Grade A Prime Certified 100% Fresh Noob..... Looking For Some Feedback!

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AceArcher's Comment
member avatar

Hello everyone,

Approximately 2 years ago i moved my family from maryland to rural louisiana to be with my mother (who had severe alzheimer's) and father as they aged. While we were here my wife and i decided that she would work full time and i would stay at home and take care of my mom and our kids. Financially we were doing good.

Mom passed away a few months ago, so now its time for me to get back to work. However i do not want to uproot the family, or leave my dad alone by himself, and move back to a major metro area to find employment in my previous career. The job openings locally are pretty dismal (pretty much minimum wage and anything else requires significant specialized degree's and /or government experience (and i dont fit that mold)

Trucking however is a strong possibility. Growing up in a military family i always enjoyed our long distance drives to new posts, and also have enjoyed a few cross country trips i have made myself. I'm quite capable of being alone without becoming bored for long stretches... and enjoy new and interesting sights. So i think in addition to being driven and wanting more money... i will also quite enjoy the driving.

I do like to do my homework, and as such wanted to bounce some questions off you more experienced guys to make sure my head is screwed on straight.

1) I am thinking of going thru Coastal Truck Driving School in alexandria louisiana to get my class A Cdl. I also am going to want to get as many of my endorsements as i can (hazmat stuff, etc) Anyone have any feedback on Coastal. Are they a solid training school or am i wasting my money with them?

2) if not Coastal, who do you recommend and why... I believe coastal is going to cost me around 5k (unless i can get some kind of grant etc) and that's okay. I know most of the companies hiring from coastal do offer tuition reimbursement. I am choosing coastal because its within about an hour drive of me and would be very do-able from a commute to and from each day........But if i am shortchanging myself going with them i would rather drive a long ways and stay for the duration at another school.

3) I have no driving lic issues.. i am in my 40's and have only 3-4 tickets my whole life... none in the last 5 years or so. No felonies no DUI's nothing bad. Bout the worst thing i have against me is my credit history is not that great. I don't anticipate any issues here should i be good?

4) About 3 months ago i had weight loss surgery, and have since lost about 60 lbs.. with another 60 or so still to go. before the surgery i was a type 2 diabetic and had high blood pressure. Since the surgery i have not had to take any medications any more for either high blood pressure or diabetes.. my blood sugar is completely normal as is my BP... effectively i am cured of diabetes, and of high blood pressure. The only other thing is i wear a CPAP machine to sleep at night.. i could probably ditch it but actually enjoy using it. Are any of the above things gonna cause me problems in the DOT physical process?

5) also am i going about this the wrong way.. should i be looking to get a company to completely pay for my training rather than going to a school.

6) based on the descriptions of type of work available for Class A CDL drivers.. I think my perfect position would be a regional driving position. I am not against being away from home some of the time, but dont want to away for multiple weeks at a time.... so something along the lines of (work 5-10 days) then take 2-3 days off... sounds pretty darn ideal to me.

In any case, i am glad i came across this forum, lots of good information here it seems... feel free to call me a noob, but please help me out by pointing me in the right direction.

Thanks in advance, Ace

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.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

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.

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.

CPAP:

Constant Positive Airway Pressure

CPAP is a breathing assist device which is worn over the mouth or nose. It provides nighttime relief for individuals who suffer from Sleep Apnea.

DUI:

Driving Under the Influence

OWI:

Operating 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.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

AceArcher, welcome to the forum!

I've got a really close friend who lives in Leesville.

I don't necessarily think you are going about this the wrong way, but let me just say that you need to realize that when you go to a truck driving school all they are really going to do is get you to the point where you can get your CDL. Most people don't realize this when they get started at this and are a little disappointed and scared that they didn't come out of school with more training. That is just the way it works - once you get to that point you can get on with a company that hires rookies and they will put you with a trainer long enough to get you to the point where they feel they can turn you loose in one of their trucks. Even at that point you really aren't ready, but you've got the basics down enough to start delivering freight while continuing to learn the ropes and getting paid for your efforts. Having said all that, I think the Company-Sponsored Training programs are really a great way to go. When you're done with training you already have a job waiting on you, and if you keep you're end of the bargain it won't cost you a dime. In this day and time, with money being tight, I'd say if you can get into the industry with some great training, while keeping your five grand in the bank, then that's a great way to go. Everybody's situation is different, and you'll ultimately have to make that decision yourself. I attended a private school.

