 10 days.

If you want to find out more about how you’d fit in with CRST’s training program, you can click here to get started.

CRST Minimum Hiring Qualifications

Here are the minimum hiring qualifications for CRST Expedited.

  • Must be at least 21
  • Must pass DOT physical and pre-employment drug screen
  • Must have a good driving record
  • Must have been licensed in the U.S. for at least 18 months in the past three years

What You Need To Know Before You Decide

The decision to commit to a company sponsored training program like the one offers by CRST is a big one! That’s why we created this list of questions you need to ask before you decide. If you’re a CDL student trying to get your start in the trucking industry one of the most uncertain things is not knowing what to actually expect. You hear rumors, and you see conflicting stories online, but no one is telling you the specifics about what you can actually expect when you sign up for a particular truck driver training program.  That’s why CDLLIFE has put together a list of questions for you to ask your recruiter.  Getting answers to these questions should help you better understand what you can expect.

  1. What are the financing requirements for my training?
  2. Can your send me an overview of the financing requirements?
  3. What funds will I need up front (if any) before starting school?
  4. Will you provide me a study guide to get my permit?
  5. How long does it take to get my CDL and training diploma?
  6. What endorsements will you prepare me for?
  7. Will I receive my diploma after training?
  8. Where is the training facility?
  9. What is the instructor student ratio?
  10. Will I receive travel assistance to the facility?
  11. Will I be provided meals and lodging during my training?
  12. What type of trucks will I use during training?
  13. Will I learn on a standard transmission?
  14. How many students do you assign to each truck during training?
  15. Will I learn to back and road skills with a 53 foot trailer?
  16. Will the trailer I use be loaded or empty?
  17. How do you prepare new drivers for unfavorable weather conditions?
  18. Do you use any simulators to train with?
  19. How long is the training to get my CDL?
  20. How are you meeting licensing / physical requirements set by FMCSA?
  21. Will I receive any pay during school?
  22. Once I finish the school, how long will it be before I can receive my CDL?
  23. Once I finish school, how long will I have to ride with a trainer or mentor?
  24. Does the trainer have a specific guide to follow?
  25. Will I receive a copy of the training guidelines they are supposed to follow?
  26. While I expect the trainer or driver finisher to evaluate me, do I also evaluate the trainer or driver finisher?
  27. What will I be earning while I am with the trainer or driver finisher?
  28. What will my pay be once I am released from my trainer or driver finisher?
  29. What are the hours I can expect to drive per day during the first two weeks?
  30. How many hours a day should I expect to drive after two weeks?
  31. How much emphasis will the trainer or drive finisher put on backing?
  32. Will the trainer or driver finisher focus on post trip / pre trip inspections?
  33. If paid for my own training, how does the reimbursement plan work?
  34. What will my rate of pay be once I am released from my trainer or driver finisher?

Company Sponsored Training Programs Vs. Truck Driving Schools

Many drivers just starting out in trucking aren’t sure whether they should train at a truck driving school or whether they should enter a company sponsored truck driver training program like the one offered by CRST.

Here’s a chart that lays out the differences between the two options.

Truck Driving School
Pros:Cons:
Ability to stay close to homeInitial out of pocket cost
Good academic preparation to pass CDL ExamsNo job is guaranteed after you graduate
Potential of night classes so you can still work Might train in poor equipment
Qualified instructor to prepare you for driving test
More flexibility with job choice once you graduate

 

Company Sponsored Training Program
Pros:Cons:
No out of pocket feesMust travel to companies training facilty
Ability to get paid for trainingCommitment to work for the company for a predetermined time frame
You already have a job when you get your CDLWhen training is complete you typically work for lower wages
Might need to ride along and team with another driver during training

 

If you want to find out more about how you’d fit in with CRST’s training program, you can click here to get started.

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