Just Some Questions And Concerns

Topic 9351 | Page 1

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Thomas (Knot Head)'s Comment
member avatar

I was wondering what kind of advice anyone could give me on what it is like for "rookies" out on the road? I have always been interested in driving a truck as far back as I can remember. As a kid I rode across the country in a truck, once, and then again up around the New England area, once.

I have been thinking for about a year or two now about maybe trying to change careers to trucking. I have a bunch of questions, concerns and fears. My first concern is that I don't know if I would enjoy the trucking lifestyle. I think I could but I don't like jumping into something without knowing exactly what I am getting myself into, or at least an idea. I only know two people that are friends that drive trucks and I have been talking to them but both of their companies do not allow riders. I was wanting to ride to get an idea if this is really what I want or not. My next biggest concern is that I already live paycheck to paycheck and I DO NOT have the funds to pay for CDL school and I don't have the credit score that would allow me to get a loan for it. So schooling is my first problem.

Random thought: Is there any company that would actually consider 12 years of driving fire trucks as "experience"? Would it matter at all? I do have a Class B, but it is not a CDL because emergency vehicles are exempt in my state.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Gizmo's Comment
member avatar

Well as a rookie driver (3 months on the 11th) I can say along with many other people that trucking is not for everybody but for different reasons. Some people dont like being alone for extended periods of time, others find it too stressful (as I have found out at times, I wish it as simple as just driving like many non truckers say about the job) others find it puts too much strain on relationships with spouses and children. If you were to like it comes down to your personality and traits but these are the more common reasons why I see/saw people quit.

As for pay, I would say that all varies by what your expenses look like, where/how you work etc. For me, I was living paycheck to paycheck at one point having to work a day job and a overnight job with just enough money at the end of the month to break even. Now I am actually able to pay my bills and save money. I remember its like my trainer had said, its not gonna make you rich, but it could make you live comfortable.

For schooling, there are many companies out there that will pay for your schooling. If you do that though it is like a contract where you have to work of your debt to them once you graduate. (Which usually takes about a year) So if you like the job but hate the company you are pretty much stuck for that time until its paid off or you gotta pay whatever left and other fees if you decide to leave early.

As for the firetruck, I have no idea lol. Maybe someone else got that

Jessica A-M's Comment
member avatar

I've included a few links below to help get you started.

Especially read Brett's book and the career guide to start with.

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.

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.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Thom, long ago I drove ambulance so I know the "fun & excitement" of code 3 driving. Ain't gonna happen in an 18 wheeler. The fire truck probably doesn't bend like a tractor /trailer rig. That's what the experience is about.

After five months of OTR , here are some low points: the separation from your family, for weeks at a time. Living in a small box without its own bathroom and kitchen. Having to walk across a huge parking lot to use the restroom. Some guys are too lazy to make that walk so you'll smell pee a lot.

You could eat most of your meals in restaurants, but that gets old quick and the $$$ add up - it's your dime. So lots of sandwiches and canned meals. Many drivers do some kind of cooking themselves, though.

But, on balance, the payoff can make up for these "problems". You get to go possibly all over the US. The open road itself is a powerful draw. You have a job that depends only on you to get the goods delivered.

That's a few things. Others will come in here.

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.

DWI:

Driving While Intoxicated

Thomas (Knot Head)'s Comment
member avatar

Thank y'all for your input. Errol: I do have a wife and two step kids. 16 and 14 years old. So I know gong into it that I would be separated from them from time to time but I am almost doing that now with my current schedule. The shift schedule I am on now makes me flip from first shift to third shift every two weeks. The two weeks I am on third it is like I am not even here anyway. I am at work while they sleep and then I am sleeping while they are up and about. I have been doing this shift work for 8 years and I am just getting burnt out on the shifts, the "clients" that we have to deal with and office politics.

I did work part-time for FEDEX Ground as a home delivery driver, mostly during the Holiday Seasons. I know it is not like truck driving but I like to think it is as close as I have gotten so far. I enjoyed it. I would pick up my rental cargo van, load my route packages, get my manifest and turn by turn directions and then head out. I enjoyed the hell out of it. I was so used to working and being involved in emergency services, that this was a welcomed break from my "normal". It was nice to just load my van, go drive and deliver with no one on my back. The temp agency I worked with that contracted with them let the contract expire so all of us got thrown out.

Like you said Gizmo, I am not looking to get rich and I know that truck driving is not going to make me rich but I just want to be able to make all my bills and have some left over to be "comfortable".

