Making The Most Money Out Of Your Cdl

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Karl A.'s Comment
member avatar

As I am sure most the regulars on here are aware Ice road trucking pays the most... BUT... I myself dont know much more than that being a rookie.. So I have been asking truckers lately how to maximize the money they can make with a cdl . The typical answers I get is land a job with walmart it's 70k a year or find a good company after you have a few years of experience etc..

So I came across a trucker today who told me he has his cdl then he found/joined a union that paid for him to go to school for heavy machinery operation.. So he basically drives heavy machinery to job sites around the country then operates the machinery.. He personally only operated cranes at this point in his life which I found very interesting.. He says he clears 6 digits annually which I kinda believe, I am wondering if this guy was full of it or not, any opinions on this?

Also Does anyone have any suggestion for a rookie about directions one can take in this career to maximize your salary as a truck driver. I don't care how much travel how little I see family , I will go overseas. I am looking for insight on the top of the industry..

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.
David L.'s Comment
member avatar
Best Answer!

"We" spend a lot of time on the forum discussing $$$ and paying lip service to the fact that driving is a "lifestyle". Maybe we ought to spend more time considering what lifestyle we are actually after rather than just $$$. I've never made a lot of money, but I've never been stone broke either. I joined the USAF at 21 and gave them 20 years, retiring as a MSgt (E7). Enlisted folks don't make a lot, but I/we raised a family and bought a home on that salary. I lived in tents, got sent off for a deployment with 24 hours notice right after getting "home" from a leave, I've spent several months in the Aleutians courtesy of the USAF and US Navy, I've lived in tents at several scenic locations, all due to deciding to "do something" besides stay in my hometown area and work at a safe job. Since "retiring" I've done IT for about 20 years and never really made much more than I was making in the USAF when considering all pay and benefits. One nice thing is that I don't sweat healthcare coverage - 20 years in the military will do it for ya! so, my salaries have never had to suck up huge insurance payouts.

Now, when I joined the USAF there was a little think called Vietnam going on. I was blessed to NOT be sent to that theater, but it certainly could have happened. So, I measured the risk and decided to go for it anyway. It paid off big time. When you are young you shouldn't sweat the "I don't know if I can" and need to try on "how do you fire this sucker up!". I keep seeing comments on here about how nervous, scared, etc. many are about school, testing, mountains, load securement.... Come on! Where's the sense of adventure?

I'm 62 years old. I'm getting ready to "retire" again and am actually old enough for early Social Security - I'm not taking it since I really want to "do" something else and would rather continue building my "benefit". So, it happens my eldest son just started driving for Swift. He was not so much nervous and anxious since he'd been laid off and out of work for a while. He zipped through the written stuff and got all his endorsements and HAZMAT before getting to Roadmaster. We're glad he came home to take this chance and regroup - starting a new career is never easy. As he and we are learning more about trucking I let him know I'd looked at driving back in 93 but didn't go that route due to family obligations. However, we got to talking at team driving and voila! a new plan for my "retirement".

At 62 my plan is to go to Swift school since I qualify for their veteran benefit and may be able to use the scholarship with no up front costs. Also, Sean is already with Swift and should road test tomorrow following several weeks with his mentor. The plan is to talk Swift into issuing him a "team" truck so he'll already be using "our" truck while I'm getting through school and training/orientation. I am so blessed to have a wife (35 years!) that will let me take off on a new adventure when most guys my age are looking to slow down and play golf! I know I don't have a lot of good healthy years left, but I'm sure going to make them count. For me, this is quality of life. I've been slowly losing my mind the last 15 years working in IT. Two jobs have not presented the promised promotion potential nor the satisfaction I got in the USAF. Yeah, I'll admit that lifers don't do verywell in the civilian work force...at least most of the guys/gals I know chaffed under the metrics rule regimen.

So, start looking at yourself and asking what you actually want. Stability, the house, new car, 8-5 with paid vaca? Please, go for it. But, do not expect to find that in trucking...

OK, off the soap box. I love this site and realize I'm older than most. But, I'm looking for the same thing most of you are - but I kinda know what I want...I need a little adventure before I head for Top of the World or the Villages!

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

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

Best way to maximize profits? A lot will depend on your location for what I'm about to suggest. If you're looking to make a very good living in trucking, then you'll want to find either some sort of niche trucking opportunity, or try LTL. LTL companies will always pay much more than OTR. I am taking home (not gross) - after taxes and deductions - between $1000 - $1200 weekly with my linehaul job at my LTL company. I'm clearing over 4K a month. Different LTL companies have different pay structures, but typically, you will be hard pressed to find a higher paying trucking job. The figures I'm quoting are for linehaul jobs.

