I didn't plan on driving as a career. my choices in work and many other events steered me toward it. I've held a cdl since 08 and never driven otr. i never considered it and would only do it as an absolute last resort. I've made good money and been home every night/weekend since the beginning. I haven't made less than $50k a year, never been fired or laid off, on unemployment etc. it's a good career if you take the right path. you'll need some experience, but good jobs are there. I'm doing Linehaul for an ltl outfit now and it's awesome. great money, great benefits and I only work 42-48 hrs a week. no weekends, home every day. I have 0 complaints at this point. I look forward to going to work.
Where's the *good* bits?
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@ExtremeUnction It sounds like you're already doing the right thing to begin your career in trucking - RESEARCH. Trucking offers many different career paths, explore your options, make your plan, and you'll eventually come to a decision.
I'm 43 years old and started my adventure at age 18. I'm completely debt free except for a small business loan on some rental property and I have a good life. Trucking can definitely make a person comfortable, but one has to work at it.
If you are interested in Tank, I saw that Chinatown mentioned Trimac. I have heard good things about them up north, and if they hire new grads they may be a really good one to look at. I know they do allot of dry bulk.
For the most part you will get out of trucking what you put into it. OTR is not an easy job, heck most local is not easy, just for different reasons. But it is a good job, in a demanding field and the pay is not bad for a job with no educational requirements.
It is not for everyone. Take a look around your class. Quite a few of them will not make it 6 months, and half or more will not make it a year. Some will be due to mistakes, some due to poor choice in company, and most will just not be able to take the hours and the isolation.
The rest aren't anywhere close. Trimac has some facilities in North Carolina, but apparently their nearest tanker depot is Philadelphia, which isn't far as the crow flies, but is an absolute nightmare to get to when you factor in northern Virginia traffic.
But this may be my ignorance showing. Are there many drivers who work for companies with no nearby terminals to their house?
Lots of OTR drivers don't live anywhere near a terminal. Some tanker outfits want you to live within so many miles of the terminal such as 75 or 150 miles, but not all do.
Tidewater is a good outfit, so if you can get on with them that's ok.
Went out today to get my permit. Passed all three tests. Aced the air brake and combination tests.
Then I discovered that you can't get a permit without a DOT physical. This came as a real surprise to me, because most of my co-workers who have taken the CDL class at Amazon say that they haven't gotten their physical yet, which is why they don't have their CDL yet. But they say they still had a permit.
Anyhow, I already had a DOT physical scheduled for next week anyways, so it looks like my acquisition of a permit will be delayed a week. I am 99% certain I will pass the DOT physical, so I expect to have my permit this time next week. (Just in time for class!)
My two cents. What the job is, is up to you. It depends on where you work and the type of work that company does. Unfortunately, the choices are pretty limited once you get your CDL. Most of us start with the "starter" companies, like Swift, Werner, CR England, and some others. Almost all of them are pretty miserable places to work. The pay is low, hometime is virtually non-existent, and they treat you like garbage. That's where the horror stories come from. Once you stick it out there for a year, sometimes as little as six months, and have some experience on your resume, you become a lot more marketable. A lot of folks aren't prepared for that first year. They see the ads for the local CDL school on TV saying you're going to be earning $40,000 a year in just 4 weeks, and think it's true. Fact is, those schools teach you how to pass the test, that's about it. Once you have that CDL in your wallet, the truth is, you now have just enough skill to be extremely dangerous, not drive a truck competently. The rest comes only with experience. My first job was at Steven's Transport out of Dallas, TX, this was back in 1998. The pay was miserable. I was making about half of what I was making at the job I left before I got my CDL. The first 2 months, I rode with a trainer, and he was one nasty SOB. The next two months, I drove team with another rookie. He and I got along great. about 4 months in, they finally gave me a solo truck. Like I said the pay was abysmal. I had to unload my own trailer most of the time, to get the lumper fees, so I could send something home to my family. I didn't last there a year though. I managed to get hired on somewhere else and my paychecks quadrupled the first week after getting that new job.
So you're in for a rocky start at the beginning. The majority of us out here went through it. Stick it out. It pays off in the end. The first job is highly unlikely the one you'll spend the rest of your career at, unless you're a glutton for punishment.
Okay, the good stuff:
1.) assuming you can drive and don't have an accident in the first year, you will never know such job security! There is always someplace looking for drivers. Once you've got a history you'll be turning offers down.
2.) you'll never want to pay to go anywhere, you'll love getting paid to go places. ("Hey boss, can you find me something going to Florida in January? Sweet!")
3.) elogs aren't everywhere yet, so you don't have a supervisor over your shoulder.
4.) companies without fixed routes or that harrass you about out of route. If you've got the time, get off the interstate, take a back road, see the country.
open your curtains, there's your office.
You have to remember that there are many sectors of this industry, and many different forms of trucking.
I do what we call "LTL" and enjoy it. It's one of the better paying driving jobs to be had.
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