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Misty M.'s Comment
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I guess I'll go ahead and get my journal started.

Allow me to introduce myself. I'm 37 years old, currently working in IT. My partner and I have been together for 8 years and we have been looking into trucking for awhile. We wanted to get started several years ago, but our daughter (my step-kid) was in high school. So, the idea was laid to rest for a bit. Now, the kid's in college and living at home. She can stay at home and take care of the animals while Carol and I hit the road. We were going to work as a team, but Carol can't get a CDL due to anti-seizure meds. It's quite unfortunate for her, because she was really looking forward to driving a big rig. We looked into it and found out we can still pursue our dreams, but she'll accompany me as a rider. I've been all over this forum, studying the High Road CDL Training Program (which btw is AWESOME), and reading all about your experiences in this industry. We know it will be tough. I know I'll have to survive without her for awhile while I get my bearings and training all straightened out. But, I'm looking forward to the day that I can pull up in that truck and show her all that I've learned while we were apart.

I just read Big Scott's diary and it inspired me to keep track of my own journey. I'm just getting started, so I don't have a company picked out just yet. I don't even have a start date for school. I've chosen Roadmaster in Orlando, FL, but before I can start, I need to sell our Jeep to raise the funds to support us during school and training. I'm aiming for the 12th, but we'll have to see how it goes.

I thought I'd talk about the job shopping experience a little bit. I've talked to so many companies over the last few days that I'm getting lost in all the details. Someone suggested I put it all in a spreadsheet, so I got one started. It's a huge help so far. I can see at a glance who offers what training pay and for how long, etc. I've got 3 companies I'm looking at seriously - Paschall (PTL), Freymiller, and US Xpress. I'm looking into CDL school through Millis, but I haven't heard anything from them yet (just called tonight).

What I'm looking for:
1) Rider policy (preferably free)
2) Short-ish training time
3) Good training pay
4) Paid Orientation
5) Tuition Reimbursement

I talked to Stevens and was very interested until I realized that I'd be paying for school out of my paychecks. I also looked at TMC, but they're all flatbed and I'm not into the whole "tarping" mess. Shaffer/Crete turned me down due to credit issues. I just left a message with Wilson Logistics. Roehl requires me to ride as a team, if I remember correctly. I called Smith Transport and they only hire experienced drivers. CFI looks great, but I won't pass a hair test right now (I know, I know...).

So, that's what the beginning of my journey looks like. Reading, studying, emailing, calling, and waiting. Thanks for reading!

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.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Misty's list:

What I'm looking for 1) Rider policy (preferably free) 2) Short-ish training time 3) Good training pay 4) Paid Orientation 5) Tuition Reimbursement

Good for you Misty, your head is definitely in the game. Not sure why you haven't considered Paid CDL Training Programs. Refer to the article in this link: Why I Prefer Company Sponsored Training . Possibly a better option for you. Take a look at some of the other informational pieces found on the blog.

That said, lists are good. So a couple of observations:

Most all have some sort of Rider Policy; different degrees of cost for extra insurance coverage for your rider. Since I drive for Swift I am only aware of their policy; $65 per quarter. Not aware of any that are free though. You'll need to check, call.

The shortest road training I am aware of is Schneider; about 3 weeks. Prime has the longest period, about 2 months, no more than 3. The datapoint you need to think about is what company will best prepare you for solo driving. Most of us will counter with "there is never enough training." You'll realize this once solo. With Swift once solo they deduct $37.50 per week for 52 weeks to pay for training cost, at week 53 they will deposit $37.50 for the next year until the training cost was fully reimbursed, net zero, free. Yes, you do need to commit, but at least for me that hasn't been an issue.

In my 5th year at Swift, I am assigned to a Dedicated Account servicing Walmart; during the busy holiday season from November through first week of Jan., I was averaging $290 per work day, a few $320+ days when I had to perform multiple trailer moves at the stores. For me no need to look elsewhere, or jump ship (don't believe all the head-trash and cyber-scrap out there on these big companies, its BS regurgitated by fools).

Training pay is going to be $500-$600 on average per week. I believe Prime is more. At Swift it's roughly $10/hour for drive time, on average $500 per week. 200 hours total training time is the minimum requirement.

Most pay for orientation at minimum wage or slightly above. Remember orientation is still part of your training and for the most part a protracted two to three day job interview.

Tuition reimbursement is offered by many, paid out in weekly increments. The reason Stevens doesn't reimburse is because of their Company Sponsored Training Program, one of the best I might add.

Quick point on Roehl; I believe the teaming is for Road Training only. Roehl is a really good company, numerous members of the forum drive for them and successfully completed their training. I'd reconsider them. Many carriers train in this "teaming" fashion including Prime, Swift, Stevens, Roehl, etc. Some like CFI don't team during training. I believe a combination of supervised and teaming is a good balance. With Swift, first 50 hours of student driving is supervised, if mutually agreed on, next 150 is teaming.

Not to throw more information at you, but thus might help with your research and reduce your playtime with Excel!

Trucking Company Reviews

Good luck!

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.

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.

