You Can Get A CDL License But ...
Can You Get An OTR Driving Job ...
Finding a job has gotten tougher for convicted felons. Life in general has gotten tougher for convicted felons. Hiring policies by trucking companies have gotten stricter, and the whole process of getting a cdl driving job for felons has become extremely challenging and downright depressing.
|Dazed and Confused?|
Oh yes, you can get a CDL Class A License through an accredited truck driver training school. It may cost you several thousands of dollars, or you might even qualify for a federal or state grant. But once you've graduated, there is absolutely no guarantee that you will land a job. In fact, job placement directors at some schools will deliberately mislead you and tell you that you can get a job. They will gladly take your money and train you. Or, you might be told that you can drive for a small owner operator. This is in reality untrue because an owner operator's insurance company may not insure and bond you. So, all too often, the path to your new career will end there along with your hopes and dreams.
To make matters worse, while you are beating the bushes to find a trucking company that will hire you even though you have a felony on your record, the time allowed between when you get your CDL License and when you are hired, expires. This can be 60 days, sometimes 90 days. But the general rule is if you don't find a driving job within 60-90 days of graduating from a CDL training program, the majority of the trucking companies will not hire you until you take a CDL refresher program. And that can be anywhere from $500 - $2,500 or more. The good news is that you're still in the game, the bad news is that you have to spend additional monies, and there are very few trucking companies that offer a CDL refresher course. Back to the training school for probably another $1,500, more or less.
So What Can You Do ?
The number (1) rule is: DO YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE YOU GO THROUGH CDL TRAINING! And here are some valid suggestions......
Before you even begin your job search make sure that you have a valid driver's license. If you lost it or it expired while you were incarcerated, get a new one. Trucking companies require that you have a valid driver's license and many require that you have it for at least one year. Some require three years.
Don't bother applying directly to the major trucking companies until you've spoken with a recruiter because you probably won't pass their underwriting guidelines. Depending on the nature of the felony and how long ago it occurred, the likelihood is that you won't be eligible for hire. If you are still on parole, you are going to be ineligible for hire by just about every trucking company out there.
Don't spend money for cdl training until you have found a company that will hire you. It may be a Mom and Pop outfit, or a small local company, or even a larger regional type company. There are also some mid-size to larger trucking companies that advertise that they will hire convicted felons .... there are not many and they are probably not the companies you'd like to work for, but it's a start.
Approach companies first, ask them for their recommendation for a training program, and try to get a pre-hire letter from a future employer. A small company may even agree to pay for your CDL training; it's unlikely but it's possible. You may even be able to work out a reimbursement program to repay your employer.
If you are still on probation, you are even more of an insurance risk and you may not be able to travel outside of your own home state. You may be restricted to finding a job with a company where you travel within your own home state only.
Face the fact that you have a lot of work ahead of you .... get on the Internet and research any information that may help. Phone trucking companies and talk with their human resources people. Talk with an independent recruiter for clarification and further information. Contact your state government and even the federal government for back-to-work programs that offer felons a way to get back into the workforce. Normally, there are job workshops, seminars, grants and training programs available, and resources available for blue-collar positions such as truck drivers. Also check with your local department of labor.
We will be publishing guidelines for specific convictions, such as alcohol related or drug related felonies. These will be published in the next posting and we hope this article and the subsequent follow-up article will be helpful and informative.
In the meantime remember that old quote that says something like ..."a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step". You may have to work hard to get to your dream of being an otr driver but with the right attitude, persistence, a belief in yourself, and maybe a little bit of luck, anything is possible.
Good luck and all the best,