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Who drives Class A trucks for a living, or used to?


The Few

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Hello HDT RV people, just a question for those interested to answer..

Anyone had any previous or current CDL class A driving experience???

 

I'm just poking into idea's and wanting to stop working for the federal government, and own my own truck one day...

 

The pro's at this point in my life out weigh the con's... I would rather make less money working for myself, than more money working for people that don't have the drive or initiative to want to be at work..

 

And besides, working in a office behind a computer, wearing a suit and tie, and the fake smiles and conversations in the business/corperate world are starting to wear on me...UGH!!!!

 

The Few!!!

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I never drove for a living, but got my start working around equipment very young and one of my first real jobs was working for a local trucking company doing maintenance on trailers and trucks.

 

I too have had thoughts of buying a truck after my retirement from this trade which I plan at around age 55. The wife is two years behind me and thought maybe she would be interested in driving team while we see some sights, pay for the truck, and take the depreciation. Figured this would allow us to spec out a new truck the way we want for an RV hauler later and would have all the history.

 

I'll be interested in the responses you get!

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I never drove for a living, but got my start working around equipment very young and one of my first real jobs was working for a local trucking company doing maintenance on trailers and trucks.

 

I too have had thoughts of buying a truck after my retirement from this trade which I plan at around age 55. The wife is two years behind me and thought maybe she would be interested in driving team while we see some sights, pay for the truck, and take the depreciation. Figured this would allow us to spec out a new truck the way we want for an RV hauler later and would have all the history.

 

I'll be interested in the responses you get!

 

That is exactly my plan.. EXACTLY!!!!!!!

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Yes I have, owned 4 Pete's at one time, now own 1 Volvo, much happer.

When I only was a owner operator I did quite well, but that was in the time you could have 3 log books.

Today is a different story, but have not driven commercial since the 80'es.

 

Roger

 

CDL schools today are EXPENSIVE!!! If I do decide to pursuit this occupation, " I'm 80% willing to do it", I think I will do the Tanker Truck route for a year, then if I am ready and have done my homework, drive regional or local.. If everything pans out after a few years, Buy a truck, and live happily ever after.. ( fingers crossed)

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We drive a Class A+ truck, but I suppose you really meant for a living which we never did. Our first time driving any distance more than a few miles was when we went to Texas and drove the truck home to MN. No CDL required in MN if it is registered as an RV. We still work for a living and much of that time is spent behind a computer but I do get to walk job sites and travel some so not always stuck behind a desk. I have about 5 more years to go to retirement and in fact I am doing a job transfer to SC so hoping the winters will be better there.

 

Dave

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CDL schools today are EXPENSIVE!!! If I do decide to pursuit this occupation, " I'm 80% willing to do it", I think I will do the Tanker Truck route for a year, then if I am ready and have done my homework, drive regional or local.. If everything pans out after a few years, Buy a truck, and live happily ever after.. ( fingers crossed)

 

Presumably you're aware that you'll need more than just a Class A CDL for a tanker. At least an 'N' (tanker) endorsement, and possibly an 'X' (combined hazmat and tanker) endorsement, depending on what you're hauling.

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We drive a Class A+ truck, but I suppose you really meant for a living which we never did. Our first time driving any distance more than a few miles was when we went to Texas and drove the truck home to MN. No CDL required in MN if it is registered as an RV. We still work for a living and much of that time is spent behind a computer but I do get to walk job sites and travel some so not always stuck behind a desk. I have about 5 more years to go to retirement and in fact I am doing a job transfer to SC so hoping the winters will be better there.

Dave

 

 

Im a prevention specialist and Reduction coordinator supervisor..

I work Mental Health, Alcohol/substance abuse for the Federal Government.. (Not a counselor)

I have 23 employees in my care which as a whole see as many as 15000 clients a year..

I deal with a WHOLE slew of reports, PowerPoint presentations, demographic and geographical updates, and meetings that follow.. I also have offsite commitments, but that does NOT take away from the stress and job precision I have to deal with everyday..

 

I deal with real world problems that affect people's lives, and if they are NOT in compliance with the orders, I have to let them go from active duty military service, or if they are civilians, I have to terminate them..

 

Can you follow why a job change would benefit my life plans now??? LOLOL

 

The Few...

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Presumably you're aware that you'll need more than just a Class A CDL for a tanker. At least an 'N' (tanker) endorsement, and possibly an 'X' (combined hazmat and tanker) endorsement, depending on what you're hauling.

The tank endorsement (at least for me, in 1993...) was just a 20 or 30-question multiple choice test. Boom, done. Double/triple trailers was another 20 or 30-question multiple choice test. Boom, done.

 

When I was a little kid, I wanted to drive a truck, be a firefighter, and own several backhoes. As I got to high school, I wanted to work on concert and theater sound systems. College was Electrical Engineering, though I've never had a true EE job since. While I was in college, I got my CDL-A with tank and double/triple. I've never driven professionally, though it was convenient as I ascended through the ranks as a volunteer FF. Off I went into the computer/tech industry, and then the dot-com crash happened, I was out of a job in a bad way. I ended up doing 450 applications, and only 2 of them ever called me back. Thankfully one of those two hired me, but as money was starting to get tight, I decided it might be time to fall back on a driving career. Whoa - two applications, and each of them got me a phone call within 24 hours, plus numerous follow-ups.

