What is the chance that millions of people can do something that's relatively simple but you cant? I can say with near certainty – none. Don't let passing these tests concern you... they're easy. Forget about it!
So we passed our tests, we had our CDL, and on came graduation day. Now I was always very competitive and wanted to finish first in my class. With a lot of hard work I did it by the narrowest of margins. Did it matter? Well, yes and no. I could have gotten the same job I wound up getting directly out of school even if my grades weren't as good as they were, but it wouldn't have been as easy as it was.
We were eating pizza and drinking our sodas when we noticed a big rig pull into the parking lot. Nice truck! Well a guy gets out, shakes hands with several of the school's instructors, and grabs a soda. A few minutes later I hear him ask, “so, who were the top three guys?” The instructor pointed us out and the guy came over and introduced himself.
He said if we weren't too busy he'd like us to follow him about a mile up the road to his company's terminal so we could fill out the paperwork, go get our physicals, and get started. Can you believe it? We were hired on the spot! I hadn't even finished my pizza yet! So we followed him there, filled out the paperwork, went to get our physical, and within about 3 hours of finishing our pizza we were officially the three newest employees of the company! I think I had pizza sauce on my shirt! Didn't matter, we were in! Wow, what a day!
So you're wondering if that's how it really went. Am I exaggerating? Do I have a secret agenda? I'm telling ya.. that's EXACTLY how it really went. Have times changed? Yap – FOR THE BETTER! Believe it or not, back then companies had higher hiring standards than they do now. Now wait..they hired me on the spot on graduation day... how could standards get LOWER?
Well, back then most companies required you to be 23 or 25 years of age, never failed a drug test, never had a DUI, and many companies wanted a clean or fairly clean driving record. Nowadays, most companies require you to be 21 years of age, haven't failed a drug test in the past two years, and haven't had a DUI in the past seven years.
Yes, believe it or not they are so desperate for drivers that they will consider you even after you've failed a drug test or had a DUI in your past. Not all companies of course, but some.
As far as your driving record goes, most will accept minor accidents and tickets, even in a truck, as long as you haven't had any recent charges of reckless driving or DUI. Also they may not accept you if you've been found liable in an accident involving serious injuries or death... but this varies from company to company.
If you have a questionable driving or criminal record, simply get these records from your local police and driving agencies and present them to a few large trucking companies to see what they say. This will give you a good idea of how difficult getting hired may or may not be.
So I made it through the schooling, got my CDL, and was hired by my first company. Now the fun part really begins... out on the road for real. So do they just throw you in a truck and say, “Good luck, don't crash”? Nope, you've got a little bit of help in between... your trainer.
But before we get to that, I'd like to take a little bit of time to talk about some important factors in deciding what company you should start your career with. I started out with a large company driving over the road and pulling a dry van so first I'm going to explain what you can expect from an over the road job.
After that I'll cover what pulling a dry van is all about and then we'll cover some tips on choosing your first company. I'll cover the other types of trucks along with regional and local jobs later on as I get to those parts of my career.