Author Topic: Class A driver- worth it?  (Read 10561 times)

Offline USMCAllen

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Class A driver- worth it?
« on: April 23, 2013, 08:39:08 PM »
It will cost me six weeks of time and almost no money. But I don't want to be a trucker.

What are some interesting ideas for class A drivers? Is it worth it?

Offline bartsdad

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Re: Class A driver- worth it?
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2013, 01:33:20 AM »
There are a ton of driving jobs out there that are not OTR.

Construction, local delivery, FedEx/UPS, farm hauling (milk, crops, hay,...), school bus driver(with special endorsements). There are more, but these are the first that come to mind. I maintain mine because I'm a diesel tech and it's just part of the job.

Offline caverdude

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Re: Class A driver- worth it?
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2013, 01:57:25 PM »
Why are you becoming a trucker? Are you not going to go to a trucking school? Who will train you for the particular job? Usually there is a training period after trucking school (cdl factory). What prior related experience do you have? Do you have family at home? Are you married? Kids?

In this bad economy trucking is paying poorly yet it can still pay more than no job or more than many jobs and careers. Its a demanding job and career. Gone from home a lot depending on the type of job. Local jobs are usually hard to get because everybody wants one. And they don't always pay well. Usually they have decent benefits however.

I'm a trainer for http://www.willisshawexpress.com  Willis Shaw Express a division of Comcar. The pay will come up as the economy turns around if it turns around. Truckers like many careers make our good money on the upswings in the economy. However increased regulation has reduced our miles and pay has not come up to compensate much. Union jobs are the best trucking jobs but extremely difficult to get. In many cases I hear you must work part time for years to get on full time with a union outfit.








Offline Kagetsu

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Re: Class A driver- worth it?
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2013, 10:13:28 PM »
I became a driver after my last job closed. It was hard the first year being low on the bid board. I really hate working nights. Now I'm day delivery. Pay is better than any of my previous jobs. The hours are long. 10 to 12 hours, but that's down from 14 regularly for line haul. I certainly won't be looking for any other kind of work again. I'm LTL. (Less than truckload) so I'm back home each each day.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2013, 10:38:56 PM by Kagetsu »

Offline styven74

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Re: Class A driver- worth it?
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2013, 12:03:52 AM »
If you have the time I think that it could be worth it. Some of the better paying jobs around here are the log and wood chip drivers. I have also been told the the guys who drive for construction get paid pretty well.

I guess my thought is that it would give you more options for jobs.

Offline Oil Lady

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Re: Class A driver- worth it?
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2013, 05:12:59 AM »
I just lost my CDL due to a technicality. :(

I don't actually NEED a CDL at this time in my life, but I'd give almost anything to get it back. Damned valuable thing to have. Heck! It came in handy when I was on a cross country trip in my car, stopped at a truck stop for food, found a HUGE line of people standing and waiting for tables, and then I noticed a sign hanging from the ceiling over a section of (half empty) bar stools which read "CDL's ONLY," and so I was able to get a solo bar stool seat right away at that lunch counter just because I had my CDL.

If you can get a CDL without going to one of those stupid ripoff driving schools (such as if you go to a reputable driving school) then do so.

Offline idelphic

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Re: Class A driver- worth it?
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2013, 08:58:26 AM »
I agree with the Lady - Many of the schools are just a rip off... they 'teach' you then dump you on the road and you are in the middle of the city with a large truck or worse a 53' trailer and expected to get out... not fun.

Most times you can read the book,.. practice,.. and test and be fine.. now that doesn't give you the experience in some driving areas,.. like wide turns, backing up.

I had my CDL-B for a number of years,.. loved it,.. wished I still had it.  While I didn't have my A, the company I worked for used them from time to time, so I drove them around the rather tight parking lot...  Driving the truck wasn't the difficult part,.. it was the trailer.. driving in a straight line forward wasn't issue,.. it was the backing up,..  but with time I've gotten better - sorta...

