Should I Or Shouldn't I Become A Truck Driver

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ButtonUp's Comment
member avatar

Lots of great feedback!

Just something I would add, going to school and training itself was about 3 months for me. The 4th month I was working, before I changed to a different company that allowed me to be home more. Depending on where you live, there are a lot of different options!

Also, I wish I had been in school in the winter, it would have better prepared me for it, and allowed me to take advantage of instructors information. Handling the truck in the winter is different, but same as smaller vehicles in a lot of ways. Slow and easy. The mountains are the biggest thing about trucking in winter to worry about, in my opinion. To this day, I still haven't actually put chains or cables on. Technically I know how to do it, but don't have any actual experience. If I had been in school during the winter, I am sure this is something that would have been taught more thoroughly. The weight of the trailer helps with traction, but bobtailing around in snow and ice can be a very slippery affair!

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

ButtonUp's Comment
member avatar

As a recent graduate, a lot of companies will pay your tuition up to a certain amount, but if I am not mistaken that means you have to go through their training process. The option I chose was I hired on to the next company as a qualified driver, got the hiring bonus, and paid the school loan off myself.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Lots of great feedback!

Just something I would add, going to school and training itself was about 3 months for me. The 4th month I was working, before I changed to a different company that allowed me to be home more. Depending on where you live, there are a lot of different options!

Also, I wish I had been in school in the winter, it would have better prepared me for it, and allowed me to take advantage of instructors information. Handling the truck in the winter is different, but same as smaller vehicles in a lot of ways. Slow and easy. The mountains are the biggest thing about trucking in winter to worry about, in my opinion. To this day, I still haven't actually put chains or cables on. Technically I know how to do it, but don't have any actual experience. If I had been in school during the winter, I am sure this is something that would have been taught more thoroughly. The weight of the trailer helps with traction, but bobtailing around in snow and ice can be a very slippery affair!

Thanks, that is what i was wondering... Maybe I will consider doing the course in the winter. The school here also offers training for the oil and gas industry and i know they teach off highway driving and tire chains in that segment for sure.

I'm curious to know if I should go for all of the endorsements or just stick with the basic Class A. Like, should I go for the Hazmat , tanker, and Oil and Gas industry training while i'm there instead of the 160-180 hour course it goes to 280 hours.?

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

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

ButtonUp's Comment
member avatar

If I had that choice to make, I would get all the training I could while I was "in the zone" of learning.

guyjax(Guy Hodges)'s Comment
member avatar

Oh we are talking about 2 different children. ok that helps clarify but The advice still stands. While your plan is very doable and even possible. Not sure where you live but if you live near a major trucking hub(big city) LTL companies might be just the ticket for you. I know ABF is in a hiring crazy right now. Yellow,Roadway and Old Dominion also are hiring but not sure about your area. That will be something that you will have to check out locally. LTL (less than truck load) you are home alot more. THey often do not allow passengers unless approved by company.

If you find out that OTR is the only thing going then I have to revert back to the original advice I gave,

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

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

LTL carriers include:

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

OTR:

Over The Road

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

Brian W.'s Comment
member avatar

Not bashing anyone for going to roadmaster or any of the other company schools, but that is a lot of dough and some require you to sign a commitment for a year or so. Lots of companies have a listing of accredited schools that they will take students from. I went to a community college and received my CDL and have not seen a company yet that did not recognize it's training. I paid just under a grand cash for my training and with other training schools the cost was around 4-6 grand. The schools are there just to get your CDL and teach you the basics. Plus, if you go to a community college, you can get a student loan or financial aid to help you pay for it. I would much rather be on the hook for a grand versus the other just to find out that trucking was not for me or I could not pass a portion of the requirements(double-clutching,backing,etc)

The real training is with the company you go to and while most offer tuition reimbursement, they will only pay a portion per month inorder to keep you there longer. For instance, say you went to Roadmaster and spent $6,000(I know it sounds good having a CDL in 14 days), Werner,for instance, only pays $100 a month toward the loan. Your payment is close to $200 a month, so you will be paying back half the loan and you will have to stay there 30 months for them to pay their half.

Now to the OTR part, I can only speak on behalf of Werner. I would train OTR to get my 275 hours in, about 4-6 weeks. Then, I would switch to a dedicated account after training to be at home. They have an account that is zone dedicated and your home every other weekend or truly dedicated home every night or every weekend.

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.

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.
GREG D.'s Comment
member avatar

Honestly, guys you have no idea how much I value your advice. I have been kicking myself ever since i graduated from drafting school as my wives cousin started truck driving school at the same time and was working and making decent pay before i was out of my second month of 16 of schooling. I love driving and maybe this is job that I have been meant for all along. Especially since I should be able to land a decent job around home. I'm right off of I-80 in PA and there is big time Oil and Gas going on right now. (Dubois, PA) if you were wondering, not a booming metropolis by any means but plenty of trucking jobs around as far as I can see?

David's Comment
member avatar

Greg, as a father and husband, I know what your going through. There are a few of us here that have experienced what your going through.

