Interested In Beginning Trucking Career

Topic 28494 | Page 1

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Justin S.'s Comment
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Hi Everyone, I need some guidance from experienced members of the trucking community. I've never had a CDL but am experienced with driving lots of heavy equipment, and even have a little tractor trailer experience from serving in the Army. I'm 36 with a young family and would prefer a regional or local truck driving position, but would be willing to drive over the road temporarily to gain experience. I plan on leaving an office job I absolutely cannot stand making 65K a year to pursue a trucking career. I'm hoping I can start out making 55K-60K in my first year, but understand I may fall short of this. Is getting a local/regional truck driving job making 55K-60K right out of school a pipe dream? I feel like it may be, except for the fact I personally know someone who was able to do it. Then again he may have been extraordinarily lucky, but I'm hoping someone on this forum can tell me if this is the case. The recruiter at my local trucking school assures me what I'm asking for is attainable, and I am inclined to believe her. She pulled out a whole packet of companies they work directly with, and had one story after another of people who had graduated from her school and were now leading successful trucking careers.Then again she is a recruiter and her job is to entice me to enroll and spend money. I would appreciate any advice you all could provide for new guys starting out in the industry. What I could expect, and what surprises I may not be anticipating. Thanks!!

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.

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.

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.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Hello Justin, and welcome to our forum!

Is getting a local/regional truck driving job making 55K-60K right out of school a pipe dream? I feel like it may be, except for the fact I personally know someone who was able to do it.

It's possible, but I think it's unlikely. Here's the deal... Most rookie drivers make somewhere between 40 and 50 thousand. There's a huge learning curve during that first year, and it just takes a while to get accustomed to things. Becoming efficient and productive at trucking is a study that requires commitment, resolve, and tenacity. By the time you're getting into your second year you should be close to your income goal. That's the reality, but occasionally people are able to do better.

Remember, this career is very much a performance based business. The drivers who get the most done are the same ones earning the most money. There is a lot that goes into being productive. It's not just about staying awake at the wheel. You've got to excel at time management, and communicate effectively with dispatchers and customers. You've got to know how and when to change your appointment times, and be efficient at getting loaded and unloaded at challenging customers. You've got to establish yourself as an extremely dependable "go to" person so that you can get more work coming your way.

Trucking is like sports. The best players get the most time in the game and they earn the best pay. That act of establishing yourself as the best on the field takes a great deal of effort, but it's the surefire way to increasing your income. Many of our longtime members here are earning upwards of 80 and 90 thousand dollars per year, some are doing a little better than that. Here's an article on the subject of maximizing your income as a trucker. Take the time to read it. I'm confident it will help you understand how to get to the level of income you desire.

Can You Hang With The Big Dogs?

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.

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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