Greetings, Need Career Advice, Looking At Going Out On The Road.

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Sambo's Comment
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Hello everyone. Name is Sam. 45 yrs old from Texas.

In 2005, I was working for a poultry warehouse driving a forklift. I was looking to expand my income and seen an advertisement in a news paper for oilfield jobs starting at $10/hour but working 80 hours per week. I started doing the math in my head and realized that this would equate to about $1000/wk gross. This was quite a bit more than I was making at the poultry warehouse.

I went to a job seminar they were having in Ft. Smith, AR. and after a couple of hours with them, I signed up for a job. The company was Schlumberger, and I was going to work on a frac crew. Part of my job was going to be driving the frac equipment from the yard to the locations, and from locations to locations. They sent me to Kellyville, OK. to take part in their own truck driving school. It was a 3 week course, which consisted of about 1 weeks worth of classroom and a week with a driver trainer, the last week was safety training.

After leaving Kellyville, we had to do 1000 miles on the road with a trainer back at our yard. Once we got signed off, then we were on our own. Our driving consisted of some small highway stints, and a lot of rough lease roads leading back to the locations we were going to.

I stayed with that company for about 3.5 years, and went on to work for various companies hauling oilfield production water and pit water via tanker to and from various locations.

I got a job doing on site frac fueling where i drove a 3000 gallon tanker straight truck to the fuel rack and then to the well site and performed equipment fueling.

During that time, I was able to get a job with a chemical company delivering chemicals to oil and gas wells, mainly driving 10 wheel straight trucks, some flatbed trucks, and specialized pumping trucks.

I do have my hazmat and tanker endorsements.

Ok, so now that you know my backstory, time to get on with why i'm here :D

The company I am working for now really doesn't have much in the way of advancement, meaning, unless I get lucky, i'll likely be doing what I am doing now until I either retire, or get too old to be crawling in and out of a truck, or crawling in the dirt and mud, all day. I know of some people who are doing this job in their mid 50's, so I know it can be done, but i'm sitting here wondering if a) do i want to be doing this in my 50's and b) will my body still be able to do this kind of work when i get that old.

If the answer to that question is "no", then what happens? Does the company say "well, thanks for your service, but if you can't do the work anymore, we cant really use you"? If that is the case, that leave me being in my 50's trying to find a new job. Not many companies that pay very well want to hire a 50 yr old person when they can look to the 20 somethings.

I am kind of burned out on the job as well, just a little bit too much riff raff going on where I am. This got me to thinking about moving out of the oilfield and into the trucking industry, a job, that, hopefully, I can do until I retire. At 45, i'm thinking if I want to get in with a company, and get 20 years of service under my belt with them, this would probably be the time to do it.

What I am looking for is some advice on what direction to go, should I decide to make this step. From what I have seen in the past, most companies want at least 2 to 3 years OTR experience, however, lately ive been seeing that companies are softening that requirement, with some just requiring as little as 6 months experience, and others offering jobs as soon as they leave driving school. From what I can gather, most companies do not consider the type of driving that I have been doing as "OTR experience". Has this changed now? Has the demand for drivers come to a point where this might be possible now? If not, where does one go to get the OTR experience required by the companies that do require that experience?

I know the pay for drivers is not what it once was, but, from what I have seen, it is still possible to make between 50k and 60k starting out, at least that is what I am seeing some advertisments show. Is this incorrect? Is it a lure to get people in the door, but never actually held up to? Is it possible, if you actually buy groceries and keep your spending low, to bank a lot of the money you make, or are the expenses out on the road usually enough to soak up a lot of your paycheck?

And lastly, just some ideas of what life is like on the road. Ive read some of the articles here on this site, and for the most part, people seem to like it. I will say that I am single and have no kids, so that is one thing that wouldn't be on my mind, and that means I would probably prefer to stay running as much as possible, more miles = more money. How competitive is the trucking industry? Are people usually fighting for runs, or are the loads plentiful that anyone wanting to run all the time would be able to do so? What are the most difficult parts of driving over the road? I know dealing with traffic, layovers and mechanical issues are prevalent, but what are some of the other things that people experience that make it rough on the road? Do you generally fare better financially getting interstate runs or driving regional , dedicated, or LTL?

