Need Help With Starting In Trucking From Tampa, FL.

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Darren Clark's Comment
member avatar

Pay out of pocket or take paid CDL training thru a mega? I can afford paid cdl training but I dont want to pay it if i dont have to. Id consider paying for my CDL if if i get tuition reimbursement and guaranteed job placement. If I can get a guaranteed job, I'll do the paid training but I'm scared whoever I go with will pay me extremely poorly for a year.

Few megas have terminals near me. These companies have local terminals (and paid training options): Knight: Lakeland, FL Cypress Trucking: Tampa, FL Schneider: Winter Haven, FL

Schools Nearby: Roadmaster will guarantee me with Werner. Werner's terminal is in Lake City. Thats 2.5 hours away. Am I supposed to go there every time I need to go to work??!?!?! Recruiter said Werner and May Trucking were probably my only options as "they only work with megas with good reputations." Sage has a program nearby. No guaranteed placement from what I understand and the course IS 8-WEEKS!!!!. Lots of business cards for recruiters for megas, midsized and small companies on the desk outside their classroom. Same issue though. Only above-mentioned megas are reasonably close. Do I need to have a terminal closeby to get hired by megas? Tampa Truck Driving School can place me with Stevens but couldnt find their terminal locations. Nothing in my area surely.

Anyone with experience from these schools? Anyone from the Tampa area that has trained and gone on to a mega without moving somewhere else? Is paid CDL a financial death sentence if I end up choosing 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.

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.

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.

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.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Oz's Comment
member avatar

I am based out of Tampa myself. Went with Prime Inc. No need to move, just had to get myself up to MO for training.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Hello Darren, it's great to hear from you!

I'm guessing from some of your comments that you have been researching trucking. You've probably visited some of the unfortunate places on the interned that spend a lot of their time scaring new drivers about the industry and the mega carriers. Misinformation rules the day at most of these places because it gathers traffic. People like to hear ugly stuff because they think that protects them from making a bad decision.

Guess what? All that garbage is nonsense. I hope we can help you. I know if you will stick around and pay attention you will learn a great deal from the time you spend here. You see, you've been gathering information from folks who did poorly at trucking. We've got a great group of professionals here who aren't job hopping dreamers who are always looking for greener pastures. That's right, we have successful truckers here who know what it takes to make it in this business, and they will share with you their secrets for success.

Let's talk about some of your concerns...

Pay out of pocket or take paid CDL training thru a mega?

That one should be easy. Why pay for something that you don't have to? There's also more logic than that for the Company Sponsored CDL Training Programs. When you go to a sponsored training program, you become a person they have determined they are willing to invest in. They are going to check you out and determine if they want you in their program before you ever get an invitation from them. That means they are getting behind you with their efforts and their money. That means they really want to see you succeed. They don't like to lose money on their investments. If you struggle a little they will do what they can to help you succeed. They don't do this to control you or oppress you. They do it because they need people on their team who can make meaningful contributions to their goal of being a great trucking company.

I'm scared whoever I go with will pay me extremely poorly for a year.

First you have to realize that rookies don't earn as much as highly productive experienced drivers. I know you already know that, but there's this intriguing way that truck drivers get paid. Mileage pay is in place for a reason. Truck driving is a performance based business. We earn our money by being productive. We build our reputations by being safe, productive, and easy to work with. The drivers you see complaining on the internet have usually failed in one of those three categories. You don't know that, because they don't seem to know it, but you can bet they have fallen short in one of those three things. That is why they blame the megas for mistreatment. They don't want to admit they were terrible at one of those three major things that make for success in trucking.

There's no good reason for a trucking company to oppress your wages. They need you to be a contributing member of their team. They do this to make money. The way they make money is moving freight. Guess what? I think you are starting to figure this out... Drivers make money the same way. They want their drivers to be making money, because when you are moving a lot of freight you are not only making money for yourself, but for them also. It is a simple formula for success. It is all based on performance. When you see these internet wannabe truckers whining and complaining it is simply because they are poor performers. They scare you into thinking these trucking companies are oppressors because they felt oppressed. The problem is they were oppressing themselves by not being proficient at one of those three things we mentioned earlier - Safety, Productivity, and being Easy To Work With.

