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  #1  
Old 12-30-2006, 08:23 PM
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Default Am I crazy?

I'm 47 years old, I live on the San Francisco peninsula not far from SF, and have been kicking around the idea of driving a big rig for a while, but recently the idea is becoming more serious, which is how I ended up on this excellent MB.

A few questions if you don't mind.

1) Will I have a problem getting hired as a new driver at my age? I have no accidents, moving violations or any criminal record.

2) As far as training is concerned there are many options, some which require no out of pocket money and some that do. Of the companies that provide training, are there any that seem to stand out amongst the others in the area of treating their drivers well? Of all the web sites I've been to, Schneider is most interesting to me, but does anyone have first-hand experience with them?

3) In regards to training companies not affiliated with a trucking company, does anyone have any experience with the Hayward Truck Driving School? I talked to a guy there and he said their class A program is $1750 and includes the use of a truck for testing. This seems inexpensive in comparison to others and it makes me a little hesitant.

I also spoke with a guy at Area Truck Driving School in Santa Clara. The guy I spoke with seemed much brighter and articulate, and their program runs $3850.

I'm not sure I want to run OTR, but would it be better for my resume to do it for a year in order to get the experience?

OK, I won't write a novel here.

Thanking you in advance!
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  #2  
Old 12-30-2006, 08:30 PM
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I'm a noob, so take what I'm saying with a grain of salt (I start TMC on Tuesday). No, you're not crazy.......If I were you, I'd try to go to get my CDL-A on your own (so you aren't indebted to a company) check a local community college or your States DOL may be helpful.

It may be tough to get a job that's not OTR without some experience. I found it hard to land a local job with no OTR experience here in CT (I don't think the time of year has helped me any, either) as most of the food delivery type jobs are working balls to the wall right now and not hiring newbies. good luck.

jeff
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  #3  
Old 12-30-2006, 08:31 PM
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I used to work for Schneider and will say they are one of the best training companies out there and I believe since you live in CA there is no contract to sign so the training would be free.
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  #4  
Old 12-30-2006, 08:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MMCANewbie
I used to work for Schneider and will say they are one of the best training companies out there and I believe since you live in CA there is no contract to sign so the training would be free.
I doubt it's free, there a loop hole some where. Like having to work for them for 6 months to a year.


243Winchester, No your not to old. I'm 49 ( well next month I am ) and people older than us start doing this. I wanted to start school in Jan, but looks like it won't be until Feb. Personally my opinion is to get your CDL through a school, not a company ( but that's just my opinion ) because in most cases you have to do a contract with them for so many months or years to pay them back for training you. By going to a school your not tied down to a company, due to the schooling you received from them, and if you decide to leave they can't hand you a 3000 dollar bill for training.

Most schools have trucking companies come out to talk to you while in school. That will give you an idea of companies close to you and what they are all about. Research any company you think you might want to work for. Not just by talking to the company or there website. I have found a few Recruiter's that try to put iceing on the cake and make it sound like a dream job. Best thing to do is "TALK TO DRIVERS" from any company you think you want to work for, and ask them everything from miles, pay, treatment of employees, home time and anything else that YOU think is important. Ask them who else they worked for and if they would go back. I'm sure you know the drill.

Best of luck
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  #5  
Old 12-30-2006, 09:22 PM
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Also, many companies will reimburse you for your training over time if you paid for it out of your own pocket when you hire on. Like a hundred a month. If not the entire amount, up to a certain amount, which is better than nothing.
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  #6  
Old 12-30-2006, 09:39 PM
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Default Re: Am I crazy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by .243Winchester
I'm 47 years old, I live on the San Francisco peninsula not far from SF, and have been kicking around the idea of driving a big rig for a while, but recently the idea is becoming more serious, which is how I ended up on this excellent MB.

A few questions if you don't mind.

1) Will I have a problem getting hired as a new driver at my age? I have no accidents, moving violations or any criminal record.

As long as your general health is not an issue (e.g.: high blood pressure, history of cardiac problems, insulin dependent diabetes, etc., and you are not taking certain medications for mental health reasons, such as Rx.'s for treating depression) your age should not be a factor. In fact, it will be viewed by some employers as an asset.

2) As far as training is concerned there are many options, some which require no out of pocket money and some that do. Of the companies that provide training, are there any that seem to stand out amongst the others in the area of treating their drivers well? Of all the web sites I've been to, Schneider is most interesting to me, but does anyone have first-hand experience with them?

Schneider has a well respected training program, (the only training company that I know of that offers their trainees skid pad training) but you are indentured for a certain period of time. Now, I have heard something about how that period of indenturement does not apply in Ca., but I can't see them training you for free. I think there is, at the very least, an ethical obligation to give them something in return for your training, be it money or time. They are considered a "Mega-carrier", which means that you will be more of a number than you will be a name. I've known some Schneider Drivers who were very happy with them, and some who were not. Overall, I'd give them high marks.