You will work long hours. You will work nights. You will make more money being a linehaul driver as opposed to a city driver (P&D or pickup and delivery). I am a rookie trucker, only 1 1/2 months in the company, and am making very good money. But it's 12 hour days, 5 days a week. A lot of LTL opportunities will depend on location. If you're in the right area, you'll have more than one company to choose from. In days past, only experienced drivers could get into LTL - not anymore. I was hired out of school. Some have their own training programs to earn your CDL. You just need to be in the right location where there are terminals. As of now, I'm making great money, and am home at least twice if not every night a week. Eventually I will be home every night, not including my two days off. I average 2500 miles a week. I started at .57 cpm and will get over .60 cpm in about 2 years or less.

You asked for maximizing your income, so that was how I answered. These LTL jobs are tough to come by because you'll need to be near a terminal location. Here are some LTL companies I would suggest. You will need your doubles / triples, hazmat , and tank endorsements for these companies. As a linehaul driver, it is very common to earn over 100K gross at any of the following companies I listed below, especially after reaching top pay scale. I will be grossing 70-80K my rookie year with one of these companies.

Old Dominion Freight Line UPSF (UPS Freight) Fed Ex Freight Saia Estes ABF Conway Freight

I'd not suggest Central Transport or YRC (Yellow / Roadway merger). I"ve not heard good things about these LTL companies. Conway Freight can be iffy as well. Top three suggestions would be ODFL, UPSF, or Fed Ex Freight - especially for pay. UPSF takes longer to reach top pay scale out of the companies I listed.

I like posting to these questions because it's good for most folks to know that there are high paying trucking jobs still available in the industry. OTR jobs are more available, but you don't earn a lot of money, especially for how much you're away from home.

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

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

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.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

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.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

The oil fields can be another way to make really good money. Again, the hours are extremely long, the living conditions not so great - things like that. But the money is there. The big ones of course are either in North Dakota or Texas but there are tons of oil field jobs around the country that haul anything from water to sand to machinery for the drilling sites.

Unfortunately I don't know much about landing a job with one of those outfits or which areas would be the best to target. But it's definitely worth looking into.

For what it's worth, let me say this.....there are jobs in trucking that pay more but for many people they aren't worth doing. I've had some myself. The difference between 50k and 65k per year can mean the difference between kicking back and enjoying the scenery or busting your *ss unloading trucks all day. For instance, I was on the Family Dollar account with US Xpress years ago and made $62k but had to unload my own freight and run hard all the time. It was the most exhausting and gruelling job I had in trucking. It was ok for a while, but like everyone I grew tired of it and decided it wasn't worth it.

You're not going to make big money in trucking. That's just all there is to it. I think the travelling lifestyle itself is what makes trucking worth doing. "6 string rhythm" has an amazing job if you're a family man that needs to make really good money and be home all the time. But as jobs go....it's a job. It sucks. It's not a lifestyle. You're not going to Vegas and New Orleans. You're not watching the sun rise over the mountains in Colorado and then watching the sunset over the desert in Arizona. You're not visiting the beaches in Florida or hanging out at the Trucker's Jamboree at the Iowa 80 - the largest truck stop in North America. You're simply driving your *ss off all day, every day, and then parking it and going home. It isn't any more enjoyable than working in a factory.

So weigh all of your options and take a shot at anything you think might be worth trying. But I think you'll find in the end that a balance between pay and lifestyle is really the sweet spot in trucking if you can afford it. Not everyone can afford to give up 10k/year to have a more enjoyable job but if you can it's often worth it.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

I'd have to say that I agree with what Brett said about some trucking gigs becoming just a "job," to some extent. I still get to drive a truck, which is cool, but man the hours and night shift can be grueling. More so the night shift. I will not sugar coat that. Doing what I'm doing right now wouldn't be sustainable for the long-term. That's my outlook for myself - some guys / gals do it their whole trucking career, i.e. linehaul that is night shift. For me, getting a day run, being home every day, and having two days off a week that I can spend w/ my family (during the day, like a normal person), while getting to sleep at night, will be what I'm working for. That's my goal. It'll still be 10-12 hour days while working 5 days a week, but how many jobs will pay you 100K a year just working 9-5? Ya gotta give something up to make a really good living.

