So, you have lost your job, and now you need to find a new one. What do you do? Most people either get on the Internet or look in the paper for their next career. I have never had any luck with finding a job in a newspaper, so my first choice was always the computer. What kind of work can you find that only requires a couple of weeks training to be able to do? Sounds like you are wanting to be a truck driver.
So you search for truck driving jobs, and about a million ads pop-up saying you can make up to $50,000.00 – after a 2-3 week training period – in your first year. This is the first of many exaggerates you will encounter in your first year as a new truck driver. You just made the call to a company and the first thing they do is put you on the phone line with what I like to call a “sales-person” who has a title of a driver recruiter. This persons job is to “sell” you a driving job – and they will do anything to sign you up – even lie to you.
The “recruiter” will go through a list of things about how good the company is for you, and that it is an easy job, and the equipment is newer, and they have dedicated routes and how much money you can expect to make driving one of their trucks. Here is a typical partial of a trucking company’s ad:
Most of the stuff listed here is pretty typical of any of the companies. What they don’t offer to tell you and if you don’t know what to ask – you will find out the hard way. Even with them listing that they have “24 Hours en-route Maintenance” doesn’t mean that as soon as you break down someone will be there instantly – most of the time it takes a few hours. I’m not going to go through the entire list just showing an example of the misleading information you will encounter.
This is what the recruiters will tell about their companies pay and how it works, again this is pretty typical:
My Trucking company’s dedication to offering drivers the best lifestyle means giving our drivers high pay combined with high production. Along with our new and improved pay scale, we offer bonuses such as fuel efficiency, monthly mileage, achievement, etc., that allow you to make the money you deserve. If you are in the Long Haul services, my Trucking Company offers a progressive pay increase for your first year, which is paid on all miles, loaded and empty.
After you have been driving, with the company for three months as a qualified driver and passed our certified training program, you have the potential to make the following as a trainer: Our new pay increase, combined with the fact that my trucking company’s production is 10 percent higher than our competitors, makes my trucking company’s drivers some of the highest paid in North America.
Is this a lie? Well, yes and no. I say this because this leaves it wide open it really doesn’t say you WILL make a certain amount of money, and you must pass their “certified” training program. And the 10% higher than their competitors thing is also pretty typical as most company’s will tell you the exactly the same thing.
After you decide to go to work for this company, then the fun begins. The company will send you for training to a trucking school – where you will get your CDL license. The trucking school doesn’t provide training they only provide you with an expensive way to get your CDL. Once you have completed school you may be sent home for a while so that the trucking company can get a trainer available to take you out on the truck to “train” you to be a truck driver.
Most company’s will put you with a supposedly “certified trainer” but remember what was in the ad? After three months you can become a “trainer.” So this means you may be placed with a “trainer” who has three months more experience than you. This is kind of like the blind leading the blind in this situation, the only difference is the trainer will make all the money, and you will work for the trainer. And not make very much money at all.
Usually most of the company’s will use you and your trainer as a team operation – but they’re not supposed to do this, but it happens. This means you will be driving your shift and the trainer will drive a shift and the load gets from point A to point B faster. But since your “trainer” only has three months experience this will not work out so good, as the trainer will run into situations that he or she does not know how to handle – then you are left to fend for yourself.
If you happen to get lucky and make it through your training and are released to get your own truck. Then, you will find out that the pretty shiny truck that they had a picture of on the ad that you called about doesn’t exist – for you anyway. Since you are the newest driver to the fleet, you will get the oldest truck that will undoubtedly have many things wrong with it – so you need to check the truck completely over before accepting it.
Now you are out on your own – you think you are going to make the big money – well, think again. Remember you were trained by someone who has three months more experience than you. I hope for your sake that whoever trained you had some experience with driving in the mountains or in snow – and showed you some of it. Here is something from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) that can help a new driver in picking a good company, just click here. You can add to this list or take away from this list as it all won’t pertain to all jobs.
Actually the best advice I can give you if you are thinking about becoming a truck driver do a lot of research, and ask lots of questions – before you commit to trucking. It is not for everyone.
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You are so right it’s not for everyone. I got lucky I went to a local trucking school and went to work for a company that came to the school to tell us all about them. I got lucky again with my trainer, after looking back he never lied to me he told me how it was. But yes beware because the company lied to me, because they could never get me home when I needed to be home.It took me 3 yrs to make $35,000 in 2006 and now I have my own truck. Be smart check out the companies and ask the drivers.
Wow, your blog is cool. It has awesome content on what I’m trying to find out. I just bookmarked it. Keep bloggin’ please! Thanks.
Hello i am interested in becoming a local truck drive and i have a few questions.
1. How long does it take to get through school?
2. How long will you have to be away from home?
3. What is the rate of getting hired straight of school
4. How much will i be making in the first year of driving.
5. Would you prefer me to drive as a down south driver or up north
Very good tips and information on starting a driving career. Thanks for posting.