Source: Georgia National Guard
Clay National Guard Center, Marietta, Mar 4, 2012 - Nearly 13,000 truck-driving jobs will be created in the next four years with an average pay of $18.81 per hour, according to a Jan 8 2012 article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Military veterans and Guardsmen are well suited for careers in the expanding field of transportation.
“Military experience makes (guardsmen) very good candidates for driver positions,” said Brad Barber, Director of the Conyers-based Georgia Driving Academy. “The hardest problem for military drivers is deciding who they will go to work for.”
For those considering a career in transportation, the first challenge is obtaining a commercial driver’s license. According to the Georgia Department of Driver Services, a commercial driver’s license is required to operate vehicles which weigh more than 13 tons, carry more than 15 persons, or require hazardous material placards. The minimum age for a commercial driver’s license is 18, however, drivers aged 18-21 cannot drive commercial vehicles out of state.
The National Guard Bureau, the Georgia National Guard, and representatives from the transportation industry have had a history of collaborating to make earning a commercial driver’s license easier for Veterans. In May 2009, the Army National Guard launched the “Drive the Guard” program. The intent of Drive the Guard was to provide Army Guard members with the opportunity to attend an approved truck driving school within their state and receive a commercial driver’s license. Drive the Guard was a pilot program designed to increase interest in transportation careers and to facilitate licensing of veterans. The program succeeded in raising awareness of the value of Veteran drivers to the transportation industry. While the Drive the Guard program is no longer active, its legacy lives on in the partnerships developed between the Guard, driving schools,and transportation companies.
Of particular interest for Guardsmen are opportunities to use their tuition assistance and GI benefits for commercial driver’s license training. The Georgia Driving Academy offers commercial driving training in Conyers and Columbus. Since 1995, GDA has provided a 3-week instructional program, designed to prepare prospective commercial drivers. GDA offers job placement assistance as part of the first week of instruction.
“Students complete employment applications in the first week,” Said Barber. “Most students receive a response within 1to2 days and get an employment offer contingent upon graduation.” As of publication, 64 Guardsmen have trained with GDA, and 5 Guardsmen are currently in the program.
Three trucking companies offer professional truck driver incentive programs which target military veterans: Schneider, TMC, and Werner Enterprises. These companies recruit GDA graduates. “Transport employers love the military,” Barber said. “Companies are willing to work with Soldiers. Most Guardsmen have their schedule 1 year ahead and can present it to dispatchers to clear their schedule.”
Barber believes transportation to be a field in which the Guardsman can enjoy potential for growth and mobility. “Transportation is universal,” said Barber. “Wherever you go, there will be transportation jobs. It is one of the easiest career fields to move with.”