Help Me Wrap My Head Around The Decision To Become A Truck Driver

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Sambo's Comment
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I was reading the threads in regards to the IT pros leaving their jobs to go into trucking. I appreciate those threads for insight into going into the trucking field.

I've never been in the "technical" world. I've only ever done manual labor jobs. Working in a warehouse, manufacturing, or oilfield jobs. I've never had "good" money until I got into the oilfield.

I've always thought of the IT world as one where everyone makes $100,000/yr +. I guess that was my mental image of it anyway. You always hear of the computer programmers and such making a really good living. I have a friend actually who is a programmer, he has a really nice 2 story house in a really nice neighborhood. Seeing things like that sort of solidify my image of what the computer IT world is like. From what i'm reading here, it isn't always that way it seems.

I've come to a crossroads in my life where I too am considering a career in trucking, and I am about 90% the way there on pulling the trigger. The one thing that keeps me from going all in at this point is (and you've all probably read my repeated threads on this, sorry) is the money. I know that I am going to make less than I am now, by a substantial amount. At my current job, I have the potential of making $77k/year if I get 60 hours a week, up to $94k/year if I get 70 hours a week. I have 401k, insurance, and pension. That is hard money to walk away from. Yet, I do not see any advancement in my future with this company. They put a high emphasis on college education for any type of promotion. They have been working on a different route for advancement, which includes moving into a lower supervisory position, which can lead to middle management.

Unless that happens, i'll be working in the field from here on. Hot summer days, near or above 100 degree heat, high humidity, on my hands and knees in the rocks, mud, oil soaked ground. With the way I feel right now, physically, I think I could continue this job for quite awhile, though my right knee is starting to hurt when I get up from being seated for a long time, or when I crouch down and then get up. The question is, in lieu of any kind of promotion....do I really WANT to keep doing this until i'm 50...55...or 60 years old?

The next question is, sure, I can make good money here, with a lot of hard work, but then, monthly rent, utilities, entertainment expenses. All of that adds up. I don't really spend a lot on material things. My apartment is sparsely furnished. I do have computers, a nice stereo system, and a TV. Most of my money goes to tobacco (smokeless), and eating out way more than I should, and 401k contributions. In a truck, I can remove about 90% of those expenses, with only needing food/drink and hygiene supplies. All I need is a TV, a computer, a mini fridge, and maybe a hot plate for cooking. I can get by with eating sandwiches, fruits and vegetables, and drinking water or iced tea (which I would make by myself). Sure, I may not make as much, so I wont be putting as much into 401k, and I may not save as much in the bank account, but I wouldn't need to make $70k to $90k to keep a decent financial situation. On top of all of that, I wouldn't have to spend my days being miserable, drenched in sweat, and doing a repetitive job that seems to never end.

I'm in a job now where we do servicing on oil and gas wells. We do these wells every other week or at least once a month. I've always been the type of guy that likes to do a job until it's complete and then move on to the next. Sure, the next job may be the same thing as I did the week before, but it may be at a different location or a different type of job, but doing the same job for the same wells month after month just annoys me to some extent. That's why I think trucking would be so cool. Sure, you are running a load every day, but, each time you drop a trailer or unload, that is a job complete, the end, that one is done. On to the next job. It gives me the sense of completion, the feeling of moving forward. Doing the same wells/jobs every week just seems like it's a never ending cycle and you just go round and round. Trucking, you move a load, you complete the load, and then you get a new load, to a new city.....i.e. you are never stagnant, and always moving forward. It's a sense of fulfillment in a way I guess.

I see some of you are giving up jobs that pay decent wages, and a lot of you have families and homes and the like. Yet, you are taking the courage to walk away from your current job to pursue life on the road. I can't help but think that, here I am, no wife, no kids, and no bills, except for a truck payment, and yet I am fretting over walking away from a good paying job. Surely, if you folks can make it work, then there should be no reason I can't make it work. Yet the question is, why is this decision so difficult for me?

Any psychiatrists out there have some insight for me on that one? lol..

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

DWI:

Driving While Intoxicated

Sambo's Comment
member avatar

Also, I know that there are trucking jobs that do pay upwards of $70k, some over $100k, but you have to have the required experience to do those jobs, which I could get via OTR trucking. So it's not like I would have to always look forward to low pay, there are driving jobs that can get one back to the high paying income.

Again, I know it sounds like I am hung up on money, which I am not. I am hung up on not being poor and poverty stricken upon retirement. I'll gladly sacrifice the niceties of life now, if I can exchange that for comfortable living when I am done working.

Sorry for the repeated threads...hopefully this will be my last of this type. I guess I am just looking for some encouragement from those who have done this and made it work, if were being honest.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Why not get into trucking for a few years and either save up enough for college or try online school on the road? If you didn't have so much monthly overhead, you wouldnt necessarily have to max out your hours every week to make enough to afford online school. After finishing online school...man talk about options. You could continue in trucking, go back to an oil job, or use your degree.

And yes, there's a sense if accomplishment. After each load, I'll send a message saying, "Done, logs approved. Please dispatch in next load." (...assuming I already have another load lined up)

Trucking can be boring too. I80 gets old after a while. But yeah, I'm not sweating my butt off every day either.

Pianoman's Comment
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Sorry for the typos.. autocorrect ain't so correct.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

I think it's a comfort zone thing you are dealing with, taking one step back to take two forward.

Many drivers have shared their income, the resounding answer is after seversl years of experience you can make upwards of 60-70k. It won't be easy, but it's definitely possible. If your decision is purely money driven than you should probably continue on your current path.

I will never make the kind of money driving that I made in IT. Sick of the "dance" and the unrelenting politics, I made a quality of life decision and never once regretted it. Overall I am much happier, healthier, actually work less hours, and do not loose any sleep at night.