 

For me, if I'd gone that route, it would have meant a fork in the road. I was looking at a huge pay cut, but could have been hired and getting some money quickly. The biggest obstacle I saw was getting out: if you're always on the road, how do you schedule an interview to get out?

 

Thinking bigger picture, it has the potential to be a dog-eat-dog world. It's highly competitive, so company A has to figure out how to keep customers happy while not paying a higher cost than company B, lest it eat into their profits. I suspect experience leads to more consistent deliveries and less surprises, but to some degree I don't see how companies can simply keep ratcheting up their pay per mile with years of experience. If you're an owner-operator, it's up to you to decide what features make sense for the bottom line, and which ones you have to have even though they impact payload capacity, etc. If you're a company driver, they're going to make "fleet choices", not personal touches.

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At age 53, I had to wait for the wife to retire in 3 years, so I bought a chevy 3500 dually, 30' gooseneck trailer and became a owner/operator Hot Shot driver. Usually grossed 100k and had about 40k in expenses. Learning through experience is a hard and risky adventure. Brokers will take advantage of your inexperience and the DOT will write you tickets for thinks you never even heard of. All it takes is a couple of bad breaks and you are shut down and out of business.

My advice is to sign on as a company driver for a small company, such as milk hauler and let them deal with the headaches and you can just enjoy the driving and still make 50-60k a year. Once you get the experience you can decide if you want to go it alone, but most don't.

Greg

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The tank endorsement (at least for me, in 1993...) was just a 20 or 30-question multiple choice test. Boom, done. Double/triple trailers was another 20 or 30-question multiple choice test. Boom, done.

 

When I was a little kid, I wanted to drive a truck, be a firefighter, and own several backhoes. As I got to high school, I wanted to work on concert and theater sound systems. College was Electrical Engineering, though I've never had a true EE job since. While I was in college, I got my CDL-A with tank and double/triple. I've never driven professionally, though it was convenient as I ascended through the ranks as a volunteer FF. Off I went into the computer/tech industry, and then the dot-com crash happened, I was out of a job in a bad way. I ended up doing 450 applications, and only 2 of them ever called me back. Thankfully one of those two hired me, but as money was starting to get tight, I decided it might be time to fall back on a driving career. Whoa - two applications, and each of them got me a phone call within 24 hours, plus numerous follow-ups.

 

For me, if I'd gone that route, it would have meant a fork in the road. I was looking at a huge pay cut, but could have been hired and getting some money quickly. The biggest obstacle I saw was getting out: if you're always on the road, how do you schedule an interview to get out?

 

Thinking bigger picture, it has the potential to be a dog-eat-dog world. It's highly competitive, so company A has to figure out how to keep customers happy while not paying a higher cost than company B, lest it eat into their profits. I suspect experience leads to more consistent deliveries and less surprises, but to some degree I don't see how companies can simply keep ratcheting up their pay per mile with years of experience. If you're an owner-operator, it's up to you to decide what features make sense for the bottom line, and which ones you have to have even though they impact payload capacity, etc. If you're a company driver, they're going to make "fleet choices", not personal touches.

 

 

Thank you peety3... Very informative, indeed..

 

I have done my research, and if I were to follow my endeavors, I would certainly not make hasty decisions of a career by not maximizing my potential..

I would certainly have every endorsement in order to ensure I am well qualified, and marketable...

 

Your write-up made me smile, because you used your words and turned them into a very comprehensible message, thus giving a slightly different perspective as well..

 

My plan is to be lazy, hard working, and make decent money at the same time.. (supplemental income)

Driving a semi truck, I can certainly do all of the above..

It's exciting, rewarding, and hazardous for sure, but in my case it will only be short term.. ( maybe 3-5 yrs at the most)

 

Once the truck is paid off (Volvo VNL 780 of course), I will use it to pull my RV 5th wheel and smart car around the country.. Probably will be a 2018/2019 Volvo by then, but I just need to know how I will spec it to pull a Tanker Trailer for regional hauls east of the Mississippi..

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At age 53, I had to wait for the wife to retire in 3 years, so I bought a chevy 3500 dually, 30' gooseneck trailer and became a owner/operator Hot Shot driver. Usually grossed 100k and had about 40k in expenses. Learning through experience is a hard and risky adventure. Brokers will take advantage of your inexperience and the DOT will write you tickets for thinks you never even heard of. All it takes is a couple of bad breaks and you are shut down and out of business.

My advice is to sign on as a company driver for a small company, such as milk hauler and let them deal with the headaches and you can just enjoy the driving and still make 50-60k a year. Once you get the experience you can decide if you want to go it alone, but most don't.

Greg

 

 

Great advice!!

I will take your lead and follow your advise sir, it was right on the money!!!..

 

Much Obliged!!

