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Keep on Truckin'

The open road is a wide-open job market for Guard Soldiers
©Shutterstock
©Shutterstock

According to FASTPORT, which spearheads the “Trucking Track” via the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program, the trucking industry faces a shortage of 235,000 Class A commercial drivers and has committed to hiring more than 100,000 Veterans during the next two years.

The Chamber estimates that 96,178 commercial drivers will need to enter the U.S. market every year for the next decade. With jobs opening due to a retiring workforce, says Judi Shoup, corporate recruiter for trucking company Crete Carrier, “Recruiters are stretched far and thin.” 

Here are Shoup’s suggestions for Soldiers looking to pursue jobs in this accelerating field.

Put your Guard driving experience to work with a CDL.
A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is required for drivers who cross state lines while operating commercial motor vehicles, including tractor-trailers, tow trucks and buses. If you have at least two years of safe experience driving a large truck or bus during your service, you may qualify for the Military Skills Test Waiver, which would allow you to skip the CDL test. Check with your state’s licensing agency for allowances. A state-by-state list of places where you can obtain a CDL can be found at CDLDigest.com/cdl/state_cdl_licensing_agencies.html.

No military trucking experience? Blaze a trail.
Find a VA-accredited trucking school that accepts GI Bill benefits, which will cover your education costs, plus a housing allowance. Aim for schools offering 200 hours of instruction so that you will develop solid skills. Technical and community colleges may be most economical. For example, education at one community college in Georgia can cost less than $100 if you qualify for financial assistance through the state, Shoup says, while private trucking schools in Georgia can charge up to $5,000. 

Do your research.
In this job seeker’s market, Shoup says, find the company that best fits your needs by calling or visiting online forums to inquire about training opportunities. Ask about the length of the company’s training program, whether it pays you to learn (some do) and about the average driving experience of the trainer. Also find out what type of freight they carry, the average driving schedule and how far you’ll be expected to drive each week. 

Don’t home in on just one company, Shoup says. “That can be dangerous because if they can’t hire you, you have to start all over again.” She suggests checking into three to five companies and applying while in training or while getting the CDL.

 

Learn more about jobs in the trucking industry at Fastport.com


WHY CHANGE GEARS?

  • 88M Motor Transport Operator

What you do:
Operate wheeled vehicles to transport personnel and cargo.

How it translates:
In the military, 88Ms usually drive flatbed trucks; for civilian companies, they drive tractor-trailers. “They do the same thing we do here, every single day,” says Judi Shoup of Crete Carrier.

  • 88N Transportation Management Coordinator

What you do:
Coordinate the movement of personnel, cargo and equipment. 

How it translates:
In the civilian world, these people manage drivers day to day. Look for dispatching, load planning, and shipping and receiving jobs.

  • 88Z Transportation Senior Sergeant

What you do:
Supervise the operation and control of movement for personnel and cargo.

How it translates:
"This person would work well in dispatch and as a terminal manager," says Shoup. They would oversee terminal operations—coordinating freight, verifying paperwork or enforcing compliance policies.

  • 91B Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic

What you do:
Handle maintenance on light- and heavy-wheeled vehicles, their trailers and equipment.

How it translates:
In civilian-speak, you may be known as a "semitrailer tech." "[Crete has] diesel techs and shops in most locations," Shoup says. "A 91 Bravo can look at jobs in dealerships, working with new or used trucks."

  • 91X Maintenance Supervisor

What you do:
Supervise maintenance on tracked and wheeled vehicles.

How it translates:
Look for shop positions in overall management, parts management or as a parts clerk. Supervisors in civilian shops oversee more than one operation.