Critical Careers: Opportunities with a CDL

Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 10:36 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) –It’s at a crisis level. We continue to see a shortage of skilled workers in this country and there are millions of job openings that go unfilled.

That’s why we’re starting a new segment on KTTC called Critical Careers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are about 4 million vacancies in industries responsible for transportation, construction, and mechanical needs nationwide. Each month with Critical Careers, we’ll take a closer look at sectors of the skilled worker trade that offer great job opportunities.

There is a serious need for drivers with a commercial license in this country. Within three years, we’ll need to fill 62-thousand openings for commercial truck drivers in Minnesota alone. Without these truck drivers hauling goods and supplies throughout the country, our lives as we know it, come to screeching halt. According to Minnesota Trucking Association, more than 70-percent of all freight moved in this country goes on trucks.

6pm Critical Careers - Opportunities with a CDL

So, let’s talk opportunity.

The Minnesota Department of Vehicle Services lists 8 private schools, and 10 other state funded schools to get your Commercial Drivers License, or CDL. In Rochester, 160-Driving Academy offers an accredited course. And at Riverland Community College, you can get your license in twelve weeks. Some students can qualify for *free tuition through a program called Minnesota Future Together.

A lot happens in the 12 weeks. In addition to the basic CDL training topics, the course also offers a lifestyle course. Students learn directly from a financial planner, a dietitian, an owner operator and others... with the goal of preparing students for the workforce.

The school has simulators and a driving course to help you fine-tune your skills.

Students drive every day and hit the road once a week for extended trips each with a different them, instructor, and vehicle configuration. It’s all about preparing for real-world scenarios. Riverland students typically have about 375 hours in the program before moving on to the internship phase.

According to Minnesota State Commercial Driver Academy, the average national truck driver wage is about 75-thousand, often with the addition of company benefits like health and retirement packages.

Jonathan Rymer is the longtime director of the College’s Truck Driving Program. He says, “What we’re seeing is pay is increasing to attract more drivers. There are sign-on bonuses, and companies are reimbursing students for tuition over 12 months if they come work for them. There are all sorts of financial incentives that will make a big difference.”

For more information about getting your CDL, check out Riverland Community College Truck Driving Program and 160 Driving Academy.

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