New Here (trying To Decide If A Career To Trucker Is For Me)

Topic 26112 | Page 1

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Robin F.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi Ladies,

I lurked here about a year ago.....I have a strong work ethic, don't mind driving, but would like pros/cons to starting a new career as a woman trucker in your 40s?? Seems like the job opportunities I encounter near home are low paying and unsatisfying. I like variety and enjoy challenge. I have a best friend who drove truck for years and loved it, said she thought I'd really like it. My biggest concern is actually driving something that big !

Any advice you can share pro or con is great! Thanks very much!

Robin in CT

Susan D. 's Comment
member avatar

Robin,

Sorry it took so long to reply as I literally just saw this. I'm also scratching my head about the reply. I've never felt like the fact I'm a woman ever hindered me in any way. For pros and cons... only you can answer that for yourself. Pros and cons are different for different people. For some, periods of time away from home are a con. To me that's a huge plus. I also never considered being afraid to "drive something that big" so even that thought is foreign to me.

What I can tell you is this. I started out in my early 50's. I love the adventure, the variety of places I go and enjoy the challenge of a particularly tight dock. Do I sometimes make a fool of myself? Absolutely! We all have our off days even as experienced drivers and when you're new, everything seems much more difficult than it actually is, until you've developed your skills as a driver.

I work every bit of 70 hours a week. I currently have 42 minutes left on my 70 hour clock. I left home last Wednesday morning and this is Wednesday afternoon 1 week later.

The simple fact is that anyone can learn to drive a truck with enough practice. The question is, is your heart really into this or are you only considering it because of difficulty securing a higher paying job? What motivates you? Did you know that only about 5-10% of brand new drivers are still doing this job 1 year later? It's not about the skills, but more about the committment. Some see it as giving up all sorts of things that are important to them. I tend to look at it as all the new experiences I've gained. Yes some days are incredibly hard, but I love this job and wouldn't trade it for anything.

If anything, I feel being a woman out here has been more of an advantage.

So how well does the friend who thinks youd like driving really KNOW you? Have you ever ridden in a truck for a day? A week? A month? Would it be possible for you to ride along with her for a couple weeks?... before you get a permit because often companies dont want cdl permit holders or cdl holders as passengers because the risk of a non employee operating the vehicle is too high. In other words, do you really know what you're getting into? If not, read Brett's book. If you feel like it might be a fit for you, we're here to answer any questions and help you navigate the process.

Becoming A Truck Driver: The Raw Truth About Truck Driving

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.
Arabella C.'s Comment
member avatar

I’m a 40 year old Licensed Vocational Nurse contemplating a career change. The only thing about nursing that has kept me in it so long is the goal of being a travel nurse and being getting my RN so I have more options/better pay and some opportunity to see new places. Problem is, I’m still 2-3 years away from getting my RN and most LVN travel positions are in nursing homes which I hated working in.

I’ve never enjoyed being an LVN. I find it emotionally draining, stressful and most nurse managers and many co-workers don’t belong in nursing in my humble opinion. The pay is actually incredibly low when you think about all the nights, weekends and holidays you work and how terrible it is to see people suffering and all the grossness, stress, politics, etc. Yes there is a joy of caring for others but there are too many negatives.

I’ve always enjoyed driving. Always felt exhilarated to get out on the open road and far away...

Should I try it? I have cats that I adore but I’m hoping I could get my SO or mother to watch them. My main concern is that I had a cat before that got cancer and I had to give her oral chemo for five years every few days. I can’t expect or count on anyone else treat my cat/s now if they were to get a chronic health condition and I’m gone for weeks at a time...

Has anyone else been in this predicament or drive with pets, especially cats? Thanks ahead of time!

Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
member avatar

This is Goofball. Company pet policies vary greatly. Some do not allow any, others only dogs. Many limit the number of pets, and pet fees /deposits vary. My company has the highest at $1000 which they take $300 the first check and $50 per week after that.

He was 10 when we got on the truck and he hates leaving it. If we get a hotel or go to my moms he cries for a little bit. He has never gotten sick or anything from the movement or noise. I even started making lists of vets across the country with parking or near truck stops. If i needed to, getting back to a terminal is easy enough and i could get to a vet via a shuttle.