 

The Few

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I used to drive for a living, but that was 25+ years ago. Things have changed drastically since so I m not going to give you any advise other than try going to https://www.truckersforum.net/forum/ or http://www.thetruckersreport.com/truckingindustryforum/ You can read a lot there and ask questions (once you register). They are drivers and they will tell you more than you want to know!

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I used to drive for a living, but that was 25+ years ago. Things have changed drastically since so I m not going to give you any advise other than try going to https://www.truckersforum.net/forum/ or http://www.thetruckersreport.com/truckingindustryforum/ You can read a lot there and ask questions (once you register). They are drivers and they will tell you more than you want to know!

 

 

Old or new advise, I'm listening sir..

 

I never turn down listening to someone that has been there, done that..

From what I understand, the old methods are better to learn, because the new methods are electronics...

 

Again, Thank you!

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AMEN Jaydrvr! Great attitude..

Would you O/O if you had the choice??

I have for 25 years.. I LOVE it! As long as you stay away from the big box trucking companies, and do something more specialized like tanks or flatbeds, you'll have more freedom and enjoyment. If you like, I can p.m. you a link to see my little operation..

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I just celebrated my 40th anniversary as an owner operator, about 3.7 million miles. Of course the industry has morphed into something completely different compared to the one I drove into one winter day in Jan of 1976. Let me try to stay on the purpose of the original post and off some information and advice.

 

Many husband and wife teams out here, both partners driving, or one just "assisting" with the essentials. If you are starting from ground zero, no CDL or experience, you are going to have to "do some time" gaining that experience after you have the CDL. In most cases that means hooking up with an entry level carrier,( go to any truckstop and near the entrance you will see a rack full of recruiting material).

Lots of those carriers take drivers either with a green CDL or provide training to get a CDL( at your cost) with the promise of employment. They are mostly truckload van carriers who have extremely high(100%+) turnover rates, because frankly what you are going to go through has a very high washout rate. We are talking about 3-4 weeks away from home living in truck, erratic schedules, lots of sitting and then lots of crazy but legal miles( most have electronic logs and systems to watch your every move). And I mean every move. Apply the brakes too hard, and the satellite sends a message to your "babysitter", fleet manager and soon enough you will be getting nasty grams or a "retraining visit" to HQ to cure your perceived bad habits. Same with idling the truck trying to sleep in 90 deg weather. Depends on the carrier how draconian they are with the procedures.

 

Assuming you have survived 2 or more years of this type of abuse, you could consider some sort of lease purchase program with one of these carriers, which I would not advise. Or if you still wish to become an owner operator, and have the means to buy and maintain the correct equipment, you can start to apply to other segments of the industry. The higher up the food chain you go the pickier they will be. And that is assuming you didn't make ANY mistakes, back into another truck at a truck stop, speeding tickets, HOS problems, or heaven forbid an accident which involves injury. That pretty muck stops progress right there.

 

But you made it this far. Some carriers treat their owner operators like cattle, and the reason they stay is the drivers want the miles(money), and they deliver. I don't think you are looking for that kind of situation. You want to enjoy this "life" on the road. Some operations are not as intense. One is what I have been doing for the last 13 years, is known as power only. We provide a tractor to move someone else's trailers. There are many companies in this business, most of the operators are tired of the grind of hauling freight and just dropping a hooking is easy. New trailers from manufacturer to dealer have a huge service spread, so there is time between loads to be the professional tourist you crave. Our company deals frequently with time sensitive but interesting stuff, Rock and Roll concerts, professional sports equip(TV or generators) broadway shows, golf tournaments, various outdoor venues. Seasonal, pay is erratic, and after you have worked with operations to help cover the important stuff you can work with them about time off and where.

I only do about 70,000 miles a year, with is considered downright lazy in the trucking business. If the truckload carrier you start with has the freight, you might do as much as 100k miles plus. That is not fun after I did it for 30+ years.

 

I tried to give a little overview of the employment side. Day to day conditions(quality of life issues) are another matter. PM me and I will try to be as objective as possible.

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When I drove over the road it was for a company called International Transport (before Schneider bought them). I pulled anything from a van (only a few times) to flats, drop decks, stretch trailers and even detach goose necks. A lot of oversize loads too. In one year I was in 47 states and 4 provinces of Canada by my self. I used to be gone from home anywhere from 2 1/2 to 8 weeks at a time. I did that for 8 1/2 years, but pretty much burned out so I got off the road. I made decent money, but got tired of 'the life'. Yes, I do kind of miss it, but with my medical situation I could not go back to driving even if I wanted to.........

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When I drove over the road it was for a company called International Transport (before Schneider bought them). I pulled anything from a van (only a few times) to flats, drop decks, stretch trailers and even detach goose necks. A lot of oversize loads too. In one year I was in 47 states and 4 provinces of Canada by my self. I used to be gone from home anywhere from 2 1/2 to 8 weeks at a time. I did that for 8 1/2 years, but pretty much burned out so I got off the road. I made decent money, but got tired of 'the life'. Yes, I do kind of miss it, but with my medical situation I could not go back to driving even if I wanted to.........

 

 

Thank you for sharing that sir,

I appreciate your candid explanation, and hope you healthy travels throughout..

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