Updated 06/26/2012 06:51 AM
Trucking industry in need of drivers
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In another sign of an improving economy, there's a shortage of qualified "big rig" drivers. Trucks carry about 70 percent of all freight in the United States.
Hector Aguilar is Dean of Continuing Education at Austin Community College, home of a professional driver training program.
"People that are looking for a job, a job that pays relatively well, a job that has security in the sense that it's not going anywhere, truck driving is a good area to go into," Aguilar said.
Martin and Robin Tolver love the job themselves. They drive 18-wheel trucks out of their home base in Atlanta.
"Getting to travel and to see different places and meet different people," Martin said.
They also earn a decent living. On average, a driver makes about $32,000 a year.
"You're making about $15 and up an hour, it's a very good job," Aguilar said. "By next year, there's going to be about 300,000 openings, which is about 10 percent more of the existing workforce."
Despite the long hours and days away from family, most truckers realize their job is important, even vital, to our nation’s economy.
Truck driver ‘John’ wouldn't give his last name, but says some trucking companies are better than others, and most new drivers will have to work their way up.
"They have to stay out two or three months in order to bring home a check,” John said. "It's a hard job, but anything is, you know. Hard work was the way I was raised."
Driver David Wiggs says GPS tracking and communication technology have changed the industry.
"Used to, it was fun, you could enjoy it," he said. "You got computers in the trucks, everybody wanting to keep their eye on you. I mean, what happened to honesty?"
With more than one million competing companies, an investment of only a few weeks in training could turn into a long-term career.
"To become a good truck driver takes time, but to get the job you need the license, you need the Commercial Driver’s License," Aguilar said.
Click here for more information on the truck driving training offered at ACC.