Ironworker interested in CDL A. Local tech school or Sage?

Discussion in 'New Truck Driver Questions' started by Sparrow9998, Jan 7, 2017.

  1. Sparrow9998

    Sparrow9998 New Member

    Looking to change gears from construction to driving. Been thinking about it for awhile now. I work for the union so the good thing is that I can remain a member as long as I pay my dues ($30/month). I plan on going full time the next time I get laid off. I have 2 potential places to get my CDL. Just looking for others input and experience before I make a decision. Both cost around $5k which I suppose is standard. They both claim to offer job placement. Would like to hear if anyone knows if one is a better option than the other. I have seen Sage mentioned here but not Berks Tech. I have met with directors from both facilities.

    Sage (Lebanon, PA) - 40 minutes away, full time 5 week/150 hour program.

    Berks Technical Institute (Wyomissing, PA) - 15 minutes away, full time 4 week/160 hour program.

    Thanks for any help.
    • Like Like x 1
  2. rigjockey

    rigjockey Token Canadian.

    Coming from a union shop to trucking is going to be a culture shock! I know it was for me.

    Unless this is what you really want, I suggest you stay where you are at.
  3. GAnthony

    GAnthony Well-Known Member

    i have heard of the Sage schools, i have not heard too many good, nor bad remarks, i'd say it's nearly dead even.

    i never heard of the other school.

    like mentioned, you are union now....

    unless you can garner a union driving job, you really will not appreciate working in a non-union shop..oh many companies pay union type wages, but i can assure you, your health care benefits may suck, with HIGH out of pocket weekly co-pays....

    if you still decide you wanna go truckin, then YES, maintain your union card........IF you get into a union job, you may enter dovetail or at the very least, not too far down the seniority list....
  4. Sparrow9998

    Sparrow9998 New Member

    I appreciate the feedback. I'm ok with going back to non-union for now while keeping my dues up to date. I keep hearing now is a good time to get a CDL so why the hell not?
  5. mndriver

    mndriver curmudgeon extraordinare Supporter

    go talk to a union rep.


    Because I hate unions. Yes, I have worked union jobs too.

    but if you care to remain within the unions, the shop stewards will likely have the answers you seek.

    Otherwise, it's not like you are getting a college degree here. You are getting a drivers license.

    Find a local driving school/ tech school and attend it to get the needed skills. Then find same said place to borrow you a vehicle and go to your local certified location. (Bonus if it's the same school place you trained for your CDL) and get your skills test done.

    You can save yourself a TON of money by going to your local office and working on your own in the mean time to get your CDP. That's your permit. It's done by simply getting your written test passed.

    But BEFORE you do ANY of that.

    I'd suggest you spend the $100 or whatever you can find it for and go and get an actual DOT physical.

    It'd be a real ***** to go all the way through school, spend $5000+ on the tuition, fees etc....

    only to find out you are not medically qualified.
    • Like Like x 2
  6. ironpony

    ironpony Well-Known Member Supporter

    I got my CDL through a Sage driving school in Henderson CO - near Denver. It was adequate. At the time, Sage wouldn't enroll you unless you had a DOT physical. The first week was getting you up to speed so you could get your permit, and sending out prehire letters to make sure you could at least get invited to orientation at a carrier - the first step in getting a job.

    All of these technical schools do two things. The first is to weed out those who can't chew gum and grip a steering wheel with white knuckle intensity at the same time. The second us to get you used to driving a big truck to the point that you can pass the practical skills test of your state licensing authority. That's what you're paying for.

    This will not make you a truck driver. It does give you enough to get down the road, and, hopefully, not kill anyone.

    Your real training comes with your first job, and how well that carrier does at pairing you with a more experienced driver. You'll learn more in that short period than any tech school can possibly teach - or not. Depends on the focus of the carrier, and whether your trainer is really interested in teaching you something - or is just looking for cheap labor.

    Just so you know, the larger training carriers offer programs to get you your license as well. Most of these programs are deeply discounted or are free to you, but you will need to drive for that carrier for at least a year in most cases. That's the quid pro quo.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
    • Like Like x 1
  7. GAnthony

    GAnthony Well-Known Member

    who told you "it's a good time to get a CDL"...????

    a school rep...???

    there is no specific "good time" to get a CDL.

    don't be sold a bill of goods.
    bottom line for nearly any school, is the profit margin they operate on.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
  8. ironpony

    ironpony Well-Known Member Supporter

    Which reflects on both my points. You have to be a real danger to get kicked out of a for-profit school, and there is only so much any for-profit school can provide for the money they can play with.