As far as companies who treat their drivers well, CFI has an excellent reputation. Although they are not a "training company", they do hire rookie drivers. Back when I drove, I found their drivers and Melton flat bed drivers to be a cut above the competition. They were more courteous, more helpful, more professional. They operate VERY nice equipment, also!! BTW, Melton is a flat bed company that is not owned by CFI, but there are certain familial ties.

Swift has received very mixed reviews. Some Swift drivers are very happy, others are not. My experience was that there drivers seemed pretty nice as people, but their driving skills often left much to be desired. I do know that when I was OTR a few years ago, they had some "trainers" with only three months experience under their belt.

My advice would be to stay away from CR England at all costs, and right behind them. I would avoid CRST. I have not heard much good about USA Trucks, either.

In regards to choosing the "Right" company, remember that it is also a matter of choosing the right company for you. I drove for a mid-sized carrier, and there were some advantages, but there were also some trade-offs.

The Advantages:

I was a name, not a number.

I had an awesome dispatcher, an excellent trainer, very accessible management that was willing to back up the driver when the driver was right, a company with good, sound safety policies, plenty of good miles, good freight lanes, average trip length of over 850 miles, and a truck that was goverened at about 78 mph.

A very family oriented company, with excellent home time, which was very important to me.

Trade-offs:

Very costly health insurance, with very mediocre coverage.

An older truck. (old FreightShaker Classic)

Very limited fuel network.

No Trip Paks; I had to Fed Ex or UPS trip reports at my expense, but the agovernedthat they did not screw around with my pay checks by "mysteriously losing " invoices.

Paid HHG "Mover" miles, rather than "Hub Miles"



3) In regards to training companies not affiliated with a trucking company, does anyone have any experience with the Hayward Truck Driving School? I talked to a guy there and he said their class A program is $1750 and includes the use of a truck for testing. This seems inexpensive in comparison to others and it makes me a little hesitant.

I also spoke with a guy at Area Truck Driving School in Santa Clara. The guy I spoke with seemed much brighter and articulate, and their program runs $3850.

Remember, most truck driving schools are "diploma mills". That means that you will learn enough to pass your CDL exams, and gain some familiarization behind the wheel, but you will not come out as an accomplished driver. There is only so much that you can learn in a few weeks time.

Check with your local community colleges. Many of them have excellent training programs with job placement assistance, at rates that are substantially lower than the commercial outfits.

I'm not sure I want to run OTR, but would it be better for my resume to do it for a year in order to get the experience?

One year of solid, safe OTR experience will open up a lot of doors, but some regional jobs will as well. Two years of OTR will offer even better opportunities to get into more specialized areas of driving.


OK, I won't write a novel here.

Okay then, I will!!

A few more things to consider; flat bedding offers certain advantages, but it can also be very physically demanding, requiring you to work in very harsh climate conditions, and at times it is also very dirty work.

My food for thought here?? Don't get too enamored with the idea of "No Touch Freight", or promises of all "Drop and Hook" work. I ran NTF, and it took a very serious toll on my body. The work was very sedentary, and when combined with the long hours, poor diet, and other stress factors, getting your butt out of that truck and into that trailer and doing some lifting, bending, and stooping can be one of the best things that you can do for yourself.

"Drop and Hook" may sound enticing, but when you drop a trailer that you have spent time on inflating low tires, replacing burned out lights, etc., only to find that the trailer you are picking up also has low tires, (or, in some cases, blown tires!!) more burned out lights, expired registration papers, etc., it can be a real pisser.


Thanking you in advance!
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  #7  
Old 12-30-2006, 10:34 PM
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I doubt it's free, there a loop hole some where. Like having to work for them for 6 months to a year.


It's free if you train out of Fontana, CA. The reason is that the school is not yet accredited by the state of CA or something but that will change soon. FYI my training was free....
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  #8  
Old 12-30-2006, 10:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MMCANewbie
It's free if you train out of Fontana, CA. The reason is that the school is not yet accredited by the state of CA or something but that will change soon. FYI my training was free....
If the school is not accredited, will companies be willing to accept trainees from that school??
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  #9  
Old 12-31-2006, 12:21 AM
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Another path to a CDL is doing dock to driver at a LTL. It more physical work and takes a bit longer (4-5 months) but you get a CDL truly free and clear and an OK local job.

I know Con-Way offers it at the Oakland terminal. Given the general shortage of skilled blue collar labor in Urban CA I suspect other LTLs will have a similar deal.
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  #10  
Old 12-31-2006, 12:25 AM
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One thing you may want to consider is going by some truck stops and talk to some drivers. There are several not too far from you along I-5. There is one in Westley and some near Ripon and Merced. You could likely find some who are working for the training companies and those who have been around for a while. Getting current information from those currently employed would be your best source of information. You may also send a not to Floored. She lives not too far from you and hasn't been driving for that long. She owns her own truck and may be able to point you in a direction. A community college is usually the least expensive way to get your training without having to commit to a carrier for training.
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