These job numbers are no fluke. The trucking industry continues to forecast a growth trend in openings. In 2012, the Utah trucking industry grew by seven percent, far faster than total job growth, which increased at a three percent rate. This occupation is expected to continue to grow at an annual rate of 2.9 percent, faster than the 2.4 percent average, according to statistics from the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
According to Lecia Langston, DWS Regional Economist, an increase in truck driver openings can be seen as a positive indicator in Utah’s economy.
“Because so much of what we buy and sell in this country is transported via the trucking industry, typically an upswing in employment, or more job openings, suggests an increase in what individuals are buying; therefore, an improving economy,” Langston says.
With a median wage of $41,055, truck drivers receive an average salary, although the difficult lifestyle that requires time spent away from home leaves many companies searching for qualified and willing long-haul drivers, according to Utah’s DWS.
While many companies only recruit experienced drivers, Southwest Applied Technology College (SWATC) Instructor, Richard Grainger, states that there are companies hiring new drivers. However, according to Grainger, all commercial truck drivers need to be licensed. There are four public training programs run by applied technology colleges in Utah, and a few private programs located on the Wasatch Front. However, SWATC has the only trucking certification program for Class A CDL drivers available off of Interstate 15, south of Provo.
Grainger, who continues to keep his truck driving license current while training a new fleet of licensed truck drivers, says that the truck driving industry continues to remain a stable career option during fluctuating economic times. Many of his students have found that acquiring their Class A license allows them to have a marketable skill in a growing industry. Grainger points out that as long as students are willing to successfully complete a course like SWATC’s six week Professional Truck Driving Program, they will be able to be hired as qualified drivers. A Class A license provides certification for every type of commercial vehicle from semi-truck to dump truck to cement truck.
“Every industry is connected somehow to the trucking industry,” Grainger says, “SWATC often gets calls with job leads for its students.”
With continuing growth in the trucking industry, Grainger knows first-hand that the trucking industry will keep its ranking as one of Utah’s top jobs. He is content with his current instructor position right now, but he also knows that his career choice is secure. “I don’t worry about losing my job. I have a license. I could be back to work tomorrow.”