Looking To Break Into The Field, Could Use Some Advice!

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Jscagg's Comment
member avatar

Hello all, I found this forum through a bit of searching and it seems like a good place to come and ask some questions and get some advice. That being said, much like the title states, I'm looking to earn my CDL A and start driving; but I'm not entirely sure the best way to go about it. Do I try and find a school in my area? (The closest one to me is NETTTS, which is a 10K tuition and a 22 week program, and from the reviews I've read, not that great to go to for the money spent.) Or do I try and get paid training through a company like US Express?

That also leads me to my next question: Is there a "best" company to go with for paid training? US Express sounds very, very good, but I've read a lot of mixed reviews about them. There are seemingly dozens of companies out there willing to train you to get you a CDL and on the road, but I don't know which ones are actually good to be with, and reliable.

That's also another question, the recruiter for US that I spoke with, said that after my training was done (Schooling, and OTR training for 3-5 weeks) I could get a regional position with home time every weekend. From everyone's personal experience, how likely is this to be true? Should "promises" like that be trusted? I don't want to take a company up on a training offer, just to be forced into OTR work after training is done because I'm not "experienced" enough to land regional. As much as I wouldn't mind OTR stuff, I have a Fiance and a 5 year old at home, so I can't be gone for weeks on end. Regional at least lets me come home at some point every week.

One last question: I see a lot of companies offering X CPM and X amount of miles per week, so it averages out to be a decent amount of money made. But what am I realistically looking at as a new CDL A holder? Part of what made me want to get into this field, other than the fact that I like driving, is the money. It seemingly provides me with the opportunity to make a decent wage, to support my family. Fresh out of school though, am I only looking at what amounts to a minimum wage job?

I apologize for so many questions, but I just want to get as much information about the industry as possible before making a definite decision as to what I'm going to do, and who I'm going to try and work with. I really appreciate any and all advice that could be given!

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.

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

Steve C.'s Comment
member avatar

Let's try this one question at a time.

Hello all, I found this forum through a bit of searching and it seems like a good place to come and ask some questions and get some advice. That being said, much like the title states, I'm looking to earn my CDL A and start driving; but I'm not entirely sure the best way to go about it. Do I try and find a school in my area? (The closest one to me is NETTTS, which is a 10K tuition and a 22 week program, and from the reviews I've read, not that great to go to for the money spent.) Or do I try and get paid training through a company like US Express?

Both are good options. 10k seems a little steep for tuition at a school. If you find a company you like that offers company sponsored training it makes a lot of sense. Not only do you get your CDL with the company, but you also start learning about the way that company does things from day one. This will set you up for success. At a private school their main concern is getting you your CDL and job placement, with a company sponsored school their main concern is getting you your CDL and making you a productive driver.

That also leads me to my next question: Is there a "best" company to go with for paid training? US Express sounds very, very good, but I've read a lot of mixed reviews about them. There are seemingly dozens of companies out there willing to train you to get you a CDL and on the road, but I don't know which ones are actually good to be with, and reliable.

There really isn't a "best" company out there. You just want to look in to what is important to you and find a company that offers that. Think about what type of freight you want to haul. Refrigerated? Flatbed? Dryvan? If you aren't sure find a company that hauls all three so you can switch between them without too much trouble. Also consider things like hometime and regions the company runs. Do you want to go to all the lower 48? Canada? Just regional? Pay should be something to consider as well, but honestly it is a lower priority. If you are a driver that performs well you will make decent money at most any company.

That's also another question, the recruiter for US that I spoke with, said that after my training was done (Schooling, and OTR training for 3-5 weeks) I could get a regional position with home time every weekend. From everyone's personal experience, how likely is this to be true? Should "promises" like that be trusted? I don't want to take a company up on a training offer, just to be forced into OTR work after training is done because I'm not "experienced" enough to land regional. As much as I wouldn't mind OTR stuff, I have a Fiance and a 5 year old at home, so I can't be gone for weeks on end. Regional at least lets me come home at some point every week.

