High-paying jobs found in trucking industry

October 27, 2010 3:52:23 AM PDT
Day after day and night after night, stories of unemployment and the bad economy dominate headlines. This story is not one of them. There's an industry where employers can't find enough people to hire for high-paying jobs. Tristan Worell is searching for the right path, and he hopes he's found it behind the wheel of a truck.

"Going over the road, exploring different states, cities," Worell said.

It's not been an easy road for Worrell, who went straight out of college and straight into unemployment.

"I'm 24 years old; it's pretty tough," he said. "I came out expecting a job, went to college for four or five years, come out searching, and there is nothing to find really."

But there is trucking, and a program at Houston Community College that teaches people like Worrell how to chart their own course.

"We've seen a lot of interest in the last three to four months of companies wanting to increase their driver pool," HCC Transportation Program Director Martin Garsee said.

Garsee runs HCC's trucking program, which combines work in the classroom and hands-on training to make prospective truckers like Juan Padilla road-ready.

"I just figured that trucking is a bit more stable because there's something that always needs to be hauled somewhere," trucking student Juan Padilla said.

At its peak, HCC was teaching 1,500 students a year how to drive class commercial trucks; then the economy tanked and the numbers dropped off. Now it's on its way back up, a sign the economy is recovering.

"Transportation is an indicator of the economy because of the goods that it moves throughout the country," Garsee said. "There was a lot of companies that went bankrupt, a lot of small companies went out of business; the capacity to carry goods has shrunk, and now, companies are trying to build that back up as the economy increases and grows."

That means there are jobs -- and good money. "It's one of the easiest skills to learn within a short period of time where you can go out and make comparable salaries," HCC instructor Henry F. Harvey said.

Drivers can make anywhere from $40,000 to $80,000 a year driving Class A trucks.

Worell, in fact, already has a job. He got hired by Schneider Trucking, and they sent him, along with Padilla and others, to HCC to learn the skills and pass the tests. Then they can hit the road.

"It's pretty easy," Worell said. "I've been driving since I was nine years old with my dad."

It's an industry that may tell us better times are just around the bend.


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