Scott Now in the Driver’s Seat after Completing STLCC Program
Brandon Scott didn’t want a job. He had one of those and it didn’t fulfill his needs. It didn’t pay well enough, and he felt no real sense of satisfaction in his work.
He looked at several employment options and balanced the amount of time he’d have to be in school and the cost of training for a new position with the facts that he had no income and a second child on the way. He needed to draw a paycheck soon, but he didn’t want to settle for another unfulfilling role.
His best friend suggested St. Louis Community College-Forest Park’s professional truck driving program, and Scott, 29, couldn’t be happier with his decision to give it a try.
“I’m not doing it for myself,” he said. “I needed money quickly, but I needed a career quickly and truck driving fits both categories. The salary is more lucrative compared to my last job and I have a Class A CDL license with no restrictions.”
National Truck Driving Appreciation Week runs through Sept. 18. According to the American Trucking Associations, nearly 3.5 million people serve as truck drivers. But that’s not nearly enough.
The demand remains high as the shortage of drivers continues to get worse. That has raised compensation even for new drivers, with STLCC graduates reporting earnings of $50,000 or more in their first jobs. Many companies also are paying sign-on bonuses.
Companies regularly recruit from the STLCC trucking class, a five-week program, because they know they’ll have trained drivers sooner than later.
Rene Dulle, the senior program manager for STLCC’s environmental and transportation programs, said some companies provide upwards of $80,000 a year for drivers with experience. She said there is no shortage of opportunities for new or veteran drivers who want to do:
- Over-the-road driving, where they’ll be gone for several days in a row.
- Regional driving, where they might be gone for a day or two.
- Local driving, where they will be home every night.
“Most of our students come to STLCC with the hope of a new career with wages that can fully support a family,” Dulle said. “In just five weeks, they earn their CDL and find a myriad of high- wage employment opportunities. Truck driving has always been a solid career choice, but in the past several years the demand for drivers has skyrocketed and we can’t graduate students fast enough to fill the need.
“Our instructors are all experienced drivers who chose to give back to the community and prepare the next group of professionals how to have a career that has provided them so much. Our team truly cares about the success of each of our graduates.”
Scott worked as a forklift operator for seven years before deciding he had enough. He took the leap of faith to submit his two-weeks’ notice and find something that better provided for his family.
Without an income and only his savings to lean on, Scott knew it might prove challenging to afford the training to move into a new profession. This was another reason he chose STLCC’s trucking program.
Scott received a boost from PepsiCo Foundation with a $5,000 grant toward his tuition. (Total tuition is $5,750 plus there are mandatory Department of Transportation background and drug tests for another $150.) He was under no obligation to work for Pepsi when he graduated, and the remaining $900 was manageable for him and his family to cover.
Getting financial assistance is common for students. Not only are there grants available, but many companies will reimburse a student’s tuition if they meet certain employment requirements.
“We will do everything we can to help a student be able to afford his or her education, and make sure they know all of the resources at their disposal,” Dulle said.
It’s been quite a summer for Scott and his family. He successfully completed his classes at STLCC, passed his test to earn his Class A CDL license and, four days after he got his license, he and his fiancée Niyah Perry welcomed baby Trenton into their lives.
He also landed a job driving locally, delivering material from Home Depot to job sites throughout the city. Although he starts at 5 a.m., he’s guaranteed to be home by dinner if not sooner every day.
Scott said it fits perfectly with his growing family, which includes a planned wedding on Valentine’s Day 2022. He believes his 7-year-old daughter Amyra is especially excited about her dad’s new job.
“I just feel like it’s a lot easier for her to say her father’s a truck driver,” Scott said. “It’s better than saying he works at a dock. She’s really happy that I’m local and that I can go to her swim classes and her dance classes.”