2,000-plus will be hired in Indiana this year as economy improves
The trucking industry will be picking up more than loads of freight this year.
It will be picking up jobs -- and lots of them.
As the economy improves and consumers and businesses ramp up purchases, experts say thousands more drivers will be needed to haul merchandise.
After all, everybody knows "if you got it, a truck brought it," said Gary Langston, president of the Indiana Motor Truck Association. "If the economy improves, obviously, we'll have more stuff to haul because people buy more. And I try to be optimistic that will happen."
Add to that a whole generation of baby-boomer truck drivers nearing retirement and that makes the career one that is in high demand, not just this year but for the coming decades.
Based on annual job growth, truck driver ranked No. 9 in The Indianapolis Star's list of top jobs for 2011.
Through 2018, employment of truck drivers will rise 9 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This year, more than 2,000 drivers will be hired in Indiana alone.
More than 100 of those hires will occur at Celadon, an Indianapolis-based trucking company with 3,000 tractors and 9,000 trailers.
Steve Russell, founder, chairman and chief executive officer, says the hiring is to fill a void in the industry left by an economic environment that put pressure on smaller fleets that didn't survive.
"As a consequence, there is a competitive shortage in the industry, and we want to take advantage of that," he said. "Thank goodness we are strong -- no bank debt. Absolutely we will be hiring more."
To land one of those jobs at Celadon, drivers must have a commercial driver's license (CDL) and a minimum of nine months' experience as an over-the-road driver.
Other companies may hire drivers without experience as long as they have a CDL. And for smaller trucks -- less than 26,000 pounds -- brief, on-the-job training may be enough. No CDL required.
James Hugart is CDL-certified and has been driving more than 40 years, the last 18 with Wal-Mart. He said the job isn't for the faint of heart but is rewarding.
For Hugart, his weeklong journey starts on Monday morning between 9 and 10 a.m. and ends Friday between 3 and 6 p.m.
His days consists of driving 11 hours and resting 10 hours. He usually tries to log about 600 miles a day.
Today, life on the road is a bit easier than it was 40 years ago. There are computers to log your activities, and Hugart doesn't have to load or unload his own cargo. Not to mention there is air conditioning and power steering.
"Heck. We didn't have anything other than a steering wheel back when I started," said Hugart, 63, Martinsville. "The job's not hard. But you do have to be dedicated."
Dedicated to getting merchandise where it needs to be on time and following the rules of the road and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Of course, the job of a truck driver isn't for everyone. It often takes workers away from families for long periods of time. And many of the rewards come after a driver has proven himself for several years.
"I tell people this is not just a quick job for a couple weeks. The trucking industry is a career," said John Priest, owner of Commercial Driver Training Consultants in Indianapolis. "You have to do it for a while to get the rewards."
The salary of a truck driver has improved greatly in the past decade, with the average driver making $37,588 a year.
That could be why Priest has seen more and more people inquiring about the job and many people... Continue to read more...