My First Year (Almost) With USA Truck

Discussion in 'Questions From New Drivers' started by CluelessRoadie, Jan 3, 2015.

  1. CluelessRoadie

    CluelessRoadie Light Load Member

    Jun 20, 2014
    St. Joseph, MI
    Well, I've been driving over a year now and spent 10 months with USA Truck before finally ending my employment and going to work for a smaller company out of my home state. I have decided to write a post dedicated to any wanna be drivers thinking about going the route I went and having my school semi paid for and signing a year contract.

    First off, I don't have the best credit, I didn't have a job and I needed to do something fast to make money. I'm pretty safe to assume that's the situation for a lot of people going the route I did or, frankly, you would not choose this route. But as it was, it was the only viable option for me and probably for you.

    It is important to understand that simple fact and I notice people forget it all the time. Let me explain. If I had money or could get a loan I would have paid for my schooling and started with a better company. I didn't so I understood I wasnt. As an example, I bought a car at a no credit used car lot and paid very high interest. That's my issue and I don't feel like I have a right to complain. On that same line of thinking, I went in knowing I have no right to complain about low pay. I signed on the line.

    So, in essence, I'm writing this for those like myself who's options are limited.

    1. The CDL school sucked. But who cares. You learn enough to hop the fence and pass your CDL test. That's all that matters. You will feel like you barely learned anything the day you leave with your CDL. Rest assured you will learn all you need to with your trainer and then after 3 months on your own you will start to finally feel a decent comfort level doing your job. It will not happen in 3 weeks of driving around cones so just accept that.

    2. The time with your trainer will suck. It did for me. First off I had a crazy ####### trainer. After 3 days I said f-this and asked for a new one. Don't quit over a bad trainer. Ask for a new one. You will get taken advantage of. I drove 10 hour days with one break when my trainer wanted to. I got paid 350 or whatever it is they paid drivers during training. You will not make money during training so drive well and get upgraded.
    On a side note being with a trainer sucks simply because you are stuck in a truck with another person for weeks on end. Do not ever go with a company that makes you drive team. It's the biggest con out there. The only way it makes sense is being a couple or married and the money is collectively shared. You see ads saying "make 90 grand a year team driving." Sweet but I'd rather make 45k a year and not be sleeping while the truck is moving.

    3. You will not make any money your first year. It's just the way it is going this route. First off, you don't make any money with these big companies anyway, let alone when you just start. .28 cents a mile times 2200 miles= crap. Learn how to drive, don't get any tickets or accidents, threaten to quit after 6 months unless you get a better truck and a raise and problem solved(kinda).

    4. Get along with your dispatch. I had the best dispatch ever then he went on a split shift and for 3-4 days a week I had the worst dispatch ever. I didn't get along with him and I paid for it- literally.

    5. You won't go home. Sure they tell you that you can go home every two weeks for two days and you can. But you won't make any money. It's hard enough to get decent miles on a 7 day week good luck on a 5 day week. I stayed out 3-4 weeks at a time and got home 3 to 4 days a month. Luckily for me I was going through a bad breakup so I didn't want to be home. Once we worked things out and wanted me home more, being gone 28 days a month quickly loses its appeal. And remember you are gone 28 days a month for 400 dollars a week.

    6. Remember, you will not make any money. It gets hard sitting in the same truck stop for two days a 100 miles away from home asking yourself why you are doing this for 400 dollars a week. Think about it like I did. One year out of your life to get the job you want in the future. It's a sacrifice.

    For me that sacrifice was and is worth it. I now have a job making .39 cents a miles plus tons of extra pay plus home on weekends averaging almost 3000 miles a week. I make good money now, I'm home more and much happier but I couldn't have taken this job without all the driving experience I suffered through and mistakes I made.

    Keep your license clear and clean. I've been driving 13 months with no tickets, no accidents and 2 clean inspections. A clean license is a ticket to much better jobs in the future.

    Good Luck!
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  3. pattyj

    pattyj Road Train Member

    Jul 19, 2008
    Sioux City,ia
    Go for you CluelessRoadie you made it thru the worst part of your career.Not many in this industry stays with their first company even half as long as you did thinken they'll find far better pastures elsewhere and encounter more weeds.Trucking is like bootcamp and if drivers wanna successfully achieve their goal they need to give it their all.
  4. TheyCallMeDave

    TheyCallMeDave Heavy Load Member

    Dec 17, 2014
    Great post with some good insight. I, like you, am probably going to end up having to travel the same path as you, but that's pretty much my fault regarding some bad decision making in my past. So I'll take it in stride and do the best I can to make up for the mistakes I've made. Thanks for the great post and stay safe my friend.
    Boondock and CluelessRoadie Thank this.
  5. Powder Joints

    Powder Joints Subjective Prognosticator

    Sep 25, 2007
    Rosamond, SoCal
    Your right, in most cases you have to put in the time, best case it sucks, you move on.

    Good post
    Boondock and CluelessRoadie Thank this.
  6. reefer101

    reefer101 Medium Load Member

    Oct 24, 2014
    when I got my cdl in 2007 you didn't have to go thru cdl school. I went to dmv got a book, read it and took a permit test than paid a guy with a truck $400
    practiced for 3 days took a driving test and that's it now I have CDL. I don't know if you can still do it that way.
  7. miss elvee

    miss elvee Heavy Load Member

    Dec 15, 2012
    Russellville, AR
    All true. New drivers would be very smart to heed your advice.

    Boot camp is about right. It's hard to stay out on the road that first year when you could make the same money - or some weeks even better- working at the local stop and rob.

    But if you do... and you play it safe and stay on time... there's quite a rewarding career out here for you.

    If you want to cowboy it up and run like it's on fire - word to the wise, newbies, the experienced drivers don't want you out here smearing our good name. We're safe, we're professional and we're on time. America is depending on us and we deliver.
  8. CluelessRoadie

    CluelessRoadie Light Load Member

    Jun 20, 2014
    St. Joseph, MI
    You may still be able to do that for some companies. I know essentially if you work for a construction company or for the city that's basically the route you take, but I'm not sure if that's because they sponsor you to get the necessary training. It's an option I sometimes wish I would have explored more.
  9. TruckDuo

    TruckDuo Road Train Member

    Oct 21, 2012
    Chicago, IL
    Awesome post ! Thanks for sharing your experience.
  10. blairandgretchen

    blairandgretchen Road Train Member

    Dec 9, 2011
    South west Missouri
    Re name thread :

    "I put my big boy pants on and got to work, everyone quit whining and step up"

    Good on you.
  11. CluelessRoadie

    CluelessRoadie Light Load Member

    Jun 20, 2014
    St. Joseph, MI
    Well said!
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