WWYD?

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Shannon W.'s Comment
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Hi all, first post here. WWYD "what would you do?". I've been kicking around the idea of trucking. I've read the trucker book on this website and understand the job and see there are many challenges out there. A little about my background. I've been a surgical technician for 23 years. I can literally take you apart and put you back together. I can save your life. Due to humans putting very little value on actual human life the pay is pretty much crap considering the wealth of information and skills I possess. My decision to join or not join trucking is purely a financial one. I don't have kids, gf, or wife, or even a pet. I can live the lifestyle if I can make money at it. My main concern is that making money seems very much tied to turning miles and with a 11 hour driving restriction, weather, ****ty ass equipment (judging by forum post), that turning those miles can be somewhat of a challenge. It's not a simple matter of getting in the vehicle, turning the key, and laying down the miles.

When I lived in Orange County CA I would bring home (net) anywhere from 1,800 - 2,200 every 2 weeks. I recently moved to Bullhead City AZ and make considerably less per hour, but worse than that the hospital I'm at doesn't have the hours I need to survive. I'm now bringing home (net) 1,300 to 1,500 per 2 weeks. I've become very disenchanted with what I do for a living. I see all sorts of jobs (not just trucking) that I feel you need very little brain power to accomplish, yet people are making way more money than I do. For example, I could most likely go to a Costco and make a better income than I do in surgery. This really ****es me off because as I mentioned before. I have 23 years of experience, work in an extremely demanding field, have to be way above average when it comes to brain power...yet here I am considering trucking.

I see many postings on the internet for very tempting money in my opinion. I see jobs ranging from 75k-90k and everywhere in between. One for example is wal-mart. They advertise .89 cents a mile. The skepticism in me asks, why would anyone take .38cpm for over the road , when Wal-mart offers .89? Also car hauling seems to be some good ass money. Why wouldn't people try to do that instead of the .38cpm kind of running?

If I do obtain my CDL based on some guidance from you all, I will pay for it out of my pocket and not be bound to any certain program or working off the debt of training to a company. I would be open to any kind of trucking except for unloading by hand. I've had back surgery so unloading pallets of materials isn't something I'm interested in. With the information I've provided what would you do? Stay indoors at my climate controlled and everything else completely controlled for that matter job, or trade it in and get on the road to get that bread?

I know that what people earn for a living is a sensitive and private subject. I've divulged what I'm not proud of lol. Maybe people sharing company and actual income will help me decide if the money is right for me. I'm just too untrusting and skeptical to believe a job posting, or some trucking school's word on it. Sorry for the long first post, and thank you in advance for sharing your opinion and knowledge with me.

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.

Over The Road:

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Hello Shannon, and welcome aboard!

My decision to join or not join trucking is purely a financial one.

I'm going to say that your approach is problematic. You've got to realize you will be a novice, a rookie who has little to offer as you start this career. You may think you

see all sorts of jobs (not just trucking) that I feel you need very little brain power to accomplish

But... you will face a very steep learning curve as you enter this new field. Walmart doesn't hire rookies, so you can forget about fetching top pay as you get started.

Here's what you can expect...

You can earn about 45,000 dollars your first year. I've seen people who really grasp the concepts of success at trucking do a little better, but I wouldn't expect more than about 50,000 dollars as a new driver. This is a performance based business. You will basically determine your annual income by how well you produce results. It's going to typically take three to four years before you start earning upwards of 70,000 dollars. You can expect to be making top level pay in about five years. Typically that's going to be near the 80,000 dollar mark. There are exceptions, but I'm trying to be realistic with you.

There are very few jobs like this that don't require education and allow you to almost double your salary after five years.

It's a demanding job. It's also very rewarding, if you're the adventurous type who loves a challenge. Usually people who go into trucking strictly for the money end up getting out of trucking for the same reason. You need to have a better motivation than the financial one.

Daddys H.'s Comment
member avatar

Shannon,

Is there not other hospitals or surgery centers that pay more for your position? Have you checked into that? That sure seems like small pay considering the job you do. I just assumed you would make upwards of 100k a year minimum.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Well, let me start by saying welcome. Being a truck driver can be a very rewarding career, both financially and personally. My first year I made $40k+, and my 4th year, I made $55k, and I had 99% of my weekends off. I had also seen a lot of the country. If you get hired on with a company that has contracts with one (or multiple) of the dollar branded stores, the average 1st year driver on one of those accounts I've seen make $60-65k, and by the second year you can be on track to make $80k+, but the drawback to the "dollar store" accounts is that they are all driver unload at the stores. I was on 2 accounts ( first was the 1st 18 months of my first 2 years, the 2nd was my last 2 years), and I ha to unload very little freight, and got paid extra for it.

Another benefit of being a truck driver is that no matter where you live, you will get paid the same. For example, my trainer lived in Mississippi, and I live in CT. as a regional or OTR driver, I got the same base amount as he did (he got paid more when he had a student obviously). I had moved to my first dedicated account, and made 10 cents more per mile pay, plus safety pay on top of that. My second dedicated account, I mad 10 cents more base then he did, 2 cents safety pay, unload/assist unload pay, and stop pay, which gave me an extra 35 cents a mile on average then him. it all adds up fast.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Old School's Comment
member avatar
Maybe people sharing company and actual income will help me decide if the money is right for me. I'm just too untrusting and skeptical

Shannon if we start sharing our company and income with you it's not going to help you. I make great money at Knight Transportation. I have a friend who makes equally well at Swift. I also can find reams of internet reports of people claiming to go broke at each of those companies.

