Questions From A Newbie.

Topic 2073 | Page 1

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Mike O.'s Comment
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So I'm brand new to the forum, but have been lurking for a few weeks. I've been thinking about a driving career for many years. Currently I'm a Realtor about 65 miles from Minneapolis MN. I'm burning out on it and every year it gets tougher and tougher to make decent money. I'm not ready to pull the trigger on the decision quite yet but next spring is probably going to be the point where I need to make a decision. I'm married with no kids. I love every bit of the idea but my only concern is the OTR for long periods. I'm not sure I would like being away from my wife for weeks and weeks on end and I'm afraid of what it would do to my marriage? (if she was with me I would consider staying out on the road forever!)I think we would be totally fine if I was home weekly(ish) So I've always held off on making the change in careers because of that.

So with that being said it leads me to my first questions. I have been researching Schneider. It seems they promise weekly or even nightly home time even for drivers fresh out of school? Does anyone have any experience with them? Is this possible? I understand it would probably be less pay? But was wondering if they promise that and then do the old "bait and switch" once you sign up? My ultimate goal in life is to get the experience needed to get a local driving job, propane delivery, garbage, dump truck or so on but I understand no one will hire without experience so I'm trying to find the best way to get it. Every thing I read here on these forums seems to indicate that the only way a guy is going to break into this industry is to go over the road for at least a year. I'm leaning towards a private school vs. company sponsored because I'm not sure I want to commit to a company before I get my CDL. This idea of becoming a truck driver has been in the back of my mind for 20 years since I had my first job at 18 driving a cube truck around MLPS as a delivery guy.

So I'm kind of looking for direction before I make a life changing decision. Is it just a pipe dream to think there is any way I could get into the industry without being gone for weeks and weeks at a time? (not opposed to being gone 1 week at a time) And if it is a possibility, Does anyone has suggestions and where to look in the Minneapolis/St Paul Area? Companies? Schools? And So on??? Sorry for rambling on and on and I'm sure all these questions have been asked a million times here. Thanks in advance for your help.

P.S Im certainly not afraid of hard work and don't want to come across as if I'm trying to discount the importance of paying my dues to get into trucking. Or insult the guys that have busted there ass to get where they are. Just struggling with the decision.

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.

Over The Road:

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.

Troubador222's Comment
member avatar

Because of where you live, I think you will find you have a lot of choices about who to go with. The company I trained with ran a lot of freight in and out of Minneapolis. This site has a lot of tools including a lot of information on both companies that sponsor schools and companies that hire new grads. When I made the choice to go out for driving, I made this site my number one resource and it made the process very easy. Look around, read your local work ads, and dont be afraid to contact companies and ask about who they hire. If you have the resources to go to a private school, that will give you more choices when you graduate, and you will not be in the position of having to work out the contract all company schools require. You will also find a lot of companies that pay a tuition reimbursement if you go the private school route. If you do end up having to go OTR for a while, make sure you understand and your wife understands that it means you will be away from home for weeks at a time. Because you do not have children, that will make it easier on you and your wife, but it still means being separated and your wife is going to be stuck with twice as much work at home. At the company I worked for with my contract, one of the biggest reasons I saw people fail is they and their families were not prepared to handle that separation. I think there is a TA there. Go out to the truck stop, and into the restaurant. You will find a lunch breakfast counter where it usually only drivers. Sit down and ask them about the lifestyle and anything else you can think of. Most of them will be more than happy to answer your questions. Best of luck and best wishes!

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.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Welcome aboard Mike! Awesome response from Troubador222. I'll see if I can add anything useful.

Generally speaking I personally try to get people to consider other careers when they clearly would prefer to stay home. I think the best part about trucking is the travelling lifestyle. To me, that's what makes it worth doing because the pay really doesn't add up very well when you consider the schooling, the license you have to protect, the stress of the job itself, the long hours, and of course the pay for enduring all that. I just think there are a lot better careers with more options and opportunities than trucking for those looking to stay home.

That being said, your plan is certainly doable. You may indeed have to put in 6-12 months on the road before qualifying for a good local job, but no more than that. There are a lot of opportunities out there to get home every weekend though. Mostly the dry van and flatbed companies have the most opportunities like that. I would stay away from the refrigerated companies only because they rarely have those type of opportunities.

Schneider National would be an ideal place to begin looking. But certainly don't stop there! Here's some resources to give you more ideas:

Company-sponsored training programs - these are companies with their own CDL schools but they also hire students from private schools.

Trucking Companies that hire inexperienced drivers - this is a partial list of companies that will hire students straight out of school.

Truck Driving Jobs - search through our job listings for companies that hire in your area. This should give you a ton of great ideas.

Trucker's Career Guide - I consider this essential reading for anyone considering a career in trucking. It covers about every topic imaginable and will help you understand your options much better.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Any experience with Schneider's claim A guy fresh out of school can get weekly home time?

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

I'm not sure. Those kind of policies can change on a dime. One week they might be on a push to recruit drivers so they throw in those kind of incentives and the next week they have plenty lined up and change the requirement again. The only way to really know is ask their recruiters.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Mike it really depends on which Schneider terminal you'll be based out of and what account you'll be on. Call a recruiter and ask. And ask the recruiter for the phone number of the terminal manager or some dispatcher there so you can talk to them.

My terminal has regional guys that get home every weekend and 2-3 nights a week. But sometimes they only get home every weekend. So it all depends.

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.

Dispatcher:

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.
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