NORTH CHARLESTON (WCSC) - Bob Ball is just one student currently enrolled in a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) Truck Driver Course at Palmetto Training, Inc in North Charleston.
"It's an 80,000 pound rig going out there and driving in this Ladson traffic," Ball said, laughing.
Though Ball is studying to become a heavy equipment mechanic, most of the other students plan to become truck drivers.
It is currently an industry with thousands of job openings across the country.
"Now that the economy is picking up, there are a lot more driver jobs out there," Palmetto Training, Inc office manager Caroline Clifton said, estimating that there are 500,000 current vacancies.
More imports and exports across the nation leads to a greater need for ground transportation, and licensed drivers to take the wheel.
"With your CDL, you can get multi-uses out of it: anywhere from driving a cab to a bus to a semi, and even these tour buses, you can use your CDL," Palmetto Training, Inc head director David Frye said. "As you go along, you're going to need transportation, even though the rail cars are coming in, you're still going to need a truck to deliver your freight to your house or business."
The 160-hour course includes both classroom and field instruction. Most time, a student is offered several jobs before completing the course.
"Excellent job security," Clifton said. "Five-hundred-thousand jobs out there, you're not going to go wrong."
The starting salary for truck drivers can range from $35,000 to $41,000.