Local News

Unemployed turn to truck driving for work

Posted August 11, 2009 6:18 p.m. EDT
Updated August 11, 2009 6:49 p.m. EDT

— Some truck-driver training schools are seeing a rise in enrollment as unemployed people head to the classroom to get their careers in gear.

Enrollment at Carolina Trucking Academy, 3720 S. Wilmington St., Raleigh, has risen 25 percent over the last two years, according to owner Charlie Gray.

“We've seen a lot of folks who traditionally had not thought about driving a truck as a profession,” Gray said.

Steve Bartlett turned to Carolina Trucking Academy to find work quickly, he said. He spent more than 20 years in lumber sales before losing his job six months ago.

“The bottom did fall out, and I could see opportunity in the trucking industry,” Bartlett said.

The truck driving course is certainly hands-on, and takes less than a month to complete.

“I've always … looked out the window at these guys that are running up and down the highway and I thought it would be interesting for me,” student Travis Boyd said.

Boyd worked for a job placement agency before getting laid off.

“It's been a good break in the action for me from just sitting in a room filling out resumes,” Boyd said.

The requirements for academy admission are:

  • Student must be 18 years of age. A student under the age of 21 cannot drive across state lines.
  • Students be physically qualified and drug-free.
  • Students must have a valid North Carolina Driver's License or a Class A Learner's Permit.
  • Students must have a valid social security number.

Bartlett said as long as students have a clean criminal record, all of them are placed into jobs upon graduation.

For students who have spent months looking for work, the course helps get them back into the work force.

“You do get that big feeling. The view is a lot better up there,” Bartlett said.

The enrollment fee at the academy is about $3,800 for a 16-day training course.

After students pass the course, they receive their commercial driver's license. Bartlett said an entry-level truck driver earns about $40,000 a year. After the first year, some drivers can double their salary because they are no longer considered entry level, Gray said.

The Employment Security Commission has a grant program to help with tuition for people who qualify. To find out more, call 919-733-6745.