May I Please Have Some Advice?

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Big Jim's Comment
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Hello all! I am new to this site but have crept around here for awhile now. I figured now was the time to make a profile and start asking for some advice. So a little background on me. I am 33, male and received my CDL A about 3 1/2 years ago. No house, no wife/girlfriend/mistress and no children...that I know of...lol. So again, I haven't shifted a gear in a bit. 3 1/2 years to be exact. After school I went to Schneider and the last week of training I had a family emergency.

I had to come home and take care of my mom (is is good now) since then I drove a school bus in my area. I did this to be close to home. Well, the time has come for me to get back into the truck. I have my heart set on tanker and I have looked at Schneider and prime inc. Both great companies from what I have read and both train very well. I even spoke to PTL. I do know they are only dry van but I was thinking about going with them for the experience (3-6 months) if I like them I stay. If I still want the thrill and pay of tanker then off I go. I see pros and cons for all three companies (just like in life) Schneider pros Because I need a refresher course and they pay for it, I sign a three month "promissory note" and after 90 days I am free and clear.

Also, I would only be in a steel box with a stranger for 1-3 weeks. Cons they are very strict. That is awesome but I don't want to go down there and shift for beans (except after refresher) and the send me home and then I am in the hole at least $1,500. I have read about it happening.

Prime inc. Pros Again, great training. With them I will basically be going to truck driving school again. I can see the advantages in that. The pay isn't bad either. Con I have to be in that steel box with a stranger for at least 30,000 miles or 6-8 weeks.

I am leery because I had a VERY bad experience at Schneider. I am still a little leery and shell shocked about getting into a truck with a stranger for 24 hours a day give or take a foot.

Then there is PTL. Pros pick your trainer fir phase 1 I do 7,500 miles then take up to 7 business days off before phase 2 then another 7,500 miles with a partner I choose. Cons its dry van (nothing against dry van. I just want to do tanker.) But like I said, good experience. Is there maybe another carrier I haven't looked at? I'm sorry this post is so long. I appreciate any and all the wisdom you have to offer. Thank you in advance.

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.

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.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Welcome to the Forum.

I suggest reading the following two links:

Truck Driver's Career Guide

Becoming A Truck Driver: The Raw Truth About Truck Driving

If nothing else the above information will reinforce what you may already know, but more importantly establish a well grounded, realistic set of expectations.

Couple of thoughts...

We never recommend starting with a company with the intent of moving on after only 3-6 months. It's highly recommended to commit to your first company for at least one year.

Second is the "tanker desire". What is your motivation behind that? Tanker operation, especially smooth bore (food grade) is best attempted and learned after gaining some experience. The first few months of driving has its own inherent set of challenges. Add in the tanker aspect, dealing with the surge of the liquid, and the difficulty and danger factor is significantly raised. Get 6 months of OTR experience then look at tanker. If you choose a company like Prime or Schneider, you may have the option of moving into a tanker job once you have some experience.

Best Types of Freight for a Rookie Driver

No matter where you end up, it's likely you'll be required to take a refresher course after your skills are evaluated. You'll also be required to go through road training. Although there are horror stories, there are just as many good stories and experiences as well. Just don't hear about it as much...

Team Training

Once you make up your mind to commit to getting back into this; focus 100% on seeing it through. No turning back. Keep your head above the clouds and out of the negative infused internet review sites. Waste of time... There is a ton of great information in Trucking Truth you've yet to explore.

Good luck.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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

Big Jim, first of all let me suggest that you apply to all of the companies you may be interested in, talk to their recruiters, and see if they'll even offer you a position in the first place. I've watched so many people spend months of their time doing research, building spreadsheets, scouring the Internet for opinions, and then find out that none of their top choices are even going to offer them a job.

These days most companies get way, way more applicants than they'll accept so not every qualified applicant will be offered a position. They all have their own criteria for choosing the ones they feel have the best chance of being successful. The fact that you took a shot at the industry years ago and didn't get any real OTR experience is going to keep some companies from hiring you, regardless of the circumstances. So don't waste your time doing research until you know who is going to actually offer you a position.

You can Apply For Paid CDL Training to seven different companies right here on our website, and then apply to many more individually here:

Apply For Truck Driving Jobs

Secondly, I agree with G-Town about the tanker thing. I drove a food grade tanker for a year. Get that option off the table until you have some experience, at least a year. I don't care if someone will offer you that position sooner. No one is ready for that as a rookie driver. G-Town's suggestion for going with a company that has both tanker and other forms of freight is an outstanding one. That's exactly what you want to do is stay with the same company and change divisions instead of changing companies and starting over again from the bottom.

Also - this:

I sign a three month "promissory note" and after 90 days I am free and clear.

A lot of rookie drivers misunderstand the "demand for truck drivers" thing. There isn't a demand for greenhorns who barely know how many wheels are on an 18 wheeler. There is a demand for proven professionals that are safe, efficient, and reliable. No one is anywhere near that level after 3 months. At 3 months most drivers are extremely dangerous because they begin getting way too comfortable with things. So far nothing really bad has happened but they haven't been out there long enough to know how paranoid they should be and how quickly the most unthinkable things can happen.

At three months you also don't have the street smarts to be a top tier driver. You don't know how to consistently move appointments forward or schedule complicated runs or use your logbook time to the max.

So don't get ahead of yourself. Don't think after 3 months you're going to be some highly valuable free agent who can go play the market for big bucks. All you're going to do is overestimate your abilities and put a scar on your employment record for jumping ship right away. Then you're almost certainly going to find that you didn't know enough about the new type of job you were jumping into and the company you were jumping to and the grass wasn't greener over there like you had hoped.

Listen to this - it will help a lot:

Podcast Episode 4: Why Stick With Your First Company One Full Year?

Hope this helps!

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.

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.

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.

Cwc's Comment
member avatar

I couldn't even apply for the tanker company I work for without two years experience, I did apply but they told me to call back when I actually hit the mark.

That kinda helped sell me on them. Others I spoke to told me what I wanted to hear. Drag a box for a lot longer than your thinking cause just as Brett said surge is no joke in stop and go traffic and with the right load it can be down right terrifying in the mountains with others that don't have a clue tailgating you.

When you drag a box downhill and realize a turn is at the bottom you just slam on the brakes and boom your good... You don't wanna try that pulling liquid. I run across Fancy Gap or through the Gorge on I-40 once or twice a week and you would be surprised at how many people use the "stab breaking method" but only at the bottom of the hill.

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.

Big Scott's Comment
member avatar

FYI with Prime TNT training the 30,000 miles are truck miles. You are teaming about 10 weeks. It goes by quickly.

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.

Big Jim's Comment
member avatar

Thank you for all the replies guys. I really appreciate it. It gave me some more food for thought. Now I know why this really is the best trucking forum on the net.

Pete B.'s Comment
member avatar

Big Jim, I’m going to discourage you further from starting out driving tankers; you really need to learn the principles of driving a big truck before hauling liquids. The surge is no joke. It takes practice to anticipate how the liquid will act while traveling down a mountain, and negotiating curves on the way down. Nighttime driving is twice as precarious because you can’t see the bends in the road as far in advance as you would in the daytime.

You seem to think hauling tankers is more profitable; I don’t know about Prime and their food-grade loads, but on the chemical side, yes, we earn more cpm’s, but the miles are much shorter. The vast majority of loads are under 1000 mi. I am a bit of a hypocrite, I started as a newbie driving tankers, and wouldn’t haul anything else at this point, but I don’t recommend it for new drivers. The learning curve has scared the hell out of me at times.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

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.

Jrod's Comment
member avatar

G-Town giving me mixed messages! lol

We never recommend starting with a company with the intent of moving on after only 3-6 months. It's highly recommended to commit to your first company for at least one year.

But then:

Get 6 months of OTR experience then look at tanker.

Just teasing, you did follow up with

If you choose a company like Prime or Schneider, you may have the option of moving into a tanker job once you have some experience.

so its only SORT of confusing! :)

Just wanted to give you a hard time, you do great work around here - keep it up!

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.

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.

Army 's Comment
member avatar

rofl-3.gif

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

G-Town giving me mixed messages! lol

double-quotes-start.png

We never recommend starting with a company with the intent of moving on after only 3-6 months. It's highly recommended to commit to your first company for at least one year.

double-quotes-end.png

But then:

double-quotes-start.png

Get 6 months of OTR experience then look at tanker.

double-quotes-end.png

Just teasing, you did follow up with

double-quotes-start.png

If you choose a company like Prime or Schneider, you may have the option of moving into a tanker job once you have some experience.

double-quotes-end.png

so its only SORT of confusing! :)

Just wanted to give you a hard time, you do great work around here - keep it up!

Sorry, didn't mean to confuse. To clarify; move to a tanker job available within the same company.

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.

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.

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