Taking The Plunge, Starting Trucker School

Topic 13570 | Page 1

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Richard E.'s Comment
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So, I had been trying to find a career that suits my personality, and gives me a good living wage. I graduated college back in 1985, and have been working in research since. My jobs always seemed exciting at first, for about 3 years, and then I started feeling dissatisfied for one reason or another. And, usually research depends on funding from grants or contracts, which in my location, Northeast Ohio, is unpredictable. That is to say, the pay is pretty demeaning, considering the time and sweat one puts into the job. So, when I was a young man, I had a dream that one day, if I couldn't find some great scientific truth that solves the worlds problems and makes me famous, that I would become a trucker. That day has arrived. I am staring truck driving school in Akron, Ohio tomorrow. I have passed my CDL class A written test. I have looked on the Trucking Truth site for about 3 months, reading whatever I could find out about the field, and am ready to find out how this decision is going to pan out. I'll keep writing here to let you know what happens. If you have any advice, please feel free to make your comments. I need a handle, I'll think about that tonight.

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.
ProudArmyMom's Comment
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Richard:

Congrats!!! I am also starting trucking school tomorrow.

Karen

Charlie Mac's Comment
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I'm starting 2 weeks from today. I can hardly wait...the anticipation! Keep us posted & best wishes.

Richard E.'s Comment
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First week of class has been a bit boring. But, in truth, the week was set up for us to prepare for the first week of class, which really starts next week. It's so anyone that hasn't gotten their temps can prepare and take the test. Also for taking our DOT physical and drug screen. I was a little concerned about my physical, but I passed it. Don't want to get into why I was concerned, because it probably isn't such a big deal as I had thought it might be, but just so anyone else might be wondering: I have deafness in one ear. Wasn't sure if I'd pass the test. I wasn't able to find the Regs about this anywhere. AS it turns out, the DOT only requires that you have good hearing in one ear. So, anyway, first week is about over. I got some good career advice from the schools placement coordinator. I love this school so far. Everyone is pretty cool. Can't wait to get into the yard to start pre-trips and finally get into a truck. I also want to thank this website for providing this forum. I'm reading others posts, good luck to everyone.

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.

Richard E.'s Comment
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Hope everyone in the Midwest has been enjoying this fantastic "spring" weather. NOT. We got 6" of snow yesterday here in Ohio. But, that's ok, I don't start my driving training until this week. What I wanted to write about this week; how it seems that there are as many opinions about the potential of this career as there are new CDL students looking for advice. For instance, I read, I think, like 2 months ago in the this web sites forums that the best way to go was to go to a driving school. This gives one more options for choosing a company to get their over the road training. Now I read an article on this website just the other day that says the industry is getting slow and harder to get into, so it's probably best to go into a company sponsored training program. Oh well, the die is cast. I think I made the right choice going to a private school. I have to say, though, there are some questionable concepts that I've encountered. Like, you are NOT going to fail any test (except of course the drug test or physical). This sort of waters down the course, I feel. I think that schools are probably just like the recruiters, they all say what they know you want to hear. But, overall, I like the school. I am starting maneuvers in the yard this week. I am SO psyched to get into a truck. Take it easy. TTYL

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.

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.

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.

Richard E.'s Comment
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Well, this feels sorta like I'm a little crazy, talking to myself. But, here goes. So, I have two more weeks of school. I have had a really good time, all things considered. What can I say? The school I chose is supposed to be one of the top schools in the nation. Who knows. It must be pretty good. I have a job offer. It's from a local company, doing dry van regional. I have pre hire offers from several large companies, (Schneider, Stevens, AIM) but I feel like a small company would be better. For instance, the recruiter that came to the school was the co-owner. He offers literally everything those big boys do. I think I'll take the job. Now all I got to do is pass my CDL test. I'm scared to death, to be honest. Hopefully these next two weeks will allow me to hone my skills (there's a lot of honing to do).

I welcome anyone's comments on what they think about this; small family owned company vs. huge, well managed but maybe not as personal company.

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.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

I think working for s smaller company would be great. Everybody knows everybody! I have spent a lot of time on the phone with dispatch the last couple of days and I've talked to a different person every time. I have to give them my truck number and driver code and the only reason they know my name is because it pops up on their screen. Kinda impersonal.

But can the smaller company offer the miles and freight that a big company can?

Errol V.'s Comment
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ChickieMonster asks:

But can the smaller company offer the miles and freight that a big company can?

The miles depend on what business the company can drum up, just like any company.

The Ma-Pa idea is great, like you imagine. But a small company must also deal with owning, operating and maintaining complicated and expensive machinery. They may need to depend on diesel mechanic shops for maintenance, not their own shops, and there's limited resources for major maintenance.

Finally, you'll probably be visiting every open scale station in the country, Pre-pass or no.

C.M., yes, at Big Truck Freight Company you are a number - your truck number. But your DM might know you by name, and know how you work. I believe something's not right if you are talking to a "different person every time". From a driver's point of view, you and your DM are a team, both working to get a job done.

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.
ChickieMonster's Comment
member avatar

ChickieMonster asks:

double-quotes-start.png

But can the smaller company offer the miles and freight that a big company can?

double-quotes-end.png

The miles depend on what business the company can drum up, just like any company.

The Ma-Pa idea is great, like you imagine. But a small company must also deal with owning, operating and maintaining complicated and expensive machinery. They may need to depend on diesel mechanic shops for maintenance, not their own shops, and there's limited resources for major maintenance.

Finally, you'll probably be visiting every open scale station in the country, Pre-pass or no.

C.M., yes, at Big Truck Freight Company you are a number - your truck number. But your DM might know you by name, and know how you work. I believe something's not right if you are talking to a "different person every time". From a driver's point of view, you and your DM are a team, both working to get a job done.

Errol I think the only reason is was talking to someone different every time is because I was getting directed to night/weekend dispatch. During the week I have just one DM who is especially for new drivers and has a much smaller fleet to handle.

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.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Richard one additional thought to consider once you have your CDL. The larger carriers are formally equipped to road-train an entry-level driver. Although they each execute road-training in a different manner, the end result is consistent, thus they adequately prepare you to be solo (released into the wild). For the most part they are really good at this.

If you haven't already done so, I suggest asking the smaller company to clearly define how they intend to train you before going solo. Hopefully the process is in some written form and they have drivers qualified to execute the training.

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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