Everyone here has provided you with some AWESOME advice. I started my career in 2012, (my 2nd yr of marriage to my wife) I will tell you, that first year was the make it or break it of our relationship, but we beat it and I got 11 months OTR and found a local gig (not the best but it got me home nightly and I made about the same as OTR)

If you start now, complete schooling and get on with a company that will train you, you can get yourself out solo at the latest of Feb. giving you 3 months to get set up to being home for graduation. (its doable) HOWEVER, trucking is not a set routine. You can try all you want to get certain days off, but sh** happens and you'll not make it as planned. I strive every year to have my anniversary with my wife, Ive gotten 1 yr successful with that. Missed the first yr OTR, was a shame but I made it up the next time I was home.

I don't know what you make a yr now, but as a first year rookie you'll be looking at 30-32k for that yr. Is that the max? No, you can do more, but its an avg. Local drivers can see about 32-35 in a first yr. (This is from Salary.com) your 2nd yr you could see 35k+ and as the yrs go on, you can see more. In the 11months I did OTR my first yr, I got roughly 29k (missed 1 month which could put me at 30-32 depending on my miles if I'd stayed)

Truck driving is a lifestyle more than a job. You'll be in a space the size of a walk in closet, with no one with you. Its solitude at its finest. when your family is at home eating a great t-giving dinner, you'll probably be eating at a restraunt if your lucky or eating whatever is in your truck. You'll find yourself longing for the smell of your wife, a simple kiss, cuddling in bed or on the couch. Im not saying this to discourage you, but this is what its like. I'm not ashamed to say, Ive cried like a baby a few times in this career just because I was missing my wife and kids (im sure others have).

This biggest thing is, making sure not only you support your decision, but your wife and kids do too. As i said, the hardest part is the first yr. Its a test.

Good luck to you, and I look forward to hearing more on your story. We all are here for you and will help answer whatever questions you may have. -David

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.

ButtonUp's Comment
member avatar

Sounds like you're in an area where you'll be able to find something easily enough. Just remember, driving a truck, whilst enjoyable, is work. It's requires constant attention of everything around you, and your equipment, which can tire you out a lot quicker than hopping in the sedan for a 500 mile trip. Even glancing in your mirror for a couple seconds is enough time for the situation where you're not looking to change, so it's a constant routine of scanning.

The oil and gas industry... Brett may be able to offer some inside info on that, but from what I can tell, it pays well and you'll probably be able to be home every day if you can land a position with a company that is local or operates in your area. I would think they would require a year of experience, but I don't know for sure.

GREG D.'s Comment
member avatar

Greg, as a father and husband, I know what your going through. There are a few of us here that have experienced what your going through.

Everyone here has provided you with some AWESOME advice. I started my career in 2012, (my 2nd yr of marriage to my wife) I will tell you, that first year was the make it or break it of our relationship, but we beat it and I got 11 months OTR and found a local gig (not the best but it got me home nightly and I made about the same as OTR)

If you start now, complete schooling and get on with a company that will train you, you can get yourself out solo at the latest of Feb. giving you 3 months to get set up to being home for graduation. (its doable) HOWEVER, trucking is not a set routine. You can try all you want to get certain days off, but sh** happens and you'll not make it as planned. I strive every year to have my anniversary with my wife, Ive gotten 1 yr successful with that. Missed the first yr OTR, was a shame but I made it up the next time I was home.

I don't know what you make a yr now, but as a first year rookie you'll be looking at 30-32k for that yr. Is that the max? No, you can do more, but its an avg. Local drivers can see about 32-35 in a first yr. (This is from Salary.com) your 2nd yr you could see 35k+ and as the yrs go on, you can see more. In the 11months I did OTR my first yr, I got roughly 29k (missed 1 month which could put me at 30-32 depending on my miles if I'd stayed)

Truck driving is a lifestyle more than a job. You'll be in a space the size of a walk in closet, with no one with you. Its solitude at its finest. when your family is at home eating a great t-giving dinner, you'll probably be eating at a restraunt if your lucky or eating whatever is in your truck. You'll find yourself longing for the smell of your wife, a simple kiss, cuddling in bed or on the couch. Im not saying this to discourage you, but this is what its like. I'm not ashamed to say, Ive cried like a baby a few times in this career just because I was missing my wife and kids (im sure others have).

This biggest thing is, making sure not only you support your decision, but your wife and kids do too. As i said, the hardest part is the first yr. Its a test.

Good luck to you, and I look forward to hearing more on your story. We all are here for you and will help answer whatever questions you may have. -David

Dude!!! You really hit a nerve there. I mean I almost got choked up reading that. You guys have really given me some good advice and while My wife isn't accustomed to me being away since we have been together I am pretty familiar with the family separation thing as my time in the military has prepared me for that. However, there were some others there to keep me company during those times. It seems as though You guys whether it be on websites like this or just out on the road are really a good band of brothers (and sisters) and now more then ever I look foreword to sharing the roads with you. Maybe even enjoying that holiday dinner at a truck stop along the way... Thanks to ALL of you. I'M IN!!!

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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