Where To Begin My Career?

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T-Rex's Comment
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I am looking for some feedback from those of you that may have began your careers at one of these companies that offer paid training as well as financed or free/contract based tuition for cdl training.

I recently got started in my journey to become a trucker. My brother in law works for a small family owned/operated intermodal trucking operation and he got me in. I had no prior experience. By no experience I mean I never even driven a car with a manual trans before. After getting my permit and medical clearance the company allowed my brother in law to supervise me rolling around the yard for a bit on the weekends. Sadly, with a 6mph speed limit in the yard that did very little to prepare me for driving out in the real world once they put me with a trainer.

I spent roughly 2 weeks riding with the trainer and watching him before he got a run that put us in a rural area so I could get behind the wheel. Within a couple days I was basically thrown in the deep end and expected to know how to drive this beast from Flint to Detroit and back. This company is used to hiring experienced drivers with a cdl and training them in intermodal trucking rather than inexperienced newbies. I should also mention that I haven't made a dime since signing on with these guys.

This brings me to the point of this post...I have a family to provide for and want to pursue this trucking dream. I need professional training in a controlled environment and need a livable wage and tuition that is free or can be worked off through financing or working through a contract. I've done some research and it seems like my best options currently are companies like Swift or Pam. I've discussed it with my family and we are comfortable with the idea of having to go OTR for a while to provide us with a better life.

Any feedback would be appreciated. And again, I already have my permit and DOT medical card if that makes a difference.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Intermodal:

Transporting freight using two or more transportation modes. An example would be freight that is moved by truck from the shipper's dock to the rail yard, then placed on a train to the next rail yard, and finally returned to a truck for delivery to the receiving customer.

In trucking when you hear someone refer to an intermodal job they're normally talking about hauling shipping containers to and from the shipyards and railyards.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
T-Rex's Comment
member avatar

I will say that I really wanted to make this work. I'm kind of worried this sink or swim training method is going to get someone killed or at least cause an accident. I know you guys preach staying at your first trucking job for a year but under these circumstances I'm not sure if I can make it work. I don't have any kind of contractual obligations here to worry about either.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

No one here is going to encourage you to stick with your present job based on what you described. It was a mistake. Move-on and focus on selecting Pam or Swift or other for your training.

Company-Sponsored Training Programs

This too might help...Trucking Company Reviews

Company-sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

T-Rex's Comment
member avatar

Thanks G-Town. Yes it's a crazy situation but on the bright side I did learn some things that I believe will give me a head start once I get to a training school.

The reviews on companies and company sponsored training on here are great. I've read them many times over the past few days. Each company has its pros and cons and really very little seems to separate them on paper.

That's why I was hoping to get some feedback from some of the good folks of this forum that have dealt with company sponsored training and why they chose the company they did and maybe shed some light on what set the company they chose apart from the rest of the pack.

Company Sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Tom continued:

Thanks G-Town. Yes it's a crazy situation but on the bright side I did learn some things that I believe will give me a head start once I get to a training school.

The reviews on companies and company sponsored training on here are great. I've read them many times over the past few days. Each company has its pros and cons and really very little seems to separate them on paper.

That's why I was hoping to get some feedback from some of the good folks of this forum that have dealt with company sponsored training and why they chose the company they did and maybe shed some light on what set the company they chose apart from the rest of the pack.

I can see how you are wiser as a result of this experience. You are also not alone, we have seen a similar scenario played out many times with different drivers. If it's too good to be true, it probably isn't,...true.

The thoughts expressed in your second paragraph are extremely relevant and accurate. Many people don't get this...congratulations you are in the minority. The differences between most of the larger TL carriers is subtle and in the grand scheme of things minor. We constantly and passionately evangelize to everyone; "good drivers can be successful at any of the companies in the review link". Implied in that statement, one must have; a great attitude, a strong work ethic, an even-keeled temperament and the ability to maintain focus at all times under adverse conditions. Yes, I think you got it...spread the word, please.

My suggestion is to "search" on each of the individual companies you are interested in (search bar is found in the top, upper LH corner of this page). In short, I chose Swift from 3 possibilities; CRST, CR England and of course Swift. I quickly ruled out CRST due to the 100% team-truck concept; just not for me. In the end, it came down to two things: location of Swift's school (and reputation), and the mentoring/advice I received from two trusted friends, both truck drivers of 30+ years. Swift also has many, many Dedicated Account opportunities which greatly appealed to me, one in particular. I went through Swift's driving school in Richmond, VA (great experience), mentored for about 7 weeks (also a great experience) and went solo OTR for roughly 3 months before I committed to a Dedicated Account running Walmart Grocery (both dry and perishable). In short I deliver food to Walmart's, Sam's Club and about 25% of the time return to the DC with a vendor back haul (like Kellogg's or Tropicana). That journey began 5 years ago...I am still happy and content to continue as a Swift driver on the Walmart account. No complaints; money is great, professional/competent driver support team, flexibility and consistency. If you want more detail...you can search on my name and Walmart.

Good luck!

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Company Sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

T-Rex's Comment
member avatar

Thank you, G-Town. I appreciate you taking to time to talk to me. Swift is definitely near the top of my list.

Does anyone here drive for Carter Express or have any experience with them? I am intrigued by their home time options as I'm a family man with 2 young kids. Seems like they might be a decent place to start out since they offer company sponsored training and I'd be able to get home frequently to see the family.

Company Sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

T-Rex's Comment
member avatar

Scratch that.... Carter doesn't have funding for schooling for people in my area. Nevermind. Just spoke to a recruiter.

∆_Danielsahn_∆'s Comment
member avatar

I am originally from Midland / Bay City area.

I have chosen to go with Swift. I was also accepted by CFI.

In the end, Swift better Fits the needs of my family. While CFI is a great company, they are mainly an otr company, and the home time doesn't fit what we want.

With Swift, we know that at the beginning, I won't be home a lot, but after 6 months or so, and proving myself, I can have the opportunity to move into a more frequent home time option.

I will starting my training on Sept 11, in Memphis.

Good luck in your search.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
T-Rex's Comment
member avatar

Good luck at Swift, Danielsahn. I'm still thinking of going that route. I have a voicemail from a swift recruiter on my phone right now awaiting my response. Just trying to decide if that's the way I want to go.

Does anyone here have any personal experience with Maverick? I've done a bit of research on them and they seem great. Good pay and paid training and a very short contract to repay tuition. I can't get through to a recruiter though, I think they may be off on the weekends.

T-Rex's Comment
member avatar

I was also wondering something about swift... If I already have my cdl permit will it transfer to wherever I have to go to school or will I have to get it again once I get There? It would save me a few bucks if I didn't have to get it again.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
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