One of the largest growing employment opportunities in the US right now is commercial trucking. There are over 200,000 jobs currently available for local and long haul trucking jobs. And the trucking industry is having a hard time filling those positions. There are many reasons for this – it can be expensive to take the required classes and training to earn a CDL (commercial driver’s license). It can take several weeks of classroom training and can cost up to $6,000 for the course. Then drivers need to take a written and driving test before they can qualify for the CDL. The good news, is that there are 34 states that waive the skills test portion of the CDL licensing requirement for veterans with military training that would qualify them for a CDL. This applies to active duty, Guard/Reserves, and Coast Guard members, and veterans within 90 days of their date of separation. Check with your state for more information.
If you don’t qualify for the waiver, you can still get a commercial drivers license. It will take some time and money, but the rewards can be good. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, truckers earn a median annual wage of $37,930. The top 10% of drivers earn more than $58,000 per year, and some drivers can earn more than $100,000 per year depending on their skills and qualifications. For example, truckers with HAZMAT training and certifications can earn more money, as can those with double or triple trailer certifications.
According to CNN, some of the largest long haul operators in the US are hiring – including Schneider National, J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Swift Transportation and Werner Enterprises.
This is good news for Vets, since many military veterans have the GI Bill they can use to earn their CDL. Remember, the GI Bill isn’t just for college course, you can use the GI Bill for certifications and other training.
A good friend of mine from the service recently got hired with a national trucking chain that was specifically recruiting military veterans for their positions. They often prefer veterans because many of them can use their GI Bill benefits to pay for their CDL, and they have found that on the whole, veterans have a strong track record with the company (on time, loyal, dependable, etc.).
My buddy is very excited about the gig he landed. He had to get his CDL before they would hire him, and he used his Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to pay for his training. While he was at it, he got certified on double and triple trailers. He is starting with the single trailer, as he needs more road time before they will allow him to take out the larger trailers.
Once he completed his CDL training and took his written and driving test to get his commercial drivers license, the company hired him with a salary, benefits, and a $10,000 signing bonus, paid out in monthly installments over the first year. Most truckers are paid by the mile or by the trip, so he was very happy to receive a salary, which is fairly rare in the trucking industry. The benefits and sign on bonus are other reasons he decided to enter the trucking industry.
Trucking isn’t for everyone, but others love the call of the open road. If it sounds interesting to you, then check out the companies mentioned above, or look into using your GI Bill benefits to earn your CDL. You can use our GI Bill search tool to help find a program.
Photo credit: LukeRobinson1