Valley Works: Truck drivers in demand in Valley

FRESNO, Calif.

The need isn't just local - there is a nationwide shortage of truck drivers.

There are a numbers of reasons why this industry is booming but what it brings is many job opportunities for people who can handle the rigors of the job.

They move up and down our highways transporting goods we all use.

"Everything we use the pens, the desk, the clothes we wear are all transported by truck," David Bither said.

But trucking companies will tell you the manpower needed to move 80 thousand pound big rigs across the country is in short supply. David Bither with Advance Career Institute says the shortage is caused by retiring baby boomers leaving the business and tighter Department of Transportation regulations.

"It takes a little bit more to get a commercial license you have to be able to pass a DOT physical, a clean driving record, clean driving record, criminal background," Bither said.

The demand for drivers has people who may not have thought about truck driving as a career giving the profession a try.

"I was a tattoo artist before, I did that for 25 years, just looking for a job change a little bit more security," Chris Brewer said.

And then there is Jesse Paez. You may have heard of him he's been a professional skateboarder for 17 years and just like Chris Brewer he is looking for job security.

"Skateboarding only lasts so long so I was looking for a future career that is financially going to take care of my family and have longevity," Paez said.

Both are enrolled in a program offered by Advanced Career Institute. College of the Sequoias contracted with the technical school and offers a 20 week course. Dr. Larry Dutto says students who go through this program not only get college credit but can get help to cover the cost.

"If the student goes through the college then they are eligible for financial aid because they are taking a certificated for credit program," Dutto said.

Instructor Dennis Worthington says before you invest time and money you need to make sure you're up to the challenges of the job.

"Long hours, lonely, stressful cause your mind is always going you got to pay attention to everything so you've always got to be on point," Worthington said.

Worthington, who spent 20 years on the road before becoming an instructor, says to get the good jobs you need to spend about two years doing long-hauls for a major trucking company.

"I tell all of my students you go out for two years with one of them, get two years under your belt then you can write your own ticket," Worthington said.

Truck driving school isn't cheap costing between $4 thousand to $6 thousand for a six week program, but once you get your commercial drivers license, beginning truck drivers right out of school can make between $28 thousand and $40 thousand, those with experience can make up to $60 thousand or more.

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