New Team Truckers - Seeking Advice

Topic 20006 | Page 1

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Drew T.'s Comment
member avatar

Hello,

I am brand new to this website and trucking in general. I am contemplating a career switch but am wanting some advice before making the leap.

My girlfriend and I have lived together for 3 years in the space of a 1br apartment. We have a fantastic relationship and are looking to become team truck drivers. I absolutely plan on proposing soon however I am financially not in any position to do so. I realize that what we want and the reality of things can be very different. It makes sense that team truckers earn more money, especially married couples. I do know that there are some companies that will pay for our CDLs however I am not sure what the 'catches' may be to accepting that kind of assistance.

My girlfriend and I are interested in becoming team truck drivers because we love spending time together, and because we want to travel the country non-stop. When it comes to traveling the country, are routes random at times or do drivers have a specific route? We would love a route that goes east coast to west coast as well as into Canada. What kinds of jobs would involve this kind of route?

I am 30 years old, I have never gotten a speeding ticket, DUI , etc. and have never been arrested. My record is spotless and I have three college degrees (that are becoming worthless day by day). I currently work in Information Technology however it's the kind of grind I don't want to waste my life on.

Thank you for any feedback whatsoever. -Andrew

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.

DUI:

Driving Under the Influence

Cold War Surplus's Comment
member avatar

Hi Drew, welcome to the forum.

You've touched on a number of issues, but I'll try to stick to the questions asked for brevity. Every company sponsored training program is different. Some require you to pay the tuition back with monthly or weekly payments, some forgive the debt after working for the company for a set period (with some bits repaid) and some will reimburse you if you paid for trucking school on your own - in monthly installments, of course. I signed on for CRST's veteran's program. They paid for my Greyhound ticket to Careers World Wide in Keenesburg, CO. We stayed in dorms and were given $75/wk for groceries. All DMV fees were paid by CRST. After earning my CDL I was given a rental car to drive to orientation in OKC. CRST deducted $100/mo. to pay them back for the bus fare to Keenesburg and the grocery money. It was about $400 total. After driving with them for 10 months the cost of my training was forgiven. They ran 4 payments of $375 through my check - the money went in and went out leaving just the payroll taxes to pay tax on the value of the training I received.

If I had quit CRST before the 10 months were up, I would have been on the hook for $6,000! There's also a nasty non-compete clause in the contract where they will sue any employer who hires you before your contract is up. Oddly enough, they often do take drivers back who strayed away allowing them to finish their contract provided they didn't abandon their truck or commit some other cardinal sin.

The real advantage to a contract is one-stop shopping and a coincidence of needs. You're going to want one year of OTR driving on your resume before you start looking for another job any way. This shows that you can drive safely in all weather conditions and aren't some kind of snowflake that looks for greener grass the moment things get rough. The company that trained you has invested in your success and is more likely to forgive minor transgressions that you as a new driver are pretty much guaranteed to make.

Most OTR jobs just go where the loads take you. You will see most of the lower 48 states. Regular coast to coast runs would happen on a dedicated account or with a carrier who specialized in that. Most carriers don't go to Canada - it's a specialty. The HOS rules and other regulations are different there. You'd need a valid U.S. passport to drive a cross-border route. I don't know of any companies that will send a first-year driver across the border.

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.

Dm:

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.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Brian M.'s Comment
member avatar

As a team driver and a instructor/trainer i can tell you from experience that teaming will definitely test relationships. Believe me it's not a bad thing. As a team you'll be expected to drive the longest runs. It's not uncommon for me to run from the east coast to the west coast 8 to 10 times in a month. In the past 2 years I've put 450000 miles on my freightliner.

There are companies that train you together and others that will train you separately. As an instructor I feel being trained separately gives you an advantage starting off in your careers. Having the opportunity to train with different trainers will allow you to be more focused on the career and less on each other. Also you may find that you both may have differing learning curves. One may need more training then the other. This job isn't the easiest in the world and it's less difficult if your significant other isn't in the bunk behind you.

After your done training your journey awaits.

Rick S.'s Comment
member avatar

The first thing on the table, is to dispel the myth that "team drivers make more $$". This depends on how effective the load planners are at scheduling, etc. A truck making $.42 a mile team @ 6,000 miles, makes the same as a solo making that same cpm pay at 1/2 the miles (per driver). So even if you think that "combining paychecks" is going to be more advantageous - you're going to take home the same $$ for the both of you, as you would running solo.

Initial CDL training (to get your license) - you can train together IF you go to an outside school, that doesn't go out OTR. Most (in-house) company training, gets you to test for your CLP , then sends you out with a trainer for a few weeks, brings you back to test for you CDL - then back out with a trainer for another 30-40K miles, before going solo. In the case of a team - there isn't going to be room on a truck OTR , to train a couple.

One route that may minimize the amount of time spent apart - would be PAM. They use an outside school to get you your CDL, then a few weeks out with one of their trainers. At this point - they stick 2 rookies together for 50K miles (truck) to run as a team - and then you can go solo. The advantage here might be - that you could get back with your GF to team as the "two rookie team", to finish out your training, then just continue teaming.

ANY CDL TRAINING, is going to come with a period of obligation to drive for that company, in order to offset the cost of training.

After a years experience - you can pretty much walk into any company that does teams - be assigned a truck, and off you go.

If you're strapped for cash, then company training is the best option - as you can "work it off". Beware "private schools" that will get you "financed" (even @ 0% interest). Your best bet is going to be a "company training scenario".

As far as "loving being on the road together", that's all well & good when it comes to "road trips". When it comes to driving OTR Team - one will be driving, the other will be SLEEPING. Think of it as living in a walk-in closet that never stops rolling (except for fuel, showers, meals, etc.). Running 11 hour driving shifts, there ain't gonna be a whole lotta time to stop and sightsee. This is business - not a vacation.

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.

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.

CLP:

Commercial Learner's Permit

Before getting their CDL, commercial drivers will receive their commercial learner's permit (CLP) upon passing the written portion of the CDL exam. They will not have to retake the written exam to get their CDL.

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