Pandemic not slowing down need for truck drivers across the US

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GRANDVIEW, Mo. — In a year when unemployment hit its highest rates since the Great Depression, trucking companies are still trying to fill 60,000 jobs nationwide.

Because of class size restrictions and increased applications from those out of work, it might take you a little bit longer to get into a class right now if you’re interested in becoming a truck driver. But once you start, you can have that CDL and all the tools you need to be driving the nation’s highways in about a month. 

Mario Corado, a former plumbe, is part of a group of students who signed up for Roadmaster Drivers School in Grandview. Each student has their own story in life’s rear view mirror, but they see plenty of opportunity for work ahead of them, 

“I saw that truckers were constantly on the news saying they were getting a lot of hours working really hard, so I thought it would be a great opportunity,” Corado said.

“People are buying a lot of goods online. They aren’t spending as much on travel and service industry, so suddenly the shortage of drivers has come back strong like it was in 2018 and 2019.” Roadmaster President Brad Ball said.

Ball said truck driving has traditionally been a field filled by older white men but now is booming for minorities, who make up 40% of drivers, and women who have nearly doubled in the field in just the past couple of years. 

In the 4-week course, you learn more than just how to drive a semi. They go over the six-part CDL test, including how to do pre-trip inspections.

“You got to know what parts of the truck to inspect, why you are inspecting them and what to look for,” instructor Quincy Jones said.

Upon completing evaluations and gaining a commercial driver’s license, graduates are mostly placed with companies doing over-the-road trucking. 

Tuition for Roadmaster’s program is $6,995, but there are grants available through job placement programs and for veterans. Ball said because of the high demand, almost all carriers are offering tuition reimbursement once you get your license and sign on to start driving. 

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