We just had a rookie driver here in our forum yesterday reporting his first year's pay was around $65,000 dollars. Do you consider that as being paid poorly? If you do, then you may rather become an attorney or something like that. Trucking pays some very fair wages, but only to those who deserve it. Because of that performance based formula, we each get what we deserve.

Continued...

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.

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.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Few megas have terminals near me. These companies have local terminals (and paid training options): Knight: Lakeland, FL Cypress Trucking: Tampa, FL Schneider: Winter Haven, FL

Schools Nearby: Roadmaster will guarantee me with Werner. Werner's terminal is in Lake City. Thats 2.5 hours away. Am I supposed to go there every time I need to go to work?

Terminal locations are irrelevant when you are looking to start this career. Trucking companies don't locate their terminals near potential employees. They choose terminal locations for business opportunities available to them in that area. I live in Texas. I drive for Knight Transportation. The terminal I am assigned to is in Gulfport, Mississippi. I seldom ever even go to that terminal. There is no reason for me to. I pick up freight from our customers who are all over the country, and I deliver it to customers who are all over the country. Terminals have maintenance facilities at them when you need them, but I can just as well get my truck maintained while I am in Lakeland, Florida if it is convenient. To be honest I deliver to customers in Miami quite often, and on those trips it is easy for me to go to the Lakeland terminal if I need their services.

Don't concern yourself with terminal locations. It is of little consequence. This is not like any other job you have had before. There is no place you go to for your job. You live in the truck. You work in the truck. You don't have coworkers, and you don't have a place you go to work everyday. You are a nomad on the highways. You are a free spirit out here getting it done. You are a trucker!

If you go through a company sponsored training program, they will provide your transportation, your lodging, and meals while there. Then when they give you a truck you will take it home with you when you take some time off. You can park it at a nearby truck stop or something like that. You can even take it to your house if you have room to park it there.

Anyone from the Tampa area that has trained and gone on to a mega without moving somewhere else?

You don't have to move anywhere. When you want to work for a certain trucking company, you look on their website or ask their recruiter for their "hiring area." If you reside in their "hiring area" they will hire you. Did you notice my situation? I live in Texas and work for Knight's terminal in Mississippi. You could work for May trucking who is headquartered out West. If they are hiring in your area, you are good to go. Don't let that question of terminal location bother you. It is irrelevant.

Is paid CDL a financial death sentence if I end up choosing it?

One of our very successful members here was needing to declare bankruptcy before they started their trucking career. She couldn't even afford to pay the lawyer fees to declare bankruptcy. She was in a bad way. She decided to join Prime's training program. She is now loaning money to her friends and donating money to charities. She conquered her debts and is saving a lot of money for her future. It is the ticket to a bright future if you can handle the responsibilities of the job. That is up to you. Can you do it? Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Successful Truck Driver?

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.

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.

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.

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.

Darren Clark's Comment
member avatar

Thank you OLD SCHOOL for your response!

Knight is who I have my eyes on the most. I like their no-contract approach and that they have a cdl school that’s not in the other side of the country if I have to pay to go there. There’s a couple of really good YouTube videos that I’ve seen that really sell them as the best for me.

I don’t have a place to store my truck. I do see yards near my house that are full of trucks. Pretty sure they aren’t guarded and you use a key to get in there. Would I have to pay for space there or is that something knight would cover that for 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.
Old School's Comment
member avatar
I do see yards near my house that are full of trucks. Pretty sure they aren’t guarded and you use a key to get in there. Would I have to pay for space there or is that something knight would cover that for me?

