A driver shortfall in the trucking industry could be a windfall for military veterans.
According to FTR Transportation Intelligence, the industry is facing a shortfall of at least 300,000 qualified drivers, and many trucking companies have increased starting salaries and bonuses in hopes of attracting new drivers.
That's great news for veterans. The American Trucking Association has made a commitment to hiring 100,000 veterans, and many trucking companies have adopted veteran hiring programs that provide hiring preferences and additional resources.
Take U.S. XPress, for instance. According to its website, it offers apprenticeships and an advanced rate of pay program in which truck drivers without experience can still earn up to $70,000 if they've been honorably discharged.
Thomas Kirby has been driving trucks since he left the Marine Corps in 2006. He said he worked for several different trucking companies for about a decade before he became an owner/operator of his own business.
"Trucking sometimes gets a bad rap," Kirby said. "But I love it. Most of my hauls are within my state, but I take the occasional cross-country job. I love seeing the country, and the freedom I have to take what jobs I want can't be beaten."
Here are some of the top reasons why you should consider a truck driving career as a military veteran:
1. Military Skills Overlap. Most military personnel are technically savvy, motivated hard workers, and often have worked with heavy equipment. Even those who haven't worked with heavy equipment possess the grit and work ethic that many trucking companies are seeking in an employee.
And if you already have a commercial driver's license, many companies will count that time toward seniority and start you at a higher rate of pay. For veterans without a CDL, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Military Skills Test Waiver program can fast-track one provided they meet certain requirements.
2. GI Bill Covers Training. There are a large number of Post-9/11 GI Bill-approved trucking schools where you can gain relevant experience and certifications.
3. Career Security. The trucking and logistics industry is experiencing a massive shortfall of qualified drivers and support personnel. And with the increase in shipping thanks to internet shoppers, companies like Amazon and Walmart are vying for veterans to drive their trucks.
4. Steady pay and great benefits. Pay and benefits have risen by 8% to 12% in recent years, according to the American Trucking Association's website. This increase outperforms the national average of 2%, and the ATA predicts it will keep rising. The median annual wage for a trucker who works for a private fleet, such as a driver employed by Walmart, is $73,000.
5. Veterans Possess Soft Skills the Industry Needs. Veterans offer grit, teamwork and self-discipline, and are mission-focused. These are the qualities that allow veterans to rise through the ranks faster than their civilian counterparts.
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