Honestly, I'm not the adventurous type. When I was in my younger twenties, and single, I would've sprung for OTR. Now, I enjoy the monotony. The hours are still long, but I don't have the itch to travel to different states and view the country. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing the scenery and driving when the sun comes up, but I'd rather have monotony and familiarity than diversity and the stress of having to find a new destination every day. Sure, the ride to the destination would be cool, but I'm spoiled in just going from company terminal to company terminal, never dealing with shippers / receivers. I don't touch my own freight. All drop and hook , except for when I have to spot trailers in the dock doors of certain terminals, not a big deal. In fact, I could use a little more physical exercise. It's a job that mostly takes mental strength and stamina.

Linehaul was my goal in trucking before I even knew I'd have that as an opportunity as a rookie driver. Different strokes for different folks. OTR is certainly a lifestyle, but I originally started looking at trucking mainly for a solid, stable income. If you're looking at trucking for big money, there's not so much big money as there is job security and a career where you could possibly really enjoy doing what you do for a living, while supporting a family. What I do is more like the factory job version of trucking - like what Brett said. I work long hours, but am paid well.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

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.

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.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

David's Comment
member avatar

As I am sure most the regulars on here are aware Ice road trucking pays the most... BUT... I myself dont know much more than that being a rookie.. So I have been asking truckers lately how to maximize the money they can make with a cdl.. the typical answers I get is land a job with walmart its 70k a year or find a good company after you have a few years of experience etc..

So I came across a trucker today who told me he has his cdl then he found/joined a union that paid for him to go to school for heavy machinery operation.. So he basically drives heavy machinery to job sites around the country then operates the machinery.. He personally only operated cranes at this point in his life which I found very interesting.. He says he clears 6 digits annually which I kinda believe, I am wondering if this guy was full of it or not, any opinions on this?

Also Does anyone have any suggestion for a rookie about directions one can take in this career to maximize profits.. I dont care how much travel how little I see family , I will go overseas.. I am looking for insight on the top of the industry..

First year rookies can see an average of 28-32k in the first yr, second year close to 35-37 3rd year around 40... Etc..

I'm not sure what Walmart drivers get a year. Could be 70, could be 50..

As for maximizing your gross/net income, it'll take you already a year to understand how the industry works, and another year to fully grasp how to run hard while still maintaining hours of service, which plays a huge part in your pay.

If your confused by what goes off service means, check out the High Road Training Program and got the log book section, first paragraph says it all..

While you are not required to take a written exam over the Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations to obtain your CDL, the regulations are still very important to understand. Besides the obvious reason of knowing when you can legally drive or not, having a solid understanding of the regulations will have a positive impact on your paycheck. By being informed about the regulations, you can find little tricks and ways to maximize your legal driving and working hours. The more you understand these rules, the more miles you'll be able to drive which means more money in your pocket. Put in a little work now and it will literally pay off for the rest of your career.

David

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

Best way to maximize profits? A lot will depend on your location for what I'm about to suggest. If you're looking to make a very good living in trucking, then you'll want to find either some sort of niche trucking opportunity, or try LTL. LTL companies will always pay much more than OTR. I am taking home (not gross) - after taxes and deductions - between $1000 - $1200 weekly with my linehaul job at my LTL company. I'm clearing over 4K a month. Different LTL companies have different pay structures, but typically, you will be hard pressed to find a higher paying trucking job. The figures I'm quoting are for linehaul jobs.

You will work long hours. You will work nights. You will make more money being a linehaul driver as opposed to a city driver (P&D or pickup and delivery). I am a rookie trucker, only 1 1/2 months in the company, and am making very good money. But it's 12 hour days, 5 days a week. A lot of LTL opportunities will depend on location. If you're in the right area, you'll have more than one company to choose from. In days past, only experienced drivers could get into LTL - not anymore. I was hired out of school. Some have their own training programs to earn your CDL. You just need to be in the right location where there are terminals. As of now, I'm making great money, and am home at least twice if not every night a week. Eventually I will be home every night, not including my two days off. I average 2500 miles a week. I started at .57 cpm and will get over .60 cpm in about 2 years or less.

You asked for maximizing your income, so that was how I answered. These LTL jobs are tough to come by because you'll need to be near a terminal location. Here are some LTL companies I would suggest. You will need your doubles / triples, hazmat , and tank endorsements for these companies. As a linehaul driver, it is very common to earn over 100K gross at any of the following companies I listed below, especially after reaching top pay scale. I will be grossing 70-80K my rookie year with one of these companies.

