Train As A Diesel Mechanic Or Just Let My CDL A Go?

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TZ's Comment
member avatar

Is it worth becoming a diesel mechanic since I already have my CDL A or should I just let it go (downgrade my license back to regular)?

Currently in my 40's, have a college degree in underwater basket weaving (at least it seems like it), regular jobs are difficult to find and I find dockworker positions aren't my cup of tea (I'd rather do physical manual labor than use a forklift plus part time hours are at odd hours in a day).

Got my CDL A in 2016 w/ all except the doubles-triples/passenger/bus endorsements, tried working as a tanker driver then as dry van hauling foodstuffs & beer in a regional position non OTR in the crazy NJ/NYC Metro area. Total = 3-4 months of "experience"

2017 = worked at brown truck delivery company & as a cab driver in NYC, non CDL

2018 = still not working w/ CDL. Filled out job form on TT & Jim Palmer already stated I needed a year of OTR experience even though I put down 3-4 months of experience on the application form. TMC sent an email stating that they will contact me in 48 hours, CRST sent me a few text messages about a team driving position starting at top pay and 1500 miles long haul 80% no touch drop & hook, 3 weeks out, 3 days home.

The CRST team driving position seems promising as I won't be all alone as a rookie solo driver. I'm sure there's disadvantages as well if you get someone you don't get along with...at this point, I just want experience even if CRST pays .32 cpm starting out.

The diesel mechanic idea is an itch that has been on my mind since first starting out in CDL school, repairing, fixing & diagnosing trucks seems more exciting to me than driving them around the NYC metro area (perhaps if it driving out in PA or outside of this area). Different kinds of trucks, older & newer technologies, the itch just has me considering my career choices.

Was wondering what TT folks thought since my family & friends are in non-trucking fields & don't understand my fascination w/ trucks.

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.

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.

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.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

millionmiler24's Comment
member avatar

Is it worth becoming a diesel mechanic since I already have my CDL A or should I just let it go (downgrade my license back to regular)?

Currently in my 40's, have a college degree in underwater basket weaving (at least it seems like it), regular jobs are difficult to find and I find dockworker positions aren't my cup of tea (I'd rather do physical manual labor than use a forklift plus part time hours are at odd hours in a day).

Got my CDL A in 2016 w/ all except the doubles-triples/passenger/bus endorsements, tried working as a tanker driver then as dry van hauling foodstuffs & beer in a regional position non OTR in the crazy NJ/NYC Metro area. Total = 3-4 months of "experience"

2017 = worked at brown truck delivery company & as a cab driver in NYC, non CDL

2018 = still not working w/ CDL. Filled out job form on TT & Jim Palmer already stated I needed a year of OTR experience even though I put down 3-4 months of experience on the application form. TMC sent an email stating that they will contact me in 48 hours, CRST sent me a few text messages about a team driving position starting at top pay and 1500 miles long haul 80% no touch drop & hook, 3 weeks out, 3 days home.

The CRST team driving position seems promising as I won't be all alone as a rookie solo driver. I'm sure there's disadvantages as well if you get someone you don't get along with...at this point, I just want experience even if CRST pays .32 cpm starting out.

The diesel mechanic idea is an itch that has been on my mind since first starting out in CDL school, repairing, fixing & diagnosing trucks seems more exciting to me than driving them around the NYC metro area (perhaps if it driving out in PA or outside of this area). Different kinds of trucks, older & newer technologies, the itch just has me considering my career choices.

Was wondering what TT folks thought since my family & friends are in non-trucking fields & don't understand my fascination w/ trucks.

Well if you are looking for a team position and you need experience, CRST is by far the best place to start.

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.

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.

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.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

Jeremy C.'s Comment
member avatar

Yup! I'm hoping to start training at CRST May 7th. And if they decide to keep me around, team driving is the most attractive thing there (for me) so far. From all I've learned about OTR driving, I really have to get busy in my first year learning all that I can. And while sharing a closet that drives on highways with a complete stranger isn't very appealing, the thought of a chance at... *Ahem...* 10 months of "extended training" seems really appealing to me. Well, that, and the fact that team drivers seem to really get some miles in (which equals more opportunities for me to learn from.)

There's some definite advantages to team driving. As for the other person, we don't even have to get along (though, that would certainly make things more pleasant) as long as they are safe and we can both get the job done. And you're the first person I've read from that doesn't mind the idea of team driving to get started. A HUGE plus (if my humble opinion were to count for anything.)

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.

millionmiler24's Comment
member avatar

Yup! I'm hoping to start training at CRST May 7th. And if they decide to keep me around, team driving is the most attractive thing there (for me) so far. From all I've learned about OTR driving, I really have to get busy in my first year learning all that I can. And while sharing a closet that drives on highways with a complete stranger isn't very appealing, the thought of a chance at... *Ahem...* 10 months of "extended training" seems really appealing to me. Well, that, and the fact that team drivers seem to really get some miles in (which equals more opportunities for me to learn from.)

