Newbies - Newbies Feature Articles

Company-Paid Training at Schneider National


By L.H. Gray

Not everyone can shell out $3,500 to $7,000 to become a truck driver or wishes to pay off a loan for CDL training. That's what makes carrier-paid training so attractive. The training is free, provided the student graduates the training program and drives for the carrier a set amount of time.

Schneider National is the nation's largest truckload carrier with over 15,500 drivers and owner-operators, nearly 50,000 trailers, and more than 30 facilities across North America. With a focus on growth, they understand the potential in and welcome inexperienced drivers. Their company-paid training is considered one of the most comprehensive and safest training programs in the industry. The program has been in existence for 15 years and the courses are certified by the Professional Truck Driver Institute.

"There are not many programs out there where someone, who is inexperienced and looking to get a CDL, can get training with no money upfront and have a job waiting for him or her with the nation's largest carrier," said Mike Norder, Schneider National spokesperson. "It's a company-paid program and it comes with a job at the end of it." In return, the new driver agrees to drive for Schneider National for one year or be responsible for the training costs.

Before applying, a prospective student needs to obtain his or her CDL permit. This is accomplished by taking the written tests required by the state in which he or she resides. There are study guides and practice tests available on Schneider National's website. Following this, the application process can take as little as one week or up to four weeks, depending on how quickly the candidate wants to proceed.

A new class begins every Monday and generally lasts 11 days. Schneider National provides transportation from any of its operating centers to the nearest training center. Students receive motel accommodations and two free meals daily as part of the package.

During training, students learn logging, safety procedures, mechanical and engine operations, cab controls, shifting and driving, backing, coupling and uncoupling, pre-trip inspections, map reading, trip planning, and many other aspects associated with commanding a truck. From day one they spend time in the truck, not just the classroom, and take homework back to their room each night. "It's a very intense course with long days," said Norder, "but it's proven throughout time that it's a very good pace and drivers tend to learn better within our environment."

Following the initial training phase, the new graduate accompanies a Schneider National training engineer over the road for one to four weeks, learning the ins-and-outs of picking up and delivering actual loads. During this time the new driver also learns bulk or glass procedures if he or she desires to drive in one of these divisions, and undergoes "Jumpstart," a review of the academic training. Following the OTR phase, he or she returns to an Operating Center for Skills Qualifications Testing then begins his or her solo or team operation.

As all Schneider National drivers know, training doesn't end here. Continual training is supplied by the company, a multi-million dollar investment annually. "We are very committed to sustainment training, and ongoing training ensures the safest operation of a vehicle," said Norder. "It further evaluates a driver's abilities and addresses any area of concern a driver may feel he or she has."

During the entire training phase, the new driver is given home time that is very similar and mirrors what he will experience when on his own. He or she also receives his or her first paycheck one week after date-of-hire (one week after OTR training has begun). "Many times the students have families at home they need to take care of," said Norder. "Our focus this year was to get more money to them and quicker."

Schneider National boasts one of the top pay packages in the industry and that includes a generous training salary that is paid out sooner than most. For the first one to four weeks on the road, the new driver receives $300 per week. For weeks five through 12, new drivers are guaranteed a minimum of $500 weekly or their mileage pay, whichever is greater. "Obviously our industry is predicated upon paying by the mile," said Norder. "To take the pressure off, and from a safety standpoint, we provide a guaranteed weekly salary for the first 12 weeks." After that time, Schneider has found it is never an issue for drivers to make the miles or the $500.

Schneider National Training facilities are located in several cities across the U.S.:

  • Fontana, CA
  • Rialto, CA
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Harrisburg, PA
  • Dallas, TX
  • Green Bay, WI

Visit their website for more information on company-paid training programs and career opportunities.