New to getting CDL, but not new to driving!

Discussion in 'The Welcome Wagon' started by ArmySkyDiver, Feb 25, 2024.

  1. ArmySkyDiver

    ArmySkyDiver Bobtail Member

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    Feb 25, 2024
    Space Coast, Florida
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    Hello all! A motorcycle riding buddy recommended that I join this group. My brief backstory concerning my truck experience follows.

    I'm 42 years old and a dual service military veteran. Single with no children. US Navy from 2000-2007 and US Army reserve(although I may have been active since I volunteered for every mission I possibly could) from 2009-2015. My MOS in the army was 88H(transportation heavy equipment operator) and my secondary MOS was 88M(truck driver). Aside from the equipment operator I also operated the 5 ton, duece and a half, Stryker, school bus and 915 tractor. Unfortunately I never actually got licensed on the 915 which I regret as it would have been a direct transfer the civilian CDL. I also completed the 80 hour hazmat course which is fully transferable to the civilian hazmat endorsement.

    My civilian truck experience includes 2 years(of 5 total) at coca cola where I was flipping 53ft trailers, downloading them, and loading them onto 35ft route trucks and 45ft bulk trucker. I would also flip them after loading them. Following coca cola to my present weekday job at a Walmart meat and produce distribution center. My primary position is a forklift operator but I am also a backup yard driver which I got qualified for roughly 6 months ago. In any given month I will be out in the yard for 3 or 4 days throughout the month as needed. My proficiency in that yard(it's a 70 door facility with all doors on the same side) I can average 10-12 moves per hour. With no OTR traffic I can hit 15 moves an hour.

    With all that said, I'll be starting my CDL training in April, so a little more than a month away. I chose TDI in Sanford, Florida. I chose to go to the school on my own because I don't want to wait to be "selected" for the associate to driver program with Walmart. That program is 3 months. TDI is 3 weeks(10 hours Monday through Friday).

    I am keeping my options open for where I start driving as a new CDL holder, but I'm leaning towards SWIFT since they have the contract with the Walmart DC I work at. With a good endorsement from the school I should be easily able to get in there. My goal is to get my hours up and do the requirements to be hired on with Walmart as a driver. But again I may be open to other companies but I'll cross that bridge when it presents itself.

    I look forward to gaining some knowledge from this forum and thank you for having me!
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2024
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  3. REO6205

    REO6205 Trucker Forum STAFF Staff Member

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    Welcome to TTR.
     
  4. ArmySkyDiver

    ArmySkyDiver Bobtail Member

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    Feb 25, 2024
    Space Coast, Florida
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    Thank you sir!
     
  5. ArmySkyDiver

    ArmySkyDiver Bobtail Member

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    Feb 25, 2024
    Space Coast, Florida
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    Oh yeah I forgot to add I also have the TWIC credential. It's expired but wouldn't be hard to renew that as well.
     
    Concorde Thanks this.
  6. Concorde

    Concorde Road Train Member

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    Welcome!
    If TDI is not etched in stone already, I highly recommend Sage in Fort Pierce.

    All driving is one on one..yard maneuvers too. Takes about a month start to finish.
     
    ArmySkyDiver Thanks this.
  7. ArmySkyDiver

    ArmySkyDiver Bobtail Member

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    Feb 25, 2024
    Space Coast, Florida
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    I'm going with TDI for the shorter duration. It's purely due to financial reasons. I currently work 2 jobs. Walmart on the weekends and I'm a CNC machinist for a firearms manufacturer during the week. I'll be resigning from the CNC shop just before I start the school. I worked it out with Walmart to have off 3 consecutive Fridays for the school. I will still work the Saturday and Sunday during the 3 weeks. I want to have a minimum of 5k in my bank account before class starts so I have a buffer of money because if I can't land a driving job right away, then I'll only have Walmart until I get on with a otr company.

    I know there are other schools that are cheaper but they are also longer as well. TDI also has the most drive time since the first week is classroom and the second and third week's are spent in the truck. So almost 100 hours of behind the wheel training where most other schools are significantly less. At least according to their websites.

    TDI just happens to align with my situation to be the least disruptive financially for me even though it costs more. Luckily both jobs I work now are decently paying....but I don't want to continue working every single day with no off time outside holidays. Hence my migration to CDL driving which I know it's long hours and lots of days but the dynamic is vastly different as well!
     
    Flat Earth Trucker and Concorde Thank this.
  8. Concorde

    Concorde Road Train Member

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    I’m going to recommend that you start applying now with carriers to get a pre-hire.

    Space Coast isn’t really the best hiring area for trucking. I believe Swift has a refrigerated? terminal somewhere on the west coast of Florida @Chinatown would know more.

    Unfortunately I don’t know of anyone else except for a couple I would recommend not applying too.

    Schneider used to hire from the area but possibly not now..call and ask.
     
    Chinatown Thanks this.
  9. ArmySkyDiver

    ArmySkyDiver Bobtail Member

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    Feb 25, 2024
    Space Coast, Florida
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    Yes swift has the contract with the Walmart DC I currently work at and it's all reefer trailers, but the DC is in Cocoa so the East Coast of Florida.

    The recruiter at TDI knows the coordinator at swift at the DC so I'm thinking it will be relatively easy to get in there and at least get me started behind the wheel.

    A buddy of mine did the same track Im doing. He got his CDL while he was working at the DC and went to swift right after school. That was about 2 years ago. He just got hired on as a Walmart dedicated driver last week.

    Who would you recommend I stay away from though? Just for my own knowledge!
     
  10. Chinatown

    Chinatown Road Train Member

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    If you want Walmart, then go for it. You already have a foot in the door.
    Which company is doing the Walmart account.
     
  11. Chinatown

    Chinatown Road Train Member

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    Space Coast of Florida:
    [​IMG]
     
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