You might be wondering who would want to become a truck driver. In truth? A lot of people.
According to salary.com, the average salary of truck drivers in Charlotte is $42,000. Truck driving also gives you a chance to travel, and you can even find yourself stepping into a leadership role someday.
However, before you get started, you’ll need a commercial driving license (or CDL).
Part of the process is completing CDL training. Two kinds of CDL training are available — private truck driving school or company-sponsored.
We’ve compiled a list of outfits that offer CDL training in Charlotte. Let’s see if any of them fits your fancy.
The Best Trucking Schools in Charlotte
Your first option is to go through a private trucking school. These are academies unaffiliated with any particular organization. It’s similar to a typical driving school, where you’re a paying customer.
As with all things, it has pros and cons. The upside is there’s a good chance you’ll have a better experience. You’ll also have your pick of trucking companies to join once you’ve finished.
The downside is the tuition — and trucking school isn’t exactly cheap. So, your personal circumstance may factor into your decision.
Although there are several private trucking schools in North Carolina, most of them are outside Charlotte. However, here are your options within the city.
- Address: 4424 Wilkinson Boulevard, Charlotte, NC
- Phone: (704) 597 9550
TransTech’s program emphasizes highway safety, which is appropriate considering the amount of time truck drivers spend on the road.
They’ve also kept their student-instructor ratio small to ensure each person gets the attention he needs. Each teacher has four students.
Their program uses a variety of means to get the information across, but it’s generally divided into three segments.
First, there’s the classroom portion. You’ll cover pre-trip inspection, state and federal regulations, and equipment safety, among other topics. Due to the lifestyle trucking drivers have, they even cover driver wellness to ensure you’ll continuously be in tiptop shape.
Next, you undergo field exercise. It allows you to operate the vehicle within a confined space. You’ll focus on specific maneuvers such as 90-degree backing, offset backing, and coupling and uncoupling. The idea is for you to become familiar with these without the added pressure of other cars on the road.
Last, you’ll go through behind-the-wheel instruction on an open road. You’ll learn more about proper gear shifting and backing and turning techniques. It’s a great way to get actual road experience and provides an opportunity to put all your learnings together.
You can choose between full-time and part-time classes. Choosing the former means investing four weeks of your time. The program runs from 7:00 am to 5:00 am, Mondays to Thursdays, and 7:00 am to 11:00 am on Fridays.
Part-time classes are only on weekends. It’s a better option for those fulfilling other obligations while taking a truck driving school.
These only run on Saturdays and Sundays, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. However, it’ll take ten weekends to complete.
Roadwayz School of Instruction
- Address: 2801 Crisman St. Suite 303, Charlotte, NC
- Phone: (980) 338 5032
Roadwayz School of Instructions may not have the same number of years regarding experience, but it doesn’t mean they’re any less reliable.
You’ll complete the program with the help of Micah, who serves as their instructor. He was born and raised in Charlotte, with extensive experience driving local and on the road.
Having an instructor with practical experience is an advantage. You’ll get to learn all the necessary concepts and get real-life techniques. He’ll be beside you as you take behind-the-wheel instruction to ensure you’re doing things correctly.
Their CDL program costs $3,200 and operates from 7:00 am to 3:45 pm, Mondays to Fridays. Ensure you have a DOT medical card, a Class A permit, and a valid driver’s license when you sign up.
160 Driving Academy
- Address: 4830 Hovis Road, Charlotte, NC
- Phone: (704) 393 3000
Your CDL test is the gateway to your trucking career, and 160 Driving Academy ensures you’ll be more than ready to take it when the time comes. You can complete their program in four weeks, each requiring 40 hours of your time.
They divide your time between classroom instruction and behind-the-wheel training. Here’s what you can expect from each segment:
Classroom instruction. This section only takes a fourth of your 160 experience, but it’s crucial. It’s where you cover the rules and regulations in truck driving.
Your CDL exam has a written portion, and this phase of the program prepares you for it.
Behind-the-Wheel Training. Knowing all the concepts about truck driving doesn’t mean you’ll be a great driver. Only practical experience can do that. That’s why the majority of your CDL program focuses on BTW instruction.
160 Driving Academy splits this further. You’ll begin practicing on their private course so you can familiarize yourself with the controls in a safe space. Eventually, though, you’ll start practicing on local roads and highways.
