Well... here is a take on my short trucking experience and some advice
Back in November 2009 I began to seriously explore being a professional driver. I had thought for years that this would be a good fit for me as I enjoy driving, traveling, and love the big trucks.
Though, as much as I liked those aspects I knew that being away from home for weeks or months at a time were not going to work out for me as I enjoy being a family guy. Love to be with my wife and kids more than anything.
My search turned to local driving jobs and companies that ran day cabs and city routes.
I searched out the best available training in my area; Clark State Community College. I liked this program as it is not just a CDL mill as are other schools in the area. The program there, since it is a state college, is well operated by the state and an accredited program.
There are also college credit hours which fit well into my Logistics Management degree. While the degree is pretty much worthless in this economy I at least got the opportunity to complete the degree I had been working on for nearly 10 years. I rounded out my degree with a solid 4.0 GPA and received an award for having the highest GPA in my class. Next, the job search.
I actually began the job search in January of 2010 even though I did not graduate till the following June. I began by reviewing every piece of information on every company I had ever heard of and many I had never even seen before.
After a short period of time I determined there are a lot of bad companies or at least a lot of drivers unhappy with their companies. But how could I be sure the information was accurate. Companies tell you they are the best and disgruntled drivers say they are the worst.
I joined several forums and chatted with current drivers. I also went to local yards and truck stops and spoke directly with drivers. I quickly learned much of the bad stuff was not made up, but was indeed fact.
I put Swift and Schneider on my list of companies not to drive for as well as many others. This did not seem like a big deal as those companies do not run many day cabs and operate OTR and regional truck load services. But little did I know…
After applying for a hundred or so local company driving positions online and not receiving so much as a “Not interested” response I was surprised. No responses at all. Zero.
Not to be deterred I mailed seven or eight dozen resumes and cover letters; Not a single call. I then spent six to eight hours every day for over a month visiting all the companies I had sent resumes to or filled out applications for to make my pitch in person; Not a single interested party.
However, I did pick up a consistent theme; Insurance will not allow you to drive the trucks till you have six months or more experience driving tractor trailer.
I soon found the only companies that will hire straight out of school are the very companies you will find in a list of the “biggest scum” trucking companies on the road; Fact.
I then reshaped my plans based on what I had come to discover. I applied to thirty or forty companies that seemed to be the best of the worst; Again, no response. Gheez… Disappointed to say the least. Where were all the jobs that the trucking magazines promised? Where was the big opportunity to be my own boss? No where to be found.
I broke down and applied to Swift and Schneider… Schneider would not hire with less than three months experience at the time. Swift hired me for a dedicated regional job.
After Orientation, four weeks with a trainer and two weeks solo I found out that contract had not been renewed with customer before I ever pulled the first load for them.
I ended up as a regional driver out
for two weeks at a time and home for two days. This was not what I agreed to. I was suppose to be on a contract that would have me out two days and home a night, then back out two days and home a night, then again out two days and home till Monday AM. Driving 6 days, home Sunday, and a total of four nights a week at home. I ended up as a dedicated Wal-Mart driver pulling out of Baltimore Maryland… I live in Columbus Ohio. I stayed on for three months while trying to get set up with better home time.
It actually got worse; I left.
In January 2011 I spoke with Schneider Intermodal about an ad that listed local runs, home nightly, and off most weekends. They said that I could apply for their van division and after driving three or four months and then transfer to the intermodal division. I applied to and was hired by Schneider National.
They offered four days on with four days off, which I was hired for this schedule. However, after completing orientation (1 week) and training and testing (1 more week) I found out that to have this kind of schedule I would be slip seating.
Slip seating is not a good arrangement unless you are a dirt bag and the other person is a dirt bag also, otherwise one of you are going to be upset. They and I came to an agreement and I drove five days on two days off. Not what I was looking for in the least but I did it for five months. Now have eight months experience OTR in last year and am now eligible for other opportunities.
It ended up being a no go on Schneider Intermodal as the nearest location is an hour away (On a good day) from where I live. I left Schneider in July and am back out beating the bushes for a Monday through Friday local job. I know these jobs exist as I see hundreds of local day cab trucks everyday here. I have again filled out nearly a hundred applications; still not a single response. Going back to school.
I received a lot of pressure to stay at Schneider by my Driver Business Leader (DBL). Pressure that was not exactly appropriate. DBL threatened to terminate me and damage my record if I did not agree to stay. I told him I would think about it and then went straight to my attorney. I am not sure if this is a Schneider company policy but it sure seemed like a well oiled program. I was surprised that I had to enlist the assistance of an attorney to complete my resignation. Seemed like a silly dance. I Still am not sure if they are going to try to trash my DAC record. It would be a shame if it ended that way. Either way, I have prepared for the worst and am hoping for the best.
I ran every single mile offered over the past year. I averaged 2051 miles a week over 34 weeks for a total of 69,734 miles. I earned 25 cents a mile at Swift and rarely got home. I earned 27 cents a mile at Schneider and was home an average of 48 hours a week (Sleeping.)
I earned around $18,000.00 over the past year driving. My CDL cost me $5089.00 to obtain. My personal liability insurance cost me $900.00 (Most truckers are not even aware they should have this.) By the time I pay an accountant to do my taxes and figure my on road expenses, plus figure baby sitter costs for when my wife was working when I was on road I only expect my time on the road to have cost me everything I earned, plus another $5300.00 over the past year.
My advice to anyone considering a career in trucking; Find another career.
For now I have applied to and have been accepted to a Radiology program at a local college. Maybe a medical degree will treat me better.