Timeline For Transitioning To Trucking As 180 Career Change?

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Kat C.'s Comment
member avatar

Okay so in theory, if I were to become a trucker from scratch... I'm having an iffy time envisioning how I would transition into that. Maybe that's the cause of the big shortage in drivers...

Just from research alone, these seem to be the steps needed to do it, but I can't figure out what order they should be done in. (How did y'all break into this?) -- -Get educated through a trucking school, company, CDL school, etc. -Stop paying rent on a place you're not going to live in, right?? So, buying an RV would be logical, wouldn't it? -Quit other job -Get with a company and a trainer and start driving -Eventually graduate to refining your experience and interests and one day maybe becoming owner operator

What am I missing? What order did you do things in? What sort of "previous lives" do truckers come from and how did you transition? Is it really that much of a life commitment or do you find it's like any other job?

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.

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

LDRSHIP's Comment
member avatar

Welcome Kay, here is our welcoming 'kit'

As far as the order is simple. If do company sponsored training , start applying.

Apply For Paid CDL Training

If doing a private institution line up your funding.. if you are doing company sponsored program; after you get accepted into a program, give notice to your current employer. Find someone to look after your place and stuff while your gone. I wouldn't give up that apartment/house yet. Never know if this lifestyle will be for you. Once you get on that greyhound don't expect to see "home" for 1-3 months.

Ok, now for the questions.

1) Truckers come all kinds of backgrounds. Name it and a current truck driver out there probably did for a previous career.

2) TRUCKING IS NOT A JOB!! Just like the military, trucking is an all consuming life style. The normalcy of the 9-5 will disappear. Your new normal will be 70+ hour work weeks. Being gone from "home" weeks to months on end. Losing a sense of connection with those that still lead "normal" lives. Trust me, most just won't "get it."

Drive Safe and God Speed

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.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

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.
LDRSHIP's Comment
member avatar

Kat*

Dang autocorrect!!!!! sorry.gif

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Patrick gave you great advice, read all that information he sent. Also, people have come from all sorts of backgrounds into trucking. Check out this lengthy thread What did you do before becoming a truck driving

As patrick said, trucking is more of a lifestyle and even if you end up being a local driver you'll still likely be close to 60 hours or more a week.

Kat C.'s Comment
member avatar

Ah yes, but it maybe doesn't feel like work, even when it's even harder work than a regular job? That's how it seems to me. I'm trying to rule out whether I have a case of grass-is-greener, since what's killing me about my profession is its 9-5ness, being inside, working with the public, staying in one place, not being challenged, dealing with meaningless office politics, etc etc. Thanks for the introductory info- this is a great resource.

Big Scott (CFI Driver/Tra's Comment
member avatar

Read through what Patrick gave you. You may want to start with Brett's Book. Becoming A Truck Driver: The Raw Truth About Truck Driving. That will give you great insight into the lifestyle we call trucking.

I went with Paid CDL Training Programs through CFI. I am very happy with them. I come from a blue collar background and started looking into trucking as a career that didn't beat up my aging body. At 50, I lost the dead end job I had for 8 years. Now, I have been with CFI for just over a year. I don't feel like this is work. Yes all my days run together. I'm tired at the end of every day. Your sleep schedule can change from day to day. But, I'm paid to see this beautiful country. Good luck

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.
Alexandr S.'s Comment
member avatar

Ah yes, but it maybe doesn't feel like work, even when it's even harder work than a regular job? That's how it seems to me. I'm trying to rule out whether I have a case of grass-is-greener, since what's killing me about my profession is its 9-5ness, being inside, working with the public, staying in one place, not being challenged, dealing with meaningless office politics, etc etc. Thanks for the introductory info- this is a great resource.

I am a white collar professional. I was suit-and-tie with a high salary for 3.5 years until six months ago, when I moved to a low COL region and started doing part-time contract work from home (still in my field). I can relate to the frustration with office politics. I saw a trucking school near where I live, and I thought this is the right opportunity. I researched trucking companies, I researched forums online (and found this forum, and the resources on this site, to be exhaustive of everything you need to know). I am in the private CDL school and have a learner's permit. I have a tentative offer from May Trucking.

I think there are two background reasons that made this possible:

1. I get inherent satisfaction from driving, and in the few times in my life I got to drive a large U-Haul, I found that especially satisfying. I generally have good driving skills, reaction instincts, ability to park in tight spaces and navigate routes. (I think this has helped CDL school to be not as frustrating, as I believe my learning curve has been rather good, knock on wood!)