Old Dominion Freight Line UPSF (UPS Freight) Fed Ex Freight Saia Estes ABF Conway Freight

I'd not suggest Central Transport or YRC (Yellow / Roadway merger). I"ve not heard good things about these LTL companies. Conway Freight can be iffy as well. Top three suggestions would be ODFL, UPSF, or Fed Ex Freight - especially for pay. UPSF takes longer to reach top pay scale out of the companies I listed.

I like posting to these questions because it's good for most folks to know that there are high paying trucking jobs still available in the industry. OTR jobs are more available, but you don't earn a lot of money, especially for how much you're away from home.

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

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

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.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

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.

Karl A.'s Comment
member avatar

Best way to maximize profits? A lot will depend on your location for what I'm about to suggest. If you're looking to make a very good living in trucking, then you'll want to find either some sort of niche trucking opportunity, or try LTL. LTL companies will always pay much more than OTR. I am taking home (not gross) - after taxes and deductions - between $1000 - $1200 weekly with my linehaul job at my LTL company. I'm clearing over 4K a month. Different LTL companies have different pay structures, but typically, you will be hard pressed to find a higher paying trucking job. The figures I'm quoting are for linehaul jobs.

You will work long hours. You will work nights. You will make more money being a linehaul driver as opposed to a city driver (P&D or pickup and delivery). I am a rookie trucker, only 1 1/2 months in the company, and am making very good money. But it's 12 hour days, 5 days a week. A lot of LTL opportunities will depend on location. If you're in the right area, you'll have more than one company to choose from. In days past, only experienced drivers could get into LTL - not anymore. I was hired out of school. Some have their own training programs to earn your CDL. You just need to be in the right location where there are terminals. As of now, I'm making great money, and am home at least twice if not every night a week. Eventually I will be home every night, not including my two days off. I average 2500 miles a week. I started at .57 cpm and will get over .60 cpm in about 2 years or less.

You asked for maximizing your income, so that was how I answered. These LTL jobs are tough to come by because you'll need to be near a terminal location. Here are some LTL companies I would suggest. You will need your doubles / triples, hazmat , and tank endorsements for these companies. As a linehaul driver, it is very common to earn over 100K gross at any of the following companies I listed below, especially after reaching top pay scale. I will be grossing 70-80K my rookie year with one of these companies.

Old Dominion Freight Line UPSF (UPS Freight) Fed Ex Freight Saia Estes ABF Conway Freight

I'd not suggest Central Transport or YRC (Yellow / Roadway merger). I"ve not heard good things about these LTL companies. Conway Freight can be iffy as well. Top three suggestions would be ODFL, UPSF, or Fed Ex Freight - especially for pay. UPSF takes longer to reach top pay scale out of the companies I listed.

I like posting to these questions because it's good for most folks to know that there are high paying trucking jobs still available in the industry. OTR jobs are more available, but you don't earn a lot of money, especially for how much you're away from home.

Awesome advice.. Always good to know a positive direction to set goals in when getting into an industry.. So did your ltl company get you into the school you were at or did they hire you out of school with a cdl and no experience?

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

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

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.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

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.

6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar

I went to a private CDL school, but they would've hired me off the street w/o a CDL.

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.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

The oil fields can be another way to make really good money. Again, the hours are extremely long, the living conditions not so great - things like that. But the money is there. The big ones of course are either in North Dakota or Texas but there are tons of oil field jobs around the country that haul anything from water to sand to machinery for the drilling sites.

Unfortunately I don't know much about landing a job with one of those outfits or which areas would be the best to target. But it's definitely worth looking into.

For what it's worth, let me say this.....there are jobs in trucking that pay more but for many people they aren't worth doing. I've had some myself. The difference between 50k and 65k per year can mean the difference between kicking back and enjoying the scenery or busting your *ss unloading trucks all day. For instance, I was on the Family Dollar account with US Xpress years ago and made $62k but had to unload my own freight and run hard all the time. It was the most exhausting and gruelling job I had in trucking. It was ok for a while, but like everyone I grew tired of it and decided it wasn't worth it.

