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What did you do before becoming a truck driver?

Topic 7924 | Page 11

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Old School's Comment
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For thirty years I was an electrical sign contractor doing custom fabricated work in about a three state area. When that business was good it was very good, and when it was bad it was very bad. We did a lot of very creative and fun stuff. Here's a look at one of the jobs I did in Lufkin, TX for Rush Truck Centers. And yes that is an actual Peterbilt rig that we lifted up with a crane truck and welded it to the pipe structure that we had installed on the site.

After getting out of the sign business I took a break for a while and then got bored with life on the farm so I decided to hit the road and I haven't turned back since.

Rush Truck Centers sign in Lufkin, TX with Peterbilt truck on top

Freightdog (Shaun)'s Comment
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I was an airline pilot for 14 years, having flown for regional airlines for 10 years and the rest at a DHL contractor flying both the Boeing 777 international and 737 domestic. Around 2009 or 2010 I realized that I was burning out on that career and that my heart just wasn't in it anymore so I began researching options to get out, which landed me here at Truckingtruth.com. Around the same time, I got the job at the cargo outfit and decided that flying the 777 international was something that I had to do (sort of a "bucket list" thing) so I put trucking on the backburner.

In 2013, I was laid off from the airline position which gave me the perfect excuse to go to CDL school and give it a try. I attended the 4 week program at Future Truckers of America in Asheboro, NC and completed the High Road course here on TT and earned my CDL (A) with tanker, doubles and triples, and HAZMAT endorsements and went to work for Schneider National in their Van Division until being recalled to the 737 domestic at the airline after 7 months. Long story short, 8 months into the new assignment I realized that I absolutely hated it and jumped ship for a local trucking company.

I've been here since September of last year and thoroughly enjoy what I'm doing and the people I work with. I have been primarily running regional container routes from our local port in a seven state southeast operating area after completing a 30 day training period in the local division since I had a limited amount of previous experience at Schneider.

I drive a 2014 Mack Pinnacle with a "coffin sleeper" and spend 3 or 4 nights a week in my truck and am at home the other 3 or 4 nights. My schedule is fairly consistent, running the same routes to the same customers with the occasional day trip thrown in once in a while for variety. From a job satisfaction standpoint, I couldn't be happier. I love the independent nature of the work and "running my own show". Income-wise it has been a bit of a struggle, given the enormity of the student loan debt that I'm still carrying from college and earning my pilot certificates. This may ultimately push me back to flying--at least until I pay that off and put some savings in the bank--but I'm doing my best to hold out at least until the one year mark with this company before I pull the plug. That will open up a few more opportunities driving-wise since I'll have over a year of experience but I won't be so far gone from flying that I won't be able to go back should that become necessary.

It's been an interesting journey so far and I enjoy hitting the road each week. Looking forward to seeing what happens next!

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.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

Monica C.'s Comment
member avatar

Waitress, bar tender, cab driver, sheepherder, rodeo clown, flea collar fabricator, flagger, pilot, laborer, scaffold buildler, line locator, traffic control tech, site safety RR project, ..... some of us like variety I am heading for CDL training as an addition to my pursuit of a degree in safety engineering, bored yet?

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.
Skydrick (Brian L.) 's Comment
member avatar

Waitress, bar tender, cab driver, sheepherder, rodeo clown, flea collar fabricator, flagger, pilot, laborer, scaffold buildler, line locator, traffic control tech, site safety RR project, ..... some of us like variety I am heading for CDL training as an addition to my pursuit of a degree in safety engineering, bored yet?

I was also a Safety Technician/Specialist for five years in construction, fire, chemical and biological safety. Interesting work except the desk part. Before and after that I was a stagehand and shop manager for a small corporate sound and staging company. Getting gear packed and loaded on our trucks and vans and driving it to the venues was what made me realize I loved driving. I really enjoyed fixing the gear too so I'll love replacing burnt out lights and fuel filters etc on a truck. The only cubicle I ever want to sit in again better have wheels and windows on three walls.

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.
Skar Hed's Comment
member avatar

I was a 20 year old liberal arts college dropout with no mechanical or 'blue collar' aptitude or experience whatsoever but fell into the boat biz, eventually owning my own business in yacht finishing and refinishing. Did well enough to work 4 or 5 months a year and travel the world blowing my money during the other 7 or 8. But twenty years of breathing dust and paint fumes was more than enough, I disliked the sales aspect of the job, and really never had any interest in boats other than the money to be made from them. If that money was any less than a two- three grand a week I was miserable and couldn't wait for each day to end. Went to nursing (RN) school but left after one semester due to intense loathing for my cold, phony, careerist instructors and the way they taught & ran the program. By then I was at an age where trucking was probably the best option left for me and I am happy enough with it. But would I have done it all differently if given the chance? Oh yes.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Little Syster (a.k.a. Sun's Comment
member avatar

What a fantastic thread! Hope this isn't too long...

