Trucking....Should I?

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Aaron K.'s Comment
member avatar

Hello my name is Aaron. 1st off I want to say this is probably the most informative site that I have found. So anyways I've been thinking about getting into trucking. I'm 28yrs old, have a wife & 2 young children. Though right now I'm currently employed, pays o.k., but the company itself does not seem to be doing well. Also I'm looking for something long term, I just realized in about 10yrs I'm going to need to start paying for college, cars, etc. I don't want to let my kids down by not being able to give them what they deserve. So that being said is the main reason I'm looking into trucking, because I hear you can make pretty good money. However, the thought of being away from home kinda scares me. I currently live in Palm Bay,Fl, but eventually want to move to east Tennessee. So what I would appreciate from everyone here, is to help me decide if I should do this or not. Yes the job I have now pays the bills, but that's it. I've heard tons of good & bad thing about being a trucker, especially with a family, but I know everybody has their own opinion. ANY help or suggestions would be great! Thank you for your time.

RL P.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi Aaron, First of all let me say I have learned it is all about the commitment to the first year. Add to that the things like a wife and kids and so on. Daniel just wrote about how life on the road can make or break a family. The fact is driving is not for everyone but as my brother who has been at it quite a while says when asked, 'if it gets in your blood there is nothing better'.

The main lesson Ive learned here is that the right attitude and work ethic, combined with professionalism and courtesy, are the things one needs in abundance in trucking. Of course being able to drive safe and accident free are paramount to. Drivers aren’t viewed as the competent individuals they are or have to be to succeed out there. There are a lot of reasons why or why not that it is so and plenty of history behind it all but its fair to say it can be a challenge for the best of these guys. So when you me or any one else comes into this life style that is probably the mold we will find ourselves in. Not all but the majority of people out there are doing just as you described; the 9 to 5 to pay the bills. Now trucking, as in life, is surely going to be what you make of it regardless of the fact that most places you go you are another "driver" in that 9 to 5 life of that person paying bills to. Where as you or me or any one else is simply on the move trying to get it done and keep moving courtesy or consideration and professionalism for that next driver might be hard to find sometimes. And at the same time there are good people around every corner to. Combined all that with the up and down of sitting, waiting, vehicle issues, to running like crazy, and... you get the picture.

And I guess what im trying to say here in my long winded fashion is I’ve learned that the challenges are daily and many but if the right attitude and outlook can be found it can be the life a lot of people have been looking for. The family and time away from home seems to be the biggest challenge for most but jobs that allow people to be home nightly or weekly are easy enough to find after a year with a good record. TN seems to be good place for drivers as it more centrally located and within most companies hiring areas, being near the major freight lanes. The guys here know a lot more about it than I do and just wanted to pass along what has been given to me.

Best of luck to you and yours.

Aaron K.'s Comment
member avatar

Hey thanks for the wisdom RL P. You must be right about " it's not for everybody" & "it's all about the first year". I have read those two statements in hundreds of forums. So I'm trying to decide whether to go to a trucking school or go with a company that offers the training, I'll just have to sign a contract with them. Does anybody suggest any companies in my area? I don't have any extra money to put towards training or anything else, so I need to find a company that can offer that.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Hi Aaron.

My two cents worth. Not only will OTR driving be a big change for you, it will also be a very big change for your wife and children. My advice would be to share everything you learn with your wife and also encourage her to do her own independent research of the industry. She can also sign up on the website and find lots of useful information in the ladies section plus there are several experienced women on here that could share their experiences and wisdom with her.

Whatever you decide to do, it should really be a shared decision, as well as commitment, by both of you.

On a separate note, living in FL is a tough place to get a start in trucking. The freight base can be very specific and limited. While it's not impossible, it just severely restricts you options for starting out.

Best of luck!

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.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Welcome aboard Aaron!

I would say from what you've told us that you would find better opportunities elsewhere. With a wife and family and only 28 years old you have tons and tons of time ahead of you. There are careers with much more room to grow that will keep you at home with your family. Trucking is a lifestyle all the way. It's far from just a job and it's going to have a dramatic affect on your wife and children as was mentioned above. If you're not into trucking for the lifestyle it really isn't worth doing in my opinion. When you look at the salary versus everything you give up and the risks you have to take being out there everyday it's not the best opportunity. I loved my years on the road - no question about it. But I was single, I didn't have kids, I was looking for all of the adventures and challenges I could find, and I wanted that travelling lifestyle more than anything. The pay was solid but the lifestyle was priceless.