Sorry for all of the questions, but I am seriously considering this as my final career choice and want to be informed before making this decision.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

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.

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

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.

Interstate:

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

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Welcome to the forum Sam. I assume you have a Class A CDL , and not a B. For starters many of your questions can be answered by reading Becoming A Truck Driver: The Raw Truth About Truck Driving.

As far as your OTR experience, most of the larger companies would likely hire you after a quick road test and with the requirement that you go through some road training to familiarize yourself with OTR driving, shippers/receivers and basic life on the road. Since you have driving experience the training will likely be for less time.

Trucking Company Reviews will give you a good idea of what companies will consider hiring with no experience. I am sure you will get folks chiming in with their favorites. This link will help you choose what is best for you:

You can apply for jobs using this link:Apply For Truck Driving Jobs

Lots of information. Hope it helps. Good luck.

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.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

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.

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.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Sorry the link is here: Apply For Truck Driving Jobs

Sambo's Comment
member avatar

Thank you for the response. Yes I have my class A with tanker and hazmat endorsements, but do not have double/triples. I will look over the links, and once again, appreciate the response.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

Sambo's Comment
member avatar

Applications submitted, jb hunt, schneider, heartland, melton, k&b, knight, not sure about k and b and melton, hoping i get some response from one of the first 3 though. keep fingers crossed and see what happens.

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.

Sambo's Comment
member avatar

And swift

Sambo's Comment
member avatar

Got a bunch of emails just shortly after I submitted the applications. i'm sure it's all just standard auto response email, but some of the offers seem to good to be true.

K&B sent this:

Hello Sam!

K&B Transportation just received your application and would like an opportunity to speak with you! Please give me a call as soon as possible. START ASAP AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF A TEMPORARY BONUS, ENJOY $400 YOUR FIRST CHECK AND $500 YOUR SECOND!

If you have not already done so, please complete your 3 years of work history and a signed release.

Take advantage of a $.45 per mile starting wage and an industry standalone mileage guarantee offering you $1125 per week minimum GUARANTEED!

Looking forward to speaking with you!

Sean Barragan Director of Recruiting SBarragan@kbtransportation.com Office Number 800-851-8651 Cell phone - 712-574-0634 (Nights andWeekends- Texting is an option)

"guaranteed" .45 per mile to start, and $1125 per week, again, "guaranteed"? From what i gather, "guaranteed" is a word you want to stay away from in this industry. Am I wrong?

Melton sent:

Dear Sam,

Thank you for applying to Melton Truck Lines!

Please call us at 888-633-5163 to begin your interview process.

We are one of America's leading OTR flatbed carriers, offering some of the best pay, benefits, and equipment.

Melton Truck Lines was recently named a Best Fleet to Drive For by the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA)! President Chris Burress said,"The Best Fleets to Drive For is identifying the gold standard when it comes to a driver's work environment."

We are looking for safe, reliable drivers who want to be paid well and treated like family.

Melton is offering a great pay package with up to 54 cpm plus $40 tarp pay, monthly fuel bonuses of 1-4 cpm, excellent benefits & much more! We love experienced drivers, but also train drivers who have little to no OTR experience.

Our current pay package is based on your OTR experience. 41 cpm for students 43 cpm for 1-11 months 48 cpm for 1-5 years 49 cpm for 5 years or more

Your application is a priority to us and we will do everything that we can to help you join our team.

To review the status of your application, call us at 888-633-5163.

Thanks again and we look forward to talking to you soon!

So, im gathering that pay is going up? Both of these are offering upwards of .40+ cpm to start, which, I was under the impression that trucker pay was down around the .30 to .35 cpm. Granted, it's been awhile since i checked on this stuff.

