200,000 Truck Drivers Wanted
As the oil and gas industries are booming, the demand for qualified truck drivers is increasing, with fewer candidates available to meet the demand than is needed.
“I know one oilfield company who is looking for over 500 drivers right now,” said Dan Case,executive director of the Oklahoma Trucking Association. “The United States needs about 200,000 more full-time drivers this year – the trucking industry is overwhelmed.”
As a result, Central Technology Center, part of the Oklahoma CareerTech system, home to the largest truck driving school in the state and the only technology center with a truck driver training program, partnered with technology centers across the state to train workers in the areas where the demand is the greatest – western Oklahoma.
Satellite training began two years ago with Canadian Valley Technology Center when Weatherford Oilfield Service contacted Central Tech, requesting training for drivers in El Reno. Since then, the oil industry in Oklahoma has experienced tremendous growth, especially in northwest Oklahoma.
“We were approached by Northwest Technology Center in Alva about the possibility of providing driver training for specific companies in their area,” said Robert McClanahan, director of Transportation & Safety Education at Central Tech. Central Tech began training with Northwest Technology Center in Alva in March 2011.
“Since the program began, we have trained 65 drivers,” said Charlotte Hadwiger, Business and Industry Service director, NWTC, Alva. “The starting salaries for these individuals are between $40,000 per year to $90,000 per year. The companies that we work with are thrilled with our students.”
Since that time Central Tech has expanded training to NWTC's Fairview campus and also to Autry Technology Center in Enid.
“There is a great need for truck drivers in our area,” said Travis Perrin, Autry Technology Center Business and Industry Services coordinator/trainer. “The training has been developed to meet the needs of the industry and provides training from a school that is recognized for its quality training.”
Strong relationships ensure successful businesses. As Autry Tech provides customized training options for area businesses and assists with job placement, businesses become more profitable and successful. As we work closely with other technology centers we ensure the best options for our businesses and we all benefit, Perrin said.
The ability for Central, Canadian Valley, Autry and Northwest Technology Centers to work together to provide training for area businesses is a testament to CareerTech’s dedication to serving business and industry.
“To become a professional driver, it’s absolutely necessary to go through formal training to get the basics, learn the industry, equipment, rules and regulations of the trucking industry,” McClanahan said.
Classes like Central Tech’s Truck Driver Training class are popular for adults looking to learn a new trade and start a new career. The short time frame of 23 training days, with more than 50 hours of driving time, enables students to get to work quickly. The demand for qualified drivers is high, and graduates of Central Tech’s Truck Driver Training program have a 98 percent placement rate. Graduates can expect to earn $40,000 annually in general industries, with salaries reaching $50,000 to $90,000 annually in the oil and gas industry.
“The need for truck drivers is not limited to the oilfield but a combination of wind farm, petroleum, service companies, construction, wholesale distribution and more. There are over 1,600 truck driver openings in northwest Oklahoma,” Perrin said.
What do students think of the training?
Eric Devore, 2003 Central Tech Truck Driving Graduate and 2007 American Trucking Association Rookie of the Year – along with other awards, said “I owe all of my success and confidence to Central Tech. The training I received has really helped me to succeed as a professional truck driver - and there's a difference between a truck driver and a professional truck driver."
Devore now specializes in hazardous materials transportation hauling gas and diesel fuel for Solar Transport. He earns at least $60-65,000 a year doing exactly what he loves to do and, he says, “That’s priceless.” (Complete story at www.tdt-ok.com.)
Full-time graduates of the Oklahoma CareerTech system elevate the Oklahoma economy by more than $2.4 billion annually. Full-time graduates account for a small percentage of total enrollments in CareerTech programs, as it does not include individuals who choose to continue their education, or those who take advantage of Business and Industry Services, or those who participate in short-term courses.
For more information about truck driver training classes at Central Tech, please visit www.tdt-ok.com.
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The Enid News and Eagle reports on the truck driver training program at Autry Technology Center.