There are no salaries in this job. You'll get paid what you earn. Productive drivers make good money. Folks who don't produce so well will struggle to survive in the competitive arena of trucking. It's an entirely performance based job. It requires motivation, inspiration, and seat of the pants problem solving skills.

Performance based pay is the beauty and the beast. For some it's really rewarding. For others, not so much. You have to determine where you stand in this. Are you the type person who enjoys facing new challenges every day? Do you enjoy taking your own initiative, or do you prefer to have managers guide you along? Can you work all night? Can you flip your day and night schedules back and forth at times to be more productive?

I think at this point you've just got to educate yourself on this adventure we call trucking. It's not just switching jobs. You're gonna alter your whole lifestyle. I highly recommend this podcast. Listen to it and see what you think.

Would You Survive Trucking?

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Shannon,

Is there not other hospitals or surgery centers that pay more for your position? Have you checked into that? That sure seems like small pay considering the job you do. I just assumed you would make upwards of 100k a year minimum.

The most I ever earned was right around 95K. This wasn't for being a tech, it was on the development side. At this point in my career I can basically develop a surgical center from the ground up. I most recently developed a state of the art robotic surgical center in Orange County, CA. This particular project was one of the first in the country to have such a sophisticated system. I'm extremely hard working and without sounding ****y, I'm rather intelligent. The problem with the OC is cost of living. I made out pretty good but living there cost a fortune. My dream to actually own a home rather than pay rent is what brought me to Bullhead City, AZ. I bought a home and I'm happy about that. The new job however is the pits and I'm trying to do some soul searching to find a new career and a way to make what I consider good money. I appreciate all the honesty and accept reality as well as harsh criticism. I don't want to hear only good per se, so any of y'all that want to dish a hard dose of reality I'll gladly listen with open ears.

Here is an example some of you can help me with. I live near Dot Foods. Right now on indeed their posting claims 75k a year. I meet the requirements for the job. Is dot foods lying? What is the catch? Interestingly enough one of the surgeons I work with is neighbors with a driver from dot foods. He said he was a police officer and now drives. Claims it is the best job he has had and that he is on track to make more than the 75k advertised. This is second hand information but I believe it to be true. Can someone cast a light as to what is occurring here? Also they mention regional which from what I've read thus far is desirable.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

I wouldn't rule out company sponsored training. I didn't spend a dime out of pocket, had a job lined up and got that all important first year of experience. The company that gave me that also assumed the risk of turning me loose in an expensive piece of equipment capable of doing some really expensive damage.

Now I make pretty good money. And I agree with what Old-school said, what others make is irrelevant to what you will make. 45k for your first year give or take is what you should plan for. More importantly... Learn the job. I still learn new things daily. After a few years it shouldn't surprise you if you make a week what you did in two. At either of the places you listed.

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.

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 W.'s Comment
member avatar

One thing I'm hearing is performance based pay. I get it, but I don't. Without trying to have people admit to anything, perhaps I can tell you who I am in regards to rules. I have zero tickets on my driving record. This is because I follow all the traffic signs and laws. I read in the book on this site that in a nutshell rules "read log book" are meant to be broken. I have incredible stamina and work on my feet 12-15hrs routinely so driving a truck for that long is something I can do. Except they say you are only supposed to drive 11hrs. Are the people that make the money those who "run hard", or lets say fudge the numbers? Maybe I can end this pipe dream now by knowing how this all truly works. I'm not interested in hauling ass to make up time, drive past when I'm supposed to shut down etc.

One thing I've really been curious about for a long time (even before thinking of being a trucker) is speed. As I said I obey the traffic laws. I will be on the interstate with my cruise engaged at 65mph. I'm getting passed by truckers all the time. If there are bonuses for fuel saving, not getting tickets, being a safe driver and all of that, what is really going on? Is the pay so horrible that in reality the only way to hustle is break the rules and hope for the best? It certainly seams so from my perspective.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

Dm:

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Amber L.'s Comment
member avatar

Now I'm a newbie, but as far as the truckers passing you goes most of them will be owner operators who aren't governed, most companies govern their trucks.

From what I have read trip planning is key to your performance in this industry. It's kind of hard for a hard-working individual like myself (sounds like you too) to believe it but there really are drivers out there that get woken up by there driver manager so they get moving. Then there are the people who spend time at the pick up end of their load instead of getting to the destination first then using up the extra time, they can end up late doing that because you never know what is going to happen. So that is some of the performance stuff you can control, then it seems like there is a whole lot of thinking on your feet as problems arise.

Also on the company sponsored training think about it like this: if they spend the money to train you to get your CDL they have invested a lot of money in you vs a new driver that comes to them with a CDL so when you have that rookie accident it is more worth it for them to keep you and hope you learn and get better than someone they have no investment in.

Good luck and read all the blogs on this site lots of helpful info.

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.

Driver Manager:

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.

andhe78's Comment
member avatar
Usually people who go into trucking strictly for the money end up getting out of trucking for the same reason. You need to have a better motivation than the financial one.

I’ve always disagreed with this site about this and have felt you guys romanticize the job too much. I need more than “adventure” to deal with rude drivers, or crazy four wheelers, or ridiculous weather, or disgusting toilets, or months away from loved ones on a daily basis. A six figure income helps with that.

I literally got into trucking for the money, and you can’t say I haven’t been extremely successful in this career. As a guy with only a high school diploma, why would I get out of trucking when it allows me a very comfortable lifestyle?

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