So I'm Going To Become A Truck Driver...(looking For Critique)

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Green_Eyed_Bandit's Comment
member avatar

Hello all. I've recently made the decision to become a truck driver. I've always enjoyed driving, especially road trips. I'm an introvert so I don't think I would struggle with the loneliness factor of being an OTR trucker. Not to mention I don't have a wife or kids so home time isn't an issue for me.

So my plan is to enroll in a proper trucking school and pay 3k rather than go through a megacarrier's training program. The reason I'm doing this is because I don't like the idea of being stuck at a megacarrier based on the contractual agreement, plus I have heard mostly bad things about them.

My plan is to complete schooling, get hired at a megacarrier (from what I've read they are pretty much the only companies who will hire a rookie fresh out of school - correct me if I'm wrong,) grind out 6+ months with them to get some experience under my belt, then switch to a different company that offers better wages. I've been looking at OTR jobs in my area and there's quite a few companies paying 70cpm, but each one of them requires 6+ months experience. I'm not planning an entire career of company hopping, but I don't want to be stuck at a company like Swift for years... Thinking long-term my plan is to save up money and become an owner operator after a few years.

Also, is hair follicle testing a common procedure nowadays? In 1.5 weeks from now I will be able to pass a urine analysis, but for a hair test I'd have to wait at least 2 more months, not really interested in that because I want to get to work, I'm sick of being unemployed and I'm running out of savings.

Another thing too...my work history is pretty ****. Huge gaps in my history from all kinds of things; college, attempting to start a business, personal medical reasons, etc. Do you think this would be an issue for any of the megacarriers that hire rookies fresh out of school?

My 10 driving history (not official, just going off of memory): illegal parking ticket in 2014, speeding ticket in 2017 and 2020 (both within 15mph over speed limit.) Would this be an issue? I've heard trucking companies are very strict about this. In hindsight I wish I would've kicked up money for an attorney.

Thank you for reading, looking forward to your responses.🙂

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.

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

With your gaps of employment and recent speeding tickets, your best bet is to apply for company sponsored training and take the offers you get. Local schools may get you a CDL but care little about you obtaining employment.

The garbage you seem to have heard previously holds very little weight.

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.

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.

Travis's Comment
member avatar

From what I've gathered a lot of carriers use hair tests(I assume to get lower insurance rates) but also still have to do urine as that's all DOT allows. The "student pays" schools I've researched only require the DOT urine test so depending how long your school is and when you'd start you should be right at 90 days in order to pass hair.

I'd probably pay for my own hair test first to be sure before something that critical gets tested by a third party not beholden to you.

Hello all. I've recently made the decision to become a truck driver. I've always enjoyed driving, especially road trips. I'm an introvert so I don't think I would struggle with the loneliness factor of being an OTR trucker. Not to mention I don't have a wife or kids so home time isn't an issue for me.

So my plan is to enroll in a proper trucking school and pay 3k rather than go through a megacarrier's training program. The reason I'm doing this is because I don't like the idea of being stuck at a megacarrier based on the contractual agreement, plus I have heard mostly bad things about them.

My plan is to complete schooling, get hired at a megacarrier (from what I've read they are pretty much the only companies who will hire a rookie fresh out of school - correct me if I'm wrong,) grind out 6+ months with them to get some experience under my belt, then switch to a different company that offers better wages. I've been looking at OTR jobs in my area and there's quite a few companies paying 70cpm, but each one of them requires 6+ months experience. I'm not planning an entire career of company hopping, but I don't want to be stuck at a company like Swift for years... Thinking long-term my plan is to save up money and become an owner operator after a few years.

Also, is hair follicle testing a common procedure nowadays? In 1.5 weeks from now I will be able to pass a urine analysis, but for a hair test I'd have to wait at least 2 more months, not really interested in that because I want to get to work, I'm sick of being unemployed and I'm running out of savings.

