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DISCLAIMER:  We do not reveal the name of the company in our ads per our contracts, if you want to know more and you are seriously interested you can fill out the form on the main page, or call the number listed. Thank you for understanding!

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Life As a Trucker

TRAINING

FIRST EARNINGS

If you have ever talked to a Human Resource Representative, you expect them to tell you the truth, but there are some that will tell you anything to get your foot in the door. This happens in any industry.  Unfortunately, there are Recruiters in the Transportation industry that are the same way.  You have to do your own research from valid sources. Word-of-mouth, isn't always accurate, so keep that in mind.  You could be talking a disgruntled employee at the time and they will tell you every BAD thing about the company; inaccurate or true.

 

So, what can you make first starting out?   Every company is different and not every company is a "training company".  A training company can mean different things.

Training company #1:  You apply with them and you don't have a CDLA - Commerical Drivers License Class A. So they will teach you everything you need to know about getting your CDL and loan you the truck to take your skills test on.  After successfully passing the testing/exam/skills evaluation, then you will be awarded with a CLASS A CDL License [Protect it like it was Gold]. They will set you up with a trainer with the company to further your skills. Just because you finished training and got your license doesn't mean that you are ready to haul loads, you need to be taught on how to handle loads, scales, traffic and more. Training with a trainer can be weeks, hours, months and it all depends on the training protocol of that company and it does vary with each company.  Before you started your training, they should of discussed with you about the terms of your loan to pay for all of this training.  They will make weekly withdrawals out of your paycheck {settlement} to satisfy the loan.  Depending on the price of the training, etc., could take up to a 1 year of employment with them.  After you have been signed off by the trainer and pass their final exam [if they have one], then you would be offered a driving career with that company that invested all the time and training in you.  ** Keep in mind ** If you have speeding tickets, accidents, incidents, issues and other instances, you could lose your license, get in trouble with the law and more; which is going to greatly increase your chances of NOT driving a truck or furthering your career!!

Training company #2:  You were trained by a private company such as: College, trade school or private truck driving school and you just need to further your training.  So you have applied with a training company and being scheduled for orientation.  That's awesome, but don't get too excited just yet.  You still have a lot of hoops to jump through.  Just like in truck driving school, you will have a physical DOT exam and drug screening.  Drugs and trucking have no mutual place here.  So if you're doing drugs, stop before even starting this process.  Did I mention paperwork, whew you will do a lot of paperwork and your recruiter that you spoke with, will tell you what to bring to orientation. Orientation's goal is to welcome you to the company and answer any questions that you may have.  You more than likely will fill out paperwork for insurance if you are getting it, so be sure to bring all the appropriate information so you can fill out those forms correctly!  After all your information comes back; DAC Report and/or Background check, physical and drug screen comes back and you have watched a dozen movies about trucking and I don't mean, "Black Dog" or "Smokey and the Bandit" either.  You will be set up with a trainer for their required training protocol.  Again, that could vary from company to company and be in a form of weeks, months, or hours.  The trainer's job is to keep you safe and train you on the mechanics of the truck; check oil, and other fluids and perhaps how to change out a lightbulb that you can reach.  The trainer will also teach you the Qualcomm and Elogs even though you probably had that in school, he/she will teach you how to use it in a practical sense.  The trainer will also cover how to handle traffic, backing, how to position your truck on a scale, how to handle weight stations [Coops}, backing.. This is very important, and you need to make sure you understand the mechanics of backing up a trailer and how it handles.  GOAL -- Get Out A Look.  If they are looking at you backing up, they are really going to be looking if you take off someone's hood!

Private Contractor-Truck Driving School, college, trade school, etc.:  Their job is to get you the training necessary to learn about truck driving, map planning, manuevering, shifting, backing and more,.  They are only provide you with the skills to pass your DOT exam & skills test.  Once you successfully pass the training course, you can take your pre-trip inspection exam and driving test and if successfully pass both, then you would be awarded your Commerical Drivers License Class A and you would then be able to apply with several training companies to further your skill set and complete extensive training.  Without this training, you will NOT be successful and more than likely not employed anywhere!

So, if you love to travel and you like to see new places without falling asleep, then you probably will enjoy trucking.  If you like to drive in all-weather, then you will probably enjoy trucking.

