Possible To Be An Online Student While A Full Time OTR Trucker?

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James S.'s Comment
member avatar

This forum has convinced me to go OTR through a company-sponsored CDL school. So thanks all for that. I'm going to probably get my start down in Florida if anyone has any company-specific suggestions down that way. I'm thinking of volunteering myself to do team-driving and was wondering if it's possible to be able to study online through a Mifi Verizon Jetpack while I'm lounging. Outside of sleep, I'd hope to be able to get at least 5 hours per day of free time if possible. Does anyone see that as a possibility? Or anyone attempt something similar to it? I was hoping to work and finish an online Bachelors program simultaneously. What do people think?

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.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

James, overall I believe your expectations are a bit past practical. Here are my opinions:

Paid CDL Training Program: This is probably the best route to the CDL driver's seat. Your trade off is your first year of driving which still includes more training and gaining OTR experience.

Location of your company and school: Most OTR will be nationwide. The company headquarters and even the terminals can be anywhere. Your daily business will be in getting to shippers and receivers, who can and will be anywhere. Your hiring company will transport you (often by bus) to whatever location theirs school is, then get you into their truck, then off you go. Then re-read the first part of this paragraph.

Team driving: You won't need to "volunteer", any company using teams will be more than happy to have you in board. But team driving may not be the best route for you and your studies. One popular team system is ten hours driving then ten hours in the sleeper then ten hours driving then so on. No real free time. And the money really isn't much better than solo driving.

As for schooling, a bachelor program won't get you a four year degree, more like six or more years. Driving a truck might allow you only a few hours per day for class work and study. The 10 hour daily break is certainly your time, but in reality I bet you'll get hardly four hours free time on a regular basis. Suppose you do get five hours shut-eye per day. You'll still need eating time, laundry (most drivers do wash they clothes every once in a while), showers, etc.

Yes, online college is designed for working adults. But most working adults put in 8 hours a day at the office. As an OTR driver you will be driving 9-10 hours a day plus other time-soakers like dealing with truck maintenance and dropping/ hooking trailers. (Note from my experience: driving and getting trailers will take a minimum of 30 minutes up to a few hours of your on duty time actively looking for your trailer or a place to put one.)

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.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

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.

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.

James S.'s Comment
member avatar

10 hours driving + 10 hours sleeping. What about the remaining 4 hours? I'd hope to make that work. I should clarify that if I'm able to study full time I'd be able to finish in about a year with my existing college credits. I wanted to get trucking experience while getting the degree and seeing where that takes me and how it compares after a year running OTR.

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.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

If you're wondering how 10 + 10 works in a 24 hour day, what the 10 on/10 off means, the "next" four hours is in your next driving shift. In team driving you drive 10, then you're in the sleeper for 10 hours. The truck itself doesn't stop, your partner is driving. Then, 10 hour break over, you and partner switch places. Yes, you could catch your Z's, eat, then study for a bit, but I'm betting the real world will get in the way, and your study time will be on the short end of the stick.

As for a four year degree, without other information I put you in the freshman class. If you've got the college credits, obviously you're closer to the sheepskin than I assumed. Also, a trucking job/career doesn't denigrate a degree. You'll find people from many walks of life rolling down this highway.

James S.'s Comment
member avatar

Should also clarify, and I hope Brett doesn't think this is promotion of any kind. But I'm going with Western Governors University to finish. It's probably one of the most unique colleges in existence since you're not loading up on a fixed number of credits every semester. You are going through a "competency" instead of a class. As fast as you study and pass a test you pass what would be considered a class. The program isn't perfect by any means and I'd encourage all to do their homework like I have through Reddit, etc before committing to it. It does take out all the deadlines of traditional coursework whereas the only deadline you answer to is the term end date. Each term is 6 months. While WGU truck drivers aren't much of a thing I'd think the two lifestyles can be complimentary due to how accommodating the program appears to non-traditional students.

But I don't want to make this too much about the college. Back to trucking. Yeah, definitely aware it would take me nationwide and am completely open to wherever it takes me really. My homebase would just be in Florida. Was just wondering if anyone else tried something similar and made it work. My situation is not needing a lot of home time. I plan to live as a "homeless" trucker for awhile while doing this which I understand others here gave a go and tolerated it: https://www.truckingtruth.com/truckers-forum/Topic-11178/Page-1/any-homeless-truckers-out-there

10 hours driving + 10 hours sleeping. What about the remaining 4 hours? I'd hope to make that work. I should clarify that if I'm able to study full time I'd be able to finish in about a year with my existing college credits. I wanted to get trucking experience while getting the degree and seeing where that takes me and how it compares after a year running OTR.

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.

Keith A.'s Comment
member avatar

I've heard of the rare individual who can make it work, and that was originally my goal getting back in, but in all honestly I think the time commitments of this career and getting a college degree are highly mutually exclusive. Even more so in your first six months to two years. You have to be focused on this 100%, there is so little room for error and not much less forgiveness for the driver, even before you think about the potential impact you might have on other people on the road when you crash because you shorted your sleep to study.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Gotcha, James. Make it work.

A thought about basing yourself in Florida: most freight travels through the "body" if the USA, and Florida has no "through" highways south of I-10. Some companies would find it hard to get you home for your home time (regardless of your promises to not ask for Florida for your time).

This is based on you're address of record. So, you might want to find a different address to get your mail at.

Rubber Duck's Comment
member avatar

I have trouble squeezing in a shower everyday. As soon as I pull the tractor air brake at the end of the day I dive into the sleeper and I’m asleep before the sound of the air completely leaves the brake system. I’m asleep before the Pshhhhhhhhhhhh sound is over. Maybe you could stay up for a little bit at night and study but I think that beds going to look a lot more relaxing than a book.

James S.'s Comment
member avatar

I'm going with a mail forwarding company that RVers use and swear by. They can get an address that works for DMV purposes, etc. So I wouldn't really need them to get me "home" there since I'd live in the truck. Would the DM care if I just say that I don't care where I lay my head and wake up every morning? Even if I get "home time" as in "time off" I'd spend it in a national park or a library or something which does not need to be in Florida.

Gotcha, James. Make it work.

A thought about basing yourself in Florida: most freight travels through the "body" if the USA, and Florida has no "through" highways south of I-10. Some companies would find it hard to get you home for your home time (regardless of your promises to not ask for Florida for your time).

This is based on you're address of record. So, you might want to find a different address to get your mail at.

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.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Read this: Becoming A Truck Driver: The Raw Truth About Truck Driving

You're company really won't care where you take your home time. Depending on where freight is going, you simply give your DM a zip code a week ahead of time, and you'll probably get your wish: Myrtle Beach, Spokane or Bullhead City.

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.
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