According to the Truckload Carriers Association there are 200,000 job openings for long-haul truckers nationwide. Many of those jobs will be unfilled. (Michelle Higginbotham / American Press)
Larry Lauziere is a 15-year truck driving veteran. (Michelle Higginbotham / American Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, July 26, 2012 7:04 PM
For 15 years, Larry Lauziere has driven 18-wheelers and admits the job is addictive.
He moved to Lake Charles from the Boston and has driven long-haul and local routes.
Lauziere, 60, has worked lots of long days and encourages anyone considering a truck-driving career to think of the pros and cons.
“I’ve been doing this a long time. I’m an outside type of person. If I’m not on the road and just sitting, it drives me crazy,” he said.
One of the hottest job fields in the nation is long-haul driving. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2010 and 2020 about 300,000 new jobs will be added to the current driver pool of 1.5 million.
The federal government estimates that the median yearly salary of a truck driver is $37,930.
Increased truck-driving opportunities are the result of more goods needing to be transported to different locations around the nation.
Jim Anderson, admissions officer at Coastal Truck Driving School, said the industry is experiencing a change that should help recruiting.
“For years it was a long-haul environment. A person was a loner for two or three months and probably would not see their family,” he said. “It lent itself to being a single man’s industry for a long time.”
The influx of female drivers and a focus on regional routes are two factors Anderson said are changing the way truck driving is viewed by the public.
He recounted the experience of a 49-year-old woman who was divorced, had no marketable skills, was living at home and wanted to change her life.
“She qualified for a grant. Came to school and is now driving and a working member of society,” he said.
Anderson was a banker prior to beginning work at the school, which has locations around Louisiana.”
“It was 2007 and I lost everything. I was 47 and came to school to get my license and ended up working for the school,” he said.
When talking to potential students, Anderson does probe their minds to determine if they have a desire to be on the road.
“This is a great opportunity, but you will be driving and away from home a lot,” he said. “Yes, there are local opportunities, but a person has to get some years doing long-haul work.”
Lauziere notes that salary and time on the road away from family are trade-offs of a career in which “you can quit a job today driving and get another one tomorrow.”
People interested in truck driving need to pass a commercial driver’s license test to start working.