My first idea was to try and get into trucking part-time just to see if I would like it, then make the switch to full-time if I did. But I have learned, the hard way, that there is almost no way to get into this career without jumping in it full throttle. No one around here wants you unless you went to a trucking school or had experience and I have neither. I did go and get my learner's permit and had it for 6 months. A buddy of mine was trying to get me hooked up with a buddy of his that has his own truck but that guy would never answer his phone and wouldn't return my messages. I was trying to find someone that would take me out, even if it was daily and so me what it all entails, and if possible let me drive to get comfortable with it before I went and took the road test for get my CDL. But that all fell apart. I learned very quickly that what I thought I could do, wasn't going to happen. Can't always get what you want. lol.

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.

Manifest:

Bill of Lading

An accurate record of everything being shipped on a truck, often times used as a checklist during unloading.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Thomas says,

I did go and get my learner's permit and had it for 6 months. A buddy of mine was trying to get me hooked up with a buddy of his that has his own truck but that guy would never answer his phone and wouldn't return my messages. I was trying to find someone that would take me out, even if it was daily and so me what it all entails, and if possible let me drive to get comfortable with it before I went and took the road test for get my CDL. But that all fell apart. I learned very quickly that what I thought I could do, wasn't going to happen. Can't always get what you want. lol.

You may have found out that you can actually get a CDL-A without the schooling, with a friend network or something. But you would still miss the other part: official training from an accredited school. No dice. You need the sheepskin from a school before any major, or even minor, trucking company will even look at your resume. You may find a school that could get you a discounted "fast track" rate since you do have the full CDL-A. (Or do you? That's not clear here.)

Thomas, after a year of "thinking", it's time to ... fish_or_cut_bait_shirt.jpg?height=250&wi

We're here to help.

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.
Thomas (Knot Head)'s Comment
member avatar

You may have found out that you can actually get a CDL-A without the schooling, with a friend network or something. But you would still miss the other part: official training from an accredited school. No dice. You need the sheepskin from a school before any major, or even minor, trucking company will even look at your resume. You may find a school that could get you a discounted "fast track" rate since you do have the full CDL-A. (Or do you? That's not clear here.)

We're here to help.

No I had no choice but to let my learner's permit lapse. So now I am back to just a Class B non-CDL. Thank you for all the information all of you have been able to provide so far. I really do want to give it a try. Just got to find financial assistance. I do have somewhat of an idea of where I would like to go. I have been checking out the companies that the local driving schools around me us and there is about 3 or 4 companies that I am really interested in.

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.
Old School's Comment
member avatar

Thomas, welcome aboard!

Errol is correct about the training. Now days just about any company that will hire inexperienced Class A drivers will require a training certificate that shows 160 hours of training. That certificate is just as important as the Class A CDL. Once you get yourself lined up with a school you need to make sure that you will be receiving that certificate showing 160 hours before you sign anything.

Have you considered Company-Sponsored Training ? Many folks choose to go that route - it can be done with little or no initial out of pocket money from you. Prime will pay you 700 bucks a week while you are in training. That is a great deal, in my opinion, and you can certainly make more than that once you are running solo.

I have a friend in my hometown who asked me about getting into truck driving. He has been a volunteer fireman for many years. He was convinced that anyone would consider that as experience. I laid it all out for him how you have got to follow the proper path if you want to get to the proper destination, but his buddy with a dump truck service provided him with a truck to take his driving test in so he could get his CDL on his own. That was well over a year ago now - he still can not get a job - no one would hire him. He admitted to me after the first six months of trying that I was right and he wished he would have listened to me.

If you do it the way these carriers want to see it done, you will be a shoe in. There is a large demand for drivers, but they are still particular about that training. Their insurance carriers insist on them having that certificate on file before they will cover any new drivers.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Thomas (Knot Head)'s Comment
member avatar

Thank you Old School. I did look up Prime but from what I gathered, and I could be wrong, it appears that they want me to get a Missouri CDL. I read it a few times on their website and that is what I swear I read but don't understand it.

I have been reading up on Millis Transfer and really thinking about going with them. But one question I have is if I go there and after a free years decide I want to try a different company, would the training I received at this company work for the next one? Or at that point would it be just the experience that matters?

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.
Michael S.'s Comment
member avatar

Prime's training facility is in Springfield MS. You go there, they train you there, and you get an MS CDL. When you return to your home state you transfer it that state.

Yes, after a year your experience is more important than the training certificate. Just don't take a long break from commercial driving and you'll never need to do it again.

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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