Another thing too...my work history is pretty ****. Huge gaps in my history from all kinds of things; college, attempting to start a business, personal medical reasons, etc. Do you think this would be an issue for any of the megacarriers that hire rookies fresh out of school?

My 10 driving history (not official, just going off of memory): illegal parking ticket in 2014, speeding ticket in 2017 and 2020 (both within 15mph over speed limit.) Would this be an issue? I've heard trucking companies are very strict about this. In hindsight I wish I would've kicked up money for an attorney.

Thank you for reading, looking forward to your responses.🙂

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.

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

You’ve got it all wrong...

Stay off the Internet. Don’t believe a word of anything about any of the megas, including (especially) Swift.

I suggest you start with this:

I also suggest getting into the Trucking Truth blog section (found in the menu bar in the upper left), focused on Paid CDL Training Programs. Absolutely your best option.

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.
Banks's Comment
member avatar
I've been looking at OTR jobs in my area and there's quite a few companies paying 70cpm, but each one of them requires 6+ months experience.

Is that the only requirement? I'd look at that entire list again, because they usually require a clean driving record and they will look at employment history. Stick to your first job for more than 6 months. Learn what you need to learn and get good at it before you go to a company requiring experience. Money comes secondary in this game. A few mistakes will make you untouchable and you'll be back to where you are now.

I'm not planning an entire career of company hopping, but I don't want to be stuck at a company like Swift for years...

I'm not sure what you mean by this. Swift is a huge company with lots of resources and they're willing to work with you during your growth. Unfortunately, due to you not being able to pass a follicle test, swift wouldn't be interested in you. Your options are limited and you need to scale back some of your attitude. You have nothing to offer, but you have a list of demands that aren't realistic for somebody in your situation.

Another thing too...my work history is pretty ****. Huge gaps in my history from all kinds of things

That's a no from Prime and TMC. So far Swift, prime and TMC aren't interested in you.

speeding ticket in 2017 and 2020 (both within 15mph over speed limit.) Would this be an issue? 

That's more nos. Apply For Paid CDL Training and go to whoever bites. You're not going to have a long list of companies to choose from, so go where you can and start proving yourself before you start moving to greener pastures.

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

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.

Big Scott (CFI's biggest 's Comment
member avatar

First off, if you recently quit smoking dope, you should wait 1 year. A failed drug test can ruin your career before it starts.

Most companies who train, "mega carriers", are not as bad as the internet says. That 70 CPM is not real. Most of those ads are up to XXCPM. That is your base CPM plus bonuses which are not guaranteed.

I was trained by and drive for CFI. Free training with a 12 month contract. That 12 months flew by. I feel like my own boss with a huge support team.

Kearsy love Prime. Why do people stay at these mega carriers for years and millions of miles? It's not just the CPM.

I can't get much more CPM OTR than what I get now. CFI spoils us, that makes it harder to leave this mega carriers. I wouldn't drive OTR for anyone else. Also, mega carriers usually have more than one opportunity. At CFI we have refer, dedicated, regional , and OTR.

Prime has refer, tanker and flatbed.

Swift has dry van , refer and flatbed.

Schneider has dry van, tanker and intermodal.

Take your time and figure out what works best for you.

Being single, if you liked it out here, you could live in your truck and not need a car, apartment and the costs with those. This allows you to maximize your income.

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.

Intermodal:

Transporting freight using two or more transportation modes. An example would be freight that is moved by truck from the shipper's dock to the rail yard, then placed on a train to the next rail yard, and finally returned to a truck for delivery to the receiving customer.

In trucking when you hear someone refer to an intermodal job they're normally talking about hauling shipping containers to and from the shipyards and railyards.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Anne A. (and sometimes To's Comment
member avatar

Howdy, Bandit;

Welcome from me, as well.

The guys above are ALL spot on. Vets & mods around here KNOW their stuff!!!

One more thing; if you'd add your location to your profile (even just the state) it can help us, help you.

Wish you the best!

~ Anne ~

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Welcome to our forum Green Eyed Bandit!

