Vermonter Thinking Of Getting A CDL

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Mike M.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi. Turning 55 and thinking of making a change. Considering getting a CDL and driving full time. Cannot take a cut in salary due to mortgage, family, etc. So what are my options? Can I get a CDL part time on the weekends? What type of schooling is available? I have heard of pay while you train type places, but I have my doubts about those. If I can maintain my current pay while doing this, that would be great. Thinking if I do this, to start out driving locally. Looking for real answers, no sugar coating. I need straight answers. What is realistic pay starting out? How much does training cost? At 55, is this a good move? What is the outlook for jobs? Any help would be appreciated. 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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Howdy! Welcome to Trucking Truth. Some of the guys that are more articulate will come along and give you better, in-depth answers.

As for being 55 and getting your CDL , yes, many of the guys here and I did it older than that. I was 63 when I got mine and have been driving the past 7 years. This job is performance-based and you will make money at it even your first year...but how much you make will be generally less then what an experienced driver makes. My first full year I made almost $40,000. I left that company after 16 months and my income has only gone up...to where I'm now making over $60,000 a year. A decent amount of money is in the eyes of the beholder... I could easily exist on less than $40,000/year. I do run a lot of miles because I am a widow and don't necessarily have to be at home very often.

We do recommend going to a company paid for school and running for a year. However your situation is different so, like I said oh, the guys will be along before too long to help you out

Laura

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.
James H.'s Comment
member avatar

What you're describing can be done and has been done, although I have no idea how common it is, or whether it's available in your area. Why not contact local driving schools and see what they offer, and ask where their graduates get hired. You might need some flexibility in work hours at your current job to make it work.

I attended a school where I was able to arrange my driving sessions around the instructor's and my availability. I made a bit over $40k my first six months working ~12 hour shifts 5 days a week with a local, home daily job. Whether you can do the same will depend on who's hiring where you are.

But this is the part that concerns me

Cannot take a cut in salary due to mortgage, family, etc. So what are my options?

There's no guarantee that you'll make it as a truck driver, or that you'll even want to. The attrition rate in school and in the first few months of driving show that this work clearly isn't for everyone. Will you be able to return to your old job and salary if you wash out as a driver? How much of a financial cushion do you have if it takes a while to get going in terms of income?

Old School's Comment
member avatar
I have heard of pay while you train type places, but I have my doubts about those.

Hello Mike, welcome to our forum!

Let's address this first. You have to realize you know very little about the trucking business. Whatever you may think or have your doubts about is based on... well, I guess I don't really know what it is based on, but I can guess. If it is based on things you've been reading online, then it is probably questionable at best. There is a lot of misinformation on the internet about trucking. That is why this site is named as it is. We are constantly trying to counter some really bad information that just won't go away.

Thanks for asking the questions you did. They are really good questions. I believe that Paid CDL Training Programs are one of the best ways to get into the industry. I went the private school route, and it worked for me, but it was not pretty. I had a terrible time getting hired, and after spending $4,000.00 and getting only 2.5 hours behind the wheel of a big truck I was pretty disappointed in my experience. When you go through a paid training program they put up all the expense of training, housing and feeding you. They actually stick their neck out and make a sizable investment in your future. They don't do that so that can treat you badly. They do that because they value you as a productive employee. They have an incentive to keep you happy or lose the investment they put into you. Does that make sense to you?

You are going to read all kinds of nonsense about trucking online. It is a tough field to break into. That's why there are so many failed attempts to become professional truckers. Winners don't take advice from the losers. Unfortunately, that is what happens when we start reading all kinds of advice online from the folks who quit trucking. Why would we take advice from the people who couldn't make it? Trucking is and always will be a very competitive job. The top performers do the best. Everything about this career is performance based. Therefore you always want to make the best decisions as to how you get started. It is a career that needs to be started with a big commitment to making it work. You can't do that part time or on the weekends for some extra income.

Local jobs are not good for rookie drivers and are seldom even available to new drivers. Occasionally you will find them, but it is not the norm. Here's an article about starting local. I hope you will read it.