It's a little tricky to find regional work right off the bat, although it's not impossible. Larger carriers like Prime, Werner, Swift, or Schneider all have regional opportunities available. You might be able to start out with one of them as an over the road driver and then after about three months be able to transition over to a regional position - that would be a discussion you need to have with a recruiter. I would definitely try to get some names from the recruiter of people who you would need to contact later on if that's what you want to do. Some of these companies have dedicated accounts with Dollar General, or Family Dollar and Dollar Tree. Most of them are looking for drivers for these accounts and those drivers usually get home two days each week. It's a bit of a brutal job with lots of unloading of freight, but some people really like that kind of thing, and it is a great paying job if you can handle the additional physical labor.

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.

Over The Road:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

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

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.

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.

AceArcher's Comment
member avatar

AceArcher, welcome to the forum!

I've got a really close friend who lives in Leesville.

I don't necessarily think you are going about this the wrong way, but let me just say that you need to realize that when you go to a truck driving school all they are really going to do is get you to the point where you can get your CDL. Most people don't realize this when they get started at this and are a little disappointed and scared that they didn't come out of school with more training. That is just the way it works - once you get to that point you can get on with a company that hires rookies and they will put you with a trainer long enough to get you to the point where they feel they can turn you loose in one of their trucks. Even at that point you really aren't ready, but you've got the basics down enough to start delivering freight while continuing to learn the ropes and getting paid for your efforts. Having said all that, I think the Company-Sponsored Training programs are really a great way to go. When you're done with training you already have a job waiting on you, and if you keep you're end of the bargain it won't cost you a dime. In this day and time, with money being tight, I'd say if you can get into the industry with some great training, while keeping your five grand in the bank, then that's a great way to go. Everybody's situation is different, and you'll ultimately have to make that decision yourself. I attended a private school.

It's a little tricky to find regional work right off the bat, although it's not impossible. Larger carriers like Prime, Werner, Swift, or Schneider all have regional opportunities available. You might be able to start out with one of them as an over the road driver and then after about three months be able to transition over to a regional position - that would be a discussion you need to have with a recruiter. I would definitely try to get some names from the recruiter of people who you would need to contact later on if that's what you want to do. Some of these companies have dedicated accounts with Dollar General, or Family Dollar and Dollar Tree. Most of them are looking for drivers for these accounts and those drivers usually get home two days each week. It's a bit of a brutal job with lots of unloading of freight, but some people really like that kind of thing, and it is a great paying job if you can handle the additional physical labor.

Great info Old School, appreciate the heads up. I am going to be visiting coastal driving school tomorrow to have a look see (not gonna hand over any money just yet) Also going to be getting some info from them on companies they work with who hire rookies. I do plan on calling these companies and getting more than a few of them in a pre hire approval mode...

I understand what your saying in regards to going through a company training, rather than paying out of pocket.. could you throw a couple names of companies at me that you think do a good job with that...

Thanks much...

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.

Over The Road:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

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

Pre Hire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

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.

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.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

If you'll follow that link for the Company-Sponsored Training you can research several companies and get a lot of information on them. Personally, I think Prime has a great program and pays some of the highest rookie pay in the industry. If you know how to take care of business you can make some really great money there. Remember, this business pays based on your performance. When you are getting paid by the mile you've got to learn how to maximize your available working hours - that's just part of the learning curve. I find myself helping rookie drivers at my company all the time with this. I even come across veterans who just don't get this.

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.

Randall H's Comment
member avatar

From what I saw others go through concerning medical history and issues.......Here at Prime, Inc......

Be ready to show the downloaded records of the use of your CPAP or be able to show that the doctor says you do not need it any longer. They required seeing it was being used at least 70% of the time. Your surgery and all of the things related to it will certainly be looked at very closely so be prepared to get the records for all of it for their review. From what you've said, this sounds like the main hurdle to cross. So, whatever company it is that you talk to, make sure to go over this thoroughly and do not assume that it's history just because you've been on track with the progress. Make sure they are satisfied and able to give you the green light according to their company policies. You've been through a great deal and it involves many changes so they will be concerned. You will do yourself a great favor by clearing it before you make any move towards a company.