I'd bet a thousand dollars the responses you are getting are completely unexpected from you. Just about all the information you have based your desires on are completely out of line. That's the modern day information highway. When it comes to trucking there is no end to the terrible advice on the internet. That is why we included the word "Truth" in the name on this website. We know how hard it is to decipher all the trash talk you wil come across when researching trucking. It is really sad.

Let me tell you a little about myself. I am currently a very satisfied driver who makes great money working for a mega carrier (Knight). When I started out my career I was very much misinformed, much like yourself. I wasted my own money on a private school and then I could not get a job. People hear there is a driver shortage and they think this will be an easy career to find employment in. That is not true! You need to be crystal clean in a lot of areas. Drugs, driving records, and employment records mean a lot in this industry. I was clean on all accounts and I still hit a wall of resistance.

You need to apply to as many Paid CDL Training Programs as possible. See if any of them show an interest. Even if you don't intend on going that way you should do it. This will help you gauge if you have a shot or not. You cracked me up with this comment...

I'm not planning an entire career of company hopping, but I don't want to be stuck at a company like Swift for years.

It shows us that the only thing you know about this career is what you have gleaned from the internet. The internet is full of B.S. You are just parroting what you have seen. None of it is true. The only thing true is that Swift is the Radio Rambo's favorite whipping boy. How in the world do you think a company grows to be of such size as Swift? Let me give you a few clues...

  • They have solid finances
  • They provide great customer service
  • They have great equipment
  • They treat their employees well
  • They maintain a strong customer base through a great reputation for service

I could go on and on, but I bet you are surprised you have never heard any positive things about Swift or the mega carriers. It is no surprise to me, but let me share one more little personal story about my trucking experiences. Not too long ago I had a flat tire on the road. I called it in to my mega carrier and they instructed me to go just about five miles down the road to a Petro truck repair location. Here is what happened when I got there: I walked up to the counter and told them my dilemma. They instructed me to pull into bay 3 and they would get right on it. Immediately another trucker in the waiting area erupts in an angry diatribe about how he has been waiting for hours to get his tire repaired, but they are letting me in ahead of him! "It isn't fair and it isn't right," he kept demanding. He probably worked for one of those companies you are so enamored with who pay upwards of 70 CPM. Here's what the guy at the counter shut him up with...

Your boss can't even figure out which credit card he isn't maxed out on so he can pay our bill. This guy's company will pay us before he is out the door. That is the kind of reputation they have out here for getting their repair work done.

You haven't even begun to understand the benefits of working for a big trucking company with a strong reputation in the industry. You have a lot to learn about the trucking industry, and you have a lot to learn before anyone pays you anything like 70 CPM. That is a pipe dream for you at this point. It will take you every bit of a year to even figure out how to be efficient and productive at this career. You should really reconsider how you make your start. The chosen few who make a career out of this are special people who excel at a special job. Don't get the cart before the horse. Don't think this is easy and you are going to be really good at it because you love to drive.

I am not trying to be tough on you, but I want you to realize how confused you are with the information you have gathered. This is a special career for special people. If you can fill the shoes of a truck driver then you have got some big feet! You have to prove all of that first. There is no short cut to becoming an asset in this industry. The numbers of failures are staggering. Get yourself off to a good start and that will help you considerably as you make the effort to be a trucker. One of the best decisions you can make is to start off right. That means letting a mega carrier train you and hire you. It is not the only way to go, but it is the best way in our opinion. You will understand all of this better once you get out here on your own and realize how challenging this really is.

We want the best for you. We really do. That is why we shoot straight with you. We know there is a whole subculture of truckers on the internet who think we are foolish with our advice. We know what works and we are all living examples of being very successful truckers. I make great money at a mega carrier. I don't want to reduce my pay by going with one of the companies you think are so great. You will find that it takes time to develop yourself in this career. That investment of time has turned out well 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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

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

Desert_Rat's Comment
member avatar

the truth!

Welcome to our forum Green Eyed Bandit!