I feel 'gifted' in that given a few minutes, I can pretty much figure out and drive anything...  It might be a rough ride for a while... but I can get it done.

I had to quit driving when I started missing miles...  I didn't want to kill anyone.. 

Offline caverdude

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Re: Class A driver- worth it?
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2013, 12:55:57 PM »
I went to trucking school at C1 Professional Drivers school in North Little Rock, AR. They basically teach you what you need to know to pass the test and get the cdl license but nothing really about trucking. I paid $3000+$2000 in interest between 2002 and 2005 The school loaned me the money.  Most people go to the school to be more guaranteed to get the cdl, and to use their equipment. They give you question pools and let you practice on the exact route you will test on. You have to have a truck to take the driving test with. If it is tractor trailer, you must have the trailer as well. You can rent the truck/trailer.

My brother just had himself and 10 of his employees get their cdl because they were moving heavy equipment around with flat beds. He found a guy who trained and loaned them the truck for testing at a rate of $600 per student. If they don't pass then they pay another $600. Still well worth it.


Offline caverdude

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Re: Class A driver- worth it?
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2013, 12:59:30 PM »
I also heard that if you have any cdl and you take the hazmat test and pass that they have to upgrade your cdl to class A. I have not verified that yet.

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Re: Class A driver- worth it?
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2013, 02:35:51 PM »
I also heard that if you have any cdl and you take the hazmat test and pass that they have to upgrade your cdl to class A. I have not verified that yet.

I don't know if things are different State by State but having a hazmat endorsement in my State doesn't automatically get you a Class A license.  That doesn't really make sense anyway, given that many trucks requiring a Class B license deliver hazmat meterials and just because you have a hazmat endorsement doesn't mean you are proficient in being able to perform with a Class A rated vehicle.

To the OP . . .  If you don't want to be a "trucker" the Class A license is a bit of a waste.  However, if you do have a Class A license that does qualify you to drive a Class B truck as well, given that you don't need certain "endorsements" (ie hazmat) to drive a particular vehicle.  Also keep in mind that there is an investment to keeping your license once you have it, such as annual physicals (medical exam) and higher priced license renewal.  My brother manages a regional market for a national propane company.  He's always looking for drivers.  I am in the welding supply industry, Distributors are always looking for drivers.  Both offer an average wage and usually come with benefits.  Both also offer advancement in the company for the right skills and work ethic.

Offline caverdude

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Re: Class A driver- worth it?
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2013, 05:49:31 PM »
It might have been that if you have a standard license and take the hazmat exams you would be upgraded to Class B to be able to add the endorsement. It was in a Panther Expedited orientation I heard this a few years ago in Ohio.

nelson96

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Re: Class A driver- worth it?
« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2013, 07:44:27 PM »
It might have been that if you have a standard license and take the hazmat exams you would be upgraded to Class B to be able to add the endorsement. It was in a Panther Expedited orientation I heard this a few years ago in Ohio.

That don't sound right either.  Endorsements are completely seperate from CDL Class.  One has nothing to do with the other and having one doesn't mean you are qualified to have the other.  About 25 years ago they had been grandfathering people and allowing them to get a CDL license without a driving test if they had a letter from their employer that they could drive a truck.  They still had to take a written test and endorsements were seperate from that.  And to my knowledge the nanny government and all their rules won't allow any of that anymore.

Offline Oil Lady

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Re: Class A driver- worth it?
« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2013, 08:02:56 PM »
This is the tale of how I got a CDL 22 years ago ... and then how I lost it just 31 days ago.



I was in college back in the late 1980's. During the summer between my Freshman and Sophomore years, I was told that the local school bus company (barely a block away, so I could walk to work) was hiring drivers for $8 and hour. That was loads more than what I would make flipping burgers. I checked it out. They said they would train me right there on the lot, and would sponsor me for the written exam as well as for the road test (they'd pay for the written exam and for the road test, and then they'd allow me to use a company bus for the road test).

