So, I graduated CDL-A School with my license.
Went down to DMV to exchange my test result completion document for a true blue VA Commercial Drivers’ License. When I was there I took the Tanker endorsement test and passed. I had already submitted my background check request for my Hazmat endorsement and at the time of this writing, I [not so patiently] await that TSA approval letter, checking the mail every day. States are autonomous in their Hazmat process regarding whether they run the fingerprinted background check first, or have applicants take the written test first. In Virginia, pony up the $83 for the background check first, then you qualify (or not) to take the written test.
There’s also a TWIC (Transport Worker Identification Credential) which is a TSA Credential required by the Maritime Transportation Security Act for workers who need access to secure areas of the nation’s maritime facilities and vessels. I am applying for that as well, so I will be ready for intermodal work. “Intermodal” is the use of two modes of freight, such as truck and rail, to transport goods from shipper to consignee. The intermodal process usually begins with a container being moved by a truck to a rail, then back to a truck to complete the process.
Those of you who know me, know that ordinary is not how I roll. I strive for unique (shrinks would probably say “terminal uniqueness” lol) Well, what can I say…lol :0)
So, transport professionals I presume who go for one of these (Hazmat or TWIC) usually go for both. Here’s the monetary low down on discounts for applying for both – which, I believe, can also vary state to state. Had I done this research first, I could have saved $22 in total fees by doing the TWIC application first; then the Hazmat endorsement, and here’s why: (These are the fees at time of writing)
- Hazmat endorsement fee (VA): $83 pre-paid at time of fingerprinting.
- TWIC application fees: Standard is $125.25, if you bring your license with the Hazmat endorsement, you qualify for a $20 reduction.
- So, when done I will have paid $83 + $105.25, or $188.25
If I had applied for TWIC first:
- Pay the standard TWIC new applicant fee of $125.25
- VA Hazmat endorsement fee when you present your TWIC card: $41
- That total equals: $166.25
Oh well… hopefully this info saves someone else from “not knowing what they don’t know”.
Researching which companies to apply to
Our first week in class the director told us to make a list of what is important to us for when we seek a company to work for, then to narrow it all down to the Top 5. This is a great proactive tool. Items that go on this “list” are what your dream job looks like. He indicated the list may change and evolve as we get to the end of school.
My Top 5 items ended up as:
- OTR / Hazmat Tanker
- Good Safety Ratings
- Clean, roomy tractor with APU/Inverter
- Reasonable Pay
- Good maintenance teams / terminals
One source I used was the SAFER website. (Safety and Fitness Electronic Records)
This snapshot to me indicates a pretty good company and was on my list of potential companies to apply to. I’m just scanning that 3rd line of “Out of Service %” and then the 1st line to keep the percent in perspective, and only the 1st 3 columns. (IEP is international).
A “not-quite-as-good” might look like this: The number of inspections definitely is lower here, but the percentages speak to me:
This is only one factor I used to start narrowing the field of perspective trucking companies. Another is the Indeed.com reviews from employees. I also checked in on this forum which has boards for different mega carriers. Please know that not everyone hires students out of school. Sometimes they require 3 months, 6 months, or a year of actual experience. I still wanted to avoid job hopping, so I think I came up with my best scenario of a company that had all the potential so that I could move around within the same company that was versatile enough to have all the things on my list.
So I started applying!
I applied to about 4 companies, so I could get more information on them and chat with their recruiters. Then, after all research, I decided on Schneider! (The Big Orange – haha)
We had a Schneider field recruiter visit us during CDL school. There were several parts to Schneider that appealed to me, and the top of my list of why i liked Schneider was not pay. But that being said, pay was 4th on my list and I also know the industry continually realigns how and how much certain divisions get paid. Not to mention this is is my first year, so pay is not going to be huge no matter where I go, and that’s OK. It was more important to me to have a better “bigger picture” and lots of potential — which Schneider has, at least for what I’m looking to accomplish. Choosing the right company for one’s self is like finding the right motorcycle aftermarket seat. Some of my buddies swore by Danny Gray’s, but I didn’t like them for anything! Mustang seats were pretty good for touring bikes, but on my chopper – ya not so much. Believe it or not, I modified my OEM seat to insert a gel pad and custom embroidered cover, and that my friends was my best-est ever seat!
The trucking industry covers lots of options:
- Dedicated, (where you pretty much service a specific set of customers routinely maybe even home every night, driving a day cab
- OTR — out for weeks at a time
- Regional– I guess kind of being the in-between of those two.
Then there’s what you haul.
- Tanks (Bulk – dry / liquid) or Hazmat
- Dry van
- Refrigerated Van, and the list goes on.
Schneider pretty much has all these PLUS an interesting “Jet Set” program, where they fly you to different locations to cover routes for 3-ish weeks before being off for 5-ish days.
Ops Centers & Perks:
The other thing appealing with Schneider is that they have about 30 or so Ops Centers with perks like free laundry, cafeterias, gyms, entertainment centers, showers, secure parking, and more. This is a big value add for me who is looking to be strictly OTR, and don’t have any cares or needs for “home time”.
Well, they sent me an offer letter and have me starting orientation in Mid March.
Schneider’s number one Slogan is “Safety First”. The Schneider Trucking company seems very transparent and open, and welcome change in this world’s climate. Pod casts, Blogs, YouTube Videos. And I know this sounds strange to some, but they are unique, also in their terminology and nomenclature. So the industry’s “dispatcher” at Schneider is called a DBL: Driver Business Leader. Their Driver Trainers are “Training Engineers”. Why does this stick out to me? I am an innovative and outside the box thinker, always striving to stretch outside the mainstream, and by Schneider reaching outside to shape this terminology unique unto them–well that is just a great match right there; Schneider is open to standing out.
More to come as I get ready to launch this new career at Schneider!