Mid 30's Career Change. Looking For Some General Advice.

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Vincent S.'s Comment
member avatar

Hello, I live in Houston, TX and I am a production foreman, who has hit a dead end in my career. My pay has stagnated at 55K with no benefits, so I am looking to change careers. My main question is which would be a better/more realistic option for getting into CDL driving: Would it be better for me to try to do night classes, and maybe even log hours driving for my current company(they are constantly short on local drivers) Or sign on to one of those ads you see where they pay something like 50K to start and then they pay for all of your training? 50K with benefits would likely surpass my current 55K without any benefits...

My goal is to do long haul driving and I notice a lot of jobs offering roughly 100K a year. I'm wondering how difficult jobs like that are to actually land, as well as how long it would realistically take someone who has no commercial driving experience to reach that point?

Any other general advice for someone in my situation would be greatly appreciated.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Personally I would advise to jump in and leave current company and sign on with a company that will train you. I tried and saw several other people try the part time approach and it takes too long. I spent 1 year in school part time and wasnt getting anywhere, I made the jump to full time school which I should have done years ago and had my CDL in 4 weeks.

Yes it is possible to make 100k but those jobs are rare, I'm running linehaul for Old Dominion and this will be my first full time year and I am on pace for over 70k we have countless drivers making over 100k my trainer is in the 120s but thos runs take years to get. OTR is a little different but a first year driver should be able to get 50k no problem as long as you prove yourself reliable.

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.

Linehaul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Welcome to the forum Vincent.

You have come to the right place. I agree with Bobcat Bob.

My overall suggestion is to understand;

Trucking is unlike anything you have ever done before, highly misunderstood and 100% performance based.

In short, the 100k jobs you read or heard about; top dollar is earned over a long period of consistently safe and efficient operation. Please do not expect to earn big money your first year, not likely to happen.

We suggest to start by reading Becoming A Truck Driver: The Raw Truth About Truck Driving and Truck Driver's Career Guide. These two links will help you establish a far more realistic set of expectations, grounded in truth and help build a base of understanding that will carry you through your initial research and reduce the pitfalls that the uninformed typically stumble into.

The other recommendation, perhaps of greater purpose and importance, is commit to studying for your by leveraging Trucking Truth's High Road CDL Training Program. Arguably the best on-line training of it's kind, it will enable you to pass all of the required permit tests and introduce you to more advanced topics you'll need in the future.

In support of Bobcat Bob's suggestion taking a look at Paid CDL Training Programs is arguably the best way to expedite an effective path into the trucking business. When you have reached a point of executing your decision, use this link to Apply For Paid CDL Training.

Let us know how else we can help.

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.
Chuck S.'s Comment
member avatar

A lot to take in ... it's a big decision... your are getting good advice from professionals ....

and I agree get on with a company who will train you and most will require you to stick around for a period of time to pay for your schooling...

meaning ... schools that are run in conjunction with a company sponsor or company that has trucking in some capacity that you can move into and actually work for ... should be free... no out of pocket expense

the only time I didn't get paid when I was at school taking all my driving test, etc. etc...

but once I got on my trainers truck I started earning money ....

you have a lot to research

.... one piece of advice from the very beginning ... recruiters will tell you just about anything ... so when you have questions ... ask the professionals

good luck

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Chuck cautions:

.... one piece of advice from the very beginning ... recruiters will tell you just about anything ... so when you have questions ... ask the professionals

I do not agree with arbitrary distrust of recruiters. They are the initial ticket into the on-boarding system and when it comes to certain, company specific pieces of information highly credible.

Do not dismiss them entirely or you will find yourself on the outside looking in...

Big Scott (CFI Driver and's Comment
member avatar

I agree with the above. I was trained and drive for CFI. They require you to get your DOT medical card and CDL permit before attending their school. They provide transportation, food and housing during training. They require 12 months of driving to pay for your training. At the end of that year your training costs zero. That is a quick example of one company's paid training. 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.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Vincent S.'s Comment
member avatar

Wow, thanks for the friendly advice, guys! I've already been reading some of the links provided.

So I guess my biggest fear about jumping in head first, would be quitting my current job of 15 years, which is basically the only job I've had in my adult, then for some reason I never actually am able to get the job driving. I'd be in a pretty bad spot at that point... I'm quite confident I could pass the academic side and the driving test. I've driven the company bobtail and some tractors around our lot with no issue. I also used to operate a 60' boom lift at this job for several years and was a pretty skilled operator according to my bosses. I know that driving a tractor trailer is fundamentally different, but I should be able to handle it, right? I guess what I'm getting at it is; How common is it for someone not to be able to get a job after they start the full time paid training?

My BP also tends to hover around 130/90, give or take...I guess that's not too big of a deal though, I'd just have to renew each year(or maybe actually take my BP meds as prescribed lol)...Maybe I'm overthinking it/worrying too much?

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

Patrick C.'s Comment
member avatar

I would start on your BP meds NOW. Take them for a good 30 days before you go get your med card. You want your BP as close to normal as possible. If you can show your BP is in normal range with medication it is far better than it being elevated off of meds.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

I would start on your BP meds NOW. Take them for a good 30 days before you go get your med card. You want your BP as close to normal as possible. If you can show your BP is in normal range with medication it is far better than it being elevated off of meds.

100% agree with Patrick. Don’t mess with BP.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Vincent asked:

I know that driving a tractor trailer is fundamentally different, but I should be able to handle it, right? I guess what I'm getting at it is; How common is it for someone not to be able to get a job after they start the full time paid training?

Vincent in my initial reply I offered the premise that Trucking is different from anything you have ever attempted to do. That is the honest truth, no sugar coating of any kind. No one here can predict the outcome of your schooling and road-training. The overall success rate is typically not favorable; conservatively about 25-30%. At the moment the only skill you have that might align with truck driving is reasonably good hand-eye coordination and possibly above average depth-perception. Beyond that, anyone's guess. Your focus needs to be 100%, void of all distraction before committing to a school and this career path. Your chances of success improve significantly when you apply yourself with dogged determination and total dedication to listening, learning and practicing what you are taught and instructed on, never letting the highs, get you too high, and the lows (which will happen), get you too low. Even keel is required, applies now and well into your future.

I reiterate on my initial suggestion to thoroughly read Brett's book: Becoming A Truck Driver: The Raw Truth About Truck Driving and the Truck Driver's Career Guide. The other suggestion is invest some time reviewing student diaries found in the diary section of the forum. There you will find real-time accounts of what this is like and what to expect. I think it will help you better understand what you are about to get yourself into.

Best of luck to you!

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