Current Class B Driver Considering A Class A Career

Topic 27689 | Page 1

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RWD's Comment
member avatar

Hey all, this is my first post here. I won't lie, I've browsed around a bit beforehand and would like to commend you guys on a very informative forum.

I currently drive part-time for a local company, hauling newspapers from a central printing location to the distribution location in a 29' Box Truck. I drive about 300 miles per night, four days a week and am paid hourly. I love the job, I love the driving, the solidarity and everything about it. I'm a very sociable person but I've always been a lone wolf type, I prefer to be on my own, an introvert I guess you could say. So I figured trucking might be for me and decided to get a little more serious with a career, because let's face it, this Class B part-time gig isn't exactly a career. It's my only income, but luckily I have a 125k YouTube Channel that helps fill the gaps. It's about motorcycles, but I would love to transition to trucking vlogs if I do that as a career.

I hope that a transition to the big rigs would be a little easier for me considering I drive some kind of truck, obviously the backing is going to be way different being a truck and trailer. I also can drive a manual vehicle, my every day vehicle is a manual and I ride motorcycles. I do hear though that the shifting in a big rig is very different, I'm curious to know how as I have never driven one. My current work truck is also an automatic so there's no shifting either.

Only really a few questions I have. What would you guys consider the easiest route to take as far as dry van , reefer etc.? I'm leaning towards dry van as I've heard that reefer can be a pain in the ass at receivers. I'm not lazy or anything, I just want my first year to be as smooth as possible considering there will be so much I have to learn, so I want to try to limit the amount of stress and hiccups along the way. One thing that sort of terrifies me though, I won't lie, is traveling through big cities. I don't mean on the highway per se, but when you have a delivery through a big city that you've never been to and know nothing about and being new on top of everything. I know in my personal four wheel vehicle when I drive through a city I don't know it's pretty unnerving sometimes, I couldn't imagine doing it in in a big rig. How quickly did you guys get accustomed to that?

Anyways, don't want to leave too big of a wall of text. Nice to meet you guys, any advice, recommendations or comments are welcome. Thanks!

-Dave

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Hello, RWD, welcome to the forum. "Big wall if text" ha! Some regulars put down as much as you have, and they're just getting started!

Take a look at our starter set, so you get a better picture of the OTR trucker lifestyle:

The High Road program will help you study for that CDL permit.

I rode a Honda 750 from Bakersfield over Tejon Pass, through Los Angeles (downtown) to Orange County entry few weeks. Bikes in a big city ain't so scary šŸ˜‰. And 18 wheelers do it all the time.

You say you're driving mostly in the wee hours in a box truck. To me that sounds like a good start for driving a semi. The best time to get through big towns is between 1 and 4am.

Shifting is not an issue anymore. All the big companies are moving to auto shift, the clutch is going bye-bye. Some purists will advise to get a CDL without a restriction of "automatic only", but I feel it's like a restriction to not wear a hat while you drive - it has become meaningless.

Now when you say:

What would you guys consider the easiest route to take as far as dry van , reefer etc.?

I'll be straight: there is no "easy" way to get into the cab. Learning the truck and the regulations takes over 160 hours of schooling and practice. But the best way, starting from zero, is to Apply For Paid CDL Training. Here is some more info on Paid CDL Training Programs

Well, this will get your started. Keep asking questions.

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.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Jay F.'s Comment
member avatar

Have you looked into other class B jobs? I have an A, and landed a cement truck gig, and Iā€™m making the same if not better money than my classmates that went OTR.

You have experience depending on your area of the country I would exhaust all my options before making the jump.

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.

RWD's Comment
member avatar

Thanks for all the info guys. Errol, I am actually going to do my CDL training through the Truck Driver's Institute when I do my training. I had a few buddies that went through there and they all said it was great. I also like the fact that I will be able to choose my company and not be tied to a contract. I kind of wanted to stay away from the training/contract situation. Yeah, wee hours in a big city isn't too bad, that's when I normally drive the box truck, but I figure rush hour in a huge city in a semi would get a bit nerve wracking lol. I'm sure it's unavoidable sometimes, I think that's what makes me the most nervous if I took up the career. I couldn't imagine a New York City run in a semi haha.

Jay, I haven't looked into Class B jobs. That is very interesting what you say about making that kind of money with a Class B, I didn't know it was possible. My one fallback is I started with my current company, they helped me get my Class B and unfortunately I am restricted to automatics because that's what I tested in. Unless of course I can find a company that somehow has automatic cement trucks etc. in that line of work. Do they do automatics in cement trucks and things of that sort?

