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Unemployed Flocking To Truck Driving Courses

By CityTownInfo.com Staff
September 23, 2009

The sluggish economy is causing record numbers of laid-off workers to switch to careers in truck driving, and training programs are booming as a result.

"Trucking is a huge part of the economy," explained Mary Beth McCollum, program coordinator for the commercial truck driver training class at the College of Southern Maryland. "Every good that's in every store was transported here by a truck driver," she told Boston's Fox 5.

CSM's truck driving program has seen a 13 percent rise in enrollment since last year, and the school noted that 80 percent of its students maintain long-term truck driving careers. After the course, students are required to pass a Commercial Drivers License exam.

Reginald Wright, who recently graduated from the course, turned to truck driving after losing his job at a boat manufacturing company. "I'm excited about that," he said, "that I have the opportunity to advance my career, and make some good money."

Similarly, WBOC in Maryland reports that enrollment in truck driving courses has increased at Wor-Wic Community College. Frank Marshall, a truck driving instructor, noted that many students are attracted to the steady pay, job security and benefits that truck drivers often receive.

"What I've seen is an increase in students, but also a change in the age," said Lee Ann Shull, who is part of the school's career development program. "We're seeing a lot of older students coming into the program. I'm thinking it might be due to a lot of company closings."

The Waco Herald-Tribune [from an article originally located at http://www.wacotrib.com/news/content/news/stories/2009/08/31/08312009wacTrucking.html?imw=Y] in Texas reports that enrollment at the Sage Truck Driving School in Salt Lake City has also seen tremendous growth this year. Some of the students have included pilots and people with MBAs.

"You can have a whole new career after four weeks of training," explained Guy Horn, who operates the school. "If you have a good driving record and get your commercial driver's license, you can go right to work."

He noted that new drivers can make more than $30,000 a year, while those with two years' experience may make $50,000 or more "if they're out there running hard."

Josh Sherman, 26, signed up for classes at ATDS Truck Driving School in Elm Mott after working as an aviation mechanic. "I'll start out at $30,000 to $40,000, which is more than I was making," he said, and added that he has already been offered a job hauling sand and gravel.

Others point out that the larger commercial truck driving companies are now more open to allowing employees more time at home on weekends. "That's one thing that's been addressed. . ." said Marshall, who was quoted by WBOC, "ensuring the drivers do get their home time."

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