Tell Me About Being An Electrician And / Or Truck Driver

Topic 25953 | Page 1

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Richard S.'s Comment
member avatar

After riding the National Guard gravy train for the past 10 years I find myself without any military opportunities presenting themselves. My experience is in flying helicopters, but those jobs are very location dependent and not very many are presenting themselves where I live.

From people I've spoken with, getting CDL seems like a good way to find employment as shipping companies are always hiring. Or, my thought was, looking into becoming an electrician as it seems that that is an in-demand skill that won't destroy your body the way that other construction jobs will.

So, any insight into either career would be appreciated.

Basically, pros-cons, how much training is required, and what does a typical career look like in either field?

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.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Welcome to the Trucking Truth forum.

You are asking for an apples to oranges comparison. Our focus here is to provide education and sound advice about trucking. We can provide you with that.

Take a look at these links:

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.
Old School's Comment
member avatar

Richard, that's a great question.

Truck driving is a lot tougher than most people think. More on that in a minute, but if you're the type that enjoys new challenges everyday and don't have other commitments that require you being at home a lot, then it can be a very rewarding career. It takes just the right type of person to make it work, but there is a great diversity of people who enjoy their trucking careers.

Being an electrician is also a worthy pursuit. Honestly, you may be able to make more money as an electrician and be at home more also. That all depends on the actual type of electrical work you do. I have several friends who are electricians. One of them is a local contractor. He is home most of the time. Another friend is a "Lineman" doing power line construction. He is gone an awful lot. Becoming an electrician takes time. Most state licensing programs require testing at different levels. There's an apprentice license, a journeyman's, and a master license. There are certain verifiable hours of experience that are required for you to test at each level, and of course the pay is commensurate with the level of licensing. It takes several years to get a master's license. I've witnessed guys fail the master's license multiple times.

To get into Truck driving you'll just have the one testing level, and then you can get a job. Much like becoming an electrician, you've still got to prove you can do the job, but they go ahead and license you first. That's where the difficulties come into play. You're out here on your own in some pretty frustrating situations. You cut the nut and make a go of it, or if you screw it up you go home. It's a tough nut to cut, but a lot of people do it. You can too! You just have to determine if it's a good fit for you.

You can spend a few years at trucking and get yourself into some decent blue collar wages. These days most good solid drivers can earn upwards of 80,000 dollars with about five years experience. That's not everyone's experience because the pay in trucking is almost always performance based. The most productive drivers will always earn more. There's always some who consider that unfair, and those others who relish the opportunity it provides them. Depending on which type person you are, will have a strong influence on your ability to succeed in this career.

Electricians typically get paid by the hour. That means they can earn overtime pay. That's something a lot of people appreciate. I don't often think about how many hours I'm working. I focus on getting the most done that I can. It's two different mindsets, and it's something you'll want to consider when making a choice such as you are considering.

Here's some great resources you should look into...

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.
Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

Richard, truck driving will get you earning a good income much faster than becoming an apprentice electrician. Electrician = at least four years of beginner wages. Trucking = four months of training and then it's very doable for a first year driver to make 40 to 50 thousand gross. Electrician = being home every night. Trucking = being away from home much of the time, unless you get a local driving job. Electrician is a great skill, but I know being a top tier truck driver is just as demanding of a skill. And don't be fooled, the electrical trade is harder on the body than truck driving and just as dangerous.

Bird-one's Comment
member avatar

Thank you for your service Richard. My family is pretty much 2 professions. Truck driving, and construction. My grandfather was a pipefitter, and my uncle's are carpenters and an electrician. The carpenters been having a hard time for years. The electrician does very well for himself. Not too mention the endless side jobs he always seems to find. None of those trades really interest me growing up. Few years back though after considering wages and benefits available i took a leap, and became a union roofer apprentice in Chicago thinking i would like it. After 8 months i decided trucking was what i wanted. So besides the 8 months being wasted. It was no harm no foul. Tried it didn't like it moved on. Here in Chicago the Ibew is one of the top unions out here, and it is very hard to get into. Usually close to 1000 will show up for the test with only 100 or so open spots. Depends on their needs for the summer. If it were me, and i had an interest in being an Electrician and had an opportunity to apprentice. Id probably take it and give it a shot. Because trucking will always be here and will always have immediate opportunities. And ill be a little blunt here. Saw your profile says "alcohol junkie" not sure exactly what that means but that will not mix well at all with trucking. Good luck.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

Bird-one said: " Saw your profile says "alcohol junkie" not sure exactly what that means but that will not mix well at all with trucking."

Bird, good catch on the alcohol issue. I'd say alcohol doesn't mix with any trade or profession, but ESPECIALLY trucking. "alcohol junkie" is a HUGE RED FLAG.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Bird-one said: " Saw your profile says "alcohol junkie" not sure exactly what that means but that will not mix well at all with trucking."

Bird, good catch on the alcohol issue. I'd say alcohol doesn't mix with any trade or profession, but ESPECIALLY trucking. "alcohol junkie" is a HUGE RED FLAG.

Richard...

Even a trace of alcohol found as a result of a random test will get you fired and also make it very, very difficult to find another driving job.

80,000 pounds of truck can quickly become a disaster if in the wrong hands.

Sid V.'s Comment
member avatar

I know a girl that flew helicopters in the military and came out flying for the private sector and making a ton of money.

I would look into doing something specialized like that then driving a truck.

Army 's Comment
member avatar

I have a hard time believing someone with flying experience in the Guard is not able (or maybe willing) to find a job flying helicopters. And why only 10 years, usually pilots have the best assignments and get treated the best. I might know a few pilots. Did you loose your upslip? Seems like there is more to the story than just getting out of the guard after 10 years. Where you a warrant or commissioned officer?

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.

Ice cream man's Comment
member avatar

Richard I can tell you from some one that has worked in the field as a electrician. The good ones are in high demand. It is very tough on the body bad knees and shoulders are common. The average starting guy is about $13-$16 dollars a hour The work has it highs and lows. You will work 40-50 hour weeks plus two to three knights of school for the next 4 years then test out for your journey men’s . Money will then move to $17-$21 a hour. Then two more years of night school to get your masters. Then pay will be $24-$29 a hour depending on the company. My last job in the industry I ran a small 10 man shop for a guy my highest payed guy was 100k a year and he worked 65-70 hours a week he loved his ot. The work will have its very busy times and not so busy times. The average age of a licensed electrician in the us is 54-58 there is a lot of room for new guys. But like any job you get out what you put in. This the best insight I can give trucking is new to me but so far I love it . Best of luck in your new adventure

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