Which is better?  Private school or training company:    Each avenue will charge you for your training and some offer some type of guaranteed loan so you can get your training.  If you go with the training company, make sure you know what you're getting into, because if you leave prior to paying off your loan, they can and will come after you for the balance left on your loan.  The loan for the private school typically starts 6 months after your graduation date.  

The big differences between the two are that the private school doesn't have to help find you a job and there is not a guaranteed job for you after you graduate.  Vs. going to a training company, unless you really screw up, you're almost guaranteed a job with them after your time with their over-the-road trainer.

Good luck in your travels..... 

I encourage you to get a truck stop guide; either full size or pocket size.  They do come in handy.  I am going to place a link here for you to use as long as you aren't driving to look places to stop.  Remember, something could happen in the 8 seconds that you take your eyes off the road and onto your phone, gps, computer, or a truckstop book.

http://www.truckstopguide.com

What can you expect?  If you are used to consistent pay every week along with a set amount, truck driving isn't set up that way.  You are paid either per mile/load or by percentage.  You can earn anywhere from $20k to $81k with the average earnings around $58k.  More realisticly it is around $35-40k; PROVIDED you aren't taking a lot of time off work, sitting in truck stops, getting fired and having to find a new job, spending money, shopping, etc,. all cuts into your yearly salary.  The old saying, "Keep your left door shut and you'll improve your salary"

First-year incomes will vary greatly depending on the company, where you and they are located and what kind of trailer you will be pulling.  It also depends on how much experience you have.  10 year veteran may make considerably more than someone who has 6 months of experience driving.

I had to chuckle the other day I had seen someone who had less then a 6 months of experience and they expected to bring home a net of $1500-2000 a week.  That is un-realistic.  

What is realistic is your training pay will be much lower than after you have been trained.  You have to pay your dues and get the experience that will offer better pay and benefits.  Don't expect a high pay while training, or even after training. 

We hear this a lot!

So, you want to work local after training?  This happens so rarely, it's almost impossible to find a job locally once trained, even after your training period.  Insurance companies dictate what carriers can hire and hire whom for what position.  Someone who has 1-2 years of over-the-road (OTR) experience is going to have a better chance of finding a local job, then someone with less then 6 months of OTR experience or fresh out of school.  Why?  Because it is actually harder to drive locally then it is OTR.  More unforgiving traffic for a new driver, the streets are narrower, the places that you need to back into can be difficult with multiple of obstacles, such as cars, light poles, sidewalks, people, dogs, etc.

So, keep this in mind, when you see $$'s dancing in your head and thinking you will be home every day, because chances are slim that will happen.

If you want to work local, then keep that as a goal. Keep your accidents/incidents down to a 0 count.  Keep your CSA scores down to a minimum and learn as much as you can about driving OTR, so you have the experience that these companies require for you to work for them locally!

Weight Scales  &  DOT Scales

What's the differences?  

Weight scales are what you use to weigh your trailer, to make sure that you are within DOT guildlines: You pay a fee $12-15 for the scale ticket and to re-scale it's $2-3.  You're allowed 12k on steers, 34k on drives, and 34k on tandems is typically what you want to shoot for.  Sometimes, you can get away with a little bit more on your steers due to heavy fuel.  Some places before you load, they want you to come in with full tanks because they KNOW their loads will be heavy; so make sure you abide by their request.   CAT Scales are the popular scales that you will find at the truck stops; and the most trusted. Not all truckstops have CAT Scales, so sometimes you don't have a choice. ALWAYS SCALE if you have a heavy load. Once you have pulled across the scale and make sure that your tandems, drives, and steers are on the scale in the right place, then you call them on the button on the upright black board or sometimes call them on the cb.  They want to know your truck number and company name, then make sure that you PULL OFF THE SCALE and then either move to a parking space or you can pull into an empty fuel island, provided you aren't going to hold up that lane.  Go inside to fuel desk and get your ticket.  Then you can decide if you need to move your tandems.  Always move your tandems towards the weight.and most of the tandem holes are at least 250#. Make sure you have street chalk or a grease pencil to mark the holes.  Meaning mark where you currently are with an O and then count your holes; left or right of that hole and mark that spot with an X.  That way you don't have to guess where you were prior to moving your tandems if you need to.  RE-SCALE THAT LOAD.. Save those scale tickets, if you aren't reimbursed by your company, you can write them off on your tickets at the end of the year!

