Trucking Schools and the Increased Driver Demand
Trucking is becoming a very busy industry in terms of job growth. Projections show that the U.S. trucking industry will need to hire about 200,000 drivers by the end of this year, and will need to add another 200,000 by the end of 2011. Looking longer term, the industry will need about one million drivers in the next 15 years and 400,000 truckers by 2012. Because of this demand, truck driving schools are trying to graduate students and get them on the road.
At HDS Truck Driving Institute in Tucson, there are two ways to go about graduating with a commercial driver’s license. The first is a four-week, 160-hour class that costs about $3,600 including all fees. The school also offers a longer 730-hour, six-month professional-truck-driver program that includes four months of on-site instruction and two months of on-the-job training. That program costs about $7,600. Most schools across the country take about 3 to 4 weeks to graduate prospective students. Students who do graduate with CDLs hit the road as trainees or as co-drivers with experienced drivers as mentors. Post-grads are then encouraged to go "over the road" or cross-country for a year. After a year or so of long-haul experience drivers can pretty much work anywhere they would like.
Because of the demand, securing a truck driving job shouldn’t be difficult, but that is hardly the case. The recent FMCSA launch of a new safety-analysis not only scores trucking firms on safety-compliance records, but also tracks individual drivers. With the new system, there are seven categories that firms get scored on and four of them pertain to the drivers themselves, so a lot more responsibility is put on the drivers’ for violations. Drivers can be penalized for traffic violations and other incidents that potentially affect safety, and too many black marks can deem them unfit to drive.
As long as a driver complies with the safety regulations, finding a job should be relatively easy compared to a lot of other highly competitive industries.