Noob With Decision Anxiety

Topic 20166 | Page 1

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Noob Of The North's Comment
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Hi trucking world, my first post here. I'm currently researching the crap out of schools listed here on trucking truth.com to get my CDL license. I'm having a very hard time choosing which school is best. It's generally a year commitment I'm seeing, so my anxiety is warranted.

Some of the variables I've highlighted in my research are as follows:

1) CPM; without having to explain why, this one is quite important

2) Drop & Hook rate; it seems this is almost as important as CPM. If I'm spending 2+ hours being unloaded/loaded per stop, it'll be hard to get my target of 500-600 miles daily. Am I placing too high a value on this No Touch Freight variable?

3) Reviews; I've ran each company through Glassdoor.com for employee Pro and Cons. It seems every company has cons. So I'm struggled to weigh the pros against the find.

I want to spend the next 5 years in the industry driving a semi, even 3 ideally to save money for a house. If I like it, I'd stay. If not, I'll use the CDL and experience to get a different job. I'm 29 single, no kids, prior driving experience in delivery, I don't fear this line of work much. What I'm afraid of are sales people ie recruiters and website descriptions. it's all advertised as greatness when Glassdoor clearly has endless complaints.

So how the heck do I choose which school to go to?

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

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.

Steve L.'s Comment
member avatar

Once you've done your research and have verified as much as you can, trust yourself.

If you have at least one really good friend, talk to them and ask their advice. Even if they know nothing of trucking they may offer up something you didn't consider. Or they might support your decision because they know you're intelligent.

Good luck!

Minnis B.'s Comment
member avatar

What I did was made a checklist of what was most important to me then separated them into categories on a sheet of paper. I then went through all the companies and when I found one that meet a requirement I put it in each category it met. By the time I went through the entire list and then went through each category I ended up with a much shorter list of companies to consider. After that it was just a matter of wading through the icing on the cake so to speak.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Welcome aboard Noob of the North!

Here's an excellent article on How to Pick a School. Check that out and see if it doesn't give you some good tips on how to go about this part of the process.

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.

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.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Welcome Noob Of The North.

First of all, there are no bad choices or "bad companies". These Paid CDL Training Programs are all being run by the largest, most successful companies in the industry. The "Upper One Percenters" you could say. They've been around for decades, they have many hundreds or many thousands of beautiful brand new rigs blanketing the country, and you can get a great start to your career at all of them.

The two basic things you want to start with are:

1) How often do you want to get home?

2) What type of freight would you like to haul?

Home time will basically be either home on most weekends, or home only a few days per month. There are very few opportunities right out of the gate for a new driver to get home every night, and virtually no opportunities like that through these programs. So it's either home weekly, or home monthly.

Freight types - dry van , flatbed, or refrigerated. You have to be super ambitious and ready for all challenges if you choose flatbed right off the bat, but there's no shortage of people that do. Flatbedders seem to love their job more than any other type of freight hauler, but it's usually a love or hate thing for most people.

Dry van and refrigerated can make about the same amount of money. Dry van will have more options for getting you home weekly and will entail more shorter runs. Refrigerated is almost always home monthly and will entail longer runs. Longer runs doesn't necessarily equate to more miles overall, but just a different style of running.

I wouldn't waste any more time researching companies. What I would do is answer those two questions above and apply to every program that fits what you're looking for. You can apply to quite a number of companies here on our site:

Apply For Company-Sponsored Training

Once you apply your application will be forwarded to the companies you qualify for and you'll be contacted by recruiters to continue the process.

There are quite a few companies you can not apply through (yet) on our website so apply directly to any others.

Once you've applied you'll find out who is willing to give you a shot. Then you can do more research to choose between the opportunities you have. No sense in scouring the web trying to learn about companies when you don't know who is even interested in you.

Get a conversation going with the recruiters, learn all you can about the companies, and go with the one you feel suits you best. This choice is not nearly as important as people think it is. You can do well anywhere. Besides, your first year is all about learning your trade. Not too many rookies light the highways on fire with their performance. It takes quite a bit of time to learn the ropes.

Your question about "drop and hook versus live unload" - don't worry about that. You can turn great miles hauling any type of freight under pretty much any circumstances. Trucking companies don't make money with trucks sitting around doing nothing. They want to keep you running. Even if you had nothing but drop-n-hooks it's not going to be long before you're running out of logbook hours anyhow. So you're limited on the top end by the logbook no matter what freight you're hauling.

Here's a bunch more info to help you sort it out:

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.

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

Dry Van:

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.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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.

Dan R.'s Comment
member avatar

The other thing I'd add to what the others have said is take what you read from other sites with an absolutely colossal grain of salt. Like, one big enough to have its own orbit.