This was Pennsylvania back in 1988.  There was no such thing as a CDL ... yet. I was instead going to get a Pennsylvania school bus drivers license, which was totally different from a truck drivers license at the time. I got my license before the end of September in 1988, and I was then driving bus for the rest of the year. Kinda cool!

Well ... two years later ... our driving supervisor explained to us all about this new law where we all had to get this new license called a CDL.  "But don't worry," he said, "you guys only have to take the written exam. There'll be no road test for any of you because you guys will be grandfathered." We were told the road test was KILLER! It included driving a backward serpentine through 7 barrels!   Our company sponsored all of us for the written exam. They provided the study booklets and had us all taken sample tests. Then, three days before Christmas in 1991, we were all required to report to a testing center to take the 3-hour exam. Pretty tough exam! And then we got our new CDL's.

I continued to drive school bus for another 2 years, and then transferred to a college down in Florida. I graduated from Florida in 1995, then returned to Pennsylvania where I drove school bus again for another year while I searched for an office-y job. So I had to keep my CDL current.

For another 10 years I kept renewing my CDL. It never lapsed. Last time around, in April of 2008, I had to get my license renewed. This time in Massachusetts. There was a problem though. The Massachusetts registry contacted the Pennsylvania registry because I was renewing in Massachusetts now, and Pennsylvania said I didn't even exist. This one lady at the Massachusetts registry spent two days on me -- two whole days-- talking endlessly on the phone with Boston and with Harrisburg, trying to get me my license. And then finally, she was able to ... call in a favor! She got me my license. I again had my CDL.

And then I had to renew it again 5 years later in April of 2013. I went to the registry --but NOT the registry in Springfield where I live. Springfield is a big, dirty, ugly city, and that registry is a madhouse with wait times of no less than 40 minutes. I went to a different registry office about 4 towns away which is a much smaller registry and the lines are easily 80% quicker.

But then as I handed over my forms to the clerk, I found out a new law had been passed where I am supposed to have a physician's certificate signed before I can get my license renewed. My birthday was the very next day, so I had less than 36 hours to get the license renewed, so a doctors' exam in the next 24 hours was obviously impossible. I was mortified. I didn't know what to do. I asked the registry clerk --in all politeness-- what my options were. That freaky jerk of a registry clerk scolded me with that very bored, eye-rolling, sing-songy tone of voice that only a pencil-pushing bureaucrat can employ and she said to me: "It's your responsibility as a CDL-holder to be aware of the latest laws concerning your license."

I restrained any inclination to frown and instead forced a smile and said: "Well, that'd be easy if I was employed as a professional driver because I would then have a driving supervisor who would be sure to inform all of his drivers about the latest regulations. But I'm not actually employed as a driver right now so I had no idea about this change in the law. But my birthday is tomorrow so I need to know what I can do now at this late date."

She replied with more of that same bored sing-songy condescension: "That's entirely up to you how you wanna handle this."

I then let off a mildly nervous laugh and said "Well, I'd love to try and make a decision for myself. Unfortunately I am not fully apprised of what my options are. Can you possibly tell me what avenues are available for my consideration?"

She said in more boredom, "I can't make that decision for you. It's entirely up to you."

I again laughed, a little louder, getting very inwardly pissed off at what an unhelpful little snit she was being. "Look, my birthday is tomorrow. I can't possibly get an appointment with a physician between now and tomorrow at 5 PM when the registry closes." I grinned and glanced leftward at another registry employee who was overhearing our conversation from the next window over. I was hoping to read something in her eyes, seeing if she agreed with me that her co-worker was being a needlessly difficult little jerk. I only saw a blank look in her eyes. I turned back to "my" clerk and continued speaking: "And the only reason I waited until today is that I needed new eyeglasses because I knew I wouldn't pass the eye exam this year with my old prescription. So I was finally able to get new glasses just three days ago, and so now that I am here, I can see that I'm in a real jam now. So what kind of steps can I take to make sure I still have a valid Massachusetts drivers license after tomorrow night? Please ... tell me ... I am just so very much in need of all your knowledge and expertise as a registry employee. It would be so helpful if you could share with me your knowledge of the full range of choices available to me."

