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Questions To Ask Before Signing On With A Trucking Company

Updated on September 21, 2008

So You Want To Be A Trucker

You have decided you want to drive for a commercial trucking company so where do you start? Of course, we know that if you don't already have them, you will need a class A commercial drivers license (CDL). But what are my options?

First, you will need to decide if you will be paying for your own training at a school of your choice. Since this can be pretty expensive, you may not have the financial ability to do this so what are the alternatives?

There are many trucking companies today that offer driver training courses that will pay the expenses as long as you agree to work for them for a certain length of time. This can be an excellent alternative to the hardship of the school expenses. However, it is important that you ask a lot of questions before entering into this sort of agreement. Otherwise, you may find it hard to stick with the company that provided your training. If you don't remain for the required length of time, you will be charged for the training school under a breech of contract.

What should you ask?

There are several things you should focus on when speaking with the recruiter from the trucking company. Here is a list of a few that are important to know before the agreement is made:

  • What funds will I need up front (if any) before starting school?
  • How long will the school last?
  • Is my travel and motel provided to get to the school and/or training site?
  • Will I receive any pay during school?
  • Are any meals provided during the school?
  • If so, how many do you provide?
  • Once I finish the school, how long will it be before I can receive my CDL?
  • Once I finish school, how long will I have to ride with a trainer or mentor?
  • What will I be earning while I am with the trainer or mentor?
  • What will my pay be once I am released from my trainer or mentor?
  • What is the average weekly mileage I can expect?
  • What will my rate of pay be once I am released from my trainer or mentor?
  • Does the company offer any benefits such as health insurance and/or retirement and vacation pay?
  • What incentives does the company offer such as layover pay, stop pay, detention pay, breakdown pay, tarp pay (if flat bedding), loading/unloading pay, fuel bonuses, safety bonus and referral bonuses.
  • How are these bonuses paid (weekly/monthly/yearly)
  • If I need to hire a lumper (outside source to unload) does the company pay for it?
  • If so, what is the limit they pay for lumper services?
  • How often can I expect to be home?
  • Will I be able to receive advances?
  • If so, how much can I receive?
  • What are the charges for advances?
  • Does the company reimburse me for scales, tolls and other business related expenses?
  • When can I expect these reimbursements?
  • Will I be required to do any maintenance on the truck other than my Pre Trip/Post Trip Inspections?
  • I have a valid regular drivers license for my state. During the training at your school, will I have to give up my regular drivers license from my state while I am training in your state?
  • Will I need special endorsements on my CDL such as doubles/triples, HazMat, etc.?

Compare Companies

This is a list of some of the most important things to consider when researching a trucking company. You should also check with several different companies to be sure that you find a company that offers what you desire. For example, if you will be wanting to take a rider or pet with you on the road (after your training, of course) be sure that the company has a rider/pet policy that allows this. If you do not want to travel outside the U.S. then you should be sure that the company does not have this a manditory policy. Many companies travel into Canada and/or Mexico and other areas outside the U.S. and you may be required to aquire a passport. Make sure if this is required to find out who is responsible for these fees as well. Make a list of the things you want and don't want in a company before you get started to prevent a lot of callbacks to the companies.

Choosing A Company

Once you have done your research, go over all your notes to locate the company that offers the most of what you desire. You may not find a company that has everything you want at first so you may have to choose the one that is best suited to those needs. Once you have fulfilled your commitment to that company you can always look for other options if you find that you are truly dissatisfied with the shortcomings of the company.

Always keep in mind that even though the company may not require any up front money, you WILL need expense money for food and other personal needs during your training time at school. Allow meal expenses for 3 meals per day (if the school doesn't provide any meals) as well as extra miscellaneous expenses that you may incur. If you do this, you should be able to concentrate on your training rather than worrying about finances!


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    • profile image

      Terrence 6 years ago

      Thank you so much for your help, with what to ask these trucking companies, before you sign on. You were very helpful, and now I am on my way to search for my new career, and I will use the helpful questions you gave me to ask them for certain! Thanks again.

    • profile image

      Sandy 8 years ago

      who gets the money when you set in detention, when products not ready.

    • wanrey profile image

      wanrey 8 years ago from Canada

      I am the wife of a long haul trucker could I please suggest a couple of additions to your list they should inquire if easy pass and fuel cards are supplied also about slip seating and rider policies these are a few things that my hubby always wants to know when starting a new job.

    • profile image

      Jerry 9 years ago

      Thanks for the info!

    • Bonnie Ramsey profile image

      Bonnie Ramsey 9 years ago from United States

      I certainly agree, Eileen! And that is why it is so important to ask a lot of questions. We have learned the hard way which ones to answer over the past 10+ years LOL. Thanks for taking the time to read and post!


    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 9 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Good informative hub. Like anything today there are clauses in small writing that we all have to be aware of. Some companies look after their staff while others just want the means to the end for making money.