Truck Driving Proves a Lucrative Career Opportunity for Women

By on January 3, 2019
Commercial Truck Driver Training

After an accident halted Lisa Zehrt’s work with horses, she pursued truck driving for a more sustainable career. A few trips on the open road with a friend convinced her truck driving would work.

“I always liked trucks more than the average girl,” Zehrt said. Choosing St. Louis Community College’s accelerated CDL-A Professional Truck Driving program was an easy choice.

With class sizes that max at eight students, Zehrt enjoyed one-on-one time with instructors and a tight-knit community to work in. The class incorporated plenty of hands-on work in the truck yard, with all students taking turns driving STLCC-owned semi-trailer trucks.

The course – offered in five-week daytime or eight-week evening formats – covers truck maneuvering, backing and driving, trip planning, industry relations, safety inspections and paperwork. Zehrt remembers her teachers as very helpful and expresses gratitude for the chance to have picked her company right out of school.

Zehrt explains that some companies make you sign a contract in exchange for schooling. “There are enough niches in the trucking industry world that you can find something that suits you,” she said.

Bartending and working with horses resulted in many hours worked with little payoff. Now Zehrt is thankful she can work significantly fewer hours and spend most nights at home. “The money in trucking is great.”

Zehrt now drives a semi flatbed trailer for a regional towing company. Most of her trips are in the St. Louis region, occasionally driving to Chicago or Wisconsin, with her longest trip to Oklahoma City. Zehrt thinks choosing your own adventure makes trucking a more fun industry. “If you’re local and want to stay at home every night, you might make less, regional a little more, and I know people who will be out for two weeks at a time who might make $120,000 in a year,” she said. “The $5,000 you spend on schooling is nothing.”

Trucking jobs in the U.S. or in Missouri are plentiful. Zehrt had ten companies contacting her to hire upon graduation. She explains that her class all had jobs in a timely manner post-graduation.

At 27 years old, Zehrt recognizes that young women in the industry are rare but she doesn’t let that hold her back. She estimates that she sees a woman for every one in six drivers when she visits truck stops. Despite the occasional funny look, she still experiences kindness from fellow truckers on the job. Still, it takes