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Becoming a Trucker

Discuss and talk about any general topic.

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Re: Becoming a Trucker

Postby rudder » Fri Feb 13, 2015 3:19 am

Just read through this thread, because I'm considering doing some trucking. I have zero trucking experience. I like how you linked to some companies that will hire on a ten month contract and pay for all your training.

I do have lots of questions. Hopefully some of the original posters are still around to answer.

For one thing, I'm very athletic and healthy. Are there any opportunities for exercize? I like to do at least a half hour of cardio per day. I like to lift weights every other day. I do have a bad back like djfourmoney, so that is a concern of mine. Recommendations to care for your back on the job? How can you eat healthy on the road? Does the company give you a per diem company debit card for food and lodging? How does that work?

Do you have to sleep in the truck? How does that work? What if you have a medical condition that requires you keep a regular (9-5ish) schedule? Is it possible to just drive for a regular workday, or are very odd, constantly-changing, long hours the name of the game in all cases?

How Orwellian are they? Do they know little things like when you have your seatbelt on? Do they know if you have a passenger (hitchiker, family member, friend, etc.)?

Do you have to know manual transmission or are there automatic trucks these days?

What are the best companies to work for? How do they compare with the other companies?

Salary expectations?

And most importantly, I'm married, so how often could I be home with my wife? Also, you said that you can have a co-driver and that it's best to go with a friend. Would it be possible to drive as a husband and wife team or do you have to team up with a senior driver when you're just starting out as a rookie? I wouldn't want my wife to have to go with random trucker dudes or butch feminist lesbos.

Do all the companies require you to work in pairs when you're a rookie or are there solo jobs as well for rookies?
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Re: Becoming a Trucker

Postby Teal Lantern » Fri Feb 13, 2015 8:09 am

rudder wrote:Just read through this thread, because I'm considering doing some trucking. I have zero trucking experience. I like how you linked to some companies that will hire on a ten month contract and pay for all your training.

I do have lots of questions. Hopefully some of the original posters are still around to answer.

I can answer a few of these ... The ones where I'm unsure, I'll skip and leave for others.

rudder wrote:Are there any opportunities for exercize? ... How can you eat healthy on the road?

Some of the larger truck stops are quite advanced in what they offer for meals, shower facilities, gyms, etc.. or you can just pack your own lunch and bring your barbells.

rudder wrote:Do you have to sleep in the truck? How does that work?

Have to? No, but it's cheaper than motels, etc. Sleeper cabs have 1 or 2 benches in the rear that can work as beds. Think bunk beds.
rudder wrote:What if you have a medical condition that requires you keep a regular (9-5ish) schedule? Is it possible to just drive for a regular workday, or are very odd, constantly-changing, long hours the name of the game in all cases?

Some companies have local routes, you can be home every night. Think companies like UPS or Sysco. In that case, your truck probably WON'T be a sleeper, though.

rudder wrote:How Orwellian are they? Do they know little things like when you have your seatbelt on? Do they know if you have a passenger (hitchiker, family member, friend, etc.)?

The newer the truck (and the driver), the more Orwellian they can be. If it's your own rig, this isn't an issue.

rudder wrote:Do you have to know manual transmission or are there automatic trucks these days?

Newer rigs are going automatic.

rudder wrote:And most importantly, I'm married, so how often could I be home with my wife?

For short hauls, every day to every other day.
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Re: Becoming a Trucker

Postby rudder » Fri Feb 13, 2015 3:19 pm

rudder wrote:And most importantly, I'm married, so how often could I be home with my wife?


For short hauls, every day to every other day.


How likely would it be to be able to find a short haul job with no experience? UPS for example is a union company based all on seniority. I don't even think they hire outside drivers. When a CDL position opens up they first offer the job to warehouse workers or delivery drivers who are next in line in terms of seniority. UPS is definitely willing to pay for training to their inside workers as far as their Class C local delivery trucks go, however, I'm not sure about the CDL-A drivers. I would assume they would train insiders for this position as well.

Fedex would probably be a more likely option, but they want someone with experience or at least someone holding the proper license.

My questions are for someone who has no experience and no CDL.

Ideally, my wife and I would each sign-on with a company that does the co-driver thing and pays for our training. Then we would tour the country together, taking turns driving. It could be pretty romantic, we wouldn't have to rent a home, and the companies might even be more inclined to hire two people together.
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Re: Becoming a Trucker

Postby lasttry » Fri Feb 13, 2015 5:09 pm

I'll answer just the part about staying in shape. No need for a gym. You want strong core? Hold the plank position (the up part of the standard push-up) for ten minutes. This will also prepare you for missionary position sex. Various types of pushups for the upper body: regular, one-armed, hindu aka dive bomber. Simply holding an unsupported handstand for a minute is quite challenging for most people. Various types of bodyweight squats for the legs, or burpees, or simply hold the yogi warrior poses for a minute per leg. Yoga in general will get you in excellent shape if you do some of the more challenging poses (like handstand, warrior, plank) for long periods of time. None of these exercises takes anything more than a small amount of ground space and a plastic map to protect your hands.
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Re: Becoming a Trucker

Postby rudder » Mon Feb 16, 2015 12:24 pm

Yes, yoga poses are gold for strength and flexibility. Also, I know it wouldn't be hard to fit a couple sets of dumb bells on the truck.

