Vermonter Thinking Of Getting A CDL

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Turtle's Comment
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Old School's Comment
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Hey Mike, the reason we often use that phrase about performance based pay is because most people are not accustomed to being paid that way. It is something that surprises people about this career. Most of us come from jobs or careers that have a salary or an hourly rate of pay. Trucking is different. We get paid for how much we get done. That is why you see pay rates shown as cents per mile. In trucking you can have two different drivers both earning forty five cents per mile. If one of them averages 3,100 miles per week he will be earning about $1,400 per week. If the other one is only averaging 2,300 miles per week then he will be earning about $1,000 per week. One of them is performing better. He is getting more done. He is outperforming the other driver, therefore he is earning more money.

You can find people on the internet complaining that their company is not giving them enough miles. I never buy into that argument. It is because I learned a great deal during my rookie year about how I could develop a great deal of trust with my dispatcher by being reliable and always getting things done in a timely and safe manner. I always did what I said I would. There were times when he wasn't sure I could pull off something I told him I would. Those were the times I made dang sure that I took care of my business, and he began to put a great deal of trust in me. My performance determined what kind of relationship I had with my dispatcher. He began to count on me for the best loads, or maybe even the loads that were more challenging. I began to get more work sent my way because I had proved myself 100% reliable. That is the kind of performance you want to demonstrate as a trucker. It is hard for the new guys. Everything is new and confusing plus they just don't have the experience or confidence yet to make things happen in their favor. You can do really well at this if you maintain a great service record. A high performance record puts you at the top of the list of drivers who are prioritized for loads. You will get loads while others are waiting. That's just the way it works.

There are a lot of tricks that we learn as we gain experience at this career. One of them is being able to move your appointments forward. I do this all the time. If I have an appointment that is going to cause me to have unnecessary wait times then I will contact the customer and work on setting a more convenient appointment for my schedule. That doesn't always work out, but once you get the hang of it and understand how some of your customers operate, it becomes an ace up your sleeve to help you outperform your peers. Efficiency is key to being a top performer. Trucking has built in problems and issues that affect our ability to be efficient. Learning how to smooth out those problems is a hallmark characteristic of high performing drivers. Most drivers like to moan and groan. They will spend countless hours complaining about the problems that are associated with trucking. Top Tier drivers will figure out how to deal with those problems on their own and make things happen.

I'm just scratching the surface here about how to understand performance based pay, but I hope I have helped a little with trying to explain how it affects your trucking career. Rookies haven't built up any trust because they have no track record. There are some drivers with years of experience who don't even understand how important it is to build up this level of confidence and trust. They are content to operate as mediocre drivers who work for an average level of pay. There are other drivers who may earn almost twice as much as those drivers while working at the same rate of pay. To get paid well in trucking you have to produce very well. If you want to get paid good you simply have to be good at this job. Our levels of productivity determine our levels of income.

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.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Old School strikes again:). Awesome explanation of performance based pay. I wish I had that in my current job. It is frustrating when I bust my butt to get a project done on time or even early and others do the bare minimum for the same pay. PBP is appealing to me on many levels. Awesome information you are sharing. Thank you so much!

Hey Mike, the reason we often use that phrase about performance based pay is because most people are not accustomed to being paid that way. It is something that surprises people about this career. Most of us come from jobs or careers that have a salary or an hourly rate of pay. Trucking is different. We get paid for how much we get done. That is why you see pay rates shown as cents per mile. In trucking you can have two different drivers both earning forty five cents per mile. If one of them averages 3,100 miles per week he will be earning about $1,400 per week. If the other one is only averaging 2,300 miles per week then he will be earning about $1,000 per week. One of them is performing better. He is getting more done. He is outperforming the other driver, therefore he is earning more money.

You can find people on the internet complaining that their company is not giving them enough miles. I never buy into that argument. It is because I learned a great deal during my rookie year about how I could develop a great deal of trust with my dispatcher by being reliable and always getting things done in a timely and safe manner. I always did what I said I would. There were times when he wasn't sure I could pull off something I told him I would. Those were the times I made dang sure that I took care of my business, and he began to put a great deal of trust in me. My performance determined what kind of relationship I had with my dispatcher. He began to count on me for the best loads, or maybe even the loads that were more challenging. I began to get more work sent my way because I had proved myself 100% reliable. That is the kind of performance you want to demonstrate as a trucker. It is hard for the new guys. Everything is new and confusing plus they just don't have the experience or confidence yet to make things happen in their favor. You can do really well at this if you maintain a great service record. A high performance record puts you at the top of the list of drivers who are prioritized for loads. You will get loads while others are waiting. That's just the way it works.

