Over the road trucking is a tough vocation. It’s even tougher now with the economy struggling as it is. Many CDL schools are still reporting an 85% – 90% placement rate for recent CDL graduates. On the other hand, I hear from many students who, after several months or longer, after completing their CDL training, have still been unable to secure employment.
A large majority of these, I assume, has to deal with the fact that the student/grad had negative information on their MVR and the school failed to advise them of the poor chance of being hired. The CDL school took their money anyway. However, many of these CDL students tell me that they have nothing bad on their records, everything is “perfect” and still, they are unable to land a job as a truck driver. This simply has to do with the way the economy is right now.
I recently received an email from a driver who has brought in between $200 – $300 per week for the last several weeks . . . he simply stated that his company has “no freight.” Other drivers tell me they are running hard and can barely keep up! OTR trucking is a strange character. I can’t say when the economy will turn around or trucking will get back on track, but I can explain what you, as a recent CDL training graduate can do, that will most likely end your driving career before it even gets started.
We all know that times are tough right now. Even though CDL schools are reporting such a high job placement rate, I have my doubts with many of them. For those recent CDL students who do land a truck driving job, there is one thing you most certainly want to accomplish . . . get that all-important one year of OTR driving in under your belt with that company!
Many CDL graduates are writing me explaining that they were hired by a trucking company and after 30 days, 3 months or whatever, they ended up quitting due to lack of miles or various other reasons as many of us know. If you’re “fortunate” enough to land a trucking job in today’s economy, if at all possible, you need to try your best to “stick it out” with that first company that has given you the job opportunity. For years, veteran drivers have gotten away with this “job hopping” but not so much now, and certainly not for newcomers just starting out.
Leaving the truck driving job after only one, two or three months, is like digging your own professional truck driving grave. First, the trucking company just possibly shelled out thousands of dollars for your training. Secondly, they will look at you as someone who really is not serious about being an OTR driver and finally, they will most likely turn around and file a negative complaint on your DAC report. This DAC file could turn out to be your “nail in the coffin.”
Other than having stricter policies, better driver treatment, driver respect and so forth, practically all trucking companies do the exact same thing: you pick up freight at point A and you deliver that freight to point B. If you only lasted six weeks on your very first time out, why would other trucking companies believe that you will last with them? You’ll be doing the exact same thing you were doing the six weeks before. The reasons you left are not important to them . . . remember, many of these over the road trucking outfits operate in the same manner.
Could you get lucky and find another company willing to hire you and give you a chance? Maybe . . . but it’s a long shot. It’s understandable that a new driver would quit after only his or her first several weeks, if they are only making a few hundred dollars per week for running in long distance trucking. But the economy is what it is . . . it’s tough for many trucking companies and freight is slow for a big portion of them.
The recruiters and many of the not-so-honest CDL schools are going to tell you what you want to hear. Understand that the trucking industry, for many, are struggling right along with the other various industries in the present economic situation. Your chances of starting out as a new driver and pulling in $1000 per week right off the bat, is not reasonable. It could happen, but not usual with a new CDL graduate and beginning your career with one of these “starter companies.”
After finishing CDL training and you find yourself as one of those new drivers who do land a job with a company . . . be prepared to run the road for at least one year. Some will say for six months . . . but that “one year” is really the magic number. Keep in mind, that many of the really good trucking companies out there, require two and sometimes three or more years of verifiable driving experience . . . that is why they are the “really good” trucking companies.
Be prepared for the one year of sacrifice . . . plan ahead for your finances . . . maybe your spouse will have to continue to work for that first year . . perhaps you will have to dip into your savings . . . whatever the case, just be prepared for the commitment and sacrifice of running OTR for one year.
If after only a few weeks or even a few months, you are just not making it and you have to quit . . . just understand that this is one of the ways a new CDL graduate can almost certainly insure ending their truck driving career before it even begins.
Truth About Trucking
© 2009, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.