DOT Scales are those that you find littered across the highways in most all states; typically will find them when leaving one state and entering another.  DOT operated, so you must ensure that your load is LEGAL, because they can give you a huge fine for being overweight.  Be professional, don't be a jerk and typically they won't be.  They have a job to do just like you do.  If there is a speed limit on the scale, make sure that you adhere to that.  They want you to drive across the scale slowly and/or stop.  If you get the bypass lane, then they don't need you to cross their stationary scale.  Sometimes, your weight is fine, they just want to pull the numbers off the side of your cab and run your company information.  Sometimes, it's your unlucky day and they want to do an inspection and as long as everything is up to date, there should be no panic attacks. 

REPORT THIS 

[always think this could be your daughter or someone you know}

Prostitution is popular in truck stops.. Not as bad as it used to be.  Thanks to Truckers against Trafficking.  What is Human Trafficking?  I will explain it here and why you should do your part in helping to report it and help these ladies get out of this "ring". 

Human trafficking is a modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.  Millions of men, women, and children are trafficked into forced labor situations and into the sex trade worldwide.  Many of these victims are lured from their homes under false pretenses of well-paying jobs; instead they are forced or coerced into prostitution, domestic servitude, or other types of labor.  

 

Victims find themselves, in legitimate and illegitimate labor industries including sweatshops, massage parlors, agricultural fields, restaurants, hotels and domestic services. These victims can be of any age, race, gender or nationality and these victims typically have no social safety net and those that are in situations such as economic hardship, political instability, natural disasters and other reasons. 

This could be your daughter, your friend's daughter, or any other woman!  Please report this activity when you see it!

This is the link to find out more information:

http://www.truckersagainsttrafficking.org

What does it all mean??  Discover trucking terminology!

Air Tank - A reservoir for storing air for use in the air brake system, Braking would be impossible without an adequate supply of air!

Back Haul - A return load.  Some companies often hauls their own product away from the terminal or local location and then to get you back home, will book a back haul to get back to the terminal.

Bill of Lading - You must have a shipping document that will state where you picked up, destination, general information about the product, the piece count, the weight, Shipper's name, Cosignee's name, and whether it's a hazardous load or not.  This must keep this information safe and have it handy to present to an authority if asked for it.  This is typically scanned or sent back to the company in several ways.  So you get PAID for doing that load!  So, don't LOSE IT!! 

Blind spot - Every vehicle have blind spots; so commercial vehicles have them to, which makes it impossible to see other vehicles.  Even with the extra mirrors on the truck, you can still miss a vehicle sitting where it's not supposed to be.

Bobtail - A tractor without the trailer attached.

Cabover - "Cab over Engine", these trucks used to be really popular in the 70's, but you don't see many today, but they are slowly making a comeback.

CB - Citizen's Band Radio.  These were widely popular after the movie, "Smokey & the Bandit" came out. People had CB's in their cars and they became a great way to find out the traffic/accidents, the time, or the weather. None a days, they are label a distraction in the trucking community and therefore aren't used very often.  They are commonly used by older drivers, because for them, it's still a great way to communicate.

Check Call  - It's when you call your dispatcher or the broker or some companies have Qualcomm systems in their trucks to check in with your dispatcher to let them know of your progress along the way to destination.

Comdata - The company that issues Comchecks and the Comcard.  Comcheks are a way for you to pay for certain expenses on the road, or a cash advance.   You can also pay bills or get money home if needed to be deposited in your account.  With a Comdata account, that's how most companies pay, they will "load your comdata card".. Comdata cards will be also be used to purchase fuel, oil, etc.  or to receive cash advances; so you can use it like a atm card.  There are fees associated with this card, which are tax-deductible.

Containers - Containers -- "tin cans", "metal cans", are hauled on a chassis.  That makes it easier to put them on a portable trailer of sorts, that they can be easily lifted off and put on a train car, or stacked on a ship; without having to worry about trailer wheels and other equipment.

Cosignee - The same thing as a "receiver", they are receiving your trailer.  They bought the goods [trailer contents].

Conventional  - The driver sits behind the engine, and then the sleeping compartment is behind the driver.

DAC Report - A report that starts with your first trucking job.  Often companies will report positive or negative feedback while you were with their company.  This feedback is based on your job performances.  It's important to keep this report accurate and don't mess it up.  Most companies will base their hiring practices on what this report says.  

Day cab - A tractor without sleeping compartment.  Often used with local drivers that get home every night.