You're not going to make big money in trucking. That's just all there is to it. I think the travelling lifestyle itself is what makes trucking worth doing. "6 string rhythm" has an amazing job if you're a family man that needs to make really good money and be home all the time. But as jobs go....it's a job. It sucks. It's not a lifestyle. You're not going to Vegas and New Orleans. You're not watching the sun rise over the mountains in Colorado and then watching the sunset over the desert in Arizona. You're not visiting the beaches in Florida or hanging out at the Trucker's Jamboree at the Iowa 80 - the largest truck stop in North America. You're simply driving your *ss off all day, every day, and then parking it and going home. It isn't any more enjoyable than working in a factory.

So weigh all of your options and take a shot at anything you think might be worth trying. But I think you'll find in the end that a balance between pay and lifestyle is really the sweet spot in trucking if you can afford it. Not everyone can afford to give up 10k/year to have a more enjoyable job but if you can it's often worth it.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

I'd have to say that I agree with what Brett said about some trucking gigs becoming just a "job," to some extent. I still get to drive a truck, which is cool, but man the hours and night shift can be grueling. More so the night shift. I will not sugar coat that. Doing what I'm doing right now wouldn't be sustainable for the long-term. That's my outlook for myself - some guys / gals do it their whole trucking career, i.e. linehaul that is night shift. For me, getting a day run, being home every day, and having two days off a week that I can spend w/ my family (during the day, like a normal person), while getting to sleep at night, will be what I'm working for. That's my goal. It'll still be 10-12 hour days while working 5 days a week, but how many jobs will pay you 100K a year just working 9-5? Ya gotta give something up to make a really good living.

Honestly, I'm not the adventurous type. When I was in my younger twenties, and single, I would've sprung for OTR. Now, I enjoy the monotony. The hours are still long, but I don't have the itch to travel to different states and view the country. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing the scenery and driving when the sun comes up, but I'd rather have monotony and familiarity than diversity and the stress of having to find a new destination every day. Sure, the ride to the destination would be cool, but I'm spoiled in just going from company terminal to company terminal, never dealing with shippers / receivers. I don't touch my own freight. All drop and hook , except for when I have to spot trailers in the dock doors of certain terminals, not a big deal. In fact, I could use a little more physical exercise. It's a job that mostly takes mental strength and stamina.

Linehaul was my goal in trucking before I even knew I'd have that as an opportunity as a rookie driver. Different strokes for different folks. OTR is certainly a lifestyle, but I originally started looking at trucking mainly for a solid, stable income. If you're looking at trucking for big money, there's not so much big money as there is job security and a career where you could possibly really enjoy doing what you do for a living, while supporting a family. What I do is more like the factory job version of trucking - like what Brett said. I work long hours, but am paid well.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

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.

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.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

Karl A.'s Comment
member avatar

I'd have to say that I agree with what Brett said about some trucking gigs becoming just a "job," to some extent. I still get to drive a truck, which is cool, but man the hours and night shift can be grueling. More so the night shift. I will not sugar coat that. Doing what I'm doing right now wouldn't be sustainable for the long-term. That's my outlook for myself - some guys / gals do it their whole trucking career, i.e. linehaul that is night shift. For me, getting a day run, being home every day, and having two days off a week that I can spend w/ my family (during the day, like a normal person), while getting to sleep at night, will be what I'm working for. That's my goal. It'll still be 10-12 hour days while working 5 days a week, but how many jobs will pay you 100K a year just working 9-5? Ya gotta give something up to make a really good living.

Honestly, I'm not the adventurous type. When I was in my younger twenties, and single, I would've sprung for OTR. Now, I enjoy the monotony. The hours are still long, but I don't have the itch to travel to different states and view the country. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing the scenery and driving when the sun comes up, but I'd rather have monotony and familiarity than diversity and the stress of having to find a new destination every day. Sure, the ride to the destination would be cool, but I'm spoiled in just going from company terminal to company terminal, never dealing with shippers / receivers. I don't touch my own freight. All drop and hook , except for when I have to spot trailers in the dock doors of certain terminals, not a big deal. In fact, I could use a little more physical exercise. It's a job that mostly takes mental strength and stamina.

Linehaul was my goal in trucking before I even knew I'd have that as an opportunity as a rookie driver. Different strokes for different folks. OTR is certainly a lifestyle, but I originally started looking at trucking mainly for a solid, stable income. If you're looking at trucking for big money, there's not so much big money as there is job security and a career where you could possibly really enjoy doing what you do for a living, while supporting a family. What I do is more like the factory job version of trucking - like what Brett said. I work long hours, but am paid well.