You will probably need to find a free place to park your truck. I honestly don't know if Knight would cover an expense like that. You will be surprised at how many places you can find to park. Sometimes you can find a Wal-Mart that will allow you to park there, or maybe a Lowe;s or Home Depot. Keep your eyes open for public stores where you see trucks parked and check with the manager. I've always been able to park at my house, but there are several places near me where I see other truckers parking while they are at home. One of them is a convenience store. They allow trucks to park in a lot behind them. Most of the big companies also have what they call "drop lots." These are not terminals, but merely a lot where their employees can drop a trailer or park a truck. You will be able to find a place to park, but you will just have to pay attention to places where you see trucks congregated or parked.

Knight is who I have my eyes on the most. I like their no-contract approach and that they have a cdl school that’s not in the other side of the country if I have to pay to go there. There’s a couple of really good YouTube videos that I’ve seen that really sell them as the best for me.

You really should check out Davy's training diary in the Diaries section of our website. He just finished up at Knight's training facility in Phoenix. He is in his first few weeks now of being a solo driver. It is a great diary filled with a lot of information on their training process. Here's a link to his diary.

On Board With Knight's Squire Training Program

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.

ChrisEMT's Comment
member avatar

Hello,

I will put in my 2 cents. While I can agree that for most people, going through company sponsored training is the ideal way to go because you get the training for "free", and you will have a job at the end of training, provided you get your CDL , and your contract is usually for a length of time to pay it off. The 1 downside, imho, is that if the company you go with doesn't match with you (for whatever the reason) and you part ways, you are on the hook for the tuition.

For me, I paid for my schooling and CDL through student loans, and sat down with the placement department at the school, and got hired b my number 2 choice. When I got hired, they, like most companies, offered a tuition reimbursement program where they paid ,y student loan over 3 years (max $7500). I had them take out extra every week to send in, and paid it off in 1 year. I had my loan paid off and got my 1 year experience that most companies look for. This way, if I wanted to leave for "greener pastures" I could without owing anything to the company....

The biggest thing, in my mind, is look into as many if the company programs and schools as possible and see what they have to offer. As far as schools, ask grads in person what their thoughts are about the training they got. ask about their placement department (if they have one). Visit the school to talk to them, the instructors, and see if you could sit in the class for a couple hours, and most important (to me) is sit with the placement person and talk to them about what your wants, needs, and expectations are, and see if they have companies that would match up with your goals if you go there. Also, be honest with the schools admissions person, and ask about the trucking lifestyle and see if it matches with what you want and need, because trucking is a lifestyle unlike other "9-5" jobs.

Also, if you live near a truck stop with a resteraunt, go and have dinner at the restaurant. Talk to drivers and ask them their honest opinions about their companies.... You may be surprised by the honesty that they give.... Just try and focus on their company, and stay away from asking about thoughts on other companies, because they may not give you accurate info. If you do do this, ask things about the average amount of miles "new drivers" get, how their freight is, and I see you are from Florida, so ask how the freight is getting out of Florida, especially if you want to go "home" to Florida, as I have seen freight out of Florida can be hit or miss. If you only want to go "home" only every few months, then feel free to go with any of the "mega-carriers"....

I know that this is a lot of info, so if you have any questions, feel free to ask. I check in a couple times a week.

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.

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.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Darren Clark's Comment
member avatar

Thanks ChrisEMT! Just a general update. Had a conversation with a friend of a friend last night that drives for knight and he answered a ton of my remaining questions.

What I’d like to do is pay for their squire school and go OTR with them for at least 6 months because there is a job (with knight) that can get me home on the weekends. I have a girlfriend and a dog that doesn’t fit the trucking company limits of 50 or 60 lbs.

My whole goal was to be able to find regional/dedicated lines thatd allow me weekend hometime and it looks like such jobs are available even thru the mega I want to work for. This dedicated regional gig lists that they will take 6 months experience so, I might be able to transition over around that time if the role still exists.

Frankly, just knowing that a role like that exists thru knight takes a lot of weight off of my shoulders. I hope I still have access to that account after I complete my training.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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