I do hear of a lot of people getting regional spots right out of training, so that isn't entirely unreasonable. That said, unfortunately sometimes recruiters will say things to fill spots. I would try to ask some current drivers for confirmation. If hometime is important to you and you have an interest in flatbed work try looking into TMC, Maverick, and McElroy. I believe all three get their drivers home every weekend as long as you live in their hiring area.

One last question: I see a lot of companies offering X CPM and X amount of miles per week, so it averages out to be a decent amount of money made. But what am I realistically looking at as a new CDL A holder? Part of what made me want to get into this field, other than the fact that I like driving, is the money. It seemingly provides me with the opportunity to make a decent wage, to support my family. Fresh out of school though, am I only looking at what amounts to a minimum wage job?

The general consensus seems to be that new drivers make between $30,000 and $40,000 their first year. For reference, current federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour. Working for minimum wage full time would get you about 7.25 * 40 * 52 = $15,080, so you can reasonably count on making at least double minimum wage. Once people get good at the job they can make substantially more. Another good reference, user: Rainy D just posted her first year pay totals in another thread. She grossed over $40,000 in 2016 and was in training until February, so had she been solo the whole year it would have been even higher. First Year Pay Totals at Prime

I apologize for so many questions, but I just want to get as much information about the industry as possible before making a definite decision as to what I'm going to do, and who I'm going to try and work with. I really appreciate any and all advice that could be given!

Don't apologize for asking questions. You are trying to set yourself up for success. Good on you.

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.

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.

Dryvan:

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

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.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Welcome to the forum Joseph.

When you have a chance take some time to review the Trucking Truth starter kit as follows:

The High Road Training Program is an excellent computer based curriculum designed to enable a student to learn the necessary information required to pass the permit exams. It's highly recommended.

Good luck and feel free to continue asking questions.

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.
Jscagg's Comment
member avatar

I want to thank both of you for responding to my post, I really appreciate it. Thank you so much for all of the insight Steve, its very helpful to have a better idea of how the industry functions and what I should expect. For those still viewing this topic, does anyone have any suggestions as far as what are good companies to go with for NE training? I found a few lists that name a lot of companies that do paid training, but not all of them are in the north east. Maverick for instance is one company that offers great benefits both in and out of training, but with where their HQ is located, I'm not sure I could do a NE Regional position with weekly home time. (Granted I won't know until I speak to someone there, I plan on contacting them tomorrow) CRST seems to be alright, nothing overly spectacular about them from what I've read, and I can't even find US Express on anyones list of companies.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

I want to thank both of you for responding to my post, I really appreciate it. Thank you so much for all of the insight Steve, its very helpful to have a better idea of how the industry functions and what I should expect. For those still viewing this topic, does anyone have any suggestions as far as what are good companies to go with for NE training? I found a few lists that name a lot of companies that do paid training, but not all of them are in the north east. Maverick for instance is one company that offers great benefits both in and out of training, but with where their HQ is located, I'm not sure I could do a NE Regional position with weekly home time. (Granted I won't know until I speak to someone there, I plan on contacting them tomorrow) CRST seems to be alright, nothing overly spectacular about them from what I've read, and I can't even find US Express on anyones list of companies.

What lists are you referring to?

Take a look at these:

Paid CDL Training Programs

Trucking Company Reviews

Aren't you in Allentown Pa?

Swift is in Jonestown Pa has NE Regional and Dedicated Regional out of that terminal. Prime is in Pittston Pa, might have NE Regional assignments. I am on a Swift Dedicated Walmart account out of the DC in Gordon PA.

You have options.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

double-quotes-start.png

I want to thank both of you for responding to my post, I really appreciate it. Thank you so much for all of the insight Steve, its very helpful to have a better idea of how the industry functions and what I should expect. For those still viewing this topic, does anyone have any suggestions as far as what are good companies to go with for NE training? I found a few lists that name a lot of companies that do paid training, but not all of them are in the north east. Maverick for instance is one company that offers great benefits both in and out of training, but with where their HQ is located, I'm not sure I could do a NE Regional position with weekly home time. (Granted I won't know until I speak to someone there, I plan on contacting them tomorrow) CRST seems to be alright, nothing overly spectacular about them from what I've read, and I can't even find US Express on anyones list of companies.

double-quotes-end.png

What lists are you referring to?

Take a look at these:

Paid CDL Training Programs

Trucking Company Reviews

Aren't you in Allentown Pa?

Swift is in Jonestown Pa has NE Regional and Dedicated Regional out of that terminal. Prime is in Pittston Pa, might have NE Regional assignments. I am on a Swift Dedicated Walmart account out of the DC in Gordon PA.

You have options.

I'll definitely check out those links, thank you! I was looking up general (Or perhaps generic) lists along the lines of "Best trucking companies to work for in the Northeast/New England" and a number of lists popped up from different sites, all giving what they think is the best 10 or 20 companies to work for. I'm actually located in West Haven, CT, which is in the southern most part of the state right on the Long Island sound. How does home time work with a company based out of another state? Say I were to join up with Swift out of Jonestown PA and I was due home for the weekends for my reset, would I just bring the truck back to Jonestown, and then from there travel home? Or would I bring the truck to a Swift terminal that's closest to my home? (Assuming there's one closer than Jonestown, that is.)

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

double-quotes-start.png

double-quotes-start.png

I want to thank both of you for responding to my post, I really appreciate it. Thank you so much for all of the insight Steve, its very helpful to have a better idea of how the industry functions and what I should expect. For those still viewing this topic, does anyone have any suggestions as far as what are good companies to go with for NE training? I found a few lists that name a lot of companies that do paid training, but not all of them are in the north east. Maverick for instance is one company that offers great benefits both in and out of training, but with where their HQ is located, I'm not sure I could do a NE Regional position with weekly home time. (Granted I won't know until I speak to someone there, I plan on contacting them tomorrow) CRST seems to be alright, nothing overly spectacular about them from what I've read, and I can't even find US Express on anyones list of companies.

double-quotes-end.png

double-quotes-end.png

What lists are you referring to?

Take a look at these:

Paid CDL Training Programs

Trucking Company Reviews

Aren't you in Allentown Pa?

Swift is in Jonestown Pa has NE Regional and Dedicated Regional out of that terminal. Prime is in Pittston Pa, might have NE Regional assignments. I am on a Swift Dedicated Walmart account out of the DC in Gordon PA.

You have options.

double-quotes-end.png

I'll definitely check out those links, thank you! I was looking up general (Or perhaps generic) lists along the lines of "Best trucking companies to work for in the Northeast/New England" and a number of lists popped up from different sites, all giving what they think is the best 10 or 20 companies to work for. I'm actually located in West Haven, CT, which is in the southern most part of the state right on the Long Island sound. How does home time work with a company based out of another state? Say I were to join up with Swift out of Jonestown PA and I was due home for the weekends for my reset, would I just bring the truck back to Jonestown, and then from there travel home? Or would I bring the truck to a Swift terminal that's closest to my home? (Assuming there's one closer than Jonestown, that is.)

Joseph Swift will allow you to park the truck with trailer close to your home. I apologize, I must have gotten you mixed up with someone else living near Allentown.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Joseph, don't let a company's headquarters location give you pause to consider working for them.

What matters is if you are in their "hiring area." That simply means they have freight and customers near your home that they regularly service.

I live in Texas. I work for Knight, which is headquartered in Phoenix AZ. I've never once had an issue with them routing me to my home when I've requested it. This is just standard practice in thus business.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Old School wrote:

Joseph, don't let a company's headquarters location give you pause to consider working for them.

What matters is if you are in their "hiring area." That simply means they have freight and customers near your home that they regularly service.

I live in Texas. I work for Knight, which is headquartered in Phoenix AZ. I've never once had an issue with them routing me to my home when I've requested it. This is just standard practice in thus business.

OS I responded to him as such because of his desire to be home every weekend.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

I hear ya G, and it's good advice.

I'm just wanting to make sure he understands how it works. Not all of us can land those weekend home jobs at the very start.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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