There's some definite advantages to team driving. As for the other person, we don't even have to get along (though, that would certainly make things more pleasant) as long as they are safe and we can both get the job done. And you're the first person I've read from that doesn't mind the idea of team driving to get started. A HUGE plus (if my humble opinion were to count for anything.)

Well I sure hope you do start with CRST because we will be glad to have ya. I am a Lead Driver (which is what we call a trainer here) and I would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have or if I can't at the very least, I will route ya to where you can obtain the answers you seek.

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.

Dwight's Comment
member avatar

Hi TZ, first you would need the CDL if you are working on trucks. You will need to test drive the vehicle as needed. Keep in mind that starting out as a mechanic will require much more 'training' and cost that being a driver. I have done both. The tool investment can be staggering. From my personal experience, if you go down the mechanic road you need to seriously look at working for a company that has its own in-house maintenance or work for a government agency. Salary and benefits over the long term is much better that working flat-rate. Keep up the CDL: it's a job in your pocket.

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.
Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar

Go after what your heart is telling you to and don't let others pressure you into decisions. I have a feeling if you go with CRST (team driving is extemely difficult on most) then you'll come right back to this idea after you find out you're still not happy.

Jeremy C.'s Comment
member avatar

Well I sure hope you do start with CRST because we will be glad to have ya. I am a Lead Driver (which is what we call a trainer here) and I would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have or if I can't at the very least, I will route ya to where you can obtain the answers you seek.

Thanks, millionmiler! I was planning to reach out to ya here soon (didn't want to hjijack this thread for myself) but I just realized that there's no messaging system on this site. Mixed feelings about that, but I'm sure it's for a good reason. However, does make it difficult to speak with ya without actually hijacking a thread...

Was wondering what TT folks thought since my family & friends are in non-trucking fields & don't understand my fascination w/ trucks.

TZ, I sure hope you can find some relief with CRST or something similar. Turning a wrench isn't a bad way to make a living, especially if you have a specialty such as with big rig's. And I know all too well that hope doesn't pay the bills. But, brother, you sound like your heart's behind the wheel, so hopefully you keep pursuing that.

millionmiler24's Comment
member avatar

Jeremy C. wrote:

Thanks, millionmiler! I was planning to reach out to ya here soon (didn't want to hjijack this thread for myself) but I just realized that there's no messaging system on this site. Mixed feelings about that, but I'm sure it's for a good reason. However, does make it difficult to speak with ya without actually hijacking a thread...

Feel free to start another thread and then I will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

millionmiler24's Comment
member avatar

Daniel B. wrote:

Go after what your heart is telling you to and don't let others pressure you into decisions. I have a feeling if you go with CRST (team driving is extemely difficult on most) then you'll come right back to this idea after you find out you're still not happy.

Daniel is 100% right here. I am biased toward CRST because they have treated me so well and I am glad to continue to be of service to them. However, I agree with Daniel. Dont let anyone pressure you into anything. We are more than happy to give you our opinions and facts we have learned about our companies and answer any questions you may have and then you can make a decision based on that information. Make sure you study Daniel B.'s Pretrip guide and use our High Road Trainin Program. That will help you pass your permit tests and your pre trip skills test.

TZ's Comment
member avatar

Yup! I'm hoping to start training at CRST May 7th. And if they decide to keep me around, team driving is the most attractive thing there (for me) so far. From all I've learned about OTR driving, I really have to get busy in my first year learning all that I can. And while sharing a closet that drives on highways with a complete stranger isn't very appealing, the thought of a chance at... *Ahem...* 10 months of "extended training" seems really appealing to me. Well, that, and the fact that team drivers seem to really get some miles in (which equals more opportunities for me to learn from.)

There's some definite advantages to team driving. As for the other person, we don't even have to get along (though, that would certainly make things more pleasant) as long as they are safe and we can both get the job done. And you're the first person I've read from that doesn't mind the idea of team driving to get started. A HUGE plus (if my humble opinion were to count for anything.)

When I was training in Coraopolis, PA for tanker, I met a team that was looking to try something different. By the end of the week's worth of advanced training for experienced drivers (2 weeks for in-experienced), they both quit & went back to dry van because the older driver didn't want to drive stick for the final test (even though team drivers would be issued automatics); the younger guy didn't care either way.

They mentioned that being a tanker team is too much work compared to the 99% drop & hook freight that they did as a van team. I came away from that experience w/ the impression that team driving is a positive learning experience despite some advice stating otherwise. In fact, some members of the class I was in tried to change to team driving but Schneider Bulk said no.

You learn more by making mistakes as a solo driver but it's less painful if you can learn from your team mate that you hopefully do not dislike & hopefully his idea of BO/cleanliness meets your idea because in the summer heat, some people just stink BO wise despite what they say about washing daily...

If not for the having had some experience first, I most likely would NOT be so gung ho about being a team driver. It's difficult sorting out good & bad opinions on TT or other websites when you are a newbie driver.

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.

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.
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