18-year-old Female... Is There Hope?

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Allison M.'s Comment
member avatar

So I'll be 17 in just over a week and have made a career decision... That no one in my family wants for me, so I'm pretty much on my own here. I do have a very close friend who is a CDL instructor who has helped me a lot recently. Yes I would like to drive, and I know where I'd like to go to school. It's not a company school and since I'll be 18 when I get my CDL (hopefully) I can't get the three months or one year of OTR experience most local companies in my area require. I know if they're truly desperate they'll likely take someone just out of CDL school. But how would an 18-year-old female be seen to companies? Would I be taken seriously, or be seen as somebody that can be taken advantage of? I'm not willing to let that happen and am usually the first one to spot something "off" around me, so if something like that happens I will get out quickly. The local jobs that I have seen consist of making a lot of stops and me unloading the trailer and moving everything myself or with minimal assistance, something that I'd like to stay away from simply because I have a bad back and chronic pain. I can still function, have no problems driving long distances, and I am still pretty strong, it's just hard for me to stand and work more than half an hour at a time. **i am seeing a rheumatologist very soon, so this may change** I need to drive in-state. My goal is to go OTR as soon as I'm 21, I just want experience. I'd like to go for tri-axle but most around here want a minimum of 3 years experience driving truck.

So I guess what I'm asking is would it be worth it to get my CDL when I'm 18 (not necessarily as soon as I'm 18, but I'd like to get it as soon as possible) and try to find an in-state job? Would companies take an 18-year-old female seriously? Is there a way I can "get around" the minimum experience requirement? Something I've noticed is places want experience but no one wants to give experience. I live in Pennsylvania if that makes any difference.

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.

Carl S.'s Comment
member avatar

So I'll be 17 in just over a week and have made a career decision... That no one in my family wants for me, so I'm pretty much on my own here. I do have a very close friend who is a CDL instructor who has helped me a lot recently. Yes I would like to drive, and I know where I'd like to go to school. It's not a company school and since I'll be 18 when I get my CDL (hopefully) I can't get the three months or one year of OTR experience most local companies in my area require. I know if they're truly desperate they'll likely take someone just out of CDL school. But how would an 18-year-old female be seen to companies? Would I be taken seriously, or be seen as somebody that can be taken advantage of? I'm not willing to let that happen and am usually the first one to spot something "off" around me, so if something like that happens I will get out quickly. The local jobs that I have seen consist of making a lot of stops and me unloading the trailer and moving everything myself or with minimal assistance, something that I'd like to stay away from simply because I have a bad back and chronic pain. I can still function, have no problems driving long distances, and I am still pretty strong, it's just hard for me to stand and work more than half an hour at a time. **i am seeing a rheumatologist very soon, so this may change** I need to drive in-state. My goal is to go OTR as soon as I'm 21, I just want experience. I'd like to go for tri-axle but most around here want a minimum of 3 years experience driving truck.

So I guess what I'm asking is would it be worth it to get my CDL when I'm 18 (not necessarily as soon as I'm 18, but I'd like to get it as soon as possible) and try to find an in-state job? Would companies take an 18-year-old female seriously? Is there a way I can "get around" the minimum experience requirement? Something I've noticed is places want experience but no one wants to give experience. I live in Pennsylvania if that makes any difference.

I would wait to get the Class A. Once you are 21 you can not only get you license but you will most likely be able to attend company sponsored training which is great due to the fact that they pay for your training and see to it that you get experience.

Schneider, Swift and Prime all have company sponsored training. I'm Pretty sure there are many more but I can't think of them at the moment. Stick close to the CDL instructor you know. You will have a tremendously beneficial grasp on the industry most don't have when you first start.

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.

Beth S.'s Comment
member avatar

So I guess what I'm asking is would it be worth it to get my CDL when I'm 18 (not necessarily as soon as I'm 18, but I'd like to get it as soon as possible) and try to find an in-state job? Would companies take an 18-year-old female seriously? Is there a way I can "get around" the minimum experience requirement? Something I've noticed is places want experience but no one wants to give experience. I live in Pennsylvania if that makes any difference.

