Revving Up Careers: How High Schools Are Driving Students Towards Trucking Success

Numerous high schools across the United States are now providing classes to help students earn their CDLs, leading to an increase in students learning to drive trucks.

Teachers at these schools have a goal of expanding career options for students and supporting the professional driving field. The American Trucking Associations predicts a need for 1.2 million new drivers in the next ten years, although some in the industry question whether there is actually a shortage of truck drivers.

For instance, David Kastiro, aged 21, participated in Patterson High School’s truck driving class, an elective open to seniors. Originally aspiring to be a cardiologist, Kastiro’s plans changed due to financial difficulties during the pandemic, which led him to pursue a CDL and a career in trucking to support himself and his family.

Lindsey Trent, president of the Next Generation in Trucking Association, hopes more high schoolers will consider professional driving careers, which offer diverse job opportunities in fields like agriculture, construction, and energy. The association has worked with about 300 high schools interested in offering CDL classes, with approximately 50 schools in 15 states now providing such classes.

Their aim is to promote trucking as a respected career choice, on par with other technical education options like welding. Trent emphasizes the essential role of professional drivers, noting that without them, essential services like medicine and food delivery would be severely impacted.

Ricardo Jimenez, age 22, also took Patterson’s truck driving class as an elective and now runs his own trucking company while pursuing a degree in management and business economics.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates around 240,000 driving job openings each year, primarily due to retiring drivers. Trucking plays a vital role in transporting about 73% of the nation’s freight by weight, underlining its importance in the economy.

Educators like Charlie Dansie at Connell High School highlight the significance of trucking by challenging students to name items not transported by trucks. Dansie’s class prepares students for commercial driving permits and CDLs, enabling them to enter the workforce directly after high school.

This shift in attitude towards trade and technical education is evident in schools like Parke Heritage High School, where trucking classes are seen as valuable preparation for students entering the workforce. Principal Bruce Patton emphasizes the importance of providing diverse skill sets to students, recognizing that not all students choose or need to pursue traditional college paths.

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