As an experienced truck driver, you may be looking to advance your career and bring home a little extra. How can you further your driving career?
You may be ready for a new challenge or simply in search of your next milestone. If you enjoy teaching, becoming a driver trainer might be for you!
Training can be difficult. After all, you’re responsible for teaching other drivers safe practices and helping them gain experience on the road. Not everyone enjoys training others, and that’s OK.
Explore the responsibilities and traits of excellent trainers to determine if assisting new drivers is right for you.
What Does a Truck Driver Instructor Do?
Prime’s Driver Training Program helps CLP (permit) holders earn their Class A CDL and practice driving with a trainer for 30,000 miles. Our training program needs CDL instructors and TNT trainers to carry out all training phases.
CDL instructors help students practice basic maneuvers and understand semi-truck safety. They spend time in the classroom and the truck as students practice driving with their commercial learner’s permits.
During TNT training, professional drivers take recent CDL graduates out on the road to drive as a team. If you choose to be a TNT trainer, a student will share your truck for three to four months as they finish out training.
Learn more about the qualifications required to become a CDL instructor here.
Qualities of a Successful CDL Instructor or TNT Trainer
Student drivers rely on trainers to show them the ropes and help them build a strong foundation of knowledge. Trainers help students drive safely and confidently, so they need to be excellent and attentive drivers themselves.
As a trainer, you work closely with people who may not share your personality traits or learning style. You’ll need to create expectations for your student-trainer relationship and work with the student to set goals during the training program.
Do you have these sought-after qualities?
Driver Trainers Value Safety
Trainers carry the responsibility of teaching the next generation of truck drivers. You should have a safety-first mindset when you get behind the wheel. You must be willing to impress that attention to safety onto new drivers. The way you teach helps create safer roads.
Driver Trainers Are Patient
Student drivers are new to tractor-trailers, and they learn at different paces. Some students may take longer to master concepts and troubleshoot problems.
As a trainer, you must be patient and willing to go over skills with your apprentice multiple times. It may take them several tries to get it right. No matter what, trainers should be students’ biggest supporters!
Driver Trainers Are Friendly & Personable
You don’t know who your students will be. Some people are loud and energetic. Some people are quiet and contemplative. Some people like to joke, and others don’t. Truck driver trainers must be able to get along with others, regardless of their personality.
Overall, trainers must have friendly, positive attitudes. Your role is to teach and encourage student drivers, so you should be approachable and genuinely interested in others.
Driver Trainers Can Adapt Easily
Different people prefer different learning strategies. It’s the trainer’s job to figure out what works best for their students. If explaining a concept one way isn’t cutting it, trainers must be able to change course and describe the idea in multiple ways.
Fantastic CDL instructors take constructive criticism well. You must listen to your students when they have feedback or express their needs. Adapting your training style is crucial to providing a truly impactful experience.
What Should You Expect as a CDL Truck Driving Instructor?
Stepping into the role of a trainer is a change. Many drivers go into trucking for the freedom. Trainers give up some of their independence when they take on the responsibility of another driver.
Drivers are responsible for themselves. Trainers are responsible for themselves and their apprentices. While you’ll have the extra work of training and monitoring someone else, you’ll also experience the satisfaction of paying it forward.
If you want to become a trainer, here are a few things to consider about the role.
Expect to Share Your Cab
Solo drivers beware. Sharing your truck with someone else is an adjustment, especially if you’ve never been a team driver before. One way to acclimate to shared spaces is to set expectations with your student driver upfront. As you share your expectations, remember to ask for and listen to the student’s expectations too.
CDL instructors share a cab with a student for two to four weeks. TNT trainers run with students for three to four months.
Expect Additional Work
Training requires you to run loads for customers and teach a new driver. You’ll haul freight across the country while helping another driver learn about their future day-to-day. In addition to helping them operate a truck, you’ll show your student how to use freight logs, work with fleet managers and drop off freight.
Expect to Teach the Lifestyle
The life of a trucker is a significant change for many people. You spend time away from family and the amenities of home, like a full kitchen and shower. Trainers don’t only teach student drivers how to operate trucks. They also share tips for living life on the road.
Training may be the first time your student has spent a substantial stretch away from home. As a trainer, you should be open to answering questions about the best truck stops, showering on the road and must-have truck accessories. Remember to be encouraging and patient as student drivers adjust.
Expect to Earn More
Many truck drivers become instructors for the increased earning potential. Both CDL instructor jobs and TNT training jobs give you the opportunity to make more than you would as a solo driver.
CDL instructors earn a set pay for teaching new drivers skills they need to pass the CDL exam. TNT trainers team drive, so they earn team driver pay if they are a company driver. TNT trainers can increase their earnings because they are able to run more miles/loads with a student driver than alone.
CDL Instructor Job Pay
- $300/week for up to four weeks
CDL Instructor Bonuses
CDL instructors earn $500 minimum when their student passes the CDL exam.
- Earn $875 when your student passes on their first try.
- Earn $620 when your student passes on their second try.
- Earn $500 when your student passes on their third try.
Other CDL instructor bonuses include:
- Earn $300 when your apprentice stays at Prime for six months.
- Earn $300 when your apprentice stays at Prime for one year.
- Earn $500 when your apprentice upgrades to an A Seat lead driver.
TNT Trainer Pay
Company drivers who become TNT trainers earn pay per mile.
- Earn 56 cpm split in the refrigerated division.
- Earn 54 cpm split in the flatbed division.
- Earn 57 cpm split in the tanker division.
Independent contractor trainers earn a percentage of the linehaul. As a TNT trainer, independent contractors have the chance to earn more since they can haul more loads. If a TNT trainer is an independent contractor, they pay the wages for their trainee. The wages are as follows:
- $900/week guarantee for B Seat drivers
- $800/week guarantee for C Seat drivers
Prime pays half of the base guarantee to tanker and flatbed independent contractor trainers. Individuals in the tanker and flatbed divisions do not run as many miles as the refrigerated division.
TNT Trainer/Trainee Bonuses
- Company drivers earn a 26 cpm split bonus for miles over 3,000 each week.
- Company drivers earn a 31 cpm split bonus for miles over 4,000 each week.
- Earn $500 when your trainee upgrades to an A Seat.
Expect to Learn Along the Way
If you qualify to be a trainer, you’re already a responsible, seasoned driver. What more could you learn?
Working with new drivers takes you back to the basics. Training someone else solidifies your knowledge and challenges you to present information in a new light.
Studies show that people develop a deeper understanding of something when they teach it to others. Some researchers hypothesize that this is because teaching requires our brains to retrieve the information. You’ll cement your understanding of operating a truck as you teach new drivers.
Helping new drivers makes you an even better one.
Expect Job Satisfaction
Do you desire to give back? Do you love sharing trucking with others? Becoming a CDL instructor or TNT trainer is one way to do both!
It feels good to pay it forward. Truck driver trainers prepare the next generation of drivers for successful and safe careers. You help people find purpose and start careers with job security, so they can support their families and plan for the future.
There’s no greater feeling than when your apprentice earns their CDL or completes driver training. Many trainers bond with their apprentices, staying in touch long after training is over or even choosing to continue to drive together.
When your trainees hit career milestones, you’ll be proud to say you helped them get their start.
Drive And Train for Prime Inc.
We welcome experienced drivers who want to advance their careers. Prime offers two truck driver training jobs: CDL instructors and TNT trainers. Make a difference in someone’s life by passing on your expertise and experience.
Apply online or talk to our Recruiting Department at 866-290-1568 to discover how to become a CDL instructor today.