My question has mainly to do with cardio. I like to run. Pretty hard to do that in a 60 sq. ft. space. How about Tai Bo? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ybROmM_mBM
I did that in a small room, but I'm not sure that would even fit in the confines of a truck.

I did find the answers to some of my marriage related questions on a trucking forum though:

1. What to expect during our training for team driving (i.e.; do we train together, separate, usual length of time, etc
Some companies will allow you to train together but they are few and far between. Check with them first and get it in writing.
2. Are there better companies training teams than others?
I would highly recommend Central Refrigerated... we did very well driving for them and they allowed us to train together.
3. Do we get separate pay checks, benefits, etc?
yes
4. During the first year of gaining experience, in your honest opinion, what can we expect to make driving as a team (on the lower end-gross)? How about after our first year?
You should be able to clear $80,000 fairly easily if you serious about driving. Over $150,000 if you are quick learners and know how to hustle!
5. Can we assume that one of us will be driving up to 10hrs a day while the other one sleeps or, can we switch off and sleep when we can?
Yes you will drive 11 hour shifts unless you want to make up a different schedule
6. Is it harder for husband & wife teams to make it out there, in your opinion
No....just the opposite.. it should be a lot easier. Husband wife teams are treated like gold and typically make 3times what a solo driver makes.
7. Do team drivers get down time, or home time just like any other drivers? \
You do have downtime though you want to really limit it. Hometime really puts the brakes on your pay so try to stay out for long periods of time. My wife and I used to run about 3-4 months out at a time.
8. In your opinion, what would be the best to shoot for-Dry Vans, LTL, Reefer, etc?
Reefer. You have twice the opportunity for loads. There are many other unique gigs out there though for husband wife teams.
9. Is there any companies, that you know of, that hire seasonally (like 6mos on and 6mos off)? We just need to know this one so we can plan for our business to be run by someone other than ourselves.
Yes. Companies that run concert tours...Nascar...sports venues etc.... You would typically run 7-8- 10 months at a time and then have off when their season or tour ends.
10. Any other suggestions, hints, or just plain old STAY AWAY FROMS, in your opinion?
Avoid the mega-carriers! (ie Swift, werner, england etc...)

Take the time to do your research. Husband/wife teams are the cream of the crop and are treated like gold! You should pretty much have your choice of where you want to go so don't sacrifice yourselves to the mega-carriers. You want to find a company large enough to keep you busy yet small enough to still treat you like human beings! You don't want to work for a company where you are a number. Its very important to have a good personable working relationship with your dispatcher. This is going to be your key to making money! These large companies have dispatchers that are responsible for overseeing hundreds of drivers. They randomly assign loads according to where you are and what needs to be done. At a smaller company the dispatchers work off commission and usually oversee a smaller amount of drivers. This allows you to be able to work back and forth with each other to figure out what is best for you guys and your dispatcher. You scratch each others backs!

My wife and I drove for Central starting out and did very, very well with them! They went above and beyond to help us succeed and were always there to help us with whatever we needed. Central also allowed us to train together which most companies don't.

As a husband/wife team you will be expected to average 1000 miles a day or 7000 miles a week. That's what you want to shoot for! Not going to be easy, especially starting out. It most likely will take sometime to build up to that. Your key is going to be trip planning. Start practicing now! The better you are at trip planning the more money you will make. As soon as you are assigned your load you let your dispatcher know the quickest you can be there so that you can reschedule an early delivery or drop in a drop yard. This will allow you to get your next load quicker. You never, ever want to take the time allotted for a load. They may give you 6 days to get it there but you want to get that load off of you asap! This is how you will be able to run 7000 miles a week.

Team driving is not toodling around sightseeing or hanging out in truck stops. If you are doing things correctly it should be a challenge to get a shower every couple of days! You really have to utilize your time well.. Minimize your stops! Try and time your bathroom stops, food stops, fuel stops, swapping drivers, etc... all into one stop! Every time you leave the interstate it costs you at least 20-30 minutes! Sounds minimal but it really adds up to be a lot of money lost!

Your first year out there you should be keeping track of everything and learning as much as possible while stashing cash in the bank. Your second year you should be considering owner operator and buying your own truck. Once you have your own truck you guys should be making well over $200k a year!

Its going to take a good 3-4 months out there before you are used to the day to day happenings and are comfortable with what you are doing. Hang in there, it can be a very stressful time! Remember its a lifestyle not a job!

Good luck to you guys, "pm" me if you have any questions, I'll be glad to help...
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Re: Becoming a Trucker

Postby djfourmoney » Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:48 am

I would agree with what was posted by that trucker.

You do get paid more and make more running in teams; why? The truck is always running....

I also agree that smaller companies like Central are more family oriented and ran, been truckers themselves and know what it's like to be out there with little support or micromanagement.

Freefers make the most, after that it's flat bed. I would run a feefer because flat-bed is a bit of a drag and more dangerous. If you don't secure your load properly it could cause all sorts of problems. I've all head or even seen stuff fall off a truck on the highway... Me personally I schooled the right way so I can tie anything down to a flat bed and it won't move.

The fun is sometime you would have to load things yourself and it could be fun things like Buses, Backhoes, etc where you have to drive them onto your trailer.

The drag is doing any live loading in high winds or in bad weather for obvious reasons.
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