Montana See’s Shortage of Qualified Truck Drivers

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MISSOULA –

Montana is seeing a shortage of commercial truck drivers. It’s all because of an expensive certification process.

It’s a problem causing a bumpy road for trucking companies in the Treasure State, a lack of qualified drivers to fill their jobs.

“There’s all sorts of driving jobs out there, but if there’s no jobs to drive trucks the goods and services don’t get delivered,” said Mark Dodge, the instructor of Missoula College’s certification program.

With no financial aid or scholarships available for students in trucking certification programs, they’re forced to pay thousands of dollars up front to get a commercial license. Many students just can’t afford it.

β€œThe good news is if you get hired on with a trucking company, many have reimbursement programs, but it’s coming up with that money up front that’s creating problems for drivers,” Dodge said.

At Missoula College students must pay $1,500 to earn their class a license. That allows you to drive vehicles that carry heavy equipment, like construction of garbage trucks around town.

It costs another $1,500 to get qualified for over-road trucking and that’s where the jobs are.

“My savings and credit card,” student Josh Herring explains how he’s afforded the first part of his certification.

Herring is the only student in the program right now.

“No one would hire me as full-time employee, because I don’t have full training.”

Herring is taking a few jobs this summer to make the $1,500 he needs to get a full certification.

“Right now it depends on how well I do working this summer.”

Meantime, Dodge says soon the trucking industry won’t be the only one noticing the shortage.

“Goods and services come with trucks, so if you don’t have truck drivers, the price of every goes up whether in grocery store, at a pharmacy or wherever,” Dodge said.

There is some good news for drivers who can pay the tuition. Demand for commercial drivers is expected to jump by 2022, adding more than 192,000 jobs.

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