In my experience, learning how to “drive truck” was easier than finding a job worth the lifestyle. I was lucky enough to not get sucked into the “paid-training” schools that seem to be popping up like weeds everywhere one looks. I was even luckier to get all of my training for free.
That’s right, FREE. The reason I didn’t get sucked into the paid-training scam is because of the fact that I’m indecisive sometimes… ok, a lot of the time! In any case, I did a lot of research on the subject and read a lot of opinions from veteran drivers and from those who had gone through these so-called paid-training programs.
For the best place to find these opinions and stories, in my opinion, or if you’re just curious to learn more about the culture of the truck driver, click here. Now, I won’t tell anyone how to live their life or what they should do but I wholeheartedly believe that if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!
In September of 2009 I got into a program at my local community college for the unbeatable price of nothing. The college had just started their CDL program 2 years earlier and had received a grant of almost $100,000 from the Department of Transportation (DOT) to train 24 new drivers. If this grant was not available I probably would had never my CDL.
For me, driving truck was almost natural. For others though, it is a constant battle of the mind. The tricks are quite simple; learn from your mistakes (everyone makes them), don’t ever do something you’re not comfortable in doing and always trust your mirrors! Many of my fellow students had such a tough time because they were over-analyzing the problems to the point of confusion.
The hardest thing in getting my CDL was the driving test.
When that DOT officer was sitting in that passenger seat I made stupid mistakes because I simply psyched myself out. Again, the trick is the same as above.
I failed twice and on my third and final attempt I passed (in Missouri you get 3 chances and then you have to go back for more training).
Even though I had passed, the hardest test was yet to come… finding a job!
I graduated in December, 2009. The “rush” season (holidays) had just ended and almost no company is hiring new drivers in January or February. I only got 2 job offers from the dozens of applications I put in.
Neither one was good enough for me to quit my current full-time job. I say, “Not good enough” because, once again, I put in the time to research and find out how “good” and secure these jobs were. I was also blessed with meeting very honest and down-to-earth truck drivers and trucking veterans who gave me a great idea to what it would be like to drive truck as a career.
My advice is, unless you have it in your blood or have always dreamt of driving truck, I wouldn’t recommend making this your career. It’s a major lifestyle change from the normal 9-5. I
still work at the job I had while in training and I see my experience in getting my CDL not as a failure, but as a learning experience since I met some great people and learned about a culture I had only stereotyped before.