Looking To Take The Leap.

Topic 31660 | Page 1

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Onsdag's Comment
member avatar

Hi everyone!

I've been considering a trucking career and visiting this site on occasion trying to learn what I can for a little over a year now. It's a big leap into the unknown, and definitely would take me outside of my comfort zone, but something I feel is right for me at this point in my life. However I keep letting fears of the unknown, lack of knowledge, waiting for a 'better' time, lack of money, etc., hold me back from taking that leap. Well, I'm tired of that. It's time to take my future in my own hands and just take the leap. There will be no better time than the present. And I'm reaching out to you, the TT community, for help, advice, and encouragement in taking that leap.

Steps that I have taken so far:

I'll continue to take and finish (hopefully completed this week) the High Road CDL Training Program as time allows. After which I hope to take the CDL Practice Tests.

Questions, concerns, unknowns in moving forward at this point:

Manual Transmission - I've never driven a manual transmission before. I'm not afraid of learning or doing it, however I am concerned about a steep or costly learning process. As a child I remember my mother having the most difficult time learning it, burning several clutches, and ultimately switching back to automatic transmissions. How difficult is it for a complete novice to learn? I know there are plenty of automatic trucks out there, but I'd prefer not to be limited to only using them. Besides, I love learning and have always wanted to learn the manual but have never really had opportunities or a teacher, so this is a perfect opportunity I think.

Background check - As a teenager I did some stupid things, which I sought religious and professional counseling for, self-reported to the police, and went through the legal system in order to try doing what was right and correcting the problems. I was originally charged on a second degree felony, but it was reduced to a misdemeanor after successfully completing therapy and court-ordered probation. I've been clean ever since (20+ years now). I'm certain this'll come up in a background check, and I'm definitely not going to try hiding or glossing over it, but my question is when it comes time to acknowledge it do I report it as a felony or misdemeanor? In past job applications I report it as a misdemeanor as that is what it was reduced to, unless the application has specific wording such as "have you ever been convicted of a felony?" in which case I would say yes as that was the original conviction. However, reading through the forums it seems potential employers will know every little thing and want to see if you're being completely honest with them and I'm afraid if I do report it as a misdemeanor they'll think I'm trying to be dismissive of it or not be completely truthful with them.

Accidents - similar to the above, how much detail needs to be provided? About 15 years ago I was in a car accident and the other person was cited as being at fault. Another time, about 4 years ago, I had a very minor accident with a bicyclist, police weren't called and no report was filed... until he came to my work (business markings on vehicle) a couple of hours later with one of his friends (who hadn't been at the scene) asking for insurance information. I suspected he/they were trying to commit insurance fraud and so after they gathered my insurance information and left I went down to the police station and filed a report. It wasn't an accident report as the police said both parties left the scene, but it was a police report nonetheless. I had a dashcam which recorded everything, and the officer who looked at it said he wasn't going to cite anybody since it was after the fact, but that he would've cited the cyclist as being at fault as they were disobeying several traffic laws (such as going against the flow of traffic and not yielding the right of way). By the way, the dashcam saved me and the insurance claim was dropped in that case. Would either of these be pulled up in a search and/or need to be reported?

School - I don't have the money and so plan on applying through this site to a company that will provide training and hire me right away. Will they pay for and take care of everything including my learner's permit, DMV records, endorsements, etc.? Or do I need to save up money to pay out of my own pocket? I'd like to get started as soon as possible so I can actually start making money because I'm completely broke at this point. I'm also afraid that if I delay then I'll start to lose the courage to take the leap, or find some other excuse to back down, and I think committing to a company will help hold my feet to the fire.

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.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

tripletdad's Comment
member avatar

If it was a felony conviction, then report it as a felony. If i remember correctly, most companies just ask if you've been convicted in the last ten years.

I went through a similar path when I decided to leave my contort zone and do what i wanted. Went to Millis Transfer for my training, and highly recommend them. After my contract term ended, i moved to another company, where I'm happy and making double the money. Most training companies are training on automatic trucks. Not all, though. Ivr got the restriction on mine, and it's been fine. I wish i didn't have it, but it won't limit you as much as you think.

Good luck to you

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

CFI takes everyone on a case by case. They have been giving all kinds of second chances. They will let you prove yourself or hang yourself. Your training is completely free after a one year contract.

Don't worry about a manual transmission, most companies are 100% automatic.

Good luck.

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Grenade!

Pacific Pearl's Comment
member avatar

I'll address your concerns in order:

Manual Transmissions - More and more trucks are automatics every year. The larger carriers moved to automatics only about 6 years ago. They usually retire a truck around 500,000 miles. I can easily put 150,000 miles on a truck in a year, so a truck is usually retired after 3-4 years. Since the major carriers do most of the training they train in automatics only since a manual transmission is one more obstacle for a trainee to worry about and a potential reason for them to wash out.

Since most new drivers have the automatic restriction on their licenses companies wanting to hire drivers have to change with the times and go to automatics or risk having to choose from a shrinking pool of drivers who don't have the automatic restriction. The only places I still see manual transmissions are:

a) Trucks who don't turn many miles because of the type of business they are used for (farms, movers)

b) Trucks who are part of a big fleet but didn't get used for one reason or another (a lost dedicated account).

c) Companies in financial trouble who can't afford to replace their trucks (UPS Freight, Yellow).

d) Owner ops who want to avoid using DEF or an ELD.

e) Small shops with older drivers who think you're not a, "real truck driver" if you don't shift gears (they won't like you anyway).

