Thank you for your continued contribution to this column. Each and every week, there are more and more questions emailed to me regarding career decisions and other trucking issues. Please, take the time to use this column as a tool for career and informational development by continuing to email your questions. Remember, this is the column you write because you dictate the topics through your questions.
I have a CDL class B with air brakes and passenger endorsements. If I were to apply to a trucking company with my current CDL Class B license, will they be able to train me to drive a truck even though I have only driven school buses?
Absolutely! There are a number of carriers that have training programs, or carrier-sponsored schools. With your experience and the fact that you already have a CDL (even though it is a Class B), you should have little trouble finding a carrier that is willing to train you.
You will, in all likelihood, be required to attend a truck driving school, but as I mentioned above, there are several carriers that sponsor such in-house schools. Another option for you would be to attend an independent truck driving school, which would allow you to have some flexibility in choosing a carrier to begin your truck driving career with.
Let me also say that driving a truck is much different than driving a bus, so you will have to adapt. Having said that, however, your experience should give you some advantages, too. I suggest you contact a couple of independent truck driving schools and a couple of carrier-sponsored schools to see which is best for you. Layover.com has some good information about becoming a truck driver in the "Newbies" section.
Do you know any companies with a good, no-money-down lease purchase program? I have 25 years experience and an excellent driving record, and am looking to run southeast from eastern Pennsylvania where I live.
There are several companies with good lease programs. However, most companies, even the ones that indicate "no money down" do in fact require money down. The carrier may not ask for the money on the first day, but instead will take a "security escrow" (or something to that effect) out of your initial settlements--perhaps four to five cents per mile will be placed in the escrow. In addition, most carriers require you to establish a maintenance escrow, again taking a given amount out of each settlement.
These initial escrow accounts make your first few settlements smaller than they will be in the future. So, be prepared for this financially.
The second part of your question suggested a lease "purchase" program. Most carriers, and for good reason, discourage purchasing a truck at the end of the lease. By the time the lease is up, it is probably time to trade the truck in for a newer model anyway--or the maintenance will begin to nickel and dime you.
You are in a good location to run where you want to run, but it might be a good idea to be willing to run all 48 states, at least until you get those escrows under control.
Written By: Mike Howe