Heartland Express sends:

Thank you for your applying with Heartland Express. Ryan is currently working on your application and would like to speak with you further about our driving opportunities. You can email Ryan at drive8@heartlandexpress.com or contact our recruiting department directly at 1-800-441-4953. Please sign our online release to ensure that your application is processed as quickly as possible. Here are the directions to sign the release online: 1. Go here 2. Click on "To check the status of a previous application 'Click Here'" 3. Enter your name and last 4 digits of your SS#4. Click "Log In"5. Click on "Investigation Release"6. Sign with the mouse at the bottom of the form and hit "Save" Contact me with any questions.

Heartland Express Recruiting800-441-4953 HEARTLAND EXPRESS PAYS $0.13* per mile higher than the average trucking company, and $0.06* per mile higher than the next highest paying carrier.*figures from the National Survey of Driver Wages

Regional , Dedicated and Salaried positions available

Koch offering competitive pay, $3,000 orientation completion bonus, and a "VIP" experience with a flight to the orientation, all meals provided and stay in full service hotel.

Knight Transport replied,

Swift and Schneider also sent emails.

I plan on calling them all back tomorrow, but of these, are there any that stand out to you as "stay away from them" companies? I'd probably take any of them just to get my foot in the door, but i'm hoping for Swift, JB Hunt, Schneider, or Heartland, or Melton.

I am also going to look at some more companies tomorrow and submit more applications, CRST, CR England, Prime, Stevens are a couple i'd be interested.

This may be a dumb question but, is it really hard to get on with a good trucking company? I know several years ago, I guess nobody was hiring company drivers. They would hire you as an owner operator , and give you the opportunity to lease your own truck, but I don't think that is something I want to get into, at least not at this point. Most of them used to want 1 to 3 years OTR experience, but all of my driving, though it's through some pretty rough roads, is not considered OTR experience. Will this be a hinderance to me, or is it still possible?

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.

Owner Operator:

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

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.

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Sambo, start narrowing it down by concentrating on what kind of freight you want to be hauling. You're all over the place right now - you've got dry van , reefer , and flat bed companies all in the mix. All of those have varying features about them that appeal to different people.That is how I would start with making my decision.

Melton is a highly respected flat bed operation that is well known for helping new drivers make a good start. All of those companies are fine, but you need to get more specific on what you want. Don't worry about being pressured to lease a truck, any of those places would be glad to have you as a company driver.

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Sambo's Comment
member avatar

Sambo, start narrowing it down by concentrating on what kind of freight you want to be hauling. You're all over the place right now - you've got dry van , reefer , and flat bed companies all in the mix. All of those have varying features about them that appeal to different people.That is how I would start with making my decision.

Melton is a highly respected flat bed operation that is well known for helping new drivers make a good start. All of those companies are fine, but you need to get more specific on what you want. Don't worry about being pressured to lease a truck, any of those places would be glad to have you as a company driver.

lol, thats just it, im not picky! :( i guess i need to be a little. I would be fine with either dry van or flat bed, but i'm probably leaning toward dry van at this point, just until i get my feet wet. Although, that melton job looks like it will pay really well, and driving a flat bed means loading and unloading will be a bit easier (no docking). Ive just never had to tarp a truck before, ive done plenty of ratchet straps, but not many come alongs and chains. Granted, from what I gather, Melton does train you in all of that in their orientation.

By the way, what is the Melton orientation like these days? I searched the forums and found some posts, and, while they were older posts, the people said that the competition to get those jobs was pretty stiff. One guy said that, of the 12 that started his orientation, by the 4th day there were only like 4 guys left? And he was saying he wasn't sure if he was going to make the cut? Is melton that hard to get on with?

Again, thanks for the replies, it's nice to be able to come to one of these forums and actually talk to people, and not have them judging you (which is what most internet forums are like).

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Sambo's Comment
member avatar

Another question (i know, im full of em). Ive not had a lot of experience map reading and working with atlases. I know this may be cheating, and I still fully intend on learning map reading, but, ive seen those trucker GPS units at some truck stops. Are those any good? i'm assuming they are, because they will guide you along your route, but also have all the truck routes, weigh stations, low bridge information etc already programmed in, making life a lot easier out there on the road.

Good idea to purchase one (if I get hired)? Or waste of money?

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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