What you and Brett had to say really hit home with me, helps me understand a lot more the trucking industry.. so thanks for the insight.. As for me I have signed on with one of the larger companies and start school for them in a few weeks, I know I will be at the lower end of the pay scale starting out but the idea of traveling and seeing the world is very inticing to me, on the other hand I got into the trucking industry for the job security and in the long run I will be more into the pay than the lifestyle more than likely.. I wish I had known bout Conways training program a few weeks ago :/ aside from how long it takes I think that would have been the best entry into the field for myself.. plus I will be surprised if I make over 30k in my first year getting into the industry the way I am going..

So LTL is basically long haul with multiple stops and not a full trailer? do I understand this right? Why does LTL pay so much more? is it simply bc of many more hours?

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

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

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.

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.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

David L.'s Comment
member avatar
Best Answer!

"We" spend a lot of time on the forum discussing $$$ and paying lip service to the fact that driving is a "lifestyle". Maybe we ought to spend more time considering what lifestyle we are actually after rather than just $$$. I've never made a lot of money, but I've never been stone broke either. I joined the USAF at 21 and gave them 20 years, retiring as a MSgt (E7). Enlisted folks don't make a lot, but I/we raised a family and bought a home on that salary. I lived in tents, got sent off for a deployment with 24 hours notice right after getting "home" from a leave, I've spent several months in the Aleutians courtesy of the USAF and US Navy, I've lived in tents at several scenic locations, all due to deciding to "do something" besides stay in my hometown area and work at a safe job. Since "retiring" I've done IT for about 20 years and never really made much more than I was making in the USAF when considering all pay and benefits. One nice thing is that I don't sweat healthcare coverage - 20 years in the military will do it for ya! so, my salaries have never had to suck up huge insurance payouts.

Now, when I joined the USAF there was a little think called Vietnam going on. I was blessed to NOT be sent to that theater, but it certainly could have happened. So, I measured the risk and decided to go for it anyway. It paid off big time. When you are young you shouldn't sweat the "I don't know if I can" and need to try on "how do you fire this sucker up!". I keep seeing comments on here about how nervous, scared, etc. many are about school, testing, mountains, load securement.... Come on! Where's the sense of adventure?

I'm 62 years old. I'm getting ready to "retire" again and am actually old enough for early Social Security - I'm not taking it since I really want to "do" something else and would rather continue building my "benefit". So, it happens my eldest son just started driving for Swift. He was not so much nervous and anxious since he'd been laid off and out of work for a while. He zipped through the written stuff and got all his endorsements and HAZMAT before getting to Roadmaster. We're glad he came home to take this chance and regroup - starting a new career is never easy. As he and we are learning more about trucking I let him know I'd looked at driving back in 93 but didn't go that route due to family obligations. However, we got to talking at team driving and voila! a new plan for my "retirement".

At 62 my plan is to go to Swift school since I qualify for their veteran benefit and may be able to use the scholarship with no up front costs. Also, Sean is already with Swift and should road test tomorrow following several weeks with his mentor. The plan is to talk Swift into issuing him a "team" truck so he'll already be using "our" truck while I'm getting through school and training/orientation. I am so blessed to have a wife (35 years!) that will let me take off on a new adventure when most guys my age are looking to slow down and play golf! I know I don't have a lot of good healthy years left, but I'm sure going to make them count. For me, this is quality of life. I've been slowly losing my mind the last 15 years working in IT. Two jobs have not presented the promised promotion potential nor the satisfaction I got in the USAF. Yeah, I'll admit that lifers don't do verywell in the civilian work force...at least most of the guys/gals I know chaffed under the metrics rule regimen.

So, start looking at yourself and asking what you actually want. Stability, the house, new car, 8-5 with paid vaca? Please, go for it. But, do not expect to find that in trucking...

OK, off the soap box. I love this site and realize I'm older than most. But, I'm looking for the same thing most of you are - but I kinda know what I want...I need a little adventure before I head for Top of the World or the Villages!

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

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Karl A.'s Comment
member avatar

Hey David that was deep, appreciate the input.. I myself am exmilitary and know what the transfer to civilian life is like. I didn't get close to my 20 but have a lot of family who has.. It's the type of perspective that's good to hear, your talking about asking yourself what you want and having the experience to talk about it.. Although I am in my 30s I have to say I know I can get what I want out of life from trucking.. I don't know what you mean by don't expect to get a house car etc out of trucking.. It's not IT pay granted but I am ok with the pay in the upper 20% of the industry, hence me trying to reach out to other minds and understand what it is and how to get it..

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