If I were in your shoes, I'd start calling around and asking various places if they would be willing to hire you, then plan that 3/4 of the ones that say yes won't if it actually comes down to it. You might also ask your instructor friend if he knows anybody who'd be willing to give you a job. From what I understand, the insurance (and accident) rates for under-21s are horrendous compared to over-21s.

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.
Spreadneck's Comment
member avatar

You may know this already, but at 18, you can only do intrastate. You must be 21 to do interstate.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

Intrastate:

The act of purchasers and sellers transacting business while keeping all transactions in a single state, without crossing state lines to do so.

Allison M.'s Comment
member avatar

Want to get it asap so I can get some experience, as I'd like to stay away from the Swift, Prime, J.B. Hunt, etc. companies that have the training. Just my strategy since I've seen a lot of horror stories from major company schools. And I want to make transitioning to OTR life easier on myself health wise, nothing in my health will make it harder for me to drive but it's the mental security of "ok, you know how to handle the driving, just learn the lifestyle." I don't know, just my thinking.

Yep, I know accident and insurance rates are sketchy. That's why most companies won't hire until 21 or 23. I totally understand the reasoning and everything behind it, and I know there's a huge risk. But I must add in a comment that some 18-year-olds have better judgement than some 35-year-olds. Just a thing.

And I'm definitely staying close to my instructor friend, she taught me to pull a horse trailer and is keeping her eyes open for a potential position for me next year. That being said, I already know backing a *slightly smaller* trailer, turning radius, just general things about pulling a trailer and I've been driving that for about 5 months.

To clarify: I won't be 18 until next year

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.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

Tyler Durden's Comment
member avatar

Want to get it asap so I can get some experience, as I'd like to stay away from the Swift, Prime, J.B. Hunt, etc. companies that have the training. Just my strategy since I've seen a lot of horror stories from major company schools. And I want to make transitioning to OTR life easier on myself health wise, nothing in my health will make it harder for me to drive but it's the mental security of "ok, you know how to handle the driving, just learn the lifestyle." I don't know, just my thinking.

Yep, I know accident and insurance rates are sketchy. That's why most companies won't hire until 21 or 23. I totally understand the reasoning and everything behind it, and I know there's a huge risk. But I must add in a comment that some 18-year-olds have better judgement than some 35-year-olds. Just a thing.

And I'm definitely staying close to my instructor friend, she taught me to pull a horse trailer and is keeping her eyes open for a potential position for me next year. That being said, I already know backing a *slightly smaller* trailer, turning radius, just general things about pulling a trailer and I've been driving that for about 5 months.

To clarify: I won't be 18 until next year

Hello Allison

Take all those horror stories with a grain of salt and keep in mind don't believe everything you hear. From what I have found in research is disgruntled employees are quicker to write bad reviews then those that are happy.

I am also from PA and I believe location will play a part for you as well. Some areas of PA are major trucking hubs with plenty of offers out there. But also I would bet your age will play a major factor and make it quite difficult for someone to take a chance on you. You are young with little driving experience in a car let alone a truck. In my opinion your best bet for getting into trucking is through a company sponsored program, if you can find one to even accept you. At soon to be 18 you are limited on where you can even drive. Honestly I think it will be a tough route for you to get into trucking before 21. Not saying impossible at 18 and with a bad back but close to it. Make calls and visit any job fairs you can find to talk to as many companies as you can. Good luck and keep us posted

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.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Here is the problem with being 18 with a CDL.. Insurance, and lack of Experience. Unless you have a connection within a local trucking company it will be very difficult. Insurance rates for a CDL driver are already insanely high.. add in that you are 18 that could be a cost that a company isn't willing to pay. So unless you have a connection to a company it could be hard before you are 21. I am 24 and some companies still won't hire me because of my age. 25 is when you finally graduate to the "I'm a safe driver group." (at least according to insurance companies.) Just try getting a rental car before you are 25.. It is insane the fees I have to pay.

If you are paying money to get your CDL I would defiantly hold off training until you get a for sure commitment from a company that says they will hire you out of school. 3-6,000 dollars is a big bill to pay for CDL school if no one hires you.. Even if you get your CDL and just wait till your 21 to find a job most companies will make you take a refresher course.

