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ICC is eastbound and down, ready for some truckin’

Life on the farm

by Larry McDermott

Tell me you have never been driving down the road, looked over at the 18-wheeler rolling next to you and thought—“now that’s what I want to do.”

At one time or another, many of us have, but we never followed up on the feeling.

Nowadays, more and more people are turning to truck driving as a job or career, and local Isothermal Community College is helping make that dream come true with its 10-year-old Truck Driving School.

Students who complete the course are able to obtain all the necessary permits and licenses to be certified.

During the pandemic, there have been reports that the flow of goods in the country has been slowed in part by a shortage of truck drivers. Some licensed drivers left the road and haven’t returned. Others simply decided they were done with that kind of work.

Mark Franklin, ICC’s director of customized training and development, said that phenomena has created new opportunities.

“Yes, it is accurate that companies are having trouble fully staffing their truck driving positions. There are still a lot of openings,” he said.

“So the truck driving field is wide open now,” he added. “If they have a clean driving record, they shouldn’t have any trouble finding a job. Most of our students are looking for a good job, a career, with very good earnings.”

The last class of ICC truck drivers graduated in May, having completed 112 hours of classroom work and 232 hours in a truck of training and driving. Of the 14 in that class, 12 graduated, and everyone has either been hired or is interviewing with companies to decide which job is best for them.

“The thing about truck driving that factors into your decision to make it a career is that most of the larger salaries are paid to over-the-road trucking where you’re away from home four to five days a week,” Franklin said. “There also are a lot of local jobs where you can be home every night.”

Those driving jobs that enable you to go home every night instead of sleeping in your truck at a truck stop or at a motel don’t pay as well, so it’s a trade off.

The average annual pay for a beginning truck driver is $40,000 to $45,000, while the cost of the ICC training program is about $1,800 plus $230 in fees to cover Department of Transportation fees for licensing, permits as well as physical and drug tests.

A few married couples have enrolled with a plan to become a cross-country driving team, bringing to mind some of the great truck-driving songs, including my favorites “Six Days on the Road” and “Me and Bobby McGee,” — the Janis Joplin version, of course.

If the married couple team drivers concept sounds good to you and your spouse or significant other, my advice to you would be to spend a weekend together backing up a trailer or RV. If you’re still speaking Monday morning, call Mark Franklin at ICC.

Larry McDermott is a local retired farmer/journalist. Reach him at hardscrabblehollow@gmail.com.