Finding a New Career on the Highway

NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) -- As the economy slows down some across the country are shifting gears and turning to trucking to make a living.

"I did loose my job back in December so I've been looking ever since," said Charles Ballard.

Ballard is in his second week of school at ASU Newport's Commercial Driver Training Institute.  Before he started this new journey he worked in the automotive industry for 28 years.

"I thought that it was time to broaden the spectrum just a little and try something new," said Ballard.

Program Administrators say many people come to driving school to make more money.  But recently they've seen more students like Ballard who have lost their jobs.

"Truck driver training and the trucking industry has always been a sector that attracted folks who were looking for new jobs or looking for opportunities," said Bentley Wallace.

Wallace said there are opportunities available for entry level drivers.  But with trucking companies closing their doors, they have to compete with more experienced drivers.

"Those experienced drivers from those companies have moved to other companies and the demand is down," said Wallace.

The demand for the driving school is also down.  Wallace said they've seen a slight drop in enrollment..

"Even though the numbers are down a little bit and motor carriers aren't quite as aggressive with recruiting our students, we're still seeing static numbers," said Wallace.

As for plans for the future Ballard said he would eventually like to work for a local company.

"Most of the industry does require six months over the road experience and after that six months.  I may love it," said Ballard.

Many of the student drivers already have jobs lined up, while others will have to hit the pavement and find a job when they finish the program.