Transportation industry needs drivers, mechanics and more - East Valley Tribune: Business

Transportation industry needs drivers, mechanics and more

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Posted: Monday, June 19, 2006 9:11 am | Updated: 2:09 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

See the country. Take responsibility for your own load. And have an opportunity to create a dynamic career path.

Jobs in the trucking industry have never been more available to those willing to take on the task.

In transportation and moving material occupations in Arizona last year, about 154,690 people were employed, according to the Arizona Workforce Informer Web site. These jobs included people working at airlines, or as freight, taxi, or bus drivers, parking lot attendants, packers and package handlers, and traffi c technicians.

“The needs are very high. We have openings all over the country,” said Scott Maldonado, director of recruiting and driver services for Swift Transportation, based in Arizona. “There’s a high demand for OTR drivers throughout the trucking industry.”

One of the issues in the trucking industry is facing many industries across the United States: A high number of working adults are nearing retirement and the age group behind them don’t number enough to fill the spots, said Karen Rasmussen, president and CEO of the Arizona Trucking Association.”

“We need drivers. We need mechanics. Trucks move 87 percent of everything we use in Arizona and we need people from package car drivers to long haul truck drivers. We need dock workers. The really great thing about trucking is this is a job that will never be out-sourced to another country,” she said.

Drivers of heavy and tractor-trailer trucks numbered about 23,560 in Arizona last year, according to the Arizona Workforce Informer Web site. Their median hourly wage was $16.20. Those in the upper 90th percentile of hourly wage were making $26.02.

Truck driving schools are open across the Valley, and a number of transportation companies, such as Swift, operate their own academies as well.

To enter the training program, you must be at least 21 years old with a valid driver’s license and you must be drug and alcohol free. Transportation companies will examine your past driving records and you must pass a standard Department of Transportation physical. Other requirements may vary by company.

A day for a driver on the road means inspecting his or her vehicle, checking logs for accuracy, interacting with clients and delivering freight safely and on time.

“Our goal is for our drivers to safely average 2,500 miles in a week. A driver can wake up in California and choose to travel only in the surrounding states. Another driver may choose to go to the East Coast or any of the 48 states.” Maldonado said.

Various career paths are available with trucking industries. Drivers can purchase their own vehicles and become an owner/ driver. They can also become a Swift Mentor (Trainer).

“From a driver’s perspective you have a lot of responsibility, but you also have a lot of freedom. You’re responsible for the truck and its contents. You have a lot of customer interaction. Sometimes the driver is the first person on the scene to meet with a customer, and you’re moving commerce,” Rasmussen said.

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