Deadhead - Driving a tractor-trailer without a load; miles to travel after delivering a load to go pick up their next load.  Perhaps deadhead miles after coming off of time off and going to get the next load.  

Detention time - The extra driver pay spent waiting on a customer to load the truck.. Typically that extra pay starts after you have been on site for 2 hrs.  You must arrive on time, your trailer clean and free of debris and/or washed out are some of the criteria for detention time.  Of course, it all varies, so it depends on your company.

Dock Lock - A dock lock is a safety device that will hook to your ICC bumper when the dock plate [inside] is placed over the gap between trailer and door.  This will help secure your trailer to the dock.  Using wheel chocks, will also help to keep your trailer in place.  Please use them as well as remembering to lock your trailer brakes & if you had to slide your tandems to the rear, you should lock your tandems in, so your wheels don't move.  Safety first!

Drop & Hook - You arrive with a loaded trailer to shipper/receiver and you swap out the loaded trailer for a empty trailer.    Or you arrive with an empty trailer and swap out for a loaded trailer to deliver to it's destination.  

Drop pay - If you picked up a load at destination A, then there is a partial load to be delivered at destination B, and then it finals out at destination C.  Your company may pay you for that extra stop. Check with your company to see if they offer those.  Sometimes, you might have several drops; especially if you are a LTL freight driver.

Empty call - is when you let your dispatcher/fleet planner know that your trailer is empty and you want your next assignment. 

Fifth Wheel - The coupling device which attaches the truck with the trailer.  "Jaws of Life"  You must make sure that your trailer is on your tractor and a visual inspection with a flashlight is recommended.  

Fingerprinting - also known as unloading by hand, or offloading by hand.  A driver will unload his/her trailer.  Sometimes, the use of a hand jack or power lift is available.  Sometimes dollies on wheels can help move boxes out of the trailer.  There should be some extra pay for you to "lump" your own load.

T

Trucker's Suggestion --I do suggest you do extensive research and ask several experienced drivers [over 5 years] to give their experiences on the trucking industry.  This industry isn't for EVERYONE!  If you have job hopped in the past in a non-trucking industry, that practice needs to stop before you even apply!  Job Hopping in the trucking industry is frowned upon.  If you continue to do this into your driving career, you will find fewer and fewer companies that will actually give you a chance.  If you find fault in every company and argumentative about everything, you aren't suited for a trucking career.

Trucking is an easy industry to get into, as long as you have kept your record clean; personal and driving. however, it can be a hard career.  

You are away from your family and friends, and for your first few months, the chances of getting home are rare.  

So, do yourself a favor and make sure that being away from family is EXACTLY what you want.  Sure the pay can be good, but the sacrifices that you make being on the road [OTR], may be the reasons not to be on the road.  IF you are just starting out, local positions are very limited.  Believe it or not, but driving local, is harder then OTR, because until you get your "feet wet" and gain the experiences needed to handle delivering or picking up within the city limits, there will be challenges that will be hard to overcome!  Thus mistakes/accidents/property-equipment damage/injuries and more will happen; which will go on your record.  This record will FOLLOW you.  It is called a DAC and PSP report.

MVR, DMV, DAC, PSP, CSA, FMSCA, ATA.. What does it all mean, and how does it affect you and your career?

MVR - Motor Vehicle Record - 
A history of a driver's traffic violations and accidents.  Depending on your state, any entries could be on there up to 11 years or permanently, depending on the severity of the conviction.

DMV - Department of Motor Vehicles; this is where you go to get your MVR, CDL license, and license plates for your personal vehicle.

DAC - stands for Drive-A-Check. For the professional CDL driver, the DAC report can be equally as important to your career and financial future as your personal consumer credit report.

PSP - Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP). Established in 2010, this program allows prospective carriers, industry personnel and drivers review drivers' safety records from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS)

CSA- The Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration(FMCSA) recently announced various changes to its much maligned government-mandated CSA program, which stands for “Compliance, Safety, Accountability.

FMSCA - The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is an agency in the United States Department of Transportation that regulates the trucking industry in the United States

ATA -  The American Trucking Associations (ATA), founded in 1933, is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry.

IF you ever wanted to see the USA and don't have the $$$ to travel, becoming a truck driver is the best way to see the country.  I am from Ohio, so going out West for me what not only exciting, challenging, but was scary traveling over mountainous roadways during inclement weather.  Some of my favorite western states were Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Montana.