Any Veteran Drivers Get Your CDL "on The Job"?

Topic 19141 | Page 1

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Matthew H.'s Comment
member avatar

Howdy everyone!

I am fairly new to TT and actually came across the site while doing some research on the trucking industry. Very impressive place you have here!

I grew up wanting to drive for a living after spending all of my childhood watching my Dad do just that. I am 35 now and he was rolling coal before I was born and still is to this day.

Anyway, I did a four year stint with the Marines out of high school and afterwards came back to Kansas. At the time, I didn't know much about CDL schools or company sponsored training programs, if I knew anything at all. I did know that I wanted my commercial drivers license and that my only option seemed to be landing a job that would help me get it.

That is exactly what I did. I applied with the city utilities department whose hiring ad stated the candidate must be able to obtain Class B CDL within six months of hire.

At the time I applied for the job I was working as a general laborer on a Wal-Greens build and regularly saw the utility department supervisor. I made sure he knew who I was and landed an interview then subsequently the job.

Four months in to it, I had a commercial drivers license with tanker endorsement, albeit only a class B. But it was the start that lead me to my current employer (four years and counting with them) dump trucking, upgrading to Class A, end dumping, pneumatic tankers, and ultimately my current role pulling for FedEx Ground as a team driver and trainer.

These days, the route I took to get my license looks to be uncommon so I was just curious as to whether or not anyone else here got their CDL in a similar fashion, without formal CDL school training?

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Welcome to the forum Matthew. I concur, your path into trucking is not the conventional approach. Although it definitely worked for you. With little to no exception, the TL and LTL companies equipped to hire and train rookie CDL holders require 160 hours of formal schooling; be it Paid CDL Training Programs or Private Truck Driving Schools .

Thanks for posting your experience.

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.

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
Matthew H.'s Comment
member avatar

Thank you G-Town.

I look at the current requirements for just getting your foot in the door these days and think to myself that I had it easy. Haha. Granted, it was 2006 when I got my foot in the door and it took me the better part of a decade to get to where I am now and to be teaching others.

The guy I am training now (my new teammate) through the FedEx entry level driver program is straight out of CDL school. Before he can become a "regular driver" he has to log 1000 hours behind the wheel and I have to observe 100 hours of him driving.

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.
Rick S.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks for your service and posting about your route to CDL-A.

As G-Town elaborates, it's not all too common, but does happen. Where it's seen most, is in dock-2-driver - where folks work at a distro center (UPS/Fedex, or an LTL company) and apply for a driver position where the training occurs "in house". In fact - for many LTL companies, it's actually the only way to get behind the wheel, and some dock work may be required even after you're licensed.

The 160 hour training requirement, is rumored to soon become an FMCSA regulation. They've been kicking this around for awhile, but haven't published it as a rule yet. Most "private schools" use the 160 hours to get you to the BARE MINIMUM skill level to pass a skills/road test. The 160 hour thing, is the bare minimum most companies will accept, to hire as a "recent grad", likely in keeping with the anticipated regulation.

Another thing to note is - many OTR companies do not see local driving (or intrastate driving) as OTR "experience", and will require a period of training (phase 2 or TNT as Prime calls it), before handing you a truck of your own. this is to gauge your skill level and get you used to being out on the road for extended periods, as well as get the driver "up to speed" on company policies and procedures.

Rick

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.

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.

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

Intrastate:

The act of purchasers and sellers transacting business while keeping all transactions in a single state, without crossing state lines to do so.

Fm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

Greg M.'s Comment
member avatar

Glad to see this topic come up.

I am actually planning to start down this very path. I drove both class A and B trucks back in the late 80s while in college and grad school for my family’s gravel quarry and construction business. Mainly dump trucks but a lot of construction trailer, dumps and lowboy equipment drags as well. This was all pre CDL and I was out working in the business world when the CDL came around and did not bother to grandfather in.

Now almost 30 years later I just turned 55 and after 27 years with my current employer I have accepted a pretty sweet voluntary buyout. My last day of work will be June 30 and I will receive a nice lump sum and will continue to get paychecks and insurance for 14 months.

I would have no trouble getting another similar job but I am kind of tired of being cooped up in an office cube. The family business still exists so sometime in July, I am going to start helping out my cousin at his gravel plant. Initially I will just be running CAT loaders and off road haul trucks until I brush the rust off. I have been studying for my permit and will take the test this summer since it is only good for 6 months. At some point I will start running some loads with their drivers and will schedule the road test when I feel ready.

Assuming I pass and get the CDL I will then start doing whatever driving they need me to do. They only have a couple tractors currently but in the winter they do lease them out for some flatbed work as well as local inter-modal drop and hooks. This will all be local class A & B work with no logging required but I plan to keep a personal daily record of miles, loads etc. Do that for a year or so and I am pretty sure that I could talk my way into something else if I wanted to. Not sure where it will go from there. I may discover that while the 25 year old me may have enjoyed bouncing around in a truck all day, the 55 year old me, not so much.

I actually discovered this site when I first started considering this plan and could not believe all the good information that is available. Growing up around trucks and heavy equipment I am so impressed with the folks on this site that have went from never even being in a truck to out earning a living in such short periods of time. Just shows with dedication and hard work anything is possible.

Safe travels everyone.

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.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Matthew H.'s Comment
member avatar

Thank you all for the input. I like to see what others think about any given topic so it is greatly appreciated. Greg, sounds like you have a good plan in mind!

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