If you had said you were just looking for something to pay the bills for a few years because your company closed down and you needed a solid paycheck until the kids move out in a couple years I would say trucking will bridge the gap for you until you get something else setup. But with you being so young and with a young family, you have all the time in the world to develop your knowledge and skills for any career you want to get into. Not to mention you already have a job that's paying the bills and it can act as a springboard into other things.

I would look for a career that involves doing something you'd really enjoy, something you could become great at, and something with a solid future in the job market. As a bonus, look for something conducive to making money on the side and possibly morphing into your own business if you so choose one day. I always talk about the trades - electricians, mechanics, plumbers, etc - those fit the bill. If you really have a knack for computers and think you could become really good at writing code there are always a million opportunities in that space - but you have to be really good or the opportunities will dry up fast.

It's not that you couldn't make it work in trucking, but I'm the type that always thinks long term. I'm always trying to figure out what I might be doing and where I'd like to be 5 or 10 years from now. In your case, you have every opportunity in the world to pursue any career you like. I just don't think trucking has the long-term upside you should be looking for and it isn't conducive to a family life.

That being said, you may feel trucking is the perfect fit and you want to pursue it anyhow. In that case we'll certainly be happy to help you out any way we can.

smile.gif

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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.

Aaron K.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks Brett, I can't say I disagree with you at all. I've been going back & fourth with this for about a year now. I'm definitely looking for long-term career, not just another job. As of now I have no retirement plan, no benefits, no health insurance, & no savings. I do however have some experience in some of the trades you mentioned above, but it's hard to make a long term career out of those trades due to work is always up & down. Also most companies don't offer good pay or benefits. Other jobs don't pay well unless you have years of experience or a degree, that being said school was never for me, I just don't like sitting inside all day. I would rather get out & go places. If I do choose to do trucking, I will probably go with a company sponsored school, I've found a couple that even offer pay while in training. I've done very little traveling in my time, but when I did I thought it was awesome getting to see new places. I'm also looking at when the time comes I can even have my wife travel with me.

P & D:

Pickup & Delivery

Local drivers that stay around their area, usually within 100 mile radius of a terminal, picking up and delivering loads.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers for instance will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Yeah, the biggest problem is that trucking is one of the last dependable blue collar jobs that pays a living wage. Anyone can find work outside of trucking no problem, but it's impossible to live on $8-$10/hr like most places pay nowadays. I know a lot of people will get in a jam and come into trucking for as a short term way to bridge the gap to the next opportunity and there's certainly nothing wrong with that.

And there are a lot of trucking jobs that can get you home on weekends even straight out of school. Once you get a year or so of over the road experience it isn't hard to find a local job that will get you home every night. Unfortunately most local trucking jobs either don't pay that great or they pay well but require you to unload the trucks. And the days are looooong at a lot of those jobs because they still fall under the 70 hour rule...meaning you can work 70 hours every 8 days. That's almost two full time jobs. Brutal.

It's tough nowadays to find a job that actually pays the bills and it doesn't seem to be getting any easier.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

So far from the list of company-sponsered training, Knight Transportation seems to be the best. They offer no little to no pay upfront, no forced dispatch, regional & dedicated opportunities, fair home time, & they also have a terminal in Lakeland,Fl which isn't too far from where I live now. Does anybody have anything bad to say about this company?

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.

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.

6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar

Hi Aaron, You've been given lots of sound advice. Sometimes it's helpful to also listen to other people share about what they're planning on doing, especially when they're in similar circumstances.

I'm 37 years old. I have a wife of three years and a little girl that turned two this past January. We plan on having more children. I have a BA degree and currently have my own internet business. We sell musical instruments and accessories. My wife works at the local hospital and provides our family's benefits. Between our two jobs, we pay the bills, but that's about it. My business can be great during certain times of the year, but pretty dry during other times. It's sales related so I'm at the mercy of the buying habits of customers. I could spend more time growing my business but honestly I'm tired of the hustle. I've been in business for myself or my family for the past 10 or so years. I'm looking forward to punching a time card, and earning benefits.

Trucking is something I've always wanted to do. That's key - I'm excited about the very idea of driving a truck. It's also something that will pay our bills and then some, between my trucking income and our internet business (my wife will continue the business after I'm on the road). My wife can stay at home and be with our daughter - she's always wanted to be a stay at home mom. I'm excited to support the family driving. I've enjoyed my time at home w/ our little girl, playing Mr. Mom, but frankly I'm just not wired that way. It's not a good or bad thing, it just is. My wife isn't wired to be a "career woman", she excels and is more fulfilled being a home maker and stay at home mom. We're both looking forward to doing what makes each of us happy and fulfilled, and what's best for our family as a whole.