It's not hard to find a good paying job driving a truck with an automatic restriction. If you go with company sponsored training you won't have a choice. You can get the restriction removed later by going to truck school and testing at your local DMV at your own expense.

Background Check Answer honestly but only answer the question asked. You've got time on your side since it's been a while since your conviction. Check out the Trucking Companies That Will Hire Felons section to see what different companies look for. Some want five or more years since the conviction, some want no violent crimes but only a handful refuse to hire convicts.

Accidents Generally, they only go back 3 years on accidents. Again, answer honestly but only answer the question asked. I've never seen, "Have you ever in your life been involved in an automobile accident". I've seen, "List any accidents you've had in the last 3 years". If they ask about an accident in the last 5 years you would list the bicycle accident. An accident isn't an automatic disqualification, especially if you didn't cause the accident. Not listing an accident that the company's safety department finds out about through a police report, and insurance database or some other means will get you disqualified whether you caused the accident or not.

School Every school is different. My school gave me $75/week to buy food and a house to stay in during training (three bunk beds in every bedroom). I had to pay them back for the food money once I started driving. Some schools provide two meals a day and lodging in a hotel. Some pay you $400-$600 a week while training, most pay nothing. Some ask you pay them for your training once you start driving. You pay them $100/week for a year and the second year they reimburse you for the training giving you $100/week. Some pay your DMV fees, others ask you to, others will pay up front, but you reimburse them later.

Some schools that pay you while you train:

Knight Transportation $400/week starting your first day.

Millis Transfer $600/week starting your first day.

Roehl Starts with $616 the end of your third week.

YRC Driving Academy About $17/hr. while you train (varies by the union contract at your terminal), Teamster scale when you finish training.

Additionally, most LTL companies offer, "Dock to Driver" programs where you start as a dockworker and after a period (30-90 days) of working on the dock they will pay you while they train you to drive.

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.

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

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.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

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.

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.

Onsdag's Comment
member avatar

Awesome. Thanks for the helpful feedback everyone! Getting more excited as we speak!

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Welcome to the forum.

I have two pieces of advice for you:

1- Be 100% truthful on any job application. Give them the information they are asking for, nothing less, nothing more. Read the questions carefully, as in; “have you ever” or “in the last 3 years”, etc. Wording varies from one company to the next.

2- Do not put all of your eggs in one basket. Apply to multiple companies. The overwhelming majority of us on this forum have your best interest at heart, avoiding the temptation to “pitch” only one company (the company we work for). Most companies will seriously consider your application on a case-by-case basis...there is nothing unique or special about that.

I suggest focusing on these links:

Paid CDL Training Programs

Apply For Paid CDL Training

Best of luck and feel free to continue posting questions and hopefully progress.

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

While in school, CFI will pay for your room and meals. Orientation is paid cash and breakfast is free at the hotel, they bring in lunch and you're on your own for dinner. Once out with your getting milage pay. I don't know what that is currently.

Hope that helps.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Bumping this..,

Welcome to the forum.

I have two pieces of advice for you:

1- Be 100% truthful on any job application. Give them the information they are asking for, nothing less, nothing more. Read the questions carefully, as in; “have you ever” or “in the last 3 years”, etc. Wording varies from one company to the next.

2- Do not put all of your eggs in one basket. Apply to multiple companies. The overwhelming majority of us on this forum have your best interest at heart, avoiding the temptation to “pitch” only one company (the company we work for). Most companies will seriously consider your application on a case-by-case basis...there is nothing unique or special about that.

I suggest focusing on these links:

Paid CDL Training Programs

Apply For Paid CDL Training

Best of luck and feel free to continue posting questions and hopefully progress.

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.
Onsdag's Comment
member avatar

Hey guys,

Thanks again everyone for the helpful feedback and advice. I've just completed the High Road Online CDL Training Course and am looking now to take the next steps. I started the process of applying for company-sponsored paid CDL. I've taken a look through the companies suggested above, as well as a few others, and so far my short list is:

Roehl. I'm really liking what I'm seeing so far. Their focus on safety is a big plus for me, and everyone seems to agree their training program is top notch. Also, I'd be employed with them from day one, which is another big positive. A couple of things I'm not sure about though: 1) It appears they primarily operate in the Eastern U.S.? I'm ok with traveling for school, and of course I'm fine with OTR work, but it'd be nice to operate a little closer to home. I'm also uncertain of the logistics of it. I live in Utah and it doesn't look like they have any terminals or yards nearby, so how would I get to/from work? Would they fly me to/from work, or do they have operations in Utah I'm not aware of? 2) It appears they are mostly flatbed? I'm not opposed to hard work, but my age is starting to catch up with me and I'm not sure if I want to be adding the extra miles to the body that flatbed work would entail. Still, I'm not entirely opposed to it, it's just that I'd prefer to not have that extra work-load. And this may be a non-issue as they do have other fleets beside flatbed which I could likely get into.

Prime. They have a school in and also operate out of Salt Lake, which would be nice as it's close to home. This also ensures I get my CDL in my home state. I've heard good things about them as a company, and their training program is more one-on-one and hands on, which I like. A couple of holdbacks: 1) They won't start their next classes for a couple of months. While this does give me some time to get some other things in order, such as getting my learners permit and passport, I'd also like to get going quickly instead of waiting another couple months. 2) While it does look like they pay you while training, you're not officially employed by them until after you successfully complete training and get your CDL, which they say could take 3-4 months, which could be as late as October.

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.

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.

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