I tell you this.
If you have the cash money to pay the tuition then get to it. Your CDL A will be yours free and absolutely clear. Meaning any company knows they cannot bind you to a CDL Training Contract which is very close to the old 17th century indentured servitude with you being personally and immediately liable for the thousands in balance due the day they fire you for rubbing your trailer against a no post. Your first year in this industry is the most dangerous in terms of accidents risk and how easily disposible you are when and if you let them run you into the ground. (That is what the ELD is for. You know what your work day or night will be.
You will need to learn a stick, in big rig it cannot be easier. Because you do not know stick. They will teach you to do it a certain way for every gear. My system is two numbers of the engine RPM’s based on torque and horsepower. its time to change a gear up or down.
This will avoid a automatic restriction on your CDL that all states quickly slapped on everyone not too long ago if they tested in a push button automatic truck.
Once you get past that and settle into your first truck you might discover the joys of auto in bad traffic. Or perhaps something else. A properly tuned auto transmission is almost human with the engine’s needs when it’s time to shift.
Just forget the car. You are going to be involved in something that runs America in a meaningful way even if you delivered meat to NYC and no one gives thanks to you at the dinner table that night. But you still fed NYC. (A little idealistic but some of us like to think that trucking rolls America, if you stopped the trucks we will be a third world power within a month with shortages or even breakdown in society because there is no basic supplies, food or fuel.
You unfortunately in your time will be confronted with things that are generally not acceptable and will have to make adjustments to ensure your health to be protected etc. The so called kings of the road has died off 40 years ago more or less. But some of us out there carry that on. But many of the newbies doing it today are not exactly what would be professional trucker materials in their flip flops and so forth while unloading hazmat tanker. (Not something you will see. Just a imaginary unacceptable situation…)
Everything else you will learn in your time.
With all that said, you seem to be in a stable situation. Stay there. Trucking is feast and famine to those who do not carry savings. Without money they have nothing. And it literally does not matter to a company if you are no longer a employee 2000 miles from home. You will find that you will be economically damaged through DAC etc. (Abandonment etc) so you have been warned in that way.
Our Community College has a big truck program and there were times Ive given the trainee in that truck certain scenarios in my own big rig passing. And found them to be really stable and good teaching. So if that is a option, thats what I would do. In my personal situation all I need is a truck, fees and permit plus a driver to and from the state grounds to get back into CDL A. Because I had it before in my lifetime. But in the beginning back in the 80’s I signed uncle sam’s loan for 2500 and attended weekend school for 4 months. That was quite enough to make something of this crazy industry.
You seem to be relatively young. Just remember at a certain point in the future your body might break down. Mine did it at he spine first followed by the eyes and several other things that accumulated.
You will want to arrange your wishes as well. If you are killed into your first year you do not want your family to have to endure the costs and so forth of transporting your remains. One of our relatives were cremated in Alaska because he was found decomposed in the hall three weeks after his last phone call with us. I went to the post office to collect his remains in a small custom priority mail box stamped human remains. Thats not something you forget.
Once you have all that taken care of then you can just drive. Build your savings with every load regardless of how big or little. In 10 years or more you will be at that time into the future will not only be able to pick a place anywhere you want to live and build your home for retirement etc. And a little something besides when it’s time to put up that big truck for good.
Just remember, St Peter has many truckers but he has not yet gotten a Dispatcher yet. So those truckers will have to wait a while. You can wait here for loads or you can wait up there either way. /tease… That will be your biggest challenge. Communications with your company will make or break you. If you mistreat them, they will give you rope to hang yourself. If you are good to them you might find oppertunities come to you in form of gifts. One for us was McKesson. Our dispatcher had us on that account one day and that was a life changer. (Long story…)
Do not allow the recruiters to BS you or dazzle you. It’s their job to harvest the fresh meat every week from trucking schools before the newbies have a chance to learn anything good or bad. The old wise drivers are more difficult for them in many ways. And finally one more thing. .34 a mile is top pay 40 years ago and can be considered starvation wages today. You don’t want to be in debt at all and need to have savings for those weeks in which there isnt any freight. Winter is coming with the holiday slowdowns plus the usual bad weather etc.
It’s not for everyone. But I like to think today’s trucks have gotten pretty nice with the APU’s and so on. But at the same time companies have managed to crush some of them to limits like 61 mph or slower in a 75 mph state. Its not good. Big trucks need to run. And they should. But they are routinely casterated because companies need a large fortune to make a small one trying to save on costs.