Misty M.'s Comment
member avatar

G-Town!! That was some great info! I really appreciate the time and energy you put into that.

So, Prime called this morning and they're going forward with background checks, etc. I am inexplicably super excited about this. I have no idea why, but the training sounds awesome, the company sounds great, the training pay is nice, and I'm sure there are a ton more reasons to go with Prime.

To further explain for those unfamiliar with Prime, it starts with a 4 day orientation in either Springfield, MO or somewhere, UT (can't remember the city). You pay up front $155 for admin fees and for your permit, which you will get while you're there in MO. They pay for the bus ride there, hotel, and 3 meals a day during orientation. After that, and this is where it gets exciting, you jump straight into a truck with a trainer for 3 to 4 weeks running loads across the country. At that time, they will loan you $200 a week for food and stuff. Then, you go back to Springfield and take your CDL exam. Pass on the first try and get a $250 bonus. After that, another 30,000 with a trainer making $700 per week as long as you're available to drive. After all that, you get your own truck and you're ready to go!

I'll keep you all posted...

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.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

You're welcome Misty, my pleasure.

Rainy is the "go-to" Prime driver active on the forum. Her diary is a must read for you:

Rainy's PSD Experience with Prime

Enjoy...quite a trip!

PSD:

Prime Student Driver

Prime Inc has a CDL training program and the first phase is referred to as PSD. You'll get your permit and then 10,000 miles of on the road instruction.

The following is from Prime's website:

Prime’s PSD begins with you obtaining your CDL permit. Then you’ll go on the road with a certified CDL instructor for no less than 75 hours of one-on-one behind the wheel training. After training, you’ll return to Prime’s corporate headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, for final CDL state testing and your CDL license.

Obtain CDL Permit / 4 Days

  • Enter program, study and test for Missouri CDL permit.
  • Start driving/training at Prime Training Center in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Work toward 40,000 training dispatched miles (minimum) with food allowance while without CDL (Food allowance is paid back with future earnings).

On-the-Road Instruction / 10,000 Miles

  • Train with experienced certified CDL instructor for 3-4 weeks in a real world environment.
  • Get 75 hours of behind-the-wheel time with one-on-one student/instructor ratio.
  • Earn 10,000 miles toward total 40,000 miles needed.
Misty M.'s Comment
member avatar

After reading Rainy's PSD Experience with Prime yesterday and reading all through their website, I decided to go for it. I got a call this morning from Travis, my recruiter, and he told me I'm accepted. The only caveat is that I have to have a sleep test and may have to become "compliant on a CPAP" for 30 days. So, I may have to push it back further than I'd like, but that's ok. I'm freaking stoked, y'all.

CPAP:

Constant Positive Airway Pressure

CPAP is a breathing assist device which is worn over the mouth or nose. It provides nighttime relief for individuals who suffer from Sleep Apnea.

PSD:

Prime Student Driver

Prime Inc has a CDL training program and the first phase is referred to as PSD. You'll get your permit and then 10,000 miles of on the road instruction.

The following is from Prime's website:

Prime’s PSD begins with you obtaining your CDL permit. Then you’ll go on the road with a certified CDL instructor for no less than 75 hours of one-on-one behind the wheel training. After training, you’ll return to Prime’s corporate headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, for final CDL state testing and your CDL license.

Obtain CDL Permit / 4 Days

  • Enter program, study and test for Missouri CDL permit.
  • Start driving/training at Prime Training Center in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Work toward 40,000 training dispatched miles (minimum) with food allowance while without CDL (Food allowance is paid back with future earnings).

On-the-Road Instruction / 10,000 Miles

  • Train with experienced certified CDL instructor for 3-4 weeks in a real world environment.
  • Get 75 hours of behind-the-wheel time with one-on-one student/instructor ratio.
  • Earn 10,000 miles toward total 40,000 miles needed.
Misty M.'s Comment
member avatar

Picked up the sleep study machine at the doc's this morning. Gotta wear it for 3 nights, then it'll take a week or two for the results. Then I'll see if I have to wait another month. There's a lot more waiting involved than I'd like. But, hey, each day is one day closer to living my dream!

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

That's a great update to read. good-luck.gif

Big Scott's Comment
member avatar

While I love CFI, Prime is an excellent company with many perks. CFI has a free rider policy. I would suggest you wait until you can pass that hair test. You never know when a company might start doing that test.

I have a strong feeling you will do great in this lifestyle. You are listening to all the great advise you are getting here, reading training diaries, and studying the High Road Training. Getting organized in your job hunt is also great. We are here for you. As G-Town said it is very important to find a company you can stay with. Good luck.

Misty M.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks so much, Big Scott :)

I'm wondering if all this time that keeps being added to my wait won't force me to wait until I'm clear for the hair test.

I really am excited about Prime. It feels right :D

Misty M.'s Comment
member avatar

I took the sleep study machine back in today. Reached out to Rainy, who had some positive words as usual. I'm really grateful for this forum and this platform. I can't wait to tell you all that I got my own truck, but I've got a good bit more waiting to do before I can do that.

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