Thanks again guys.

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.

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

So, you'd rather pay out of pocket for school, then take the chance getting hired somewhere, to avoid a contract with a company pays you back for the school?

RWD's Comment
member avatar

So, you'd rather pay out of pocket for school, then take the chance getting hired somewhere, to avoid a contract with a company pays you back for the school?

Yes, because if I go through TDI I have a wider choice of companies to start with and I'm under no contract. Said companies also have tuition reimbursement plans where over time I am reimbursed up to 5, 6, even 7k depending on the company. Mainly though it's due to the wider choice of companies, because obviously if I leave the company I choose after school, I'm responsible for the rest of my tuition.

On top of that, through my own personal research I am leaning towards wanting to drive for Schneider. Unfortunately they do not do the free CDL training but they will take you straight out of school for your driver mentor training and beyond. Also, I live 20 minutes away from it. I can go home every night after my classes, sleep in my own bed and it makes it more manageable. Personal preference really. I've also heard really good things about our TDI school here from some drivers I knew that went through it.

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.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

RWD, let me ask you some questions. I'm not trying to be aggressive, I just want you to learn to think for yourself. You seem to take a lot of advice from "some drivers you know who went through TDI."

First question is: "How much experience do these drivers you know have?" Are they just rookies getting started?

You'll find a lot of us here highly recommend the company sponsored programs. Many of us, myself included, went the private school route, only to later discover just how valuable the company contractual agreements are.

Second question: "When you start with Schneider, or wherever you start, what is it that keeps them motivated to keep you on board if you are struggling a little?" Keep in mind ALL rookie drivers make a few mistakes and almost ALL rookies have a minor accident or two while trying to learn the ropes.

Our good friend Marc Lee took your same approach. He got what he considered his dream job right out of private school. Somehow he slipped while climbing out of the truck during training, hurt himself, and found out they no longer needed him. That was months ago. He's been medically cleared to work for months now, but guess what? Nobody will hire him. He's got a new prospect currently, but he's had quite a few that never panned out.

He had all those wonderful choices of companies that you deem so worthwhile, but he forgot one simple part of the equation. To get a job, they must choose you. Most newbies hear about high demand for drivers and they think they're some sort of free agent once they have a CDL in their pocket. That's a far cry from the way it works. You're choices are limited to the companies willing to hire you. I learned that the hard way.

It's really to your advantage to have a company invest their resources into your training. They will stand by you. They will give you everything you need to succeed. Are you aware of the high percentage failure rate in class A trucking jobs? Roughly about 5% of newbies actually turn their efforts into a career. The folks who have the support of a training company behind them fare better than the private school attendees.

I realize you're going to do what you think is best, but I want you to think about it a little more seriously. Take a look at this article and consider the fact that you are getting into something that you have very limited actual knowledge of. It's your future and your career. We just like to help people get the best start they can.

Busting The Free Agent Myth

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.

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.

RWD's Comment
member avatar

Oldschool, no I'm not going to ultimately do what I want. I appreciate the advice honestly and I never thought about it that way, that they would actually care about the investment but it makes sense. I figured they would still be as quick to cut and run and make you pay them back for the schooling. But I trust what you say and it is something I need to consider now that I think about it because I would like to drive for a company that actually wants me there and did invest into me so that makes sense.

As far as TDI, one of my buddies is now OTR with ATS driving flatbed. He started with Mcelroy then went to another company and now ATS. About 5 years into it I believe. He says nothing but good things about their training. But yeah, I guess I really need to consider the option of having one of the starter companies pay train me, thanks for the info!

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.

RWD's Comment
member avatar

I did put in a few recruiter forms online with KLLM and Pam Transport today, just to hear what they have to say I guess about it. I chose those two because they're both based fairly close to where I live in Mississippi. If you guys believe that it does work to my advantage I may give that a shot instead. Would be nice also to keep my money in the bank and not have to pay up front. Will let ya know what i ultimately decide here soon!

Thanks

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Don't even consider their proximity to you. I've never lived even in the same state as my trucking company employer. All you need is to live in their hiring area. I live in Texas. I work for Knight. The terminal they dispatch me from is in Gulfport, Mississippi. My dispatcher works from his home in Arkansas. I very seldom even go to Gulfport, MS.

Your company's location is irrelevant in this business.

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.
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