After moving to the US and encountering some drawbacks in traditional higher education, Billy Bosco began work as a delivery driver based in Bolivar, Missouri, doing deliveries for Walmart, InstaCart, DoorDash, and Uber Eats. However, he had aspirations beyond a schedule and paycheck that was variable and dependent on others. After about a year, Billy made the first moves toward becoming a commercial truck driver. We had the chance to talk to Billy about his journey, including his training at 160 Driving Academy, his current work, and his goals for the future!
A desire to work for himself helped direct Billy toward commercial truck driving.
“I realized I was putting a lot of mileage on my personal vehicle while doing all of the deliveries, and the idea of being self-employed sounded really good to me. So I decided to look around, and I was trying to find maybe a box truck that I could lease and then do these loads. But the first company I talked to needed me to have an LLC — a limited liability company — and said that I should have been working for five years before they could lease a truck to me. I continued looking around, and I realized there was a lot of money just being a semi truck driver. I thought, ‘if that’s what it’ll take, then I think I should get my CDL.’
“I first called a company in Springfield, Missouri, and they told me that I have to bring my CDL permit with me before I could start an orientation with them. So I went to the DMV, took the test, and failed … that’s when I looked online again, and I found 160 Driving Academy. I talked to the manager there, and he told me that they’ll help me study for my permit.”
And with his program decided, it was time to figure out how to pay for it.
“At 160, they offered me several options — Climb being one of them. Other options were paying out of pocket and signing up with a truck driving company to pay for my tuition, but then I’d work for them for maybe one or two years. But I needed that freedom of being self-employed, and I did not want to get tied down for that long. I couldn’t pay out of pocket, so I was like “well, let me try Climb.’
“The loan process was fairly easy … I entered the website, and I’ll say it took me less than ten minutes to get approved. And I liked that I could choose how I was going to make the payments myself; it did not just say ‘here’s the amount, and this the money we’re gonna be deducting every month.’ They gave me options, and it felt comfortable because I was just starting out. If I’m able to choose how much I can pay by myself, I knew that was gonna be something fairly easy for me that I can do. Climb paid 160 the amount immediately, and I was able to start my classes. It was a really easy process.”
While at 160 Driving Academy, safety and patience were key takeaways.
“First of all, safety. Safety was one of the major things I learned at 160. Even right now as I’m already on the road, I’m looking at all these companies, a lot of people insist on safety. And if you’re not taught that while driving, I don’t think you’ll be able to comprehend what you’ll be doing. Another thing was exercising patience on the road. It’s something I see all the time — let’s say I’m in my big rig, and there’s a small vehicle over there trying to pass me. You just have to be patient, let them do what they’re doing, and don’t rush. Whenever we were out on the road or at our regular training yard, they always insisted on safety and knowing your surroundings before you do any maneuver.”
It wasn’t only learning to drive a semi that stood out for Billy — it was the instructors themselves.
“I’d never driven a standard vehicle, let alone trying to drive a standard semi, and I’ll say that was one of the major standouts I had: to be able to graduate coming out of 160 having never driven a standard vehicle, but now able to comfortably drive an 18-wheeler that was standard. Then there were the instructors at the yard. I remember I was really having a bad day once, and I just couldn’t get anything right. The instructor, who was so patient with me, told me to take a second, just breathe, and let’s try again. I almost gave up, but they never gave up on me. I thought, ‘I don’t know whether I’ll be able to do this,’ and it was frustrating, but they were there with me. That was a really nice experience … and whenever I’m free I always go back to see my instructors. Those guys are amazing.”
Between 160’s tools and their people, finding a job after graduation was a smooth process.
“The job process was fairly easy for me. Even while I was at 160, there was an app they showed us to use while attending school called Truckers Network. This app helped us study and had a section showing our progress, and then there was actually a section for a job search. So you go to the job search, put up your profile, put the experience you have and what you can drive, and your location. Then it will try to match all the companies that are hiring according to what you input. Then again, there was one instructor, and whenever we were driving around town, we’d ask him what he thought about companies. One time told us ‘I worked at that company; that company is family-oriented.’ And because I’m just starting out, and because I know being a trucker you may be gone for longer periods of time, I was able to get a company that would have me home every weekend. I graduated, and that company took me in.”
Since moving to a new company, Billy’s goal is still self-employment. But in the meantime, he’s not stuck in a typical workday.
“Right now the loads I’m hauling are the ones that will determine my day. I wake up and do my pre-trip, and my day just starts like any other regular day, but after that it depends. Mostly, I will start probably around 7am, and I’ll try to drive for a maximum of eight hours, but the load I’m delivering will actually be the one that determines my day. I also try as much as possible to conserve my hours, so by around 5pm I’m at a truck stop and ready for the night.”
And his workday isn’t the only thing that 160 Driving Academy has impacted.
“Before I attended 160, I wasn’t able to plan anything — to say that this week, this is the amount I’m gonna be bringing in, and to be able to plan things way ahead. But now, I make a standard paycheck, so I’m able to plan much further ahead and say ‘this week, I have this bill coming in, but I know for sure I’m gonna be able to cover that bill within this week.’ My wife has always helped plan, especially with getting things paid, and back then, we were going week-by-week. Now, she’s filled the whole calendar up to December because I know I have a regular paycheck coming every week. And I know I can make it being an owner-operator on the path I’m on right now. I’ll have my own truck within six months.”
Billy only wishes he had known sooner about the opportunities a career in truck driving could bring.
“I wish I had known earlier that I’ll be doing this now. I’d have gotten into it way back then, instead of waiting until things are about to go south. I came to the United States in 2018, and I was going to school. I was in school for one semester, and then I thought ‘these are the same things that I’d been studying back home, why am I just repeating the same things?’ They didn’t allow me to transfer my credits, and it was just so expensive for me. I dropped out of school, and that’s when I decided to try to be self-employed. I just wish I could have known about becoming a trucker way back, because there is a lot of freedom in this business as an owner-operator, even compared to being with a company — if I need to take some days off, I’ll maybe have to work some extra days or give my boss a plan for an early heads up. In the near future, I’ll say ‘hey, I’m taking this week off,’ without any issues. That’s Freedom.”
Billy is a client of Climb’s. However, he was not paid or otherwise compensated for this testimonial. This testimonial reflects the real-life experiences and opinions of Billy; however, it should not be assumed that all users will have the same experiences. Individual results may vary.
The quoted statements appear verbatim as given by the user, except for the correction of grammar and typing errors. Some testimonials may have been shortened or rearranged for the sake of clarity.