It's Time to Ride

by Allan Burden

Waves from the beautiful state of SC to all out there who are reading this! Thank you for stopping by my little peace of cyberland and taking a look at my path into a career as a professional truck driver. I hope you enjoy the blog and Iwelcome any and all comments, good or bad. The best way to improve is through the criticism of one's peers and I hope to present my journey in a logical and wellwritten blog so that you, the reader, can see in your mind's eye the path I have taken.

A Little Bit About Me

We're going to travel back in time a bit on this first entry. A little background if you will. I have lived in this great state, South Carolina, for most of my life. I spent a short amount of time in Florida plus a few short stints on some Army bases spread here and there. My dad's oldest brother was a trucker and he would let us go out with him during our summer breaks from school, so I got exposed to the life very early and it has stuck with me. I am a young man, 25 years old to be exact. I am married and have three beautiful little children...and I am going trucking. I will get into the family discussions in a post to follow, I just wanted to give you a little background info about me and my situation as I am sure there are many with a significant other and children who are looking to this industry for a career in the difficult economy we have found ourselves in.

I have worked quite a variety of jobs in my 25 years. I am a nomad at heart...a wanderer. I don't like sitting in one place very long and I find myself bored with jobs that have a monotonous routine. What all have I done you ask? Well, I have been a warehouse worker, loaded trucks for UPS, washed cars, worked in the dye house and spinning room of a cotton mill, sold insurance, been a police officer for 3 years, pastor of three , yes three, country churches in rural SC, a Field Artillery Surveyor for Uncle Sam's Army, worked as a bar back in a restaurant, and I have done electrical work with my dad. I have moved 9 times since graduating high school in 2001. As you can see...I have an...ummm...unique personality. I don't mind not knowing what tommorrow may hold. Most importantly, my wife understands this about me and our relationship is so wonderful because of the love and trust we have with each other andthat she and I know we can survive the separation caused by the new career. We live in the town she grew up in and her family is great with the kids. More on this later

As I said, I am a nomad, a wanderer...it's a trait I attribute to my families native american ancestry. This desire to roam has led me to the footsteps of the trucking industry as my current job winds to a close on June 24th 2009. It is now time to go on this venture.

Searching For The Right CDL Training Program

Where did I start? Quite honestly, right here at TruckingTruth. Brett has put together a great site with a great collection of bloggers of which I am honored to be a part of. I read through the posts here, joined the forum, and began asking some questions. I looked through the links on the TruckingTruth Homepage, one of which leads to a discussion about truck driving schools. After carefully going through the pages I arrived at the decision that a company sponsored training program was the right option for me. I do not have the money available to pay for training up front and did not want to take the chance that I might not get hired as a new CDL graduate coming from an independent program. There is no totally right or wrong decision here. One must weigh the options and do what best fits one's situation. TruckerMike took the other route of going through an independent CDL school and you can read TruckerMike's blog here.

Anyways, I began researching companies and asking questions on several forums I am a member of and arrived at a personal ranking list of companies to which I would apply. I was not worried about the application process and background investigation too much, as I have a clean record, no accidents, and only one ticket...no big deal. I was a little concerned about my job jumping, but this turned out to be a baseless worry as everyone I talked to was more concerned with having no prolonged lapses in employment rather than the number of jobs. This may not be the case everywhere though, just the companies I spoke with. On a side note, let me mention that I will not mention any companies or school by name so that I might present an honest and unbiased opinion and personal observation of my path into the trucking industry, so that should explain some of the vagueness!

Well, even with the economy in the shape it is, I was approved for pre-hire by every company I applied for. Talk about excited! I have never had the option of choosing between companies that would fight for me! Each company has good points, each has bad. I have spoken with drivers from each company I applied to...this has been really helpful. I listened to what the recruiters told me, wrote it down, then hit the truckstops around my house and waited for a driver from that company to show up. I offered to buy a cup of coffee and told them I wanted to ask some questions about the company because I was applying for jobs to begin my career. Most everyone I approached was very nice, and certainly enjoyed the coffee and conversation. Some where obviously wooed by the chance to refer someone and fed me a whole bunch of "recruitereze" (yes I like to make up my own words...sorry) and for those I just thanked them for their time and moved on to someone else. This took a lot of time, but I feel it really has helped me to ensure that I make a well thought out decision on which company I choose.

I will be making that decision shortly, as I said before, my current job ends on June 24th and I will not be going to training before then. I mentioned this to all my companies and all seemed impressed that I would stick with the current job even knowing it was ending. I was taught not to burn bridges and honor my commitments...I signed on to be where I am until Wednesday June 24th and so I will be.

Anyways, this was just a quick peek into who I am and where I am at in the process. My next post will be about my family and our discussions on this career, how we plan to deal with the separation, and what we are doing now to get ready. Until next time..Carpe Diem..(seize the day...I have always loved that saying).

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.

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.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

by Brett Aquila

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TruckingTruth was founded by Brett Aquila (that's me!), a 15 year truck driving veteran, in January 2007. After 15 years on the road I wanted to help people understand the trucking industry and everything that came with the career and lifestyle of an over the road trucker. We'll help you make the right choices and prepare for a great start to your trucking career.

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