Why You Don't Want To Start Your Driving Career As A Local Driver

We try to always teach "best practices" here. This is a safety sensitive position. Trucking is listed in the top ten most dangerous jobs in America. You will want to reduce your risks as you start. The best way to do that is to jump in with both feet as an OTR (over the road) driver with a national carrier. They are self-insured and are set up to help new drivers make the transition into this rewarding career. That is the most successful route to get where you want to be. After one year of successful operation as an OTR driver you will have all kinds of opportunities open up to you. Don't get lost on that bandwagon believing these are just large corporations wanting to take advantage of you. I have driven for many years for one of the largest trucking companies around. There are upper level people who know who I am and they love having me work for them. I know this is true because of the way I am treated. They have bent over backward to help me at times, and they continue doing so to this day. One of them once heard a rumor that I was looking for "greener pastures" and they went right to the phones and started having conversations with me to see what they could do to keep me on board.

Remember this... Trucking is performance based. Local jobs require a lot of skill that new drivers don't have. The best way to develop your skills is with an OTR job that will throw in all kinds of experiences as you travel all parts of the country. Much of it is easy interstate travel, but it will always mix in new and challenging experiences in each location you visit. You will learn a great deal out here on the road. That is why most local jobs want one to two years OTR experience. You told us you were "Looking for real answers, no sugar coating." I am trying to do just that.

I don't know what kind of money you need to make, but you will probably earn between $45,000 to $60,000 your first year. Count on it being on the low side of that just to be safe. Otherwise there is no reason you can't make better money in a few years. Your pay will depend on how well you do at this. It really is performance based. Very few truckers break into six figures, but there are some. I think most drivers average sixty to seventy thousand per year once they have established themselves.

Good luck, and I hope I have been honest enough with you to be of some help.

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.

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.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Mike M.'s Comment
member avatar

Many thanks for the honest answers. I am only beginning to look at this. I am not one to leap into something without researching it fully. The more I know, the more I will be able to decide if it is the right thing for me. This will require time away from family, which I can handle. Whether the family can handle me being gone for extended periods is another question entirely. Advice that is given, I am reading and soaking it all in. If you refer to other articles, etc, I read them. Thank you for that.

I would respond to your reply’s, but I haven’t figured out how to do that. I don’t see a “reply” icon.

I could make this work if I can earn 40-45 in my first year. Your replies say that success is “performance based”. Can you elaborate on what that means?

I just know that I need to make a change in my work-life. I am no longer happy in my current position. Anyone have any books or articles they recommend I read to get a better grasp of the profession?

Again, many thanks for the information!

Kerry L.'s Comment
member avatar

Many thanks for the honest answers. I am only beginning to look at this. I am not one to leap into something without researching it fully. The more I know, the more I will be able to decide if it is the right thing for me. This will require time away from family, which I can handle. Whether the family can handle me being gone for extended periods is another question entirely. Advice that is given, I am reading and soaking it all in. If you refer to other articles, etc, I read them. Thank you for that.

I would respond to your reply’s, but I haven’t figured out how to do that. I don’t see a “reply” icon.

I could make this work if I can earn 40-45 in my first year. Your replies say that success is “performance based”. Can you elaborate on what that means?

I just know that I need to make a change in my work-life. I am no longer happy in my current position. Anyone have any books or articles they recommend I read to get a better grasp of the profession?

Again, many thanks for the information!

To reply to a comment about, press "Quote" at the bottom of the comment then type your reply. Your reply, when typing it, will contain a bunch of HTML coding jargon. I always scroll to the very end of it all and type my reply there.

Anne A. (G13Momcat)'s Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

I have heard of pay while you train type places, but I have my doubts about those.

double-quotes-end.png

Hello Mike, welcome to our forum!

Let's address this first. You have to realize you know very little about the trucking business. Whatever you may think or have your doubts about is based on... well, I guess I don't really know what it is based on, but I can guess. If it is based on things you've been reading online, then it is probably questionable at best. There is a lot of misinformation on the internet about trucking. That is why this site is named as it is. We are constantly trying to counter some really bad information that just won't go away.