They also include interstate routes to ensure you can handle your CDL road test because you’ve honed your driving techniques.
Best Free CDL Training in Charlotte
Sometimes, a company-sponsored CDL is a better option.
It’s biggest advantage is it won’t make a significant dent in your savings. As the name implies, a trucking company puts down payment instead of you shelling out for your tuition.
Although you won’t have to worry about finding a job afterwards, you also don’t have the same freedom to choose your employer. Once you start working for the company that sponsored your education, they’ll typically deduct a part of your salary as tuition payment.
There are many trucking companies located in Charlotte. But these are the ones that offer free CDL training.
- Address: 2420 Starita Road, Charlotte, NC
- Phone: (800) 558 6767
Schneider offers multiple options if you want to avail of their company-paid CDL training. Here’s a brief run-through of your choices.
CDL Apprenticeship Training (CAT)
You’ll go through a paid apprenticeship at one of Schneider’s facilities. Don’t worry — they’ll provide the transportation and cover your lodging and meals.
Training consists of classroom instruction and behind-the-wheel training over five to six weeks.
Company-Sponsored CDL Training
This option ends with a job waiting for you once you’ve completed training. Schneider helps you find a truck driving school in your area and covers the cost of tuition. If you need to travel outside of Charlotte, they’ll pay for your lodging, too.
This option works best for veterans or military members since they can use their GI benefits to pay for tuition.
However, even those without military backgrounds can take advantage of this option. Schneider reimburses up to $7,000 worth of tuition in $200 or $400 increments per month. The amount depends on whether you’re a solo or team driver.
You’ll need to gather the necessary forms to ensure they process your reimbursement. These include a copy of a receipt or a loan agreement showing that you’ve paid for truck driving education and the enrollment agreement from your school indicating the cost of the program.
- Address: 7001 Statesville Road, Charlotte, NC
- Phone: (704) 998 2700
You can go with Knight Transportation if you’re looking for a Class A CDL, regardless of whether you’re gunning for regional or OTR jobs.
Their program consists of three weeks in CDL school, after which you’ll go through four to six weeks of paid training. Knight realizes that drivers may have different preferences, so they don’t force you into a team.
You’ll get two to three days to stay at home between trips to have time with family. They determine your pay based on the distance you’ve driven, but there are 0.05 monthly bonuses, and you get full benefits after 60 days.
At six months, you qualify for 401k, which is crucial, especially if you’re saving up for retirement.
- Address: 2942 Old Steele Creek Road, Charlotte, NC
- Phone: (800) 333 8595
Stevens Transport partnered with Trans Tech to provide aspiring truck drivers in Charlotte an opportunity to qualify for company-sponsored training. You’ll complete 165 hours of classroom training, which eventually ends with an orientation at Stevens Transport in Dallas.
Don’t panic. Orientation is a must, and Stevens provides the transportation to get you there. Once you’ve completed it, they consider you an official employee, which means you’ll be on their payroll.
Stevens provides support, even if you’re already with them. They pair up new drivers with mentors through their over-the-road program. It allows you to put what you’ve learned into practice while having an experienced driver to help you out, just in case.
The training is comprehensive and done 1:1 for maximum effectiveness. Expect to spend 240 hours behind the wheel over five to six weeks. They expose you to routes that go through the five regions across the U.S and provide a weekly salary.
After this program, you’ll get your own equipment, and your salary stops being computed per week and becomes per mile. You’ll get three automatic pay raises within your first year, which can help get you to a good place financially.
You can also try reaching out to Holland if you want an additional option. Their contact details are as follows:
- Address: 5201 Sunset Road, Charlotte, NC
- Phone: (704) 599 2040
The Wrap Up
As mentioned, regardless of what kind of CDL training you complete, it’s enough to fulfill the educational requirements of your license application.
Either kind has benefits and drawbacks, so it’s up to you to decide which one works better for you. Ultimately, it’ll boil down to your preferences and personal circumstances.
For example, even if you have the means to pay for tuition upfront, the trucking company you were eyeing might be offering free CDL training. In this case, going for a company-sponsored program is a wiser move. After all, you get to work for your preferred employer and save on money, too!
Whichever direction you take, we’re sure you’ll get the necessary training to begin a new career. Good luck!