In the trucking industry, the jobs are thicker than bugs on a bumper.
Those solid prospects in an otherwise shaky employment picture are what attracted Tony Ricker. A year ago, the 33-year-old Findlay man lost his job as a retail manager. His entire 15-year working career had been in sales, but seeing help-wanted ad after help-wanted ad seeking drivers, he decided to learn to pilot a big rig. He's enrolled in classes now.
"It was never something I thought I'd do," he said. "It's just demand for the job and a great opportunity to take care of my family."
Recruiters and truck driving instructors are seeing hundreds of people like Mr. Ricker -- driven to drive by the weak economy.
And if you can handle an 18-wheeler and the time away from home, jobs aren't too hard to come by.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number of drivers needed to increase by more than 330,000 between 2010 and 2020. Many in the industry say there's already a shortage of drivers, and hundreds of thousands of retirements are expected in the next couple years.
"They're aging, they're retiring, and we're not keeping up with replacement as much as we'd like to," said Sean McNally, a spokesman for American Trucking Association.
Though some estimate a shortage of more than 200,000 drivers, the American Trucking Association thinks that number is closer to the range of 20,000 to 30,000 drivers -- still enough to create a big problem for trucking companies.
Some recruiters say they could hire a room full of drivers as long as they meet their company's standards.
"We're constantly looking for drivers because we have a lot of freight," said Tammy Helms, an Ohio-based field recruiter with TMC Transportation. "I've been here for 13 years and we've always added drivers on. It's going to be a constant."
TMC Transportation is a large flatbed carrier based in Des Moines. Ms. Helms said the company is actively recruiting drivers across the eastern United States.
One of her regular stops is Trainco Inc., a professional truck-driving school headquartered in Perrysburg. One of the major regional players, Trainco has three Michigan locations, as well as schools in Perrysburg and Norwalk, Ohio. The company also has a partnership with Owens Community College.
Company president Ken Howell said Trainco is having its best year since 2008 and may end up with its best year ever.
"The declining economy has flushed people from all corners of the Earth," said Blackie Blackwell, Trainco's sales manager. "We have so many [people] coming now who thought they would never look at trucking but see there are so many opportunities across all the classes."
Ken Leary was one of them.
The Pemberville man had been in construction all his life, working his way up to a supervisor position with a construction-management business in Columbus. But the sour economy hit his firm hard. Employment there fell from 45 to four. Mr. Leary was one of the last to be let go.
Initially he wanted to go back to school for electronics, but he found his unemployment would run out before he'd be finished with his degree. Consistently seeing ads for truck drivers, about two years ago he decided to give it a shot. Now he's pulling tankers on cross-country hauls for Schwerman Trucking Co.
"This is a great job, a great career for someone looking to change, or who lost a career and looking to reinvent themselves," Mr. Leary said. "This is a very viable solution to get back in the workplace and pay your bills."
Most Popular Stories
- SEO Traffic Lab Celebrate Wins at Digital Marketing Event 'Internet World 2013' in London
- Social Media Initiatives Should Follow Customers' Lead
- Apple CEO: Offshore Units Not a 'Tax Gimmick'
- U.S. Senate Accuses Apple of Large-scale Tax Avoidance
- UTEP Water Recycling Project Wins Venture Titles
- Marketo Makes a Mint in IPO: Stock Shoots Up More than 50 Percent
- Bieber Booed at Billboard Awards
- Crude Oil Up, Gasoline Down
- Austin Startup Compare Metrics Raises $3.5 Million for Expansion
- Why So Many Top 'Car Guys' Are Actually Women