Just adding to what has been said before.. don't believe the internet when it comes to a lot of these major companies. Plenty of people on these forums have worked for those companies and have loved it. Trucking like most other jobs in life is all about what you put into it. Are these companies 100% perfect? No. But nether is any other company. Find a company that works for you and your situation and make the best of it. Get your experience and then find a new company. Most of those companies are "starter companies." Be grateful they are giving you up to a 150,000 dollars worth of equipment and a load that can be worth a million bucks.. its a lot of responsibility for someone who has never driven a big rig before. You will quickly understand that on this forum we don't put up with company bashing.. 95% is what you put into it. Work hard and this career will bless you. Blame others for issues that come up? You will not last in this job or in most jobs.

Best of luck to you.. Like you I wanted to start driving at 18.. probably would have if they let me but it is very difficult at 18 to find a CDL job.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Allison is gullible:

Just my strategy since I've seen a lot of horror stories from major company schools.

Tyler Durden disabuses* her of that notion:

Take all those horror stories with a grain of salt and keep in mind don't believe everything you hear. From what I have found in research is disgruntled employees are quicker to write bad reviews then those that are happy.

"Grain of salt" is not enough here, though. Best advise: ignore any bad reviews. As Tyler points out, they are most often posted by people who were fired for their inability to fit within company rules. Those big companies you don't like? How did they get so big? Not by chewing up drivers and spitting them out.

My advise for an 18 year old is to just plain wait for those three years to pass. In reading here tonight I understand that LTL companies take their new drivers from the dock crew. So, maybe look at Old Dominion, Con-Way, ABF, etc. for a dock job. Then make it NO SECRET that come your 21st birthday they can think about moving you to the driver program. Even then see about that "underage" CDL for local work, but I bet your big day will be after you metamorphose into an adult.

ButterflyLifeCycle.gif

* "Disabuse" is a good word: you straighten out someones inaccurate ideas.

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.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

As said before me pre 21 will be extremely hard for you, if driving is something you really want to do, Im not sure about your area but look for a private job on a farm, or something similar.

Also company sponsored training experiences are totally dependent on YOU. There are a lot of content thriving swift drivers, and just as many dissatisfied drivers for places with a better reputation. I know people that make a very comfortable living at places many complain about the pay. CR England for example.

Im just getting into my own truck at prime and the only issues Ive had have been brought unto myself, that and this industry is no joke.

Your gender is irrelevant, its all about how you carry yourself and how you react, and treat others.

Also as a rookie driver, I would strongly recommend not getting a local job until you have OTR experience. City driviing is very stressful and the chances of getting in an accident are very high for a new driver. Also the deadlines are often extremely tight on top of what you said about unloading and such. OTR gives you a large majority of your day to cruise in 10th gear and to only have to drive in town in smaller chunks of time. Trust me small towns and backroads can be hairy for seasoned drivers let alone a rookie like me, or your future self.

That is not to say it can not be done, just my opinion as a rookie driver on making your experience the best possible one, ad give you what I believe is the best chance at making it a lasting career.

Also if you get your CDL when you turn 18 and dont use it until your 21, you will have to at least do company training period, skills evaluations, etc. and on top of that YOU paid for your cdl. If you wait you can go to a school of your choice if you want and find a company that will reimburse you most if not all of the cost, also I hear some people have a harder time with companies when they had their for a while without any experience.

Now, just something to keep in mind. Nothing turns like a tractor trailer, the basic concepts of pulling a trailer apply but Ive seen quite a few people have a steeper learning curve because the trailer will not behave how you think it should, and those habits can be hard to break. Its similar to those like me who drive standard shift vehicles, the use of the clutch and way you shift is completely different and can be very hard to retrain yourself. You should me when I can go home and get in my car and look like I dont know how to drive it at first.

Sorry for the novel of a response just my thoughts and opinions and I wish you the best of luck in the future.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Allison M.'s Comment
member avatar

Allison is gullible:

double-quotes-start.png

Just my strategy since I've seen a lot of horror stories from major company schools.

double-quotes-end.png

I've seen it many places, not just a few drivers who got angry. Not being gullible just paying attention.

That, and it should take longer than 2 or 3 weeks to learn to drive one of these things. I don't agree with the CDL-mill schools tossing out students left and right. I also don't agree with sending new CDL grads with trainers who have only been driving a year or two. That's why I'd just rather not go through a large company 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.
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