I'd bet a thousand dollars the responses you are getting are completely unexpected from you. Just about all the information you have based your desires on are completely out of line. That's the modern day information highway. When it comes to trucking there is no end to the terrible advice on the internet. That is why we included the word "Truth" in the name on this website. We know how hard it is to decipher all the trash talk you wil come across when researching trucking. It is really sad.

Let me tell you a little about myself. I am currently a very satisfied driver who makes great money working for a mega carrier (Knight). When I started out my career I was very much misinformed, much like yourself. I wasted my own money on a private school and then I could not get a job. People hear there is a driver shortage and they think this will be an easy career to find employment in. That is not true! You need to be crystal clean in a lot of areas. Drugs, driving records, and employment records mean a lot in this industry. I was clean on all accounts and I still hit a wall of resistance.

It shows us that the only thing you know about this career is what you have gleaned from the internet. The internet is full of B.S. You are just parroting what you have seen. None of it is true. The only thing true is that Swift is the Radio Rambo's favorite whipping boy. How in the world do you think a company grows to be of such size as Swift? Let me give you a few clues...

  • They have solid finances
  • They provide great customer service
  • They have great equipment
  • They treat their employees well
  • They maintain a strong customer base through a great reputation for service

I could go on and on, but I bet you are surprised you have never heard any positive things about Swift or the mega carriers. It is no surprise to me, but let me share one more little personal story about my trucking experiences. Not too long ago I had a flat tire on the road. I called it in to my mega carrier and they instructed me to go just about five miles down the road to a Petro truck repair location. Here is what happened when I got there: I walked up to the counter and told them my dilemma. They instructed me to pull into bay 3 and they would get right on it. Immediately another trucker in the waiting area erupts in an angry diatribe about how he has been waiting for hours to get his tire repaired, but they are letting me in ahead of him! "It isn't fair and it isn't right," he kept demanding. He probably worked for one of those companies you are so enamored with who pay upwards of 70 CPM. Here's what the guy at the counter shut him up with...

double-quotes-start.png

Your boss can't even figure out which credit card he isn't maxed out on so he can pay our bill. This guy's company will pay us before he is out the door. That is the kind of reputation they have out here for getting their repair work done.

double-quotes-end.png

You haven't even begun to understand the benefits of working for a big trucking company with a strong reputation in the industry. You have a lot to learn about the trucking industry, and you have a lot to learn before anyone pays you anything like 70 CPM. That is a pipe dream for you at this point. It will take you every bit of a year to even figure out how to be efficient and productive at this career. You should really reconsider how you make your start. The chosen few who make a career out of this are special people who excel at a special job. Don't get the cart before the horse. Don't think this is easy and you are going to be really good at it because you love to drive.

I am not trying to be tough on you, but I want you to realize how confused you are with the information you have gathered. This is a special career for special people. If you can fill the shoes of a truck driver then you have got some big feet! You have to prove all of that first. There is no short cut to becoming an asset in this industry. The numbers of failures are staggering. Get yourself off to a good start and that will help you considerably as you make the effort to be a trucker. One of the best decisions you can make is to start off right. That means letting a mega carrier train you and hire you. It is not the only way to go, but it is the best way in our opinion. You will understand all of this better once you get out here on your own and realize how challenging this really is.

We want the best for you. We really do. That is why we shoot straight with you. We know there is a whole subculture of truckers on the internet who think we are foolish with our advice. We know what works and we are all living examples of being very successful truckers. I make great money at a mega carrier. I don't want to reduce my pay by going with one of the companies you think are so great. You will find that it takes time to develop yourself in this career. That investment of time has turned out well for me.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

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

George B.'s Comment
member avatar

Look at Millis. Continental Express. I know there are other mini-mega carriers that train. Anne, Chime in? There are products out there to assist w cleansing the system and even hair follicle. Will not get into that battle on here. Take a few months and get it out of your system. I strongly suggest company sponsored. You will know right out of the gate who will accept you. Pay for schooling only to find out after who will or will not accept you. Good luck!

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