Thinking About Starting A New Career. Need Advice!

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Sohn W.'s Comment
member avatar

Hello everyone. I am a 37 year old offshore supply boat Captain. As we all know the oil fields once again are crashing causing Lay offs and massive pay cuts. I have 2 very good friends that are truck drivers. One is a owner operator (has a 2015 peter built 389. Extremely nice truck) The other is a company driver. They both love there job and have only a few bad things to say about it. I have been working 28 days out and 14 in since 1999, so being away from home is nothing new to me. Also i am well aware of the extremely large pay cut i would be taking. Fortunately my wife and i already own our dream home on an Island on the gulf coast and our debt is very low and she has a good job. I have grown tired of oil field politics that cause good people to loose everything overnight due to greed. These Owners (like the trucking owners) don't care if you put in 15-30 years of good service. They will call you on the phone and tell you we no longer need your services. My point is i am accustomed to the transportation business. I can afford to school myself without using the we will hire you and send you to company's to get hired on with. I read many forums from you guys (and gals) about the driving industry and off-course very few take time to post positive things and its also obvious when a recruiter pipes in to say how good a particular company is. My question to you guys and gals are should i try it out or stay away? I also hear from everyone to stay away from the monster company's. I actually have an opportunity to go with my buddy's company. any advice is good advice.

Thanks

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

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

Sohn, Welcome to the forum! I am glad you're here, but I was a little surprised that after saying that you've read a lot of this forum that you would come to some of the conclusions that you do.

I can afford to school myself without using the we will hire you and send you to company's to get hired on with. I read many forums from you guys (and gals) about the driving industry and off-course very few take time to post positive things and its also obvious when a recruiter pipes in to say how good a particular company is. My question to you guys and gals are should i try it out or stay away? I also hear from everyone to stay away from the monster company's. I actually have an opportunity to go with my buddy's company. any advice is good advice.

Thanks

Being able to afford your own schooling is great, I did the same, but I often times encourage folks to go through the Company-Sponsored Training programs. Either way is an acceptable way to get started in this career. I can assure you that neither one has the superior advantage over the other in producing good professional drivers. They both do the same thing, and that is to help you get your CDL along with the necessary certified training certificate. As far as becoming a professional in this field, that will be determined by each individual as they develop their skills over time out there on the open road proving themselves on a daily basis.

I have no problem with someone choosing a private school, but the mentality that seems to think the company sponsored training programs are indentured servitude does not exist here at this website. Heck, there are so many of these training programs around now that I just consider that the person attending one of them still gets to choose where they are going to work, they just choose it before they start their schooling, whereas the privately schooled driver decides it after they attend the schooling.

For you to say that "very few take time to post positive things" about the industry tells me that you have been all over the place with your research, because no thinking individual could possibly come to that conclusion after spending even a little time here in this forum. Breaking into the trucking business is tough - for some it is tougher than others, but it is a big adjustment for any one. No one holds your hand, and every one expects you to just jump right in and bust your tail like the big boys. That is why you will see so many negative comments about this industry - very few are able to make the cut. They are usually embarrassed and ashamed, but can't seem to accept the reality that they couldn't handle it. Then next thing we know they are bad mouthing the very career that we love and enjoy. Man, I wake up everyday to a new adventure, and I can't wait to get my truck rolling down the road each new day or night that I happen to be moving somebody's freight to it's destination. I'm passionate about what I do, and so are so many others here. Is it tough at times? Yeah! Will we be honest about the rigorous nature of the career? Yes, we will, but if you don't find that golden positive thread that is woven through out most of this particular website I don't know what to tell you.

My question to you guys and gals are should i try it out or stay away?

By all means you should try it! To me, you seem like the perfect candidate, but don't be expecting to be able to be home for week or two at a time - that won't happen. Usually you are going to be expected to be out for three to four weeks with three or four days home at most. It's a grand adventure that will challenge every thing in you. In fact the type of personality that does well in this business is one that enjoys being challenged.

I also hear from everyone to stay away from the monster company's.

That is an absolutely wrong approach to breaking into this business in my opinion. Let me tell you about these so called "monster companies". They have got what it takes to keep you moving and making great money - that is a large amount of available freight just sitting there waiting on them to get some driver over in the area to pick it up. They also have so many of the necessary services available to you to keep you moving when you suffer a break-down or a flat tire. I work for one of those big companies, and let me tell you they take care of stuff for me. I have never sat for more than an hour when I was stranded on the side of the road - they have got the connections, and the clout to get someone moving in your direction to help you get right back on the road. You try that with Bubba Gump trucking out of small town Alabama, when you are stuck on the side of the road in Montana, and see what happens to ya!

People claim that they are just a number at these large carriers, but I've always been treated well. Some folks can't get used to the fact that no one knows who they are, and they seem to need that family like connection with some of their working peers - these are just a few of the things that cause folks to stumble at this career. If you need that stuff then you might be better off at a small company.

Give it a try, I think you'll love it! Our Truck Driver's Career Guide is a great place to start your research.

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.

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.

