PAM Transport prides itself on helping student truck drivers begin their truck driving careers. Unlike most other carriers, we hire drivers who have gone to CDL school and acquired a CDL-A license but don’t yet have any working experience.
We’re able to do this because we collaborate with truck driving schools that give student truck drivers a strong foundation and then assign student drivers to a driver mentor for their first few weeks at PAM so they can gain the practical experience they need begin working as professional truck drivers.
Connecting with PAM as a Student Truck Driver
The first step to becoming a student truck driver, of course, is to train to earn your CDL-A license. To get started, you can apply to PAM directly and we’ll help you find a CDL school in your area.
Once you’ve acquired a CDL and met PAM’s hiring requirements (e.g., you have to be 21 years old; you can’t have a DUI/DWI in the last five years), you’ll then take the following first steps as you embark on your career at PAM and as a professional truck driver.
Once you’re hired as a student driver, you’ll get a call from one of PAM’s student liaisons. They’ll give you a PAM driver code and will want you to answer a few questions:
- What is your gender — and are you willing to work with an opposite-gender mentor?
- Do you smoke — and, if not, are you will to work with a mentor who does?
- Are you ready to start work?
- Where are you located?
If you’re ready to go, you’ll be put on the “ready list,” which means a matched driver mentor will be dispatched to pick you up. As soon as the student liaison learns the name of the driver mentor, they’ll call you with the information and send you an email with the details.
If you live or are staying in an area that PAM’s network of lanes passes through, you’ll be asked to remain at home and wait for a call from your driver mentor. If you’re located in an area where PAM doesn’t have such a dense network of routes (e.g., Florida or North Carolina), you may be issued a bus ticket to the nearest PAM terminal where you’ll meet up with your mentor.
While you wait for your driver mentor to pick you up, you’ll also be contacted by one of PAM’s driver advocates. They’ll send you a list of items to pack and will give you their contact information in the event that you have questions down the road or need someone to help you make adjustments to your driving assignments at any point during your career at PAM.
PAM Student Driver Packing List
What student truck drivers should bring with them on their first over-the-road trip out with their driver mentors.
The PAM Mentor Program for Student Truck Drivers
Be on the alert for a call from your driver mentor as they’ll typically call you once they are on their way to pick you up.
Once you connect with them, you’ll spend a minimum of 14 days on the road participating in hands-on learning with an experienced truck driver. Here are some of the many things you’ll review together — and start to master:
- Driving basics (e.g., backing up)
- Smith System for safe driving
- Co-pilot navigation system via Qualcomm
- Hours of service (HOS) and how to record status changes in the electronic onboard recorder (EOBR)
- Paper logging (practice)
- Pre-trip inspection
- Tandem sliding
- Load/unload procedures
- Bills of lading (BOL)
While you’re learning from your mentor, you’ll also be earning training pay, which should be enough to cover any meals and additional expenses you incur while on the road.
Upgrade to Experienced Driver
In most cases, after two weeks of over the road experience with your driver mentor, you’ll be ready to make your way to a PAM terminal to begin the upgrade process.
In the event that you weren’t able to master everything your mentor wanted you to learn, you’ll extend your training time until you have acquired the necessary skills and knowledge to successfully complete the upgrade process.
PAM Terminals Where Students Can Upgrade to Experienced Driver
Once you’re eligible for upgrade, you’ll be asked to pass a road test with three components:
- Pre-trip inspection
- City driving
- Backing up
Following that, there are also two written tests, which measure your grasp of:
- General truck driving knowledge
Most student truck drivers applying for upgrade complete these five tests the first day of their upgrade process.
Following the day of tests, there are two days of orientation at the PAM terminal where the upgrade tests are administered. This orientation includes:
- Learning about Hazmat endorsements and procedures
- Reviewing national security issues related to truck driving
- Recapping the Smith System
- Going over the employee benefits package (health and dental insurance, 401(k), etc.)
After completing these steps, student truck drivers are formally upgrade to first-seat drivers and given their initial assignments as Company Drivers, for which they immediately start earning cents per mile (CPM) per standard truck driver pay practices.
With PAM’s recent pay upgrades, student truck drivers who onboard with PAM in this way can earn more than $50,000 in their first year.
Next Steps for Student Truck Drivers and Recent Grads
If you’ve graduated from CDL school, have a CDL license, and are looking for a great start to your truck driving career, apply today for any of our open Company Driver jobs.
Looking for CDL training? Fill out our student application and we’ll direct you to a recommended truck driving school to get your license.
We wish you a successful truck driver career. Safe driving!