The Shift From Computers To A Trucking Career Begins

by Adrian Nunenkamp

Welcome to the first post of what I hope to be a very long series of blog entries by yours truly. Who am I, you might ask? Well, I'm known as 'Old Wolf,' but my real name is Adrian. I'm currently in a trucking school in the Pacific Northwest, and thought I would share my experiences with you. My goal with this series, including once I'm out of school and on the road, is to provide insight into the process of becoming an over the road (or OTR) driver.

A Little Bit About Me

Let me tell you a little about myself. I'm a 30-something who got caught in the downswing of the economy. Since I got out of the US Navy back in 1997, I had been in the high-tech/computer industry... mostly as technical support or customer service. All that changed a few months back when I was let go from my last job working as a Quality Assurance technician for a printer company. Jobs in my area of expertise are very hard to find, especially if you have no degree. People didn't seem to want to pay more than minimum wage for someone with 11 years of experience if they didn't have that little piece of paper.

I had been looking at truck driving for about five years at this point. I envied the guys (and gals) on the road and their freedom to do... whatever. A little naive, I know, but at the time I didn't have a clue about the trucking industry. All I saw was the big rigs and the freedom of the road. So, after a month of collecting unemployment and getting more frustrated looking for work, I started looking into trucking school.

What I Looked For In A Trucking School

Now, I'm not going to tell you where I'm going. Much as I like the location, as Brett says... we're not here to push any one place or company. What I will tell you is what made me decide to come where I am now. First, and most important to me, was if they had job placement assistance and a pre-hire program. Fortunately this school does, and I managed to land a pre-hire with a major company. Then, having gone to college back before the Navy, I decided to go to a school that was accredited. What does that mean? Well, it means that the school is under a review authority or board. In that respect, the truck school is almost exactly like a college (I didn't find out until I started the course here that they have partnered with one of the local community colleges to provide a diploma, and are planning on setting up an Associate's degree too). Next, I looked into how they broke the course up. As this school provides classes for two different states, it follows the more stringent of the two states' requirements... 170 clock hours of instruction, with 46 of the hours being classroom. The rest of the hours are split evenly between yard (practicing maneuvers and driver's yard skills) and actual on the road driving.

Once I was satisfied with those three things, I then checked over the equipment. The more modern the equipment, the better. After all, your major carriers tend to sell their equipment after 4-5 years and get new rigs. If you're training on something too old, you might have the skills but you won't be used to the newer things. Finally, I looked at cost. For some of you folks, that may be the very first thing you zero in on... and rightfully so in this economy. If one is unemployed, another thing to look at is if your state will work to help pay the cost of the school. If I had known about that, I would not have needed a loan for where I'm going. In my case, the state will at least pick up the licensing costs.

My next blog will cover my first week in trucking driving school.


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.

Over The Road:

Over The Road

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


What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

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

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

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

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

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


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
by Brett Aquila

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