Central Florida - Career Change To Trucking

Topic 30710 | Page 1

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Jarrod G.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi,

First, thanks to all of you who keep the country moving year-round.

I have been considering truck driving as a career change for some time now. I am 40 years old and currently a Law Enforcement Officer. I have 16 years on and currently a road patrol sergeant. I've been burnt out for several years even with position changes. I have 11 years before I can be eligible for retirement, which at one point I thought I would be completing. I have no desire doing another 11 years.

I've looked at the CDL programs offered by Schneider and other trucking companies. Being I have no CDL, I figured one of these programs would be best for me. I could maintain some income for a month or two before hopefully being able earn a regular income. There is a Roadmaster school located here in central Florida. I'm waiting to hear back from them to see what they have to offer. I understand most the trucking company CDL programs offer short-term commitment to pay the tuition back. I've been reading forums, watching Youtube videos, etc and it seems every person's individual experience is different with these programs. I've read where some guys struggle to bring home $1k in a 6-day week. Locally, I've seen entry level jobs with a starting pay of $65k a year requiring a CDL but no experience . I'm not sure if it's location, company, or just the quality of the employee and their pay reflects it.

I believe I'd be a well-rounded candidate for the job. My driving record has two accidents from 20 years ago. No DUIs, suspensions, revocations, etc. My current workdays are at the minimum 14-hour days. I work holidays, weekends, overnight shifts, and various other shifts so I don't see the schedule being a shock to me. I have previous automotive and diesel utilities mechanic experience that I know will be valuable on the road. I am curious If anyone is familiar with the central Florida area trucking companies and their training programs? I know many of the recruiters are looking to get you in the door to meet their obligations, so I am cautious about how to proceed when listening solely to their input. I'm the main income for my household, so I'm trying to make the best-informed decision before committing to anything.

I appreciate any input or direction.

Thanks,

Jarrod

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.

DUI:

Driving Under the Influence

Banks's Comment
member avatar

I'm not familiar with Central Florida at all but I will say that yes, it's a recruiters job to get you in the door, but for the most part their pretty honest about the things that matter.

I found it easier to email them. Fill out the application, let them reach out and explain that your work schedule and job make it difficult for phone communication and you'll just be playing phone tag. E mail works better, until it's time to start moving forward.

I don't know how much you need to make or what you're looking to do as far as a trucking career goes. OTR and regional jobs pay per performance. Meaning, the more efficient and ambitious you are, the more you'll make. With local, home every day jobs you're at the mercy of how much work is available and how much seniority you have.

I would recommend company sponsored training , especially if you're going local. You want a company to be invested in you and understanding to the fact that you're new and have no experience. You also want a bigger company with more resources. No disrespect to Joe's trucking company, but they can't eat the costs of a learning curve the way a big company can.

Stay away from the reviews. The disgruntled are the most vocal, while the people making a killing are too busy to be online telling you how great they're doing.

Have you had this conversation with your family? When I first started looking into this career, I kept it to myself and then one day I told my wife I wanted to be a truck driver. She was dumbfounded and it made things a little more difficult than they had to be.

Any other questions, just post them and we'll answer them the best we can (which is usually really good). Good luck.

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.

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.

Jarrod G.'s Comment
member avatar

Banks,

Thanks for the reply and information. I agree, email is typically my way to communicate. I usually have so much going on I can't keep track of phone conversations, so email gives me something to go back and review.

To make ends meet and know I'll be paying the bills, I would hope to make no less than $55K a year which seems possible from what I'm seeing. I'm open to the kind of route, rather it be OTR , regional , local. It seems the better paying local jobs go to the senior experienced drivers which I understand. I'm all about putting your time in and experience / seniority meaning something.

I'm going to consult with the local recruiters and see what they have to offer. I want to make some progress with this sooner than later. I've been researching the larger companies to see who's offering training in my area. I'm hoping with my clean background, work ethic, and desire to work towards something else I'll look good to someone.

I have spoken with my wife about this. She has been supportive and wants me to do something else seeing how unhappy I am. Our biggest fear is something don't work out beyond my control, and I end up jobless. Ultimately if I had to, I could return to LE work, although I have no desire to. I've read up on the physical and it seems straight forward. I had a concern about the hearing test. Exposure to heavy equipment noise when I was young and dumb, not wearing hearing protection, has left me with Tinnitus and some hearing loss. So, this is one of those things I hope wouldn't hinder my opportunity.

I appreciate your feedback. I'm not usually the type to get on forums and ask questions, but I don't know anyone personally in the field of work that would be worth asking. I've met a lot of truck drivers at work, but it’s always been professional and positive. I did speak in depth to a Coke driver who was delivering to a Publix. He seemed to love his job besides stocking the shelves. I think he said he was making $70k a year, got up early and was home by noon every day which sounded too good to be true. He had nothing negative to say.

Thanks again

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.
Banks's Comment
member avatar
I did speak in depth to a Coke driver who was delivering to a Publix. He seemed to love his job besides stocking the shelves. I think he said he was making $70k a year, got up early and was home by noon every day which sounded too good to be true.

That sounds right, but it also comes with seniority. When talking to local drivers, you can't make decisions based on their experiences. Instead, find out what it would be like for a bottom guy. What would a bottom guy experience and how much can a bottom guy expect to make?

Our biggest fear is something don't work out beyond my control, and I end up jobless. 

That's why I suggest company sponsored training and big companies. Company sponsored training will offer solid training and they'll have an investment in you. A lot of times people pay 5k-7k for school, have a few accidents and the end up fired with nobody willing to touch them. Company sponsored training has support systems in place to help you learn and grow. If you need more training, they're prepared to offer that.

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.

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