Rick S.'s Comment
member avatar

Saudi Oil prices (the fact that they are continuing production at high levels and forcing prices down) are designed, in part at least - to make american domestic oil production too expensive. It's cheeper to buy oil from SA/OPEC, than it is to extract our own resources - hence the downsizing moves in all aspects of domestic production. The other part of Saud's moves are to screw the Iranians and Russians.

At any rate - I've spoken to a couple of friends that drive in the fields recently - and they're pretty much waiting for the phone to ring, telling them to hand in their keys and go home. It's not a matter of cruelty or lack of loyalty on the companies part - it's just business. Less a matter of COMPANY POLITICS - rather it's GLOBAL POLITICS.

As far as getting into the transport industry - people go with the "Monster Companies" when they get into the business - because most insurance companies will not underwrite drivers with less than a years experience for Interstate Transport CMV positions. Larger companies either self-insure, and/or are able to afford that risk class because they are large, and spread the risk company wide.

If your buddy company is willing to take the huge hit on his insurance premiums, in order to put you on - I would pretty much say GO FOR IT. OTOH - the mega-newbie-companies allow you to train under a mentor (some are good trainers, some are not-so-good), and run in order to get that all-important-first-year - where you become insurable.

Many mid-sized to larger companies have reduced the hire-on-requirements down to the 6 month range as of late - due to bad retention and driver shortages. Many of the "more desirable" mid-sized/smaller companies still have 1 or even 2 year requirements.

Similar to Oil Field layoffs - this is SIMPLY BUSINESS. Insurance costs are a huge part of any trucking companies overhead. Those that are unwilling to absorb the cost of inexperienced drivers, just won't hire them.

Rick

CMV:

Commercial Motor Vehicle

A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Welcome Sohn, You will find that this place is 99% positive and that everyone here old or new try to help out however they can. If you can't find an answer to a question jump up to the search box on this page and type in what your looking for, more than likely it has been discussed already. Go for it!!! I will tell you something that the "Master" of this site says, "You get out what you put in", if you go into a company with a positive attitude and solid work ethic you'll be all set. I say "Master", I'm speaking of "Old School" this gentlemen is like the master to grass hopper, (KUNG FU), really awesome to speak with, read his words. One thought, teaming, not sure if your friends are into it but more miles more money? Whatever you decide, Good Luck!!!

MRC's Comment
member avatar

Late to the party, started it a hour ago, the daughter called and that's why everyone, including the "Master" posted first.confused.gifgood-luck.gif

Sohn W.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the response. I am one that excepts challenges well. Lord knows in the line of work i do know is a challenge minute by minute. You said that you were surprised that even after reading the things i have that i am still interested. The same responses in the line of transportation work i do are the same. Very few are cut out for this work as well. After reading allot on this site i seen the positives and that's why i asked the question. I feel confident that i can do the job successful, so its a matter of the pay cut i would take. I would like to get on the road and do the same thing that i have done offshore. I think you have answered my question well and ready to make a decision. Thanks so much.

>

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Hey Sohn, I don't know what kind of money you are making, but yeah, I'm sure you are going to take a pay cut. Let me just say that most people jumping into this really take a big hit during their first year. If you can manage getting yourself through that first year, then there will be much better opportunities open to you. No one gets rich doing this, but I think you can find a job after having one year of safe, productive driving experience where you can make 50 - 60 grand. That has been my experience, but you will have to be a real go-getter to make it happen. When you are getting paid by the mile, the pay is performance based, and you will also need a good dispatcher who's got your back, and a little bit of luck. Unfortunately that pay rate is also going to be just about at the very top unless you want to do LTL and then you might squeeze out another 10 or 12 grand. There are some specialized jobs where you might make a little more, but they are hard to find for folks with just a few years experience, and you just about have to have some connections to land most of them.

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

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
Jeff L.'s Comment
member avatar

Sohn, I am just starting out and first became interested by trucking by seeing one of those adds promising the up to forty grand for the first year while traveling the open highway and looked into a company for the one year sign up. Since I have read allot of horror stories , whether they were the weak links who could not cut the mustard or they did not get proper training by their school or mentors, I can not tell you. It made me decide to look at the local Lone Star College here outside of Houston which I have put an application in for and plan to pay cash out of pocket to be able to get into the earliest class. You can apply for grants or funding only it draws out the process. I like the Idea of this route since it is 240 hours and six weeks long(four weeks day, two weeks night) while the company sponsored is only 180 hours and only three weeks long. I believe going into this with more training plus there will only be eight people to my class rather than what I have read that are sometimes more than ten per class company sponsored. I have read stories even here about students not even knowing how to down shift coming out of their schools and their mentor ignores them when asking them to do so. How did they get their CDL? Now if you are already aware of how to drive and function within the law and do not mind signing up for a year, company school could be a good choice. I could probably easily pass the written test just off the bat because I have studied all the online tutorials including the one here which is more detailed than most which surpasses even my state CDL handbook and something you should check out if you have not. Someone who knows nothing at all going straight into that environment without even studying and or watching videos will set themselves up for failure. The first year to me is school and a way to gain experience whether good or bad. It seems I am just a small fish swimming in the midst of sharks, so the few whales who wish to give advice here really pays off even the ones who are sarcastic. Hope everything goes your way.

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

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