She said with yet more sing-song: "One option would be to downgrade your CDL to a regular Class D drivers license. But that'd be entirely up to you."

I said "Okay, great! That's very helpful! Thank you so much for enlightening me! So what do I have to do to accomplish that?"

"You would just need to downgrade."

I again laughed. Frickin' pulling teeth with that b-tch! "Okay yeah!" I grinned, and again glanced at her co-worker, who again just gave me a blank look. "I got that. But what steps do I take to accomplish a downgrade?" 

"You need to fill out a Class D license renewal, pay the fee, and get the Class D, and then your CDL will be gone and get replaced by a regular drivers license. If you ever want to get a CDL again you have to start from scratch with passing the written exam and passing the road test too."

"Well, I'm not a professional driver anymore, so I don't need a CDL for my current profession, but I do still need a license to survive in life, so let's just do it."   

She ran my driver info and it turns out I owed excise tax on my current vehicle. More sing-songy boredom from her: "You have to go to Springfield and pay your excise taxes before Boston will grant you a license renewal." She printed out the late excise tax bill for me and said she could do nothing else for me now.

I thanked her for the bill and the info, and I glanced overtly at her name badge and made it a point to state her name out loud with my thank you. Then I left.

I swear to God I will write that horrendous woman into a screenplay and I will use her real name too. (That's how writers get revenge: we write about you in the most unflattering light. Don't mess with writers. We always have the last word.) 

So I drove to City Hall in Springfield, paid the excise tax, told the clerk at the Springfield tax office about my experience at the (non-Springfield) registry, and that very very nice clerk in Springfield shook her head and said, "No call for her to be that way." I looked at the clock and knew I didn't have time to return to that miserable woman's registry 4 towns away and still make it to my evening client. So I headed straight to the dreaded Springfield registry. I got in line, took a numbered ticket, waited half an hour, then I was called up to the window of a very very VERY helpful clerk who was very straight with me and she said: "Before I do this, please tell me that you understand fully that if you downgrade, you'll then have to start all over again from scratch to get the CDL back."

"Yeah," I nodded. "I realize the full gravity of what I'm doing. But I can't not have a license."

She said: "okay then you have to sign this release form which is a statement that you know what you're giving up, and that you have no problem with giving it up, and that you won't hold Massachusetts responsible for lost income or lost careers or lost marriages or lost anything from giving up this license."

I signed the waiver.

I took the eye exam.

I paid the renewal fee.

And then I had a new license.

I know there's no way I will ever get that CDL back again. I could likely cram like hell for the written exam ... but as for that driving test .... Shees! A backward serpentine through 7 barrels?? No way could I do that!

If you have an opportunity to get a CDL, then get it.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2013, 08:08:45 PM by Oil Lady »

nelson96

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Re: Class A driver- worth it?
« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2013, 09:41:22 PM »
And isn't the world now a better place since you downgraded your license?  :o  That's why I let mine go to, in a nut shell.

Offline Kagetsu

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Re: Class A driver- worth it?
« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2013, 06:40:20 PM »
 ::) Hazmat is a serious pain. Has to be completely renewed, written test and background check, at license renewal and only allows you to carry hazardous material for whatever weight class you have. Another of the four reasons I've needed a fingerprint background check. Priciest endorsement I had to get. Avoid it if you can.

Offline Breal191

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Re: Class A driver- worth it?
« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2013, 09:03:44 AM »
Got my CDL though my employer.  It only cost me about $118 out of pocket and that was only because driving is not my primary job function. Otherwise it would have been free. Love having it. Used it plowing and applying salt to the icy roads in the winter. 

