Military Retiree Starting New Career

Topic 14542 | Page 1

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Brian S.'s Comment
member avatar

Hello everyone, glad to finally join the group after lurking for a few months. I will be retiring from the Army in December after 20 years of service, and looking to get into trucking. I am going thru the Troops to Transportation program and already have pre hires from a few different companies. I will be attending CDL school in Miami, FL in January and am interested if anyone on here has attended that school? Also if anyone has any input on the Apprentice program. Right now I am interested in starting off driving regional for about six months to a year to get experience before ultimately getting into something local. I will be in the Nashville, TN area and the two companies I am really looking into right now are Schneider National and Western Express. Just looking for a good company to get my foot in the door that is going to get me headed in the right direction starting out and not put a bad taste in my mouth. Thanks

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.

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.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Welcome Brian. We've had plenty of people go through each of those companies and do quite well. They're both great places to get your career underway.

That first year in trucking I always recommend to people that they approach it as if you were entering the military. Expect there to be a lot of ups and downs, a bunch of red tape, a few awful personalities sprinkled in along the way, and a lot of proving yourself to everyone.

Whatever you do, don't take the approach that the company has to prove themselves to you. It's the other way around. You can't believe the number of people that get started in trucking and never even make it through the training. A far smaller percentage ever make it through the first year. There's a huge dropout rate. So until you've demonstrated that you have what it takes to work hard and haul freight safely and reliably they're not going to really give you the benefit of the doubt. They're going to take a "wait and see" approach. They'll give you all of the opportunities in the world to show what type of driver you intend to be so make the most of it.

The same way every knucklehead watches military movies and thinks they have what it takes to be a soldier, everyone thinks driving a truck is simply a matter of adapting to a larger car. But it's not the shifting, steering, and backing that's the most difficult part of the job. It's the lifestyle that gets people. The erratic sleep patterns, the time away from home and family, the super long days, the pressure, the tight schedules, and all that kind of stuff. With your experience you should have no trouble adapting to it. But be sure that it will be quite a struggle for a while. The amount of information you'll need to learn is enormous. And I'm not just talking about the regulations and such. I'm talking about time management, the inner workings of trucking companies, dealing with DOT officers, and managing your life on the road.

Here are some great resources to help give you a better picture of what to expect:

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Brett,

Thanks for the info and advice. I already have it in my head that this is going to be a tough career change, and that I have to start basically from the ground up and build that trust and reliability with the company I choose to go with. I am ready for the challenge, and am looking forward to a successful career change.

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.

MAC's Comment
member avatar

Hi Brian,

First of all, thank you for your service to our Country!

I have recently retired and I am also considering truck driving as a second career, if it happens, I too might be starting CDL school after the first of the year.

So far, Schneider is my first choice for a job, but I'm studying Western Express as well, as they seem to be the primary recruiter of graduates of the Community College CDL school I would be attending.

So I am definitely looking forward to following your posts!

Any way, I just wanted to say hi, and even though I am brand new here myself, to welcome you to the forum, and wish you the best of luck on your new adventure!

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Steve S. C.'s Comment
member avatar

Hello Brian

I just left the Navy last year and went to my first company the day after Christmas. It is probably the least stressful job I have ever had. The hours suck, but most of them for me are driving doing regional flatbed. Military experience made the transition pretty easy for me. Check out a guy named Dale Clay (retired Air Force) on Youtube. He does a good job explaining stuff. If you like being around family a lot the first year will be hard. There are more normal working hour driving jobs out there, but most require at least a year experience first unless you have connections.

It is a very enjoyably job being out there on your own, kind of like being the captain of your own ship. I even know of a Submarine captain that retired and started his own owner operator business and have talked to medical doctors that got tired of legal garbage and started trucking. So far I am enjoying working for Maverick Transportation LLC. This is still my first year so I don't have much to compare them too yet. I have heard some scary stories from guys that left some of the big companies though. If you want some physical activity from your job, flat bed is kind of fun. I am going to save box truck driving for when I get tired of physical labor.

Just do your research in picking out a good school and first company. Good luck.

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.

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

sgtwilldog's Comment
member avatar

Brian S.,

I'll be doing the same thing as you. I'm choosing Schneider National because of their military friendly approach, such as a higher starting pay. I'm sure you already saw this, but if not: https://schneiderjobs.com/company-drivers/military

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.

Steve L.'s Comment
member avatar

I've been with Schneider since December, 2014. Very happy. Best part of the decision was that EVERYTHING the Recruiter promised was true.

Nashville/Lebanon TN is my Operating Center. I love it because it is a small, tight-knit group. Just like my Navy days, there are situations and people who occasionally present challenges, but nothing insurmountable.

If Schneider has a position that fits your needs, I feel there's no better company to start off with. For me, there have been no better opportunities than what Schneider offers.

Thanks for your service and I hope this helps.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

We do have a ton of information on various military programs available and trucking companies with military-friendly programs:

Military Programs & Military-Friendly Trucking Companies

Brian S.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks guys for all of the responses. I have been asking everyone for advice that I know that are either in the trucking industry or who have been, I guess just confirming stuff that I already knew so I feel better about it. From the people that I have talked to, and browsing thru these pages one thing is for sure. No one has anything bad to say about Schneider. Thanks again

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