There are a lot of tricks that we learn as we gain experience at this career. One of them is being able to move your appointments forward. I do this all the time. If I have an appointment that is going to cause me to have unnecessary wait times then I will contact the customer and work on setting a more convenient appointment for my schedule. That doesn't always work out, but once you get the hang of it and understand how some of your customers operate, it becomes an ace up your sleeve to help you outperform your peers. Efficiency is key to being a top performer. Trucking has built in problems and issues that affect our ability to be efficient. Learning how to smooth out those problems is a hallmark characteristic of high performing drivers. Most drivers like to moan and groan. They will spend countless hours complaining about the problems that are associated with trucking. Top Tier drivers will figure out how to deal with those problems on their own and make things happen.

I'm just scratching the surface here about how to understand performance based pay, but I hope I have helped a little with trying to explain how it affects your trucking career. Rookies haven't built up any trust because they have no track record. There are some drivers with years of experience who don't even understand how important it is to build up this level of confidence and trust. They are content to operate as mediocre drivers who work for an average level of pay. There are other drivers who may earn almost twice as much as those drivers while working at the same rate of pay. To get paid well in trucking you have to produce very well. If you want to get paid good you simply have to be good at this job. Our levels of productivity determine our levels of income.

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.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Andrew, thanks for the info. I gross over 49,000 right now. If I can gross 45 to start, I can deal with that. Say I go with a large company and the pay to train route. What is the likelihood I could drive Regionally instead of OTR. Honestly, I don’t think I can do OTR at this time. Regional would be best. Many thanks for the info:)

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.

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.

Andrey's Comment
member avatar

What is the likelihood I could drive Regionally instead of OTR.

It is very likely, but depends on the company and your location. I got my CDL and training at Roehl, and selected regional fleet before even going there. I assume that all companies are similar, your recruiter will tell you at the very beginning which positions they have for you. I live in NH, so my region was north-east. A lot of drivers hate it, so living in VT you should not have any problems driving regionally. Also, you can check companies' websites with job descriptions. Good luck!

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.

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.

Mike M.'s Comment
member avatar

First, shout outs to IDMtnGal, James H., Old School, Kerry L, Anne A, Andrey, Bruce K, and Turtle. Thank you all for the replies. I have been delving into this topic quite a bit this past week. I read Brett's book: Becoming a Truck Driver. It has generated a few more questions.

Let's assume I am going to attend a pay to train school. I live in Vermont, Chittenden County just outside of Burlington. How far will I need to travel to attend the school? How many of them train you on Standards? I would much rather train on a standard than an automatic. Next, once you make it through the class and get your CDL-A, do you have to train OTR or can you train as a Regional? Ideally, for me, I will have to become a Regional driver and not an OTR. I would like the opportunity to drive coast to coast at some point; but as of now, I would not be able to be away from home for 8 weeks. A regional position would be best. That being said, why do drivers not like driving in the Northeast? I have read postings stating it is not a favorite(Andrey, you alluded to this). I thought I heard or read that the pay is higher in the NE; any truth to that? I am going to send out an email to some of the NE reional carriers to see if they will tell me which schools they prefer. Anyone have a preference for training schools? Being a driver, do you have much opportunity to take time out of your day to get any exercise? Take a hike, a bike ride, a quick workout? As a NE Regional driver, how far does that region cover? My idea of the Northeast area, may differ from the trucking industry. Once I become a Regional driver, do I park the truck when I head home, or do I take the truck home? Just curious, since a tractor trailer definitely won't fit in my driveway:) I'm sure I will have more questions. I try to get them down on paper as I think of them, so I don't forget them. Thanks again everyone!

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.

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.

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.
Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi Mike,

You pose a lot of good questions. I’m just going to tackle one of them for now. This is just my opinion, but forget your desire to drive a manual. Your chances of achieving that are slim to none. Manuals for new drivers are not happening and trust me, you don’t want it to happen. I trained in all manuals but when I went solo I was assigned an automated truck. At the time I was kind of disappointed but now I would probably quit if asked to drive a manual. Don’t develop an obsession with manual and if you make that a priority in choosing a company you will probably not get a job.

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.

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.

Anne A. (G13Momcat)'s Comment
member avatar

First, shout outs to IDMtnGal, James H., Old School, Kerry L, Anne A, Andrey, Bruce K, and Turtle. Thank you all for the replies. I have been delving into this topic quite a bit this past week. I read Brett's book: Becoming a Truck Driver. It has generated a few more questions.

