Hi Everyone. I am new here and to the industry - as will become obvious as you read this post and my replies. I am getting ready for truck driving school and have a bunch of questions.
Will my prior experience help me out at all?? I have been driving Farm plated 18 wheelers delivering grain for over a well over a decade. I feel comfortable running up and down through the gears, although I had never heard of double clutching until recently. I have experience driving 5th wheel stock trailers hauling cattle around. I have been driving tractors and combines since my early teens so I know what it is like to pay attention to a driving operation for long hours day after day. Could this help me out at all and how do I leverage it with employers?
Ideally I would like to have a situation where I can go hard for a month or two at a time, bank money, and then have time off to do my own projects and other seasonal jobs. I have worked on a commercial fishing boat in the past for a couple months in the summer and the money was really good so I don't want to give the opportunity to do stuff like that up. But is it even reasonable to think I will be able to do this??
What is realistic? I have seen some say $40 - $60K first year, but I think I saw that on a post from 2016. With inflation and driver shortages, what is it today for a rookie.
Off Topic but does the industry have a slang term for rookies? like greenhorn or something
Why do rookies make less? Lower set wages? Bad Runs? We just end up taking longer and making mistakes? They know we don't know any better so just give us less?
How do you not get screwed over? I have heard that there are a lot of ppl in the industry that will take advantage of you... How true is this and what are the things to look out for?
Thanks to all the experienced truckers willing to help us newbies out!
Looking for my ticket to fame and fortune! haha
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Yes, your previous experience (if pulling 48-ft or 53-ft trailers) should help--especially if you can produce/show documentation/proof of such.
Later on...with prospective employers--of course, be prepared to do a road test....demonstrating your mentioned experience.
However--said road test may well be in an urban environment, with tight turns and/or clearances. You'll need to demonstrate competent backing skills then (like...in docking areas), too.
As mentioned above--some employment agencies cater to the CDL world, and can set you up with part-time, or seasonal opportunities.
Many of those opportunities will want at least a year (or more) of CDL experience, however.
For further help or info....tell us what city/state is closest to you, and the Forum can make more appropriate suggestions.
Be sure the CDL school you go to has a CDL course that's rated for AT LEAST 160 hours. More than that is of course....even better.
What CDL school(s) do you have in mind?
You probably got more sense and know how than a 20 year driver from a mega. You will be fine. Don’t worry about double clutching, I never got the hang of it. I’ve always floated. Just do your best to pass the exam. Afterwords drive a truck like you’re supposed too. See you on the highways.
A couple of answers based on your initial questions:
"Double-clutching" is a misleading term, meaning that you hold in neutral long enough for your next gear's spinning speed to match the input gear's speed on a non-synchromesh transmission, avoiding 'gear crunch'. Sometimes people would actually push the clutch twice, as a timing strategy, but every truck-driving rookie quickly learns how to time is lag and avoid having to do all the extra clutch-pushing. Then, about 6 months later, even the least-coordinated driver learns how to float gears....
As far as to earnings, it mostly depends on how long you are willing to stay out on the road and away from home. If you are more centrally-located, you MIGHT be able to get lots of mileage and be home most weekends, but that's pretty rare. Most often, though, you stay out on the road for at least a month at a time. Jobs which keep you closer to home give you fewer miles and often lower pay.
Also, if you go into the business with the intention of taking 6 months a year off to pursue other interests, I'd think that only the most desperate companies would even consider you, and trust me, you DON'T want to work for them. Either make a full-time commitment, or just stick with regional grain-hauling.
Temp services will hire you after you gain a few months experience; then you can work when you want to.
We'll help you find a decent company to get started with. If you're in a good location should be no problem making $60 - $70 thousand your first year. Couple of drivers on here made$85G the first year driving a fuel truck and fueling locomotives. Ads wanted 12 months experience, but they were hired right out of cdl school. Depends on location, endorsements, and need for drivers.
As @Oor posted, post your location.
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