Take Glassdoor, for example. If someone messes up, loses their job, one of the very first things they're going to do is go to review sites like that and tell the world what an angel of a worker they are, and what a terrible company their former employer is. Were they an angel? Of course not. Was the company terrible? I highly doubt it. Most companies, no matter their name, no matter how many people claim they are 'in the know' about 'how it really is', are the same. If certain companies were so swift about getting into crashes as people claim, they'd never make any money. If they didn't pay their drivers a fair rate, they wouldn't have any drivers. If they didn't respect their employees, they wouldn't have any.

Basically, while companies certainly are different from each other, the likelihood of you getting on with a 'bad' company, no matter where you go, is incredibly slim.

One thing I've seen help people here before is if the person describes what they're looking for in a company, realistically(no 50cpm 5,000miles a week with zero experience requests...), and generally people here who work for companies that meet or come close to what you're looking for will speak up.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
member avatar

No touch freight and drop and hook are two different animals.

No touch means the driver doesn't load. At my company we only have to load the floral loads, and in almost two years I've never done one.

Drop and hook sounds great on paper...but go to a Busch beer plant and a drop and hook can turn into six hours due to the number of trucks getting weighed, checked in and out. Then having loads locks inserted and weighed again.

I get my 2800-3000 miles a week and am reefer..getting loaded and unloaded.

Learning how to manage your time plays a big part of that.

CPM plays a part to a certain extent, but your determination and time management.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

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.

Cold War Surplus's Comment
member avatar

You're doing it wrong. There is no right answer. The schools teach you how to pass the test to get your CDL - that's it. Minor details like how to fuel the truck, what to do at a weigh station and where to park your truck when your hours are exhausted are all left to the company trainers. While trainers vary, all companies recognize the need to keep butts in trucks and do what they can to make sure that will be up to speed by the time your training is done.

I also weighed the CPM heavily when I chose my first company. That is the wrong answer. I was ecstatic when I found a company that would count my time in the army toward time on their pay scale. My 8 years of service meant I would be starting at 42 CPM! I'd be smoking the chumps at most companies starting out at 25 CPM. After my first year I found that I made about 65% of what those chumps made. How could that be?

Team driving - My CPM rate was only good when I was driving with a co-driver. If my co-driver quit or got fired I would be driving solo, at 21 CPM until I found a new co-driver! Yes, less than what trainee drivers made. This would go on for weeks or months until I would be routed to a terminal to find a new co-driver.

Evil Truck Company - My company bought all their trucks from the same Evil Truck Company and retired them at 500k miles. This meant most of their repairs were done under warranty. Good deal for the company, bad deal for the driver. I won't name the truck company here because I don't want to start a land war over who makes the best trucks. The point is this policy took money out of my pocket but was something I didn't consider when choosing a company. Evil Truck Company once made great trucks but they moved their production to a third-world country and their trucks are now being made by folks who earn less than $1/hr. and don't speak English.

The pattern was always the same - truck would break down, limp to the nearest dealer, check into the hotel and come back on Monday. On Monday you'd show up at the dealership and ask about the truck. They didn't know what was wrong with the truck yet because your company hadn't given them permission to start work on it. Frantic call to the FM , foul language, threats, etc. Permission given! Two day later you'd call the dealership and find that something was broken on your truck that, "Isn't supposed to break". Things like a broken DEF box or bad camshafts. Either way it was a warranty repair so the techs at the dealership weren't allowed to work on it. Evil Truck Company would have to fly in their mechanics, but it would take a few days for them to get there. They'd have to file a report with Evil Truck Company HQ to get the repairs approved and only then would they start work. My truck was less than a year old. It spent more than a month in dealerships while I was earning $40/ a day in breakdown pay.

Bad luck - I had a co-driver wreck our truck and spent almost two weeks waiting to get out of Sheffield, TX. He was fired and I was forced to drive him to the nearest terminal to his home - at 21 CPM!

A much better measure is what the average driver earns at a company. Obviously, your mileage will vary but a good attitude and a solid work ethic go a long way. I include the above examples to show that it's the things you're not thinking about that can have a huge impact on your earnings.

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.

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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.

MC1371's Comment
member avatar

Blah, blah, blah.

Whose got the best looking trucks in your eyes? Go with them.

You just heard many variations on the same theme. First year with a major carrier is going to be a wash pay wise. Dry van is probably the easiest in terms of learning the ropes. *no noise box behind your head that needs constant baby sitting. And no crawling around in the muck, grime, mud and snow that comes with flatbeds.

Dry Van:

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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