Good luck!!!

CPAP:

Constant Positive Airway Pressure

CPAP is a breathing assist device which is worn over the mouth or nose. It provides nighttime relief for individuals who suffer from Sleep Apnea.

AceArcher's Comment
member avatar

If you'll follow that link for the Company-Sponsored Training you can research several companies and get a lot of information on them. Personally, I think Prime has a great program and pays some of the highest rookie pay in the industry. If you know how to take care of business you can make some really great money there. Remember, this business pays based on your performance. When you are getting paid by the mile you've got to learn how to maximize your available working hours - that's just part of the learning curve. I find myself helping rookie drivers at my company all the time with this. I even come across veterans who just don't get this.

roger that... thanks for the link... after asking the question i followed it and have been looking through the various offerrings.

so i have to ask... what is the benefit of paying for a trucking school yourself versus going through one of these companies programs...

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.

AceArcher's Comment
member avatar

From what I saw others go through concerning medical history and issues.......Here at Prime, Inc......

Be ready to show the downloaded records of the use of your CPAP or be able to show that the doctor says you do not need it any longer. They required seeing it was being used at least 70% of the time. Your surgery and all of the things related to it will certainly be looked at very closely so be prepared to get the records for all of it for their review. From what you've said, this sounds like the main hurdle to cross. So, whatever company it is that you talk to, make sure to go over this thoroughly and do not assume that it's history just because you've been on track with the progress. Make sure they are satisfied and able to give you the green light according to their company policies. You've been through a great deal and it involves many changes so they will be concerned. You will do yourself a great favor by clearing it before you make any move towards a company.

Good luck!!!

Thanks, good info here.. I will absolutely be 100% up front with everything and will document it to there request. I certainly dont want to end up paying for schooling and not being able to work.

CPAP:

Constant Positive Airway Pressure

CPAP is a breathing assist device which is worn over the mouth or nose. It provides nighttime relief for individuals who suffer from Sleep Apnea.

Randall H's Comment
member avatar

so i have to ask... what is the benefit of paying for a trucking school yourself versus going through one of these companies programs...

By going to a private school you keep the door open to more companies, BUT with ZERO experience driving, many won't be so interested in you. To me the benefit of going to a company sponsored school is multi-faceted...

1. They have a direct concern for more than you getting your license. Since you will be driving for them, they will have skin in the game for wanting you to be better than just good enough to pass your exam to get your license. They need you to be a safe driver because it is for them!

2. Some companies will not require you to pay back the cost of schooling as long as you fulfill your contract, usually around 1 year.

3. You have a built in job once you get your license. It's a package deal. If they accept you to train, they are accepting you to be employed once you get your license, whereas if you get your license privately you have a separate task of finding a company to hire you...with no experience.

Both ways can work. Good luck!

Starcar's Comment
member avatar

Ace...you should check into the WIA program thru your employment office...If you qualify for it, it will pay for your schooling for CDL...and then you can go to a community college that offers it, or a private trucking school....THEN the prehires you get will really be all you will need. Company schools are fine...but you will be tied to them for a year or so, in order to pay 'em for their schooling. In a perfect world, you should stick with whatever trucking company you start driving with for a year anyway...so you will have that experience OTR to show you can do it and stick to it......

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.

Prehire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

Prehires:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

Johnnylite's Comment
member avatar

I would start by contacting companies and filling out the applications or just the interest forms. Talk to recruiters and see what they offer. Some are true company schools and others offer reimbursement. Make sure the school you go to is APPROVED for reimbursement. I went to a small school and did not qualify. I am now shifting to Central and going through their school. All the advice about getting your ducks in a row as far as medical,etc. are spot on. I too am switching careers and am beyond happy with my decision. Last advice is start on the CDL training program on this site and stay on this site. The atmosphere and camaraderie is unbelievable.

The keyboard is a great tool to hear stories about training and life on the road. My wife asks what I'm doing and more than likely I'm on this site. Stay positive and have fun. The worst thing that could happen is you find a great new way to make a living and life is great. I start on June 2nd and will start posting the continuing saga of my journey. Good luck and keep an open mind.

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.
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