Career Change Forthcoming

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Ryan M.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi everyone,

Please bear with me, this will be a long first post. Just looking for some friendly advice, but first let me tell you a little bit about myself. I'm a 33-year-old father of four, all ten and under. No arrests, no DUI's, no traffic violations in the last 12 years, I don't do drugs, rarely drink, etc. I'm in great physical shape and as clean-cut as I can be.

As far as employment, I worked as a private contractor from the time I graduated high school doing audio/video installations in schools, churches & private homes from my early 20's to late 20's, and for the past six years I've worked as a field specialist for a large utility company in metro-Atlanta. I found out today that our company was bought out by an even larger utility company ($12 billion merger; that's BILLION with a "B"! lol) and my previously secure job may not be so secure anymore. Hence my plea for advice. I've got a few college credits (was thinking about getting an engineering degree), but just don't know if I want to go more into debt for a degree that I might not even get a chance to use in this economy. Plus, I really just don't think working in an office is for me; tried it before and loathed it. I like working with my hands.

When I was a private contractor, I also worked part-time for a family friend driving a rollback wrecker for some spare cash on weekends. No CDL required, or at least that's what I was told, but I drove a F650 3-car-hauler for several years. That started my love affair with big trucks, but the job was short-lived as that was right around the time the economy tanked and gas prices started soaring. Being that it was a mom & pop operation I worked for, they had to cut some expenses, and I was one of them. I went to work for the utility company because it was a steady paycheck, they pay very well, and the benefits are great. The only problem is that I've never been happy doing the work I do - which is often extremely hazardous. Working with a volatile product for a living has instilled in me a hugely heightened sense of safety in everything that I do, so I do have that going for me; I'm extremely safety-conscious.

Anyhow, long story short, I've been out of work for a few weeks for thyroid surgery, and feel that God has placed it on my heart to change careers. Even though I've been able to support a family of six on my income with the utility company, I've researched at least once a year what I would need to do to get my CDL and endorsements and become a full-time truck driver. It's always something that's been on my mind. Traveling is in my blood and is one of my absolute favorite things to do in life, and I still enjoy being in and around big trucks. Now that I know my future with the company I've been with may not be secure, I'm looking to take the plunge and really turn this daydream into a reality.

I'm scheduled to talk with a recruiter with Knight Transportation this week and am leaning heavily on company-sponsored training and employment with them as a company driver. I would eventually plan to work on a lease-to-own agreement and be an owner-operator at some point in the future. However, I am wary of going OTR for a while. I again have four young kids, and want to be around for them as much as possible. I'm looking at possible regional and/or local driving for several years until my kids are older and out on their own, then have my heart set on OTR once I can bring the wifey along with me, which she is all for. She's currently a stay-at-home mom working on her degree, but we've both agreed that she would probably stay at home with the kids for the foreseeable future and work on finding some work-from-home opportunities.

So, finally, my questions;

1) How likely would it be for a brand new driver to make it as a regional company driver for a company like Knight? I know I won't be making what I'm making now for a while, and that's fine - my wife is an expert at budgeting - but can I realistically expect to make a decent income working regional/local until I can finally do OTR somewhere down the road.

2) How often can I expect to get screwed and NOT make it home every weekend to see my family working for a company like Knight? They say they're very family-oriented, but I'm sure just about every company says that. My kids are into sports and I don't want to miss a bunch of their games, as I'm pretty much guaranteed to miss most, if not all, of their practices, ceremonies, etc.

3) What can I realistically expect in the way of benefits from a company like Knight? I currently have a 401k that I've been pumping as much money into as possible, have excellent health/dental/vision insurance, sick time, four weeks of vacation per year, etc. I know that sick time and vacation won't stay the same if I start trucking, but I absolutely must have good medical for my family and want to continue investing in my eventual retirement.

I have a ton more questions, but I know this is already probably more than most will want to read. I'll ask more later.

I know I'd do well in your profession. I'm dedicated, hard-working, team oriented, and a very fast learner. I also have a passion for traveling and seeing new places, which is what has drawn me to this profession for years. I'm ready to take the plunge, but I guess just need some reassurances, as well as some reality checks.

Any advice would be most welcome. Thanks for reading.

-Ryan

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.

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.

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.

DUI:

Driving Under the Influence

Jason R.'s Comment
member avatar

Welcome, I can only comment on what I have read on here and by doing my own research. Don't expect to be making any sort of BIG money, I think your looking at this backwards, A LOT of people do OTR first for a year. There's something about 1 year OTR magic number. I have looked at local/regional routes and they ALL what 1-2 years OTR experience.

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.

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.

Ryan M.'s Comment
member avatar

Welcome, I can only comment on what I have read on here and by doing my own research. Don't expect to be making any sort of BIG money, I think your looking at this backwards, A LOT of people do OTR first for a year. There's something about 1 year OTR magic number. I have looked at local/regional routes and they ALL what 1-2 years OTR experience.

Thanks, Jason. I've considered that possibility, too, and know I'll have to get the experience required to get better routes, home time, etc. I'm fine with the time away from family for the first year, and know that will be expected of me, but I guess I'm wondering what the possibilities will be after I've reached that 1-2 years of OTR experience.

As far as making BIG money, I've been around this crazy world long enough to know that there are NO free rides, and nothing is free. I don't expect to become rich and didn't mean to make it seem that was my expectation if I somehow did. I just want to support my family, put money aside for retirement, and make money doing something that I know I would enjoy.

