Potential Rookie Here

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MotherTruckerKen's Comment
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Hello everyone, my name is Kenneth I've been on this site reading tons of articles for about 2 weeks. I left my job about 2 weeks, and I've found myself just obsessing over the career of being a trucker and having a new life. I'm only 23 years old never made more than $9.00 and hour for a job. Reason being. never got my GED or HS Diploma. Honestly never really wanted to get one as I felt college was a waste and as immature as it may sound I want money NOW I don't wanna go to school for 5-10 years to be making the money that'd id like to have now. I feel like trucking may be my calling, I just wanted to say i've spent countless nights reading many helpful articles hours on end just educating myself and trying to learn everything and anything. to everyone here that's helped me and made me feel more confident in this career from your articles thank you, and to the owner of this site thank you especially, I've only been on here for 2 weeks(unregistered) but I feel like it's been way longer than that. I will be attending a school in Tupelo, Mississippi in a few weeks from now, 3 weeks away from home and learning, and the instructor who spoke with me told me I'd probably already have a guaranteed position with Schneider which made me feel even greater. Sorry for this Novel I've written here I just wanted to let everyone know I'm ready to be a part of this world of trucking and I'm ready to go all in! Hope you guys are okay with another Rookie joining in!

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

Kenneth, you didn't upset anyone. But what I've found over the years is that people trying to evaluate the trucking industry tend to make a few common mistakes:

1) They convince themselves they know more than they do

2) They give priority to the wrong things

3) They believe things they're told even though they have no way of verifying the quality of the source

Let's have a look at these.

Convincing yourself you know more than you do:

You say Swift is poorly managed. They are the largest and arguably the most successful trucking company in North America. As a 23 year old kid with no experience in the trucking industry and without so much as a high school education do you feel qualified to make that statement after a visit to one of their terminals? Of course you're not. That's ridiculous. You don't know the first thing about managing a trucking company nor would you recognize the difference between one that was properly managed and one that was poorly managed. That is not at all an insult to you. It's simply a reality. You're not qualified to make that kind of statement and you can't possibly know if that's true or not. So don't convince yourself that you know they're poorly managed because you do not know this.

Giving priority to the wrong things:

You said "the local Swift location here is terrible run down and filthy". Admittedly that is not an appealing quality. I'll give you that. However, it's a trucking terminal. It's full of filthy, greasy trucks and inhabited by drivers who far too often fit the same description as their truck. The cleanliness of a company's terminal is not an indication of the quality of a company. I've worked for some awesome companies over the years and even the best of the best always have some nasty places you'd rather not go to along with some big, beautiful terminals in other locations.

You said "my 2nd choice was Roehl who I really wanted to work for but never heard from them". It's quite common to find it nearly impossible to get recruiters on the line, especially if you haven't filled out an application with them yet. Fill out the app and then start calling them like crazy if you haven't heard from them within 36-48 hours. Don't stop calling until you get a person on the line and they review your application with you. Otherwise it might be sitting in a pile collecting dust somewhere.

Unverified Sources:

You said, " I have heard they're decent starter companies but I've heard just that"

The largest and most successful trucking companies in North America are the ones that hire students and in my opinion they make a great place to work regardless of your experience level. In fact, I completely dismiss the notion that starter companies are somehow lesser companies. That's ridiculous.

The largest companies tend to have:

  • Fleets of relatively new and well-maintained trucks
  • A large amount and variety of freight available
  • A number of various opportunities in dedicated or regional divisions
  • Nationwide accounts that make it incredibly easy to get tires changed, get repairs done, find a hotel, or pay lumper services
  • Tons of great perks, often including things like free health hotlines to speak with doctors and nurses, hotel and travel discounts, free marriage and family counseling sessions, and huge recreational centers at the terminals for the drivers during downtime
  • Some of the best pay and benefits of any companies in the country for experienced drivers

So being "just a starter company" isn't a bad thing at all in my opinion. In fact, the best company I ever worked for was a "starter company" that I didn't start with until I had almost 10 years of experience and they were simply stellar - US Xpress. At the time they even had their own school. They no longer operate their own school but they still hire students straight out of school.

Like I said, you haven't upset anyone. No need for any apologies of any sort. I'm just pointing out that you have a lot of preconceived notions or strongly formed opinions that aren't going to help you make the right decisions for yourself.

Go through those links I posted earlier and you'll find great information about how to choose the right company for yourself.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

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.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!
Maybe I should come back after completing school.

You're at the perfect place at the perfect time. Our mission here is to prepare people for the start of their career and you'll benefit a ton from the information we have here. I certainly wasn't insulting you about the high school education thing. Heck, I only have a high school education with some tech college stuff mixed in and I was a truck driver for 15 years. It's not like I'm in a position to talk down to anyone from my high mountain of prestige.

smile.gif

But I do know this industry and we can help you understand it a whole lot better. We want you to go into it with the right information, the right approach, and the proper expectations.

But the biggest thing we focus on here as a foundation for everyone getting started in trucking is having a positive attitude. It's cliche as h*ll but that's because it's true as h*ll - attitude really is everything and that's never more true than at the start of someone's trucking career. It's a really difficult process and everyone feels overwhelmed by the amount of information, the long days, the risk and responsibility, and the radical change in lifestyle all at once.

Not only that, but trucking rewards those who produce the most. It's performance based. The drivers who go out there and know how to turn a lot of miles and get loads picked up and delivered safely and on time get the best miles, make the most money, and get the best treatment. So if you understand that going in you won't waste your time worrying about whether or not you're working for a bad company. You'll know that learning your trade and proving yourself is going to lead to those nice paychecks shortly down the road so you'll do what it takes to get there.

