Equipment Certification – CDL Training – Experience


Hi all, Marty here with Warehouse and Operations as a Career!  I spent quite a bit of time on Social Media this week, if you follow us on Facebook you may have noticed I’m a member or have joined quite a few Job’s Groups in the 5 states I work with and try and post when I know of someone hiring or participating wherever I can.  Since the New Year I’ve seen a real influx with the number of postings from companies offering training for a CDL license in transportation or Equipment Certifications in the Warehouse.  Not that this really bothers or affects me, but I do want us all to understand what’s being offered through them.  When I saw how may replies they get and noticed the number of post from individuals asking things like “Where can I get Forklift Certified, or Where can I learn to Drive a Cherry Picker and Where can I get my CDL License I feel these people are legitimately asking for help and I’m not sure their receiving it, or in an unbiased form anyway or at least in some instances.  So, I pushed back the topic scheduled for today and I’d like to share some thoughts on these two avenues to employment, probably good choices for some but possibly not all of us.

Social Media can be THE tool for us as job seekers, but I feel it can also and many times can get us off track or urge us to go down the wrong path when trying to get our careers started.  Experience and Responsibility are the two components I believe in, and found to be the actual fast track tool.

Let’s look at this scenario, the bosses son has been away to college for 4 years, only worked in the warehouse during his summers in high school, kind of knows how the freight comes in, that its stored in the racks and its shipped out when a customer orders it.  He had a hand in all the tasks before, physically moving the product through the system but not really on a day to day routine.  Anyway, he’s graduated now and is coming back to work with the crew.  Now he’s a great guy, doesn’t come off as a know it all and he definitely has the training and education to review the P & L or Profit and Loss statements, Contracts and turns out he’s a pretty good negotiator or salesman to the customers but his expertise or experience in the warehouse or on the floor activities are going to be really lacking.  He won’t know how to turn a pinwheeled pallet inside a trailer without breaking it and damaging the left corners freight, or how to slide a leaning stack of product back onto the pallet without having to restack the whole thing. And what about placing a small piece of wood between the trailer decking and the dock plate lip so we can drive our equipment in and out of the trailer without bumping the load off the pallet!  Things like that, and about 5000 others aren’t taught at most schools, experience is how there learned.  So, this gentleman has been given the title of warehouse manager, but I feel he’s going to struggle maintaining the productivity and handling the crew and daily operations because he’s still going to have to Learn the task or job.  Is it going to frustrate him, make him work twice as hard, really wear him out?  I believe it can and probably will!  He’s been trained and educated to view and handle things at like a Directors level, he knows, and might I say he’s comfortable with those tasks because he has that training and that education.  Now let’s change the story just a bit and say that he had worked in the warehouse during high school on weekends and after school each day.  He had unloaded trucks, received the P.O’s, ran product from the docks, racked pallets with the forklift and pulled orders and shipped orders for that 4 years, went off to college and was trained in the same qualities we discussed earlier.  I feel he’d be a great Warehouse Manager, a much stronger Director because of his Experiences, right?

I guess what I wanted to talk about are perceived short cuts to our Careers today so I’ll get back on subject, we’ll finish that story on another episode, it actually does goes somewhere and I think that little piece kind of fits in with today’s topic, maybe..

So, while running through the feeds I saw one ad stating something like” Learn to drive in 21 days, zero cost to you, solo and team drivers, and most if not all of those type ad’s will mention Home Time.  Now this isn’t a bad opportunity for the right individual.  Upon looking into the offer, in this particular case the program was paid for through some sort of state or federal funding program for jobs, which I feel is a great thing, but we’re going to be working for their company while we EARN our CDL or commercial driver’s License.  It seems to be a really decent program, for that individual that can be away from home quite a bit, willing to get the needed miles on the road and the experience of drop and hook transportation.  These jobs will pay you pretty well in a year or two.  You’ll have the license in 21 days, I guess the question is do you accept the position and the pay that goes along with it!  Another ad stated something like CDL Training, route, regional and National driving positions, Home Time teams and Solo.  It seems like these school’s range in price anywhere from 2k to 3k dollars and I’m sure their worth it, if only because of all the one on one training, instruction and Safety considerations that’s presented to us.  Upon looking at some of the job referrals they’d be offering I saw those road mile opportunities, home time was there but kind of like in small print.