Thanks for asking the questions you did. They are really good questions. I believe that Paid CDL Training Programs are one of the best ways to get into the industry. I went the private school route, and it worked for me, but it was not pretty. I had a terrible time getting hired, and after spending $4,000.00 and getting only 2.5 hours behind the wheel of a big truck I was pretty disappointed in my experience. When you go through a paid training program they put up all the expense of training, housing and feeding you. They actually stick their neck out and make a sizable investment in your future. They don't do that so that can treat you badly. They do that because they value you as a productive employee. They have an incentive to keep you happy or lose the investment they put into you. Does that make sense to you?

You are going to read all kinds of nonsense about trucking online. It is a tough field to break into. That's why there are so many failed attempts to become professional truckers. Winners don't take advice from the losers. Unfortunately, that is what happens when we start reading all kinds of advice online from the folks who quit trucking. Why would we take advice from the people who couldn't make it? Trucking is and always will be a very competitive job. The top performers do the best. Everything about this career is performance based. Therefore you always want to make the best decisions as to how you get started. It is a career that needs to be started with a big commitment to making it work. You can't do that part time or on the weekends for some extra income.

Local jobs are not good for rookie drivers and are seldom even available to new drivers. Occasionally you will find them, but it is not the norm. Here's an article about starting local. I hope you will read it.

Why You Don't Want To Start Your Driving Career As A Local Driver

I don't know what kind of money you need to make, but you will probably earn between $45,000 to $60,000 your first year. Count on it being on the low side of that just to be safe. Otherwise there is no reason you can't make better money in a few years. Your pay will depend on how well you do at this. It really is performance based. Very few truckers break into six figures, but there are some. I think most drivers average sixty to seventy thousand per year once they have established themselves.

new and challenging experiences in each location you visit. You will learn a great deal out here on the road. That is why most local jobs want one to two years OTR experience. You told us you were "Looking for real answers, no sugar coating." I am trying to do just that.

Good luck, and I hope I have been honest enough with you to be of some help.

O/S . . . Mike is hunting for your article(s) re: Performance Based Industry, and for the LIFE of me, I can't find em' ~ HELP!! LoL!

Mike;

Here's some reading in the mean time:

Best wishes!

~ Anne ~

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.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

As several people have said, and I fully agree myself, the best option is company training. There is a catch tbough - you will have to stay with this company for about a year which means driving for a very modest pay. Your annual gross will still be about 50k, so if it covers your needs, it can work for you.

Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

Performance based means that the better a driver performs as a driver, the company offers perks and bonus payments to drivers who are very productive. For example, fuel bonus' to drivers who drive in such a way as to maximize fuel mileage. Safety bonus money goes to the guys who are safe and reliable, minimum over speeds, no critical stability events, etc. On time pickup and delivery. Every company has incentives because they want to keep good drivers. There is great competition to get good drivers. Companies commonly provide life insurance as part of the benefits. I think mine is worth $20,000, going to the first family member who whacks me. Matching 401K contributions, and so on. All of these incentives can add up to a nice amount on top of your base pay.

Mike M.'s Comment
member avatar

Thank you for the input. In order for me to do this, there is a minimum I would need to earn. I have to be able to cover my fixed expenses. Once I leave my current employer, I won’t be able to come back in 6 months and return to my former position if this were not to work out. Based on what I have read so far, I am leaning towards a pay to drive scenario as my first option. Second, would be a local driving school and try to earn while working at my current job. We‘ll see how this progresses. Still a ways off from making a decision. Every bit of information helps. 😊

What you're describing can be done and has been done, although I have no idea how common it is, or whether it's available in your area. Why not contact local driving schools and see what they offer, and ask where their graduates get hired. You might need some flexibility in work hours at your current job to make it work.

I attended a school where I was able to arrange my driving sessions around the instructor's and my availability. I made a bit over $40k my first six months working ~12 hour shifts 5 days a week with a local, home daily job. Whether you can do the same will depend on who's hiring where you are.

But this is the part that concerns me

double-quotes-start.png

Cannot take a cut in salary due to mortgage, family, etc. So what are my options?

double-quotes-end.png

There's no guarantee that you'll make it as a truck driver, or that you'll even want to. The attrition rate in school and in the first few months of driving show that this work clearly isn't for everyone. Will you be able to return to your old job and salary if you wash out as a driver? How much of a financial cushion do you have if it takes a while to get going in terms of income?

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