If instead you go into it with a cynical or negative attitude toward the company you might not ever perform at the level it takes to get the best miles and the best treatment. Your effort will be average, your miles will be average or poor, and you'll soon want to leave the company because you're under the impression it's their fault that you're not getting the miles the top drivers are getting. The truth that many drivers fail to see is that their performance and their attitude are the two things that will ultimately determine their success and happiness out there, not the quality of the company they're with.

So there's a lot more to it than it would appear on the surface, you know what I mean? On the surface, it's just truckin'. And in fact I tell people that all the time when they get nervous about being able to handle it. It's just truckin'. But at the same time this industry is a strange beast. There's nothing quite like it and you can't understand it until you've been in it for a little while.

Go through our Truck Driver's Career Guide if you haven't already. You'll pick up a ton of information and insights into the industry that you're going to want to know before making these major decisions.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
C T.'s Comment
member avatar

Plenty of rookies here on or near your current status. I lurked this site for a while myself until I decided it was best for my family to be. I am currently in school myself so I can't offer much wisdom of the industry from personal experience, but there's years of experience between the guys and gals here. Guess we'll be done around the same time as I got about 3 weeks left. Best of luck to you!

MotherTruckerKen's Comment
member avatar

Plenty of rookies here on or near your current status. I lurked this site for a while myself until I decided it was best for my family to be. I am currently in school myself so I can't offer much wisdom of the industry from personal experience, but there's years of experience between the guys and gals here. Guess we'll be done around the same time as I got about 3 weeks left. Best of luck to you!

Indeed you'll probably get done before me, I don't really know exactly when I will star my Schooling but I'm hoping within the next 3 weeks, right now I am in the process of just saving some money before I go, but If I could I'd go as early as tomorrow and start.

C T.'s Comment
member avatar

Have you considered company sponsored training? Also are you possibly eligible for any financial aid from a local college or tech school?

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.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Welcome aboard Kenneth, and take a little warning from me. These schools will take your money gladly and tell you that they are sure they can get you a job. But you really need to start right away on getting some pre-hires lined up. Here's the link on Understanding Pre-Hires.

I'm telling you this because the lack of a GED is going to bite you in the butt. You can get a job, but that one little factor may cause you some problems. Get started now and Apply For Truck Driving Jobs so you can get some pre-hire letters in your hands. There are plenty of companies out there who are going to back off when they see you didn't finish high school or get that GED. It says something to them. I'm not in their camp, I'm not agreeing with them, and I'm not even being critical. I just want you to be aware that you may still face an uphill battle to land that first job because of that.

Glad you introduced yourself, and hope to hear of your continued success in this business!

Anything we can do to help, you just ask away.

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.

Susan D. 's Comment
member avatar

My online application with WST never even asked about high school or even college for that matter. I seriously only had to give them the name of the cdl school and 3 years of job history. I have no criminal record and my mvr is clean. My DAC/HireRight says "no records". They don't have a clue that I retired from healthcare and have 2 college degrees, nor do they care. So maybe some companies will ask, but many of them wont. If they decide they want a longer job history from me, then obviously they'll find out lol.

Some companies want a 10 year history on all applicants, but what I was told by my school is that the 10 year history is actually only required by FMCSA/DOT for drivers with any experience and for a new grad, only 3 years is required.

Good luck to you Ken, and I really wouldn't worry about that too much. There are so many companies to choose from, I'm sure if your background is clean, you'll find a company that you WANT to work for that would love to hire you too.

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.

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Fm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

MVR:

Motor Vehicle Record

An MVR is a report of your driving history, as reported from your state Department of Motor Vehicles. Information on this report may include Drivers License information, point history, violations, convictions, and license status on your driving record.

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

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.

MotherTruckerKen's Comment
member avatar

My online application with WST never even asked about high school or even college for that matter. I seriously only had to give them the name of the cdl school and 3 years of job history. I have no criminal record and my mvr is clean. My DAC/HireRight says "no records". They don't have a clue that I retired from healthcare and have 2 college degrees, nor do they care. So maybe some companies will ask, but many of them wont. If they decide they want a longer job history from me, then obviously they'll find out lol.

Some companies want a 10 year history on all applicants, but what I was told by my school is that the 10 year history is actually only required by FMCSA/DOT for drivers with any experience and for a new grad, only 3 years is required.

Good luck to you Ken, and I really wouldn't worry about that too much. There are so many companies to choose from, I'm sure if your background is clean, you'll find a company that you WANT to work for that would love to hire you too.

Thanks a ton sue, and well the GED may be a problem but I hope not, the school instructors told me it wasn't needed that I'd just have to take some test for reading and writing but I admit I should get it, but I am hoping with some hard work and busting my butt getting my CDL and being under a good company won't be impossible. and yes about the driving record, never been in a wreck or had a single accident (except for the time someone back into my car at Sonic -Drive in stall) but that was them not me. Hopefully I'll be given a chance which I think I deserve but I guess we will see...

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.

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

Fm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

MVR:

Motor Vehicle Record

An MVR is a report of your driving history, as reported from your state Department of Motor Vehicles. Information on this report may include Drivers License information, point history, violations, convictions, and license status on your driving record.

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

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.

Scott O.'s Comment
member avatar

I don't have either and I got hired by swift and crst...for the most part as long as you can pass the written and skills test your good...

MotherTruckerKen's Comment
member avatar

I don't have either and I got hired by swift and crst...for the most part as long as you can pass the written and skills test your good...

I hope I can get on with a better company (no offense) but if not I'll take what I can get considering I don't have the GED.

Scott O.'s Comment
member avatar

I went with them cuz the no upfront cost... Not cuz I had to...

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