0609178001565126190.jpg

I was 41 when I came to CDL company sponsored training. I have no regrets but not starting earlier. . I rarely talk to my "boss" aka dispatcher , although i know him well. The only real stress is what i put on myself.

I came from a job of nights, weekends, holidays... 6 weeks paid vacation, paid holidays and 6 weeks paid sick leave. Now i get 2 weeks vacation, 48 hours of sick leave and no paid holidays. Yet i live on my truck have less stress and more cashflow. If you sit here and break down the pay by the hour it doesnt sound like much. But here is an example:

As a federal employee, after taxes I took home $700 per week. I paid out over $1200 per month for my apartment, $400 for my car, $150 for car insurance, $250 for utilities. So how much does that leave for food, gas, entertainment, pet costs, doctors etc. i couldnt save, was in serious debt and had almost nothing in my 401k.

Now I clear about $1100 or more per week AFTER putting money in my 401k, and have no stress or bills. I sold my car, gave up my apartment, and paid $70k in debts! while making less per hour if you do the math.

I hear men say "trucking will eat you up". Really? I'm a former postal worker from NJ with 4 siblings. Nothing can eat me up and chew me out. Dispatch..nope. They dont bother me. Customers and mechanics, nope they think im funny and i smile at them. Crazy 24 hour schedule..nope. lack of sleep, no problem.

Most new drivers can't make it through training because it is hard, but temporary. They also assume teaming/training is a true reflection of the job. It isn't. Going solo was a nice break, but removed the trainer as a safety net., so stress changed. i didnt have someone looking over my shoulder, but had no answers either.

If you are someone who needs 3 hours to get ready in the morning, needs 8 hours of sleep and a schedule, forget it. Not happening.If you are a go with the flow kinda person try it.

We dont get weekends. this is 24/7. I no longer have a work week nor do i dread mondays. now if i want a day off i tell dispatch i need time before my next load. So i work longer hours with less stress, less physical exertion, and have more money.

Check out my articles about trucking life. Extreme heat of 120 degrees in Phoenix, driving in -40 degree snow and ice.. and having to walk at 3 am through a dark truck stop on ice are.mucher harder things to bare than having a pet on the truck.

I have one about the culture shick of trucking, team training, and some on being a woman.

good luck

Articles by Rainy

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.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

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.

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.

Dr. H.'s Comment
member avatar

I'm 41 and just opened my CDL manual yesterday. I'm concerned about driving something that big too.

It didn't take me too long to decide to switch my career. Yes, the higher salary being a trucker is in my consideration. However, what helps me choose this path is a TED lecture where a lady talks about her career change at the age of 40. She switched from a government employee to a cab driver. The lecture is in Chinese and I can't find an English translation. However, the speaker made the decision by asking herself three questions:

1. Who am I?

2. If I were the only person living on the earth (i.e., I did't need to please any one), how would I want to live my life?

3. If I had nothing, what would I want?

It seems that you have contemplated for about a year. I assume you have explored the pros and cons about this profession. It's probably time to dig deeper in your heart to see what you really want. 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.

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.

Shannon C.'s Comment
member avatar

As a federal employee, after taxes I took home $700 per week. I paid out over $1200 per month for my apartment, $400 for my car, $150 for car insurance, $250 for utilities. So how much does that leave for food, gas, entertainment, pet costs, doctors etc. i couldnt save, was in serious debt and had almost nothing in my 401k.

Now I clear about $1100 or more per week AFTER putting money in my 401k, and have no stress or bills. I sold my car, gave up my apartment, and paid $70k in debts! while making less per hour if you do the math.

Articles by Rainy

Hi Rainy, this is along the same income projections I came up with if I decide to change career fields to trucking. Even if your current paycheck were less than what you are making now, you should calculate the reduction in expenses to get a more accurate liquid portfolio of your salary. I spend about $1,800 a month just on my mortgage and electric. I have tons of other bills. One paycheck a month alone goes to just paying my mortgage.

But, where do you stay when you aren't on the road? With family, friends, hotels??

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