Hitting the Road

The nation is experiencing a shortage of tractor-trailer truck drivers. Industry groups say as many as 900,000 drivers will be needed nationwide in the next 10 years to keep up with demand as older truckers retire.

In Kentucky, demand is expected to increase 8.44 percent from 2018 to 2028, from 26,650 jobs to 28,898 jobs. Median wage is $46,206.

Driving the big rigs is a big responsibility, requiring special expertise and training.

To earn your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), you’ll need three to six months of training. You can find CDL classes through some colleges in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. You can also find training through private trucking schools, or you might find an apprenticeship with an employer.

Most tractor-trailer truck drivers are long-haul drivers. Some drivers work in teams, with one sleeping in a berth in the cab while the other drives. Some have to load and unload cargo. Note: Currently, you need to be at least 21 years old to drive a commercial motor vehicle across state lines.

If you drive double- or triple-trailers or transport hazardous materials, you will need extra training to earn special endorsements for this work.

All drivers who transport hazardous materials must undergo a security threat assessment.

For more information about earning a commercial driver’s license in Kentucky, see the CDL Information page at drive.ky.gov.

Delivery drivers

Light truck drivers, or pickup and delivery drivers, are in demand as well, with 8.32 percent growth expected from 2018-2028, from 16,850 to 18,252 jobs.

You need a driver’s license and a clean driving record, plus some short-term training with a driver mentor. Average salary is $35,059.

Many delivery drivers get their start as package handlers at warehouses.

Figures from Kentucky Occupational Outlook to 2028.

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