Changing Careers at 53

In October 2021, I will enroll in a commercial driver's licensing school in Tucson, AZ to help me prepare for a commercial driver's license (CDL) with the state of Arizona in order to become a commercial motor vehicle operator. In other words, I am changing my primary career to a professional truck driver.

This will not be glamorous work. It is very hard work but it is the kind of work I feel will be fulfilling.

After high school, I enlisted in the United States Air Force and was trained as an aircraft mechanic. I worked exclusively on C-130 aircraft ensuring they were safe and ready to fly. For the better part of my ten year career, I worked with fellow mechanics, aircrew, and support personnel to ensure the aircraft was in top working condition.

I was responsible to inspect, troubleshoot, and maintain aircraft structures, systems, components, and support equipment. I supervised and performed aircraft and component inspections. Interpreted inspection findings and determined adequacy of corrective actions. Inspected and checked components for clearances, tolerances, proper installation, and operation. Reviewed maintenance forms, aircraft records, and reports to ensure complete documentation. Inventoried and maintained alternate mission equipment. Performed engine run-ups. Jacked, towed, and serviced aircraft.

I also performed expediter and dedicated crew chief functions. Coordinated maintenance plans to meet operational commitments. Supervised and assisted in launching and recovering aircraft. Reviewed maintenance data collection summaries to determine trends and production effectiveness. Performed staff and supervisory management functions.

It was a lot of specialized technical work that I absolutely enjoyed.

After the military I completed both my undergraduate and graduate degrees and felt truly ready for the business world. I worked in sales, software and customer support, pensions, mortgages, and even real estate all while honing skills as a website designer. In 2007, I formed an LLC and in 2009 left the corporate world and became a full-time, self-employed website manager and developer.

So the decision focus on truck driving has basically two reasons behind it.

The Money

The number one reason is that my family needs more income. Currently, as a self-employed website manager and developer I simply don't make much more than what is necessary to cover the cost of my business expenses. This does not help pay off our family auto loan or mortgage or prepare for retirement. It is necessary, to me, to lift the burden from my wife and get us to a place where we can afford retirement.

Here are some of the numbers to see the difference between my potential income and current income. Keep in mind it is difficult to truly compare these two incomes because driving is based on the miles you actually drive and digital marketing/website design is based on projects I complete and the fees I charge for other monthly services.

I calculate that in my first six months of driving I should be making about $27.95 gross per hour of drive time. This is based on $0.43 per mile while driving 65 miles per hour. With the average weekly miles at 2,500 miles my weekly gross could be $1,075 and monthly gross about $4,654.75.

As a self-employed website manager and developer, I calculate that in 2021 (from Jan-Sep) I only make what equates to a gross $8.92 per hour. If I were to calculate that out over 40 hours per week it would be $356 and monthly at roughly $1,546.

The difference is a little more than triple.

The Challenge

The second reason is that I need the change. My first job as an adult was as an aircraft mechanic with the United States Air Force where I served 10 wonderful years. I made the decision to leave before retirement due to a family situation. Ever since leaving I've maintained a love for the experiences I had while serving and have longed to be part of that again. In face, at one point a few years before my 50th birthday I tried to get into the Arizona Air National Guard but was not physically prepared for their consideration.

I even tried to sell real estate thinking my technical knowledge and attention to detail would benefit buyers and sellers. Turned out I was not a fan of working with indecisive buyers and decided to let my license expire.

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