If you want to become a commercial truck driver, you’ll need a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). While the cost of CDL training can be expensive, there may be options available to help you cover the cost. In this blog post, we’ll explore whether or not unemployment benefits can be used to pay for CDL training.
Unemployment benefits are designed to help individuals who have lost their jobs and are actively seeking new employment. In some states, unemployment benefits can be used to cover the cost of training programs that are directly related to finding new employment. CDL training falls into this category, as commercial truck driving continues to be a high-demand industry.
Unemployment Benefits Rules
The rules about using unemployment benefits for CDL training vary by state. In some states, you may be required to already have a CDL permit before your training can be covered. In other states, your training provider may need to be certified by the state workforce agency for it to be covered by unemployment benefits. It’s important to research the specific requirements in your state to ensure you meet all the necessary criteria.
In addition to meeting the state requirements, you may also need to demonstrate that CDL class A training is necessary for your future employment prospects. This could mean providing evidence that there are job openings in your area that require a CDL or that you’ve already received job offers that are contingent on obtaining your CDL. For those who want to become CDL drivers, this won’t be a problem given the short supply of truck drivers across the country.
It’s also worth noting that even if unemployment benefits can be used to pay for CDL training, there may be limitations on how much funding is available. The amount you receive may be capped at a certain percentage of your overall unemployment benefits, or there may only be a certain amount of funding available for training programs in your state. In addition, the length of time you’re eligible to receive funding for training can also vary by state.
It’s best to visit your local Job Centre or Workforce Development Office to get a training needs assessment. Once your training needs assessment is complete, your career planner will work with you to determine your best training or re-employment option. They’ll be able to guide you on what you’re eligible for, how much funding is available and for how long.
Unemployment Training Benefits
There are several government training benefits you can apply for to get your CDL training paid for.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) offers job seekers employment, education, training, and support services to successfully gain employment.
To apply for training benefits under the WIOA, you’ll need to visit your local America’s Job Center, and receive an assessment of your training needs.
A career planner will help you through this process, and will determine whether you’re eligible to get truck driver training funded under the WIOA benefits.
The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) is a federal program that helps Americans who lost their jobs as a result of foreign trade get back in the workforce.
The TAA program offers skills training, career counselling, employment search, relocation allowance, income support for workers in training programs and wage supplements for older workers.
To be eligible for TAA benefits, a petition needs to be filed on your behalf with the Department of Labor (DOL) by one of the following:
- Group of 3 or more employees
- Union or employee representative
- America’s Job Center representative
For ease of process, it’s best to work with a career planner at your local Job Centre to determine your eligibility and to walk you through the process of getting TAA benefits to help pay for your truck driving school tuition.
In some states, like California for example, you can go the route of arranging your own training and receive funding through the state’s unemployment program.
To be eligible for California’s Self-Arranged Training, your job must have been eliminated due to plant closure; your hours were reduced due to technological advancement; your employer relocated; a significant reduction in jobs at your workplace. Also, you may qualify if you’re not employed because there’s lack of opportunities for your skills; and/or there’s a demand for the job you’re training for.
Approved for Unemployment Training Benefits
When you’re approved for training benefits, you are not required to look for or accept work while enrolled in CDL training, however, it’s important to continue to certify for UI benefits.
Even though you don’t have to seek employment while in trucking school, it’s a good idea to network and put your feelers out for potential truck driving jobs.
If you’re considering using unemployment benefits to pay for CDL training, it’s important to thoroughly research the requirements and limitations in your state. While it can be a viable option for some individuals, it’s not a guarantee and may require some additional legwork on your part.
Keep in mind that there may be other financial assistance options available, such as CDL training grants or scholarships, that could also help offset the cost of CDL training. Also, there are driving jobs that don’t require CDLs such as driveaway drivers, hotshot drivers, or movers.
By exploring all your options and doing your due diligence, you can make an informed decision about how to best pursue your career goals as a commercial truck driver.
Marina was in corporate communications for over 15 years before becoming a freelance writer for TruckersTraining.com. She's been writing about transportation, and the supply chain and trucking industry for over five years. Her father was in the trucking and logging business which exposed her to the industry. Her passions include travel, nature and entrepreneurship.