- Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 December 2021 22:11
The Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that will provide commercial driver’s license (CDL) training at no cost to current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces, including National Guard members and Reservists, as well as certain military family members.
The $132,409 grant for the Commercial Motor Vehicle Operator Safety Training program will cover the cost of training 31 individuals. CCAC is one of only four institutions in the state, and the only one in Western Pennsylvania, that received an award. The grant covers the full tuition cost of the program, which can be completed in eight weeks. The program is open to individuals residing in the greater Allegheny County region.
There is a huge and growing demand for CDL drivers across the country. According to CCAC CDL Coordinator Darius Markham, the current shortage of 75,000 drivers is expected to double in the next 10 years. Locally, the average new driver can expect to make around $45,000 in the first year; however, some companies advertising for drivers are offering salaries of $70,000 to $80,000 a year plus full benefits—including family health insurance coverage and 401(k) plans—from the first day on the job, he said.
Markham noted that individuals with military training “tend to do very well in this industry, and they make ideal drivers.” Through their experience, veterans are used to working sometimes long and irregular hours in a non-office environment. Many owners and managers of trucking companies are also veterans, and they do what they can to support the troops, Markham said.
John Norman, a mechanical engineer, was looking for a career change. He had previously only driven a truck for a brief time in New York City in the 1980s. When a friend who drove a tractor-trailer told him that he was making good money and loved his job, he decided to make the switch. After completing the CCAC program and receiving his CDL, Norman received many offers for driving positions, including driving for USPS, UPS and long-haul trucking companies. He accepted a position driving full time for Turner’s Dairy, and he couldn’t be happier. He is making as much as he did in his former occupation, plus great benefits.
“Turner’s is a great company to work for, and they treat you like family. The work is hard, but it’s rewarding, and you’re your own boss,” said Norman, who credits the CCAC program, along with his strong work ethic, for his new career. “The instructors were excellent. They really did a good job teaching us.”
CCAC’s CDL program is located at Boyce Campus in Monroeville and at the Washington County Center, with classes meeting four hours a day, Monday to Friday. Classes start every four weeks, and no prior truck driving experience is required. Markham holds an information session every Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. at Boyce Campus where he talks about the industry and explains the program for interested individuals. There is no cost or obligation to attend.
For more information or to register, contact Darius Markham at 724.325.6834 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To complete an inquiry/preregistration form, click here.
CCAC also offers a third-party test site that is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is located at CCAC’s Washington County Center at the Washington Crown Center mall in North Franklin Township. For questions or to make an appointment, call 724.223.1017.