There are a ton of driving jobs out there that are not OTR.

Construction, local delivery, FedEx/UPS, farm hauling (milk, crops, hay,...), school bus driver(with special endorsements). There are more, but these are the first that come to mind. I maintain mine because I'm a diesel tech and it's just part of the job.

Offline Oil Lady

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Re: Class A driver- worth it?
« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2013, 06:51:04 PM »
Another thing I miss about NOT having my CDL anymore is that when I drive cross country (haven't done it in years, but ya' never know when you might have to again) you can stop at one of those huge monster professional truck stops, and the CDL gives you special access and special privileges that non-CDL's don't get. Even just getting a darned seat at the lunch counter of the restaurant! If there's a line of people out the door waiting to be seated, and you have a CDL, you can walk straight past them all and get a seat on one of the swivel stools at the "CDL's ONLY" lunch counter. And then there's the showers. If you have a CDL, you can use the trucker's showers at those truck stops. (Just wear your flip flops. ;) )     

It's almost like having an all-access pass to the backstage of a rock concert.

Offline caverdude

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Re: Class A driver- worth it?
« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2013, 09:59:59 PM »
Another thing I miss about NOT having my CDL anymore is that when I drive cross country (haven't done it in years, but ya' never know when you might have to again) you can stop at one of those huge monster professional truck stops, and the CDL gives you special access and special privileges that non-CDL's don't get. Even just getting a darned seat at the lunch counter of the restaurant! If there's a line of people out the door waiting to be seated, and you have a CDL, you can walk straight past them all and get a seat on one of the swivel stools at the "CDL's ONLY" lunch counter. And then there's the showers. If you have a CDL, you can use the trucker's showers at those truck stops. (Just wear your flip flops. ;) )     

It's almost like having an all-access pass to the backstage of a rock concert.

uh, yes I don't always wait to be seated, mainly when I sit at the counter. We have to purchase 50 gallons of fuel to get a free shower otherwise its $10 now. You could ask truckers coming in and out if they have an extra shower you can have on their pay back points card, or from a fuel receipt.

Offline Oil Lady

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Re: Class A driver- worth it?
« Reply #18 on: August 17, 2013, 04:19:23 AM »
uh, yes I don't always wait to be seated, mainly when I sit at the counter. We have to purchase 50 gallons of fuel to get a free shower otherwise its $10 now. You could ask truckers coming in and out if they have an extra shower you can have on their pay back points card, or from a fuel receipt.


Ten bucks for a civilized shower and then a nap in my car is way cheaper that $50 for a hotel room.

And my current car will easily eat $50 per fill-up.

Offline TexDaddy

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Re: Class A driver- worth it?
« Reply #19 on: August 17, 2013, 07:25:18 AM »
He said 50 gallons, not $50.  ;)

Offline Oil Lady

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Re: Class A driver- worth it?
« Reply #20 on: August 17, 2013, 07:09:47 PM »
He said 50 gallons, not $50.  ;)

Oh. (Then I'd just pay the $10.)

Offline Pchitti

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Re: Class A driver- worth it?
« Reply #21 on: September 14, 2013, 06:04:31 PM »
I would also consider the higher penalties for violations that a CDL grants the LEOs to provide you with. Most apply to any vehicle you may be operating.

http://www.dmv.org/articles/traffic-ticket-and-dui-penalties-for-commercial-drivers/

Offline caverdude

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Re: Class A driver- worth it?
« Reply #22 on: September 15, 2013, 08:20:20 PM »
I would also consider the higher penalties for violations that a CDL grants the LEOs to provide you with. Most apply to any vehicle you may be operating.

http://www.dmv.org/articles/traffic-ticket-and-dui-penalties-for-commercial-drivers/

Well, now days if you have a violation in your personal vehicle or the commercial one its no different, anything and everything goes on our record. If you get tickets on the road your personal insurance may go up. Crazy but that's the way it is.