(Above: Rachael with her “rig,” which has 18 wheels and can haul 80,000 pounds.)
“You become a lot more aware of everything,” says Rachael of being in the driver’s seat of her large Peterbilt truck.
Her “rig,” the vehicle she now drives after completing Climb’s Commercial Driving training this year, has 18 wheels and a length of more than 70 feet.
When Rachael is hauling sand to southwest Wyoming’s Jonah Field for her Climb job placement with Killer B Trucking, she carries 80,000 pounds in the attached trailer. “It’s a powerful responsibility,” she says.
In addition to life behind the wheel of such a large vehicle, Rachael says she’s also getting used to a bigger paycheck these days.
“It was heartbreaking to get on Medicaid and food stamps when I lost my job a few years ago,” she says. “Before Climb, I was barely earning $500 for two weeks of part-time work. It felt like robbing Peter to pay Paul one month, and then robbing Paul to pay Peter the next.”
Rachael has three kids, ages: 17, 18 and 21.
“Getting through the Climb program was a huge commitment. During the training, I was still taking as many shifts at work as I could and only getting to sleep 3 or 4 hours a day. Then I slipped on the ice and got a concussion and broke my tailbone. I still went to Climb. I kept going. I had emergency gall bladder surgery. I kept going. The only thing you can do is not give up, no matter what.”
In her new job, Rachael works full time and is paid based on how many loads she transports, which can equate to $29+ an hour. She also has a pay guarantee of at least $2,600 a month and has the potential to earn $60-$85,000 in a busy year. Her position also has vision, medical, and dental benefits.
“Now I’m able to play catch-up,” Rachael says. “I was behind on my car payments and it felt so good this month to call up and submit an entire payment! Now I have a stable career for my kids. I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to gain a new skill in a demanding field.”