I think we all understand, at least deep down inside us somewhere that these types of Opportunities can be both advantageous to us or a hindrance to our real pursuits.  The real money we’re looking for is going to come later, after we have the miles, deliveries and experiences and learned the responsibilities of the job.  In my experience, companies are not going to hire us because we possess the CDL license in our hand alone.  Their going to put someone in their Company’s Rig or tractor and trailer that they’ve invested something like 140k dollars or maybe more in and loaded with freight they are responsible for that has experience, years of experience, with a safe driving record and delivery experience first and foremost.

And I’m seeing the same question regarding our Equipment Certification for warehouse equipment.  As you may know this one really irks me.  So, the ad typically goes something like “Forklift Licenses in 1 day, earn up to $xx/hr, we help you seek employment”.  The certification is a regulatory requirement here in the states and your employer, 99% of the time, is going to train and certify us for free.  We should have the training to be on his or her dock, its free.  And there’s a well know component to the standard that we’ll have to be on-sited or observed on the dock that we’ll be working on to complete that certification process.  I’ve seen the cost of these School’s range from $88 for just an electric pallet jack or a forklift to like $189 or more depending how many types of equipment their going to certify us on.  Now these classes aren’t really a bad thing all the way around.  I think there a great refresher course as they pertain to a specific type of equipment, kind of an overview or review of the operating manual and the Safety refresher is definitely worth the cost.  But do your research and know again what your getting for your hard-earned money.  I read so many comments and replies on Jobs Groups this week where people paid for a class and are hearing through their job searches that you need 1 year or 6 months or 2 years of experience for those well-paying positions being advertised.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I think both these Driving Schools and the Certification Classes have their place and in many instances, can help us achieve our goals BUT please make sure we’ve researched them and know what we’re getting out of them and how we are going to make them work for us and to our advantage.  I’ve found those referrals that are offered are sometimes just a list of trucking companies that are continuously hiring or staffing companies that presently have ad’s running.

We’ve talked about Social Media now on a couple of different episodes, Sharon, a Recruiting Specialist with a large national sourcing company, Belmar Integrated Logistics, walked us through how to better use Social Media when we’re responding to Recruiters and handling that phone Interview and what she looks for in that stressful and sometimes agonizing face to face interview we all dread.  One of her points was experience and how different companies look at experience levels when filling positions.  She mentions how there are just no short cuts to experience. Again, Social Media is a great tool for us job seekers, but I feel it can be a distraction if we’re not careful with it.  I saw so many individuals posting this week of how they’ve applied for a position and are waiting for a call back, been waiting for a couple of weeks.  They were told they have the job but have to wait for the position to open back up, sometimes they’ve even sent their friends to the same place and now their waiting on that call also.  Make sure that call’s really coming before you quit searching and applying for jobs would have to be my advice.

Back to the topic’s I guess, I see or hear from at least one person a month that’s walked into an agency or company with their Operators License in hand stating I’m ready to go to work as a Lift driver only to be told he or she doesn’t qualify because they have no variable experience.  Oh, a true story, Last year a friend’s son shelled out $2700 to take a CDL course, it was really a good course and they taught him all about the equipment, hauling, backing, all the regulatory information he needed to know, really a through school or class, I was honestly impressed with his education.  Even with his father’s contacts within the industry he had to sign on with a company, kind of at the bottom rung and start putting in his time, building that experience.  He was far from happy with the starting pay, he won’t be happy with his pay for a couple of years but then it’ll all be worth it as after you have some bankable experience it can be a great and very rewarding profession!

If you’re a long-time listener with us here at WAOC you know we believe the wealth comes from knowing all the positions that your task touches, adding those values to your resume and believe that you’ll increase your earnings with that knowledge and experience.  Mix in a little self-education, participate in all the shift meetings, show up on time for every shift and make sure our bosses know our goals and I cant help believe we’ll see success much quicker than the individual that believes he’s found a short cut.  Experience & Responsibility Pays.

I hope I made sense today and you found some value within the show somewhere.  If your seeking employment use those Job’s Groups on Facebook, use them responsibility, I think their great resources.  Please Like our group’s, WAOC can be found @whseandops on Facebook and twitter and we’re having a lot of fun with the Warehouse Equipment Operators Community Group on Facebook as well, dang I was going to try to get through a whole episode without saying as well, I heard from a listener that I said it too much at the end of sentences.  Oh, and email us with any thoughts or suggestions to we love reading your messages!

Thanks for listening and not just good luck but a wish for great luck with your job search or that promotion that your chasing!  And as always, remember Safety is our first responsibility in any task we perform, let’s all Think Safe and Be Safe this week!

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