Not a big contributor as I'm not a driver, at least not in any niche of the industry talked about here, but have been a "learner" hear for quite a few years. I'll endeavor to keep this short since, well....you all have places to go!
First off I have no connections to the industry, but have carried a fascination with the industry since childhood (C.B. in our 4wheeler growing up, stopping in Breezewood and eating at the now demoed restaurant across from the Pilot and watching the big trucks is clear as day. 6-7 then, 35 now.
Family and other responsibilities always kept me from the industry. Fast-forward to now, both parents passed away, no siblings, no degree, no g/f. About the only responsibility I have (other than financially) is my mom's cat haha. So with that said I ask you all this, what would you do, what "exit" onto the highway of the trucking industry might you take, if at all?
1.) Stay put. Currently in a community college for a 2-yr in IT. About half done but working in the service industry while I goto school, a creeping feeling that this isn't the future I want is pervading my life. I've read on this very forum more times than I can remember though advice to....GOTO COLLEGE so that's the road I'm on now.
Again I'm 35. Never been arrested, No drug/alcohol issues, 1 minor ticket since 16 yrs. old. My trucking experience: light-duty tow operator for 3 years (wrecker, flatbed, PPI [impounds], LE, as well as some dispatching). Went from no experience to brand new wrecker in a year, enjoyed the job minus the commute in DC metro and the impound side of things. I've been scouring every source (even walked straight into a few local company offices) for the "perfect" foot in the door to the industry. Could I drive a big truck, I'd say yes. I can shift a 18 speed and back a OTR tractor/53' combo hooked to a heavy wrecker. In a nutshell I'm fascinated by all aspects of transportation industry.
2.) Expediting (cargo van)...I know, I know...However financially, it's the fastest way from sitting in front of my computer to being on the road. I know enough to know this is the bottom rung and highly competitive and saturated market.
3.) Pay for CDL school out of pocket and see where that takes me. Be it that golden small company that treats you right... a MEGA-carrier... a local niche gig... even go back and run 1 of the heavies the towing company I worked for owns and can't keep/find good drivers for.
4.) Company sponsored school. I won't ask for advice on which, I know there's tons of info in the Carriers forum. A few years ago I feel like this might've been a better option but it seems like many of the good companies that took newbies are now owned by Mega's.
5.) Hot-shot. No I'm not a "Shipping Wars" wannabe, can't stand how fake that show is. Appeal to this is being, at least close to, an owner op. A goal I would want to pursue even in a big truck (dreams of a black Pete 389 glider in my head). Further 99% of my experience involves smaller (350-550) pulling/towing vehicles, TT's, Fiver's and Goosenecks down both the highway and in cities (D.C.=heck of way to learn). Albeit I realize my area is not an ideal base for this sort of work.
Whoops, I fibbed...longer than intended...but if you've gotten this far, what say you? I've come realize the transportation industry is a field I'd truly like to work in. Even if not on the road I feel I could make a positive difference even in the office/support side of the industry. Any advice is much appreciated, from those still in school to owner/ops reading this from their "large car".
Best to you all, stay safe out there,
What "exit" should I take
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I'm also 35 and was in IT for 10 years. If you want that career, skip the college, go down and get an A+ book for 60 dollars. Study it, pass the exams, and start working on a help desk somewhere. If you want a college degree study a math or a science. Those applied science tech degrees are silly. You can learn everything on your own for far cheaper. Thats what I did and I just ignored the college requirements on job ads and applied anyway.
That aside, when I finally gave up on the office scene and started trucking my income almost doubled running teams pulling reefers. Aside from state benefits and the pension there was nothing else there worth staying for me.
With your situation i think you would be better off financially driving trucks. You would be in a unique situation to save and invest a lot of money. My situation is like yours except I dont have a cat and my net worth has tripled in my first year on the road. Also my credit score is going way up too.
Make sure to choose a decent trucking company to start with and you'll probably make a lot more than any entry level IT job that I know of.
My uncle, also a computer science major, used to drive trucks, heard about my job with FFE and started driving trucks again. I saw him at the yard yesterday running regional and was very happy with the job. He was all smiles.
I say, hit the road as a long haul trucker. Be a company driver for a few years, then decide if you want to be an owner-operator. Rules and regulations change over time, so being an owner-operator in the future may or may not be appealing by then.
I went with #4 and have not regretted it at all. My contract is over and I am still driving with them.
#3 is probably the best pick though if you can swing it financially. What I do is if I need to make a major purchase I make sure I have x2 the amount in savings. That way i dont deplete my emergency fund and it's just a better life knowing you have cash reserves.
I used to live check-to-check and refuse to go back living like that. Life is a lot easier without financial stress.
Learn to grow your money. Take one dollar and turn it into 2 dollars because you will have idle money as a long haul driver with no strings attached. You wont even need to pay rent. That's like what 1000 a month you can save right there.
TravR1, regarding the "silly" applied sciences tech degrees (of which I'm working on now) I've slowly began realizing how right this is. It seems to only take you so far and will always be at the end of the line behind the younger grads. with their 4-year degrees. Not bitter, just realizing how things really are.
Logically since I've already spent the money I think I owe it to myself to finish out the semester. After which I may return to towing while I put a few things in order. I've looked into some of the CDL schools around me and have been less than impressed. My local CC does not offer CDL training but could either travel a bit each day to another CC or relocate to the Richmond area where more options abound.
"Exit 3" definitely seems the smartest if I want to enter the industry. However your reasons for going with a company sponsored school ring true. While I could afford it financially, it's important to plan for the unexpected. I'm not a job jumper, 4 in my life with only 1 year off to take care of an ailing parent. And would like to believe that if I do my due diligence on schools/companies I'd have no problem fulfilling the contract and perhaps staying long-term
While I think I know the answer to this, is there much hope in landing a job with a smaller company with a CDL obtained privately? For instance I've been offered numerous times to train on/test with one of the tow companies trucks. Not a heavy wrecker/trailer combo (that would be a bit much...) but they also own a day cab and would only need a trailer. I suppose at the very least doing this would give me plenty of practice should I need to goto a certified school.
Thanks for the responses, just trying to figure the right path to a job/career I'll enjoy (I know trucking has its issues, but what industry doesn't?)
- JeffLast edited: Mar 2, 2019
But, like I said.., trucking has been very good to me. My first year I'm expecting to file in taxes 80k income (Team driving). You might make half of that starting in IT.. Then you have to deal with rent, daily commutes in your 4wheeler, etc.
You are interested in transportation, so get on the road. Parking Sucks but otherwise theres plenty of room and the water is warm.
Even if you start at 40k driving... I wasnt making much more than that after 10 years fixing, networking, and managing systems.
No, I do not have a CDL. Wreckers and Flatbeds I've operated require only the med card, drug test, and what VA calls a DCJL tow license (which ironically has nothing to do with operating anything, just a background check by the state).
Regarding operation of a large wrecker.....just learning in the yard and surrounding industrial complex side roads. Would I trust myself out on the public roadways, certainly not, and would want more instruction beforehand. However I've grasped the fundamentals enough to not "grind it till I find it" sort of thing. Not really pertinent as whatever I may or may not know will of course be taught by a school.Last edited: Mar 2, 2019
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