    A good carrier program doesn't have the same limitations.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Allyxon

    Allyxon Well-Known Member

    Don't know if you'd mind traveling a little further but HACC in Harrisburg is where I'm currently going. Excellent instructors and program. I'm with 2 other guys and it's 3 or fewer to an instructor. Today was my second day in the truck and I already have straight line and offset backing pretty much down with little assistance and am doing worlds better with my shifting since yesterday. Everyone else is pretty much the same. They have 5 weeks - 4 ten-hour days a week plus a night drive. Also do evening/weekend classes.
    No matter what school you go to ask if you'd be able to observe and maybe talk to some of the students. Remember you need a solid FOUNDATION to get out on the road - all your experience comes from driving out of school. But choose the school that's not teaching you to pass a test - they're teaching you to drive.
  10. ironpony

    ironpony Well-Known Member Supporter

    Sage was one student to one instructor in on-road sessions. This is important... any school that throws multiple students in a truck with an instructor should be avoided. Usually, the worst student gets the majority of the seat time.
  11. dchawk81

    dchawk81 Well-Known Member

    See if there's a McCann near you. They did well by me.
  12. Thunder Road

    Thunder Road Well-Known Member

    I'd go to the 160 hr. school. Some companies require 160 hrs.
    Nick Strimbu Inc. and PI&I Motor Express are Teamsters and hire new cdl grads.
    Probably get the best miles with Nick Strimbu Inc. refrigerated division.
    Any particular type trucking you're interested in? Plenty to choose from such as Calex Logistics or Freymiller or Magnum Ltd. and more.
    Be sure to get the tanker/hazmat endorsements. Even refrigerated companies haul hazmat loads such as car batteries or paint; also need tanker endorsement in dry van or refrigerated for hauling those big plastic totes of liquids.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2017
  13. mndriver

    mndriver curmudgeon extraordinare Supporter

    Yes. Get tanker. It's only a written test to add it.

    Hazmat. Don't waste your money until an employer requires it. You have to pay $100+ or thereabouts for the pleasure of getting fingerprinted as well as a written test.
  14. ironpony

    ironpony Well-Known Member Supporter

    Check with the carriers you send prehire letters to. That 160 hour deal does sound better, unless the class room part is crappy, or there are 3 or 4 other students sharing your 160 hours behind the wheel with an instructor.

    Look into what these schools are really offering... not just the big letter claims on a glossy promotional flier.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Thunder Road

    Thunder Road Well-Known Member

    Also, most schools push the same 5 or 6 companies in their job placement. There's 50 companies that will hire you that you won't hear about in school and the school probably hasn't even heard about them. A few I listed in Post #12.
    Schools really push those driver unload accounts with certain companies. You spend more time unloading trailers than you do driving. For example, Dollar General accounts you might hand unload 3000 cases at one store and those stores don't have docks. The better companies don't let the driver unload; they want you to rest or take a break while the truck is being unloaded.
  16. Thunder Road

    Thunder Road Well-Known Member

    Any time is good to get a cdl. You can start submitting job applications during the first week of school. Don't wait until graduation. The school will pass out job applications for the companies they push, but there's plenty more out there. The more applications the better then you can take the best offer.
  17. ironpony

    ironpony Well-Known Member Supporter

    You mean pre-hire letters. A positive response means the student will be invited to orientation where he will fill out a job application.
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Thunder Road

    Thunder Road Well-Known Member

    Some submit job applications from the trucking company websites and check "Student" on it. Then they receive a pre-hire contingent upon successfully completing cdl school and having any required endorsements. So, yes, they fill out more paperwork during orientation; lots of it along with a drug test.
  19. ironpony

    ironpony Well-Known Member Supporter

    My point is that we need to be clear on this because hiring in trucking is different than what most people who haven't driven are used to.

    You aren't hired given an invitation to orientation. That's just an invite so the trucking company can get a better look at you.
  20. rigjockey

    rigjockey Token Canadian.

    Oh, Okay. I was in a truck with another student and it was a 50/50 split. I passed she failed, Wanna try again?
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