We've counted the cost of what driving a truck will mean for our family. We pretty much accepted that during that first year I'll be home a few times a month, if even that during training. We also know that perhaps even after that first year, coming home only on the weekends (having a regional or dedicated gig) might be something more realistic and beneficial than getting a local P&D gig where I'm working 12+ hour days and home every night - dog tired. Then again there's also job opportunities where one could be home daily and on the weekends and still not have to 'settle' for a labor intensive P&D local gig or a night shift linehaul gig for a local company. Moral of the story - depending on where you live, you might have lots of trucking opportunities besides OTR that would fit your family's financial needs and get you home weekly if not daily.

My wife and I have a strong spiritual foundation for our marriage. We communicate well, we also pray together. We base our love on commitment and not just feelings. When we got married, we both agreed that divorce would NEVER be an option. Having that mindset from the very beginning definitely impacts how you handle conflict in marriage. There is no convenient 'out' or 'escape.' I'm not judging people that get divorced. I'm bringing this up because trucking can be very hard on families. It takes a certain commitment to push through tough times, and from what I've gathered, trucking can bring tough times to a family, especially OTR trucking families. We don't plan on pursuing OTR. Perhaps we'll revisit that later in life when the kids are grown up. Our goal is for me is to eventually land a local gig, or get home on the weekends. We'll reassess once we get started to see what works for our family.

Trucking for us is going to be our career. I'm excited about that. My wife's excited for me, and for herself. The choice to be a trucker has been the sum of a lot of parts, or even lack of options. But it's not just something we're 'settling' for. I honestly can't think of anything else I'd be happier doing, save for going to graduate school to become a counselor or a professor. Going back to school just doesn't appeal to me at 37 years old. Trucking school is also MUCH cheaper. I thought about the health care industry, but I don't believe I'd be happy. I don't have any trade skills. My wife's more handy than I am :). I'm tired of the hustle of being in business for myself. All roads point to being a trucker, for my family. I'm just thankful that I've found something that I will enjoy doing, will be able to support my family with, and will have plenty of job security.

That's my family's story. Maybe it'll help you with your family's decision. We researched this for about three years before making the commitment and decision. My wife did her own research. The only thing left for us is to learn how to deal with adversity once I'm on the road. We know it's coming. We're also looking forward to all the blessings.

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.

P&D:

Pickup & Delivery

Local drivers that stay around their area, usually within 100 mile radius of a terminal, picking up and delivering loads.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers for instance will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

Linehaul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Rico's Comment
member avatar

Aaron, like you, I am a family man. We have four children. I'm older than you are, so I've been where you are in terms of having small children and a young wife at home. I tried multiple times during those years of my life to become a trucker and it just never worked out. My family simply needed me to be there. My wife couldn't handle the children all by herself. She needed me, the strong one, to run things in the home. Now that I am older and the kids are all either moved out or in their teens, the time is right for me to become a trucker.

My advice to you would be to sit down with your wife and really count the cost of what becoming a trucker will mean for your family. Can your wife manage the household by herself? Is she good with money and paying the bills? Can she get the kids to mind her? Is she comfortable going weeks at a time without sex? Does she have family that can give her a hand if she starts to feel overwhelmed? These are all questions the two of you need to answer before you get into a truck and disappear.

You also need to ask yourself some questions. Do you like being by yourself? Have you thought about how you are going to deal with it when your little one is crying on the phone because he/she misses Daddy and doesn't understand that he's out making the money to put the roof over his/her head? Can you deal with something happening to one of them (illness, injuries, etc.) while you are 1000 miles away and can do little about it? Do you have a problem with small spaces? That truck may seem big now, but the truth of the matter is that the inside is not much bigger than a prison cell, and you are going to be stuck in it for days and weeks at a time.

Keep in mind that none of what I've mentioned touches on other things you will encounter. Things like bad weather, break downs, a-holes galore, crappy loads, people who think you can stop the truck on a dime, disagreements with dispatchers, heat, cold, scary down hill grades, days long delays, weeks that you don't make much money, etc., etc.

Make sure you think about all these things and more. As others have mentioned, trucking isn't for everybody. It's a good life, but it's a tough life. Know what you are getting yourself and your family into before you do it.

To answer your question about Knight. I've read good and bad about them, just like every other company I've researched. Talk to your recruiter and ask lots of questions. Ask about orientation, training pay, cpm , home time, hiring requirements, what you will be driving, benefits, how much you will owe them after you get out of school, what's in their contract, terminals, etc.

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.

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.

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.

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.
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