Jobs Plentiful and Pay High...Why So Hard to Fill? - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Jobs Plentiful and Pay High...Why So Hard to Fill?

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It's Michael Heald's last day of truck driver training. Unable to find work in Nevada's battered construction industry, he's already lined up a trucking job, starting at $36,000 a year. As he told us, the choice was easy. "There's just a lot of jobs in this industry right now."

And there's room for plenty more. There are thousands of trucking jobs open in northern Nevada. Plus, a slowly recovering economy and more spending, means more goods transported requiring even more drivers. Plus, new regulations are thinning the herd. At Horizon Commercial Truck School in Mustang, training director Alexcis Raj told us, "More drivers are leaving the trade because of either a criminal history background, or you can't get your Hazmat endorsement."

The pay is good: truckers earn an average $38,000 a year, $4,000 above the median. Top drivers earn over $58,000 a year:

Average long-haul trucker pay: $37,930

(overall U.S. multi-occupation median: $34,000)

Top 10% of truck drivers average: $58,500

-U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

So why do so many of these jobs go unfilled? Number one, it's difficult to get certified. The process is not easy. New driver Michael Heald told us, "No, you have to pass a skills test. You have to pre-trip inventory, identify all the parts of a truck and what they do, and the driving test on top of that." He's right…the Nevada Commercial Drivers Handbook is more than a handbook…it's a full-size book with over a hundred pages.

Out at the Alamo Truck Stop in Sparks, we found that when drivers do finally hit the road, the long-haul life isn't easy. Take Dorothy Bode from Oklahoma, who lives for weeks at a time in the cramped quarters of her truck. As she told us, "You can't live in a cramped up space? You don't need to be driving a truck."

Dorothy makes a good living, taking home $1,200 a week pre-tax, but only as long as she spends most of her time on the road, living in her sleeper. She knows many who quit the road. "They can't handle it. They can't handle being away from home, they can't handle. It seems ideal, but every job has its ups and downs."

Dorothy says you can't be running home every weekend if you want to make money. That meant a huge sacrifice for truck driver John Dunn from Oregon. He told us, "I have a son at home. I had custody at one point. I lost custody because I'm out on the road."

For many it's too much to ask, but not for Michael Heald. He starts his new job Thursday.

If you are willing to trade a little home time for a life on the road, the first step is getting trained and earning your commercial license. We have a link to the Horizon Commercial Truck School website here:

-written by John Potter

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