If you’re ready to pursue a career as a truck driver, the first step toward getting on the road is to earn your Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).
Driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) demands a higher level of skill than for a typical non-commercial car, truck or van. To obtain your CDL, you must pass a CDL exam that includes rigorous skills and knowledge testing.
To help you out, Prime offers CDL training school for new drivers through the Prime Student Driver (PSD) program.
Keep reading for a preview of what you can expect as you learn the skills you need to become a successful truck driver — and to successfully pass your CDL exam!
Get Your CDL Learner’s Permit
Before you can earn your CDL, you must first acquire a commercial learner’s permit, which authorizes you to drive on public roads with a qualified CDL holder.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration offers the following points to keep in mind when applying for your learner’s permit:
- Your driving record will be checked for past 10 years in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
- You must present proof of medical qualification.
- You may need to pass a DOT physical to obtain a DOT medical card.
- You must possess your learner’s permit for at least 14 days before taking the Skills test to earn your CDL.
If you are starting in the Springfield, MO location, you can obtain your learner’s permit during orientation for the Prime Student Driver (PSD) program. If you start in the Salt Lake City, UT location, you will need to obtain your CDL permit in your home state prior to starting orientation. Typically, you will be sent to the orientation location nearest to your home state.
How Does the Prime Student Driver Program Work?
The Prime Student Driver (PSD) program was created in 2002 to offer an alternative to CDL training school for new drivers and provide hands-on, real-world training with an experienced professional truck driver.
The program starts with an orientation in Springfield, MO or Salt Lake City, UT followed by CDL instruction, CDL exam, and TNT training. The entire program takes approximately 3 to 4 months in total from orientation until a driver can upgrade into their own truck.
The only amount you pay to start the PSD program is $155 ($100 administrative fee and $55 for permit costs) if you start at the MO location or $100 ($100 administrative fee) if you start at the UT location. You pay nothing more for the training program as long as you drive for Prime with your CDL for at least one year.
- New orientation classes start every week in Springfield, MO and Salt Lake City, UT.
- Prime pays for transportation to the orientation as well 3 meals per day and hotel accommodations during orientation.
- Orientation is mainly comprised of the following:
- Department of Transportation (DOT) physical and drug test
- Interview and file review
- Computer-based training
- Driving simulator training
- Classroom training
- Permit testing (if attending orientation in Springfield, MO)
Once you get your commercial learner’s permit, you will be paired with a CDL instructor (an experienced Prime driver) and go out on the road for 2 to 4 weeks for this phase of training. Anytime you are operating the truck with a permit, your CDL instructor must be in the passenger seat, awake and alert to be able to assist you at all times.
During this phase of training, you will be running real loads across the country with your instructor while learning everything you need to know to successfully pass the CDL exam. Your instructor’s focus will be teaching you how to complete a vehicle inspection, safely driving and operating a truck and trailer, and backing the tractor-trailer.
You are not paid during this phase, but Prime does provide a $200 interest-free loan each week to use for food and living costs. Once you obtain your CDL and start getting paid, you will pay the amount you borrowed back at $25 per week until it is paid back completely.
After you complete the CDL instruction phase (2-4 weeks of training with your permit), you will take your CDL exam in either Springfield, MO or Salt Lake City, UT. The CDL Exam is comprised of three parts: vehicle inspection, backing skills, and road test.
Once you pass the exam and obtain your CDL, you are hired by Prime as a company employee and start earning the $700 per week guarantee as long as you are available to drive during the 2nd phase of training with your license.
If you pass your CDL exam on your first attempt (also known as a “trifecta”), you earn a $250 bonus from Prime.
After obtaining your CDL, you will go back out on the road with a TNT trainer (an experienced Prime driver) who may be the same as your CDL instructor. This phase is comprised of team driving training meaning you could be driving while your trainer is not in the passenger seat and vice versa.
The goal is to obtain a minimum of 30,000 team training miles during this phase. Any miles driven whether by you or your trainer will count towards this requirement. This final phase of the PSD program takes approximately 2 months to complete.
Once you complete your training mileage requirement, you will be able to continue teaming with your trainer or return to Prime to upgrade into your own truck and become a solo lease or company driver.
How Much Does CDL Training School Cost?
If you commit to drive for Prime for at least one year after earning your CDL, the only amount you pay is $155 (administrative fee plus permit costs) to start.
You are guaranteed a job after earning your CDL, and you will begin earning money as you complete your 30,000 team miles of additional training.