I don't think any of us can say something so profound that you take the leap without some remaining questions. However I think you have all the information you need to make an informed decision. Is the time right for you to make that decision? Only you can answer that. All I can say is once you decide to go all-in, don't look back and focus 100% of your efforts on trucking.

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.

Farmerbob1's Comment
member avatar

Change is more worrisome for some people than others. If I had not lost my job due to outsourcing, I would never have seriously considered trucking. You are not only normal to be wary of change, it's SMART to be wary of change. Think it out. You know yourself better than we do. Can you really live in a 10x10 box for months at a time? Some people can't. Those people can't be OTR truckers.

If you put all your valuable possessions in a temperature controlled storage facility, at $100 per month, get rid of the apartment, the power bill, the water bill, internet or phone bill, the cable bill, etc., you will probably save around 1000-1500 per month if you go OTR, depending on where you live.

That's 12,000-18,000 per year. Be sure to include that in your calculations.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

I think you guys are right. 20 years ago, I had no issues with leaving a job to go to another. Now, it's much more of a thought process. I agree, it is a fear of change, and yes, taking 1 step back to potentially take 2 steps forward.

I don't think i'd have an issue living out of a sleeper. I live in tiny 652 sq/ft apartment right now, and aside from the people i see at work, i'm pretty much secluded to myself on weekends. That is to say, i'm used to not having much of a social life. Most of the people I have contact with are actually online acquaintances, whom I will still be able to converse with on a daily basis. To be honest, if you look at it in a positive aspect, being on the road would actually be a less secluded lifestyle. Every truck stop you pull into, you'll have human contact. More than that though, every truck you pass on the road is like your brother. Sure, you may not see or talk to the driver, but, you'll have "contact" with someone who shares your passion, your pitfalls, troubles and adventures. You'll see people like yourself all the time, just in passing, which I think can give you a sense of company, comradery, or even closeness. The most part for me, aside from the sense of completion that I mentioned earlier, is, spending my days, moving the economy forward, while driving down the road, listening to xm talk radio, or comedy, or music. It's a good thing I already like old Ronnie Milsap country songs....that's a prerequisite for trucking..right? :D

Aside from that, seeing the country through the windshield of a truck just sounds appealing, all the beauty, from windswept plains to sun bathed mountains, to sandy beaches of the ocean. What other job gives you all of that????

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.

Justin F.'s Comment
member avatar

Well I know where you at. I am 25 and about to get married. The job I am at just laid off 16 and more are coming including me due to tenure. I've had quite a bit of accomplishments since I started where I am at. For example, a promotion, met the CEO and discuss career path within the company, numerous upper management. Granted I flew 8 hours away on my own done for such but regardless. I also am a minister. I looked at trucking as a lifestyle that isn't best for ministers or newlyweds. But since the shop got super slow I looked into it more. I know my deacon drove region and sometimes OTR and he retired from it. I know a minister in my conference is an O/O driving regional , there was mother minister who got laid off and drove. And I know three others who pastor and are local jobs. Taking the jump was def something I was fearful of. I would leave my church for one service a week and miss another church service at a church I help at, but in the end I have to look at my future. And as it stands there's always a demand for drivers. And to me that's security. Even my fiancé said what can I lose and go for it. If it's going to provide for us then by all means try it. Do your research and I'm sure you will find something.

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.

Rainy D.'s Comment
member avatar

I'm 42 and worked for the federal govt for 18 years....and it was killing me physically and mentally. My base salary ws $52,000 with night pay.. Sunday pay.. and overtime I could make up to $120,000 a year. I got 10 paid holidays per year and 6 weeks paid vacation.

In NJ cost of living is so high you need to make at least $70,000 to feel comfortable. I actually feel MORE financially secure now because there is no overhead. My car is $400 per month.. the insurance $150.. my storage is $250. My cell is $50 for unlimited everything. So....with one week's pay check I can pay all of my overhead... which back home I couldn't keep up with an entire month. It took me a few months to pay off what I owed the company for equipment (load bars... locks... chains) but now that is mostly paid I feel geat.

And guess what. .. my company offers 401k..and matches a portion.... life.. disability and other insurances too. With the exception of the health insurance. .what I have now is equal or better than what I had in the federal.

I stayed because I hate change. I stayed with men longer than I should have because I hate change. But I not only sleep better... I feel better physically cause I'm not doing the hard labor I was.. I'm less stressed because I'm not dealing with management who are idiots. Seriously.... I prepared a 40 page report for the post master general of the US on how to save the post office hundreds of millions each year. He insisted I give copies to the region heads and the board of governors. You know what happened? Nothing. Not one change. Instead they spent money on robots to move mail... robots that cost millions and are collecting dust cause they are too tall for the buildings.

My point? I feel no obligation to "fix things" anymore. I do what I want when I want. If the load is late it is my fault. There is no one annoying me with their stupidity. So in a nut shell.. . I have more money than before... feel better physically and mentally... sleep better... and don't have to deal with stupidvisors.

Why dont you try leaving the job on a good note try trucking and go back if you can't hack it?

Cause no offense.... but this laboring over it makes you sound incredibly indecisive. Trucking needs people who can make decisions. You are alone out here... if u can't make your own decision...then don't bother. I've always been a "just do it" kind of person. I've done so.much in my life from.bungee jumping to dog sledding... swimming with dolphins to plying with a tiger. And yes.. I did that cause I had so much time off tmat the po I could... my trucking experiences are different but just as amazing. A saw a mountain lion run along thw side of my truck!!! How cool is that?

Good luck with your decision. As stated no one can make it for you. Research the companies well.

Pianoman's Comment
member avatar

Sorry to jack the thread, but what phone carrier are you with Rainy? I pay alot more than that and don't get unlimited everything.

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