Let's assume I am going to attend a pay to train school. I live in Vermont, Chittenden County just outside of Burlington. How far will I need to travel to attend the school? How many of them train you on Standards? I would much rather train on a standard than an automatic. Next, once you make it through the class and get your CDL-A, do you have to train OTR or can you train as a Regional? Ideally, for me, I will have to become a Regional driver and not an OTR. I would like the opportunity to drive coast to coast at some point; but as of now, I would not be able to be away from home for 8 weeks. A regional position would be best. That being said, why do drivers not like driving in the Northeast? I have read postings stating it is not a favorite(Andrey, you alluded to this). I thought I heard or read that the pay is higher in the NE; any truth to that? I am going to send out an email to some of the NE reional carriers to see if they will tell me which schools they prefer. Anyone have a preference for training schools? Being a driver, do you have much opportunity to take time out of your day to get any exercise? Take a hike, a bike ride, a quick workout? As a NE Regional driver, how far does that region cover? My idea of the Northeast area, may differ from the trucking industry. Once I become a Regional driver, do I park the truck when I head home, or do I take the truck home? Just curious, since a tractor trailer definitely won't fit in my driveway:) I'm sure I will have more questions. I try to get them down on paper as I think of them, so I don't forget them. Thanks again everyone!

Hi Mike,

You pose a lot of good questions. I’m just going to tackle one of them for now. This is just my opinion, but forget your desire to drive a manual. Your chances of achieving that are slim to none. Manuals for new drivers are not happening and trust me, you don’t want it to happen. I trained in all manuals but when I went solo I was assigned an automated truck. At the time I was kind of disappointed but now I would probably quit if asked to drive a manual. Don’t develop an obsession with manual and if you make that a priority in choosing a company you will probably not get a job.

TMC still trains in a manual, and issues them; as seen here: TMC Training & Video They would put you up in a hotel/motel during your in house training, and pay you .. and feed you. Flatbed has more 'regular' hometime, so they say . . . as well! Might be a good 'look see.'

The LTL world sill trains & runs manuals; this may actually be a good option for the O/P. The New England area probably HAS awesome dock to driver programs; as Banks went through. Home daily, off weekends (ergo, daycab.)

Bobcat Bob drives in IL, Chicago area; Old Dominion might have something like that, up in your area...VT, etc...as well.

There indeed ARE a few places that still train in a manual, but they are dwindling. Witte Bros. did, but ... unsure as of now.

~ 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.

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.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

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.

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.

DWI:

Driving While Intoxicated

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.

Mike M.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi Mike,

You pose a lot of good questions. I’m just going to tackle one of them for now. This is just my opinion, but forget your desire to drive a manual. Your chances of achieving that are slim to none. Manuals for new drivers are not happening and trust me, you don’t want it to happen. I trained in all manuals but when I went solo I was assigned an automated truck. At the time I was kind of disappointed but now I would probably quit if asked to drive a manual. Don’t develop an obsession with manual and if you make that a priority in choosing a company you will probably not get a job.

Bruce K, thanks for the advice. Are the automatics that much better than a standard? How are they in the snow? Do you have the same amount of control on snowy roads? This thought leads to another question...is it better to learn and earn your CDL in the winter or in the summer? Just curious.

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.

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.

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.

Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

Hi Mike,

You pose a lot of good questions. I’m just going to tackle one of them for now. This is just my opinion, but forget your desire to drive a manual. Your chances of achieving that are slim to none. Manuals for new drivers are not happening and trust me, you don’t want it to happen. I trained in all manuals but when I went solo I was assigned an automated truck. At the time I was kind of disappointed but now I would probably quit if asked to drive a manual. Don’t develop an obsession with manual and if you make that a priority in choosing a company you will probably not get a job.

double-quotes-end.png

Bruce K, thanks for the advice. Are the automatics that much better than a standard? How are they in the snow? Do you have the same amount of control on snowy roads? This thought leads to another question...is it better to learn and earn your CDL in the winter or in the summer? Just curious.

My point is that new drivers are best off by driving an automated tranny truck. When a driver is new, like I am, there is so much to learn and process. Driving a manual adds an additional element of complexity to the equation.

With all due respect to Anne, I think it does a disservice to new drivers to encourage them to narrow their choices in driving by getting focused on driving a manual.

Companies are using automateds because they are safer due to their simplicity. Winter driving? In my opinion, it’s actually safer to drive an automated.

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.

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.

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.

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