Got my first job at age 14 working a produce stand in MD. Focused on school for the next couple years and at 16 worked at a health food store as a cashier and customer service. Graduated high school and moved half way across the country to NE. Worked for the college I was going to in the recruiting office. Office work is BORING and after getting my oil changed at Jiffy Lube up the street, asked how a gal like me could get into the biz. Applied, got hired, and worked my way up to assistant manager in 3 months, having never laid hands on a car or truck before that. I loved working with the guys. Less drama (no offense to my fellow female friends on here). Couldn't decide what I wanted to do with school so I wrapped it up with an associates in fluff and moved to CO to pursue a career in massage therapy. Went to night school for massage and during the days worked as a concrete finisher. After yet another 10 hr day grinding and patching a concrete wall, I noticed beautiful sparks of light blowing through a doorway. The iron workers had arrived and I marched my sassy behind over to them and told them I wanted to do what they were doing. They gave me the supers number and I started work with them a few days later. Threw iron until I wrecked my knee and got shoved back in an office :( Put up a fuss and they moved me to the fab shop, which I thought would be quite fabulous in comparison. Wrong. Shop foreman hated the thought of a woman working for him. I hung in there for a few months but quickly tired of his arrogant crap. So I walked. I left with as much flare as I had arrived. Focused on school for a few months before getting bored with not working and landed a job in the front office of my school. Huge mistake. Got fired for "not being cheerful enough." Ha! Went back to the lube world and until I graduated massage school and landed a job at Massage Envy. Mercy me, have I touched a lot of bodies. Sundays I would put in a 10 hr day, which was killer. Hands, arms and back would swell up by the end of the day. Needless to say, I was burning out and fast. Decided to go back to school to finish my BS (which is exactly what it sounds like). Quit McEnvy and tried to run a little practice in the new town I was living in. Couldn't compete with the larger practices and shut down after 3 years. During that time I started a cleaning company with one of my best friends. Still scrubbing floors and scouring toilets, but it's not paying the bills. Feast or famine. So here I am, ready for the open road...got my first pre-hire letter today.

Pre-hire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Aaron G's Comment
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Did Roofing for 10 years messed around with landscaping here and there and now started a career doing this.

Trucktographer's Comment
member avatar

The past 10 years I've been a Gov contractor working mainly for the CIA (one short stint with the FBI, didn't enjoy that, they treat contractors worse than Budweiser treats 3rd party drivers) as an Intel analyst. During the last Gov shut-down (late 2013) I was let go and just couldn't seem to find my way onto another contract. So I just said screw it, moved back to FL from DC and got my CDL. Before that I was enlisted in the Marine Corps as a SIGINT Operator (Morse Code, and other non-Morse information transmission types).

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.
Jessica A-M's Comment
member avatar

After high school at 17, I took a job as a secretary at a radio company. When I turned 18 I started working for a company called ACS which handled customer service for Sprint. I worked 14 hours a day 7 days a week for months. My hair was falling out, I was sick. The job was the worst. 14 hours a day of people angry at me because I was unfortunate enough to take their call. I was also doing weekend radio station work making sure the sound was good and commercials ran on local high school sports broadcasts. I stopped working radio when the basketball season was over. During this time I was in school to be a pharmacy technician. After too many times of missing tests because I couldn't get off work, I was expelled. I quit customer service after a year and a half due to a forced move to another city. I drew unemployment for a bit. I finally got a job at WalMart and was fired after three months because they said it wasn't working out. (My manager hated my habit of shifting my weight from foot to foot because my feet hurt so bad and had written me up for insubordination when I told her I couldn't help it.)

I ended up going to cosmetology school as a nail technician and esthethician. Around this time, a two year persistent health problem that I'd never been able to afford a doctor for got severe. I was missing school and was too distracted by my illness to succeed, I also realized that you can rarely live up to the demands of a perfectionist customer. I really enjoyed doing pedicures, facials, and natural nails though. My ex and friend at the time was a security guard so, I got my security license. He quit his job when a new company was coming in and he knew he wouldn't pass the drug test. I ended up in the hospital dying of gall bladder disease 2 days after I was hired for the job. Got emergency surgery, stayed in the hospital a few extra days and escaped. I've been working that security job for a little over 3 years now at the same job site under two companies. My boss told me last year that he'd never recommend me as supervisor because I'm too young to be a security guard forever. So, now I'm setting up to go to school in September this year. I'm ready to get paid to see the country and to make enough to support my mother and younger brother.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
TorqueSide's Comment
member avatar

College student who had too much time on his hands

I'm still young so I didn't get roll in the mud of life as much as everyone else here.

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