Regardless, thank you for your feedback.

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.

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.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Ryan, welcome to your career change. Most truck drivers did something else for years before getting behind the wheel. I taught middle school math for ten years. Sitting by yourself for hours at a time, watching the scenery is so quiet, ya know?

Here are a few places Trucking Truth offers to get you started:
** The "big picture": Truck Driver's Career Guide and Brett's Book - his life on the road.
** What you need to know about Truck Driving Schools and Company-Sponsored Training .
** How To Choose A School and How To Choose A Company
** There's a useful "step" in the proicess called Pre-Hire letters. Makes life easier. Check out Understanding Pre-Hires
** And very important: prepare for the CDL written test. Start now with the High Road Training Program. (Free-or-your-money-back).

To answer your three questions: (Grain of Salt: the general career path of trucking can be changed any time a company has to fulfill their own needs. You might get lucky!) 1) regional driver Most OTR companies will start you out over the road. Then you're gone for weeks at a time. I have seen the ads for Knight, they boast about several different driving plans, depending on how much home time you want. That's a recruiter question. Do your best to see any recruiter promise in writing!!

2) How often can I expect to NOT make it home every weekend?. Most trucking companies will do their best to get you home around the time you request. But freight comes first. One time I asked for Friday off (for the weekend). I got home the next Tuesday! Usually it's not so bad.

3) What can I realistically expect in the way of benefits from a company like Knight? To be honest, think of something like a hamburger. Hamburgers at McDonalds, Red Robin, Denney's and In-n-Out are pretty much the same. But the little things make the difference. Health plans can be run by one of maybe three companies. Dental & vision the same. Even how much you pay will be close. But look at Knight's list, double check with that recruiter, and decide from that.

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.

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.

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.

Over The Road:

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.

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.

Pre-hires:

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.

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.

Ryan M.'s Comment
member avatar

Ryan, welcome to your career change. Most truck drivers did something else for years before getting behind the wheel. I taught middle school math for ten years. Sitting by yourself for hours at a time, watching the scenery is so quiet, ya know?

Here are a few places Trucking Truth offers to get you started:
** The "big picture": Truck Driver's Career Guide and Brett's Book - his life on the road.
** What you need to know about Truck Driving Schools and Company-Sponsored Training .
** How To Choose A School and How To Choose A Company
** There's a useful "step" in the proicess called Pre-Hire letters. Makes life easier. Check out Understanding Pre-Hires
** And very important: prepare for the CDL written test. Start now with the High Road Training Program. (Free-or-your-money-back).

To answer your three questions: (Grain of Salt: the general career path of trucking can be changed any time a company has to fulfill their own needs. You might get lucky!) 1) regional driver Most OTR companies will start you out over the road. Then you're gone for weeks at a time. I have seen the ads for Knight, they boast about several different driving plans, depending on how much home time you want. That's a recruiter question. Do your best to see any recruiter promise in writing!!

2) How often can I expect to NOT make it home every weekend?. Most trucking companies will do their best to get you home around the time you request. But freight comes first. One time I asked for Friday off (for the weekend). I got home the next Tuesday! Usually it's not so bad.

3) What can I realistically expect in the way of benefits from a company like Knight? To be honest, think of something like a hamburger. Hamburgers at McDonalds, Red Robin, Denney's and In-n-Out are pretty much the same. But the little things make the difference. Health plans can be run by one of maybe three companies. Dental & vision the same. Even how much you pay will be close. But look at Knight's list, double check with that recruiter, and decide from that.

Errol,

Thank you for the honesty and for all of the helpful links. I've started researching the High Road Training Program already and will definitely immerse myself in that and the other links you provided. I don't have my heart completely set on Knight, but they are local to me, which makes their company-sponsored training extremely appealing. But I'm keeping all of my options open at the moment to find what will work best for my family and I.

Thanks again for the commentary and thanks to all who have put so much hard work into this website/resource!

-Ryan

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.

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.

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.

Over The Road:

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.

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.

Pre-hires:

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.

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.

Jason R.'s Comment
member avatar

Ryan,

Your in the same boat as me, I start CDL school tonight!! but I am paying for mine. I am div with a 10 year old daughter that will be tough to be away from but I look at the bigger picture. 1 year OTR and hope to get something closer with more home time is a small price to pay.

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.

Jason R.'s Comment
member avatar

OK, let me clarify something, of course there will be home time in that year, its not like you/in would be out for a year straight. LOL just wanted to add that because after I hit submit it didn't sound right. :) :) :)

BMI:

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

Bird-One's Comment
member avatar

Ryan,

Welcome to the site and the industry you came to the right place to get information from. To answer your first question not familiar with Knight however it is possible i was fortunate enough to land a Dedicated regional spot with my company (Schneider) right out of CDL school. So it is possible, research all you can there a plenty of companies out there.

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.

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.

Bird-One's Comment
member avatar

Also keep in mind that if you plan on doing this for awhile some companies do not have company sponsored training but will pay to send you to a CDL school near your home if one is available. NOW in return you contract with them for usually a year or a certain set of miles which comes out to about a year. But you will continue to be home every night with your family just another possible option. If you were to not finish that year you would have to pay them back to the cost of the school.

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.

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.

Bird-One's Comment
member avatar

As far as the home time man getting home every weekend while driving OTR maybe rough. Maybe look the company Roehl form what i have heard they offer probably the best home time packages available.

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.

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