Dwindling number of truck drivers could be a concern - Tucson News Now

Dwindling number of truck drivers could be a concern

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Transportation experts say the United States is speeding toward a critical shortage of truck drivers.

U.S. companies are expected to create more than 115,000 truck driver jobs each year through 2016. However, the number of Americans getting trained to fill those jobs is barely 10 percent of the total demand.

That's a major concern, experts say -- one that could have rippling effects in terms of higher prices for just about everything around the country.

The Department of Labor says the median yearly wage for tractor-trailer drivers is $37,770, with some drivers earning closer to $60,000 per year. 

Good news locally is that Pima Community College offers a Truck Driver Training program.

"You get a lot of unemployed people who see the future of driving a truck.  And with the quick turnaround they can get a really good job," says Stan Steinman, Dean of Workforce and Business Development at PCC. 

It's an intense program that only lasts about a month, Steinman says.  "Two weeks in the classroom, two weeks on the range and then the open road."

The program costs about $3,000 per student, though financial aid is available. 

For aspiring truckers like Bill Fimbres, learning about PCC's Truck Driver Training program couldn't have come at a better time.

"I've been out of work about eight months and I needed to do something," Fimbres said.  "This is the perfect opportunity right here.

"I need to work steady, pretty much and a good paycheck helps," Fimbres added.  "Besides that, I think I'll be very happy."

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