What Can I Do Over The Next Two Years To Best Prepare Myself For A Career Change To Truck Driving?

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Albany Mike's Comment
member avatar

Hey everyone, I have to say this place has already been a great wealth of information!

I'm going to be 40 this year, I work for the State of New York, sitting behind a desk and I've had enough. I want to make a career change to truck driving, have some freedom, see some places, make some money and actually enjoy getting up and going to work.

I would quit my job tomorrow and ship out to driving school if it wasn't for;

My Wife My 17-month-old No.2 Due in July

I have responsibilities to my family and I would never want to put my wife in a situation where she would resent the choices I make, regardless of the long term benefits to your life. We are in a very unique situation where her parents live 2 miles away, provide daycare for our 17-month-old and refuse to allow us to put their grand-kids in the hands of strangers. We will have no-cost daycare until our kids are both in school. It is awesome.

Here is my plan as it pertains to the career change. I figure I can wait 2 years and make my career change in 2019. At that point I will have a 3 year old and an 18-month-old, everyone will have established routines, and I will feel much better about making the time commitment to my training and early employment. My goal is to find a company that will pay for my training, allow me to work off my obligation, and gain the experience I need in order to find a job closer to home with better home-time.

I'm seeking feedback on my plan, alternative strategies and some ideas for how I can best use the next couple of years to prepare myself for like as a trucker. I don't have any commercial driving assistance and the largest vehicle I have ever driven is a 24ft U-Haul truck (well, technically I've "driven" a submarine while I was in the Navy but I digress).

Thanks for reading!

-- Mike

LDRSHIP's Comment
member avatar

Welcome to the forums. I will go ahead and give you our welcoming packet as well as info on company sponsored training

Paid CDL Training Programs

Drive Safe and God Speed

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.

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.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar
My goal is to find a company that will pay for my training, allow me to work off my obligation, and gain the experience I need in order to find a job closer to home with better home-time.

Hi, Mike, welcome to Trucking Truth. You asked for opinions on your plan. I quoted your plan here. All the rest is choices​ you make. And it sounds like you've made some responsible decisions in that respect.

As for the career plan here, this is the most common career path people shoot for. There are plenty of Paid CDL Training Programs, they all include about a year of work in the contract. Chances are you'll go school ➡ road training ➡ OTR ➡ then maybe like a local job if that's what you're looking for.

Here's our basic starter reads:

The High Road program is your key to acing the CDL written test. Keep your questions coming!

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.

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.

Bill F.'s Comment
member avatar

Don't forget the medical requirements.

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.

Hypertension:

Abnormally high blood pressure.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

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.

Albany Mike's Comment
member avatar

Thanks everyone for all of the awesome links, Now have something to read at my boring day job!

I am also looking into the possibility of going to one of the private CDL schools here in the area. There are a few companies that hire drivers fresh out of school so I may not have to wait two years to get this career going!

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.
Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Mike weighs an option:

I am also looking into the possibility of going to one of the private CDL schools here in the area. There are a few companies that hire drivers fresh out of school so I may not have to wait two years to get this career going!

The things you've posted here do not indicate there's any issues with getting hired. But remember schools take "anybody" that can sign a tuition finance contract, and it's up to the student to get hired. There may be things in people's past that are ok by the school and even the state, but most companies will hold back on hiring. Like some traffic violations, felonies and drug use.

It won't hurt at all, just before you sign up with school, to talk to your company choices and ask for pre-hire letters. Takes some weight off your mind, too.

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.

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.

Albany Mike's Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the tips on pre-hire letters.

Do you think i should study for and obtain my CDL learners permit and maybe even get my DOT physical before I decide on a school? Seems like those are both stumbling blocks right off the rip. I assume they may also be beneficial in obtaining pre-hire letters.

Thanks again for the help and suggestions!

Mike weighs an option:

double-quotes-start.png

I am also looking into the possibility of going to one of the private CDL schools here in the area. There are a few companies that hire drivers fresh out of school so I may not have to wait two years to get this career going!

double-quotes-end.png

The things you've posted here do not indicate there's any issues with getting hired. But remember schools take "anybody" that can sign a tuition finance contract, and it's up to the student to get hired. There may be things in people's past that are ok by the school and even the state, but most companies will hold back on hiring. Like some traffic violations, felonies and drug use.

It won't hurt at all, just before you sign up with school, to talk to your company choices and ask for pre-hire letters. Takes some weight off your mind, too.

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.

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.
Big Scott (CFI's biggest 's Comment
member avatar

Mike, you are in the right place to get all the info you need to get the right start in trucking. Since you are willing to wait two years, make sure you are in great shape. If you are overweight, start losing, if you have high BP work to get it down. etc. Your CDL-P is usually only good for six months. Many companies have programs for vets and you may be able to use the GI Bill to pay for your training. Also, save as much money as you can. Depending on what route you go for training, you could go a month or more without pay. How long do you have until you reach retirement with the state. You may not want to diminish that. I hope I have helped. Good luck to 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.
Pete B.'s Comment
member avatar

Mike, some schools encourage getting your CDL permit before beginning school; others have scheduled study time and testing for the permit. It depends on the school. Same goes for the DOT physical. The thing that trips up most people w/the physical is high blood pressure. You could get it tested now and see where you're at. If it is high, begin now taking the necessary steps to lower it, as you might not have time to make that happen once you begin CDL school. I don't think either are a factor in deciding which school you should attend; if you study the High Road Training Program and take the CDL Practice Tests, getting your CDL permit will definitely NOT be a stumbling block you need to worry about.

They won't make a noticeable difference getting pre-hires , either. Your work history (no gaps in work history is best), driving record, and nearness in time to CDL school play large roles in acquiring pre-hires. I was getting pre-hires months before obtaining my CDL permit, but many more once I got within a one-week window of attending CDL school. So, think about what type of school is best for you. You already have the links in the above replies. Don't worry about getting your permit or physical beforehand, you can deal with that after you've selected a school. Good luck; I hope you make it to the end!

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.

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.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

First, Mike, your time frame is 2 years, give or take. Study all you want now, but when you have about one or two months to go, do your physical and take the CDL written. Wait till then so the "ink will still be fresh" on your documents.

Regardless of what any school or company recruiter says, how can they kick you out if you have your papers in order? The fees for both the things most often come out of your pocket anyway. And with your CDL-Permit in hand, you can climb onto your practice truck all that much sooner.

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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