MARION COUNTY, Fla. – With more than 60,000 job vacancies in the trucking industry nationwide, the demand for truck drivers is high. Marion Technical College offers an eight-week Commercial Vehicle Driving program to help meet that need.
"They come in without a CDL, never driven a truck before. We take them around in a truck and give them all the skills they need to be a professional driver," said Ricky Monroe, lead instructor.
The program began in August 2018 and Monroe says it has been very popular.
“I think because the need is so big and the money is so good. A student could come out of here their first year making $50,000,” he said.
Before students begin driving, they work on a simulator in the classroom. The simulator teaches students about driving in hazardous conditions as well as driving at night. Once students get behind the wheel, they learn vehicle safety, maintenance, backing, docking and maneuvering.
“They learn a lot being behind the truck and it’s a lot different when you’ve got 80,000 pounds going down the road,” Monroe said. “They learn how to do the math to make sure they’re not driving too many hours in a day. They also learn mapping, which is not as easy actually as it is in a car, because you have so many truck restrictions on the road. They need to learn to read the map and find the restrictions and know the correct route to go in the truck.”
During the course, each student drives a minimum of 1,000 miles, with 200 of those miles being at night. The total cost for the course is $3,500. Students as young as 18 can earn a CDL, but can not cross state lines driving.
For more information on the program, click here.