By Dana Felthauser, Arizona Republic
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Need a job and want to see the country? Some folks are considering truck driving as a career. Trucking is the backbone of America's transportation system and right now there's a shortage of big-rig drivers. Students at Roadmaster Drivers School on Jacksonville's Westside want to fill that gap. Some have been unemployed for years, others have a dream of hitting the road. "Since high school, I've always have been interested in driving," said Torey Marshall.
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Each week future truck drivers take the Roadmaster three week course to get their Commercial Drivers License. Due to older drivers retiring and fewer younger people interested in long-haul trucking careers, companies are hiring. "They've spent 15, 20 25, 30 years out on the road and it's time they just want to be home more," said Roadmaster School Director Ed Mocek. Long haul truckers can be out on the road for weeks at a time. But Wayne Rountree, a former welder, says he's giving the profession a shot to spend more time with his family. "Your dedicated runs, local runs in Jacksonville, enable you to have more at home time."
Married couples, like Ed and Towana Miller from Kingsland, Georgia also are giving life on the road a try. The Millers have three kids at home. "Financial security. That's what we're looking for. We got to do what we have to do. Got to take care of the family, take care of the bills and take care of the children," says Towana Miller.
The cost for three weeks of training is almost $6500 at Roadmaster. A new driver can make between $35,000 and $50,000 a year. "We have graduates right now that are doing $1000 a week and they have only be out of school for 4,5, or 6 months," sais Mocek.
Mocek said about 80% of students will graduate from the Roadmaster Drivers School. They all have the same goal, to get a job behind the wheel of a big rig.
You don't have to have a spotless record to be a truck driver but most companies won't hire someone with a major speeding ticket or a misdemeanor on their record that's less than 5 years old.
By the way, Florida State College of Jacksonville also offers a truck driving course that's less than half the price of Roadmasters but the FSCJ does not offer placement services.
First Coast News