2. I have a strong sense of adventure from traveling.

3. I do not have tangible things holding me back, e.g., no large or demanding family, financial obligations. I am in a long distance relationship, and I now see my partner frequently for great lengths of time (because of my current part-time remote work). I won't be able to see her for as long each time while OTR , but my recruiter (and other recruiters, as well as my trucking school boss) has assured me that I can arrange with my dispatcher to time my loads to allow me to take home time in her city, which is in a major freight corridor.

The only other thing I will add, because you alluded to this, is that I have very few belongings. I've downsized a lot, and I can fit all essential things in a small storage unit (e.g., ill ditch the cheap walmart couch, box up stuff, etc). Not sure if I'll do that, yet, but we'll see. Anyway, if you have a similar instinctual drive toward this type of work (#1 and #2 above), and you do not have strong tangible things that will get in the way (#3 above), this is something you should consider pursuing further. If you hate driving, or if driving gives you great anxiety, etc., that's a different story.

That's my two cents.

Oh and the speed of the transition, that can be really fast. Seriously, you just go ahead fill out an application at a company that does its own in-house CDL training (that will be more involved and will require you to travel to their site, which they will pay for), or you go to a local CDL school and then apply to a company that hires rookies. You will get a call back for a phone interview within a day or two. You can be on the road in no time.

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.

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.
LDRSHIP's Comment
member avatar

Here is the skinny. As I said this is a lifestyle. My truck is my home and office. TBH, I visit my wife at her house. My home is in the truck. I easily spend 90% of my time in the truck. My clothes are in my truck. I pack a bag when I "go home". My entertainment is in my truck. My food is in my truck. My life is in my truck. Trucking is NOT a job. It becomes your life. I "work" 14 hr days. My schedule is constantly changing. I lose track of what day it is in a week. But my life affords me the opportunity to see this great country. I travelled a lot in the military and lived in many places. Hawaii, South Korea to name a few. That is one thing I love about this lifestyle. I get to still travel. One video I recommend watching is JCannell - No BS Truth about trucking. I think he sums it up well.

Drive Safe and God Speed

Kat C.'s Comment
member avatar

Awesome video, thanks. I've been watching a lot of trucking vlogs (and steering away from ones by people who only just started, which seems a little like mere vanity that will be quickly weeded out) and reading a lot of blogs on here for some time, so I have a sense of what the life looks like. I should clarify- I was NOT hoping that it would be like any other job. I know that it's a total lifestyle, and that if you're leaving a high paying professional job to do it, it's because you want real work, you think freight is cool, and just like he said, to be like the captain of your ship where the job and your life are one thing. I'm also glad he says you have to be assertive, because that's the exact sticking point for me in my current profession. I am assertive, and am absolutely expected NOT to be, and measured by how passive I can be, and simply can no longer try to nail it without compromising all of my values. I'm just trying to figure out how the transition looks. It seems like there could be a leap of faith involved, where you ditch the place you're paying for, prior to money beginning to roll in from trucking, and without knowing yet if trucking will work out for you..... or conversely, you lose a lot of money paying for a place while you're not living in it, for long enough to know that trucking is going to work. I guess anything that doesn't require a leap of faith is probably not worth much anyway.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

We actually had a conversation about that video a few years ago. Here's a link to that:

No BS Truth About Trucking Video

To be honest, I can't stand that guy. He's just another whiny, miserable complainer trying to make headlines and get attention. I just heard him say in one video:

"The mega carriers will tell you that you're going to get 3,000+ miles per week but it's all a lie. They don't have the freight."

Really? They don't have the freight? They have enough freight to blanket the country with thousands of brand new rigs but they don't have the freight to get someone 3,000 miles per week? That's interesting. I had a 15 year career where I never had any trouble getting 3,000 miles per week from a major carrier. We have a forum full of Moderators and experienced drivers working for major carriers that have had no problem getting 3,000 miles per week.

Some of what he says is true, some of it is blatant BS. I would much, much rather people get the real scoop about trucking from us. There isn't anything in the world Canell is going to teach you that is going to help you become a better driver. Listening to someone complain about how hard his life is and how badly he's being lied to isn't helping me get better. He's another in the army of doomsayers out there who are looking for attention and are going to give you 5,000 warnings about all the things trucking isn't but will never teach you what you need to do to be successful.

Trust me, you don't want to take advice from a guy who can't get 3,000 miles per week from a major carrier. If he isn't getting the miles it's because he can't handle the miles. Drivers who can handle the miles are getting them.

Personally, I never take advice from a complainer. If I want to become good at something I seek out people who are able to tell me what challenges I will face and what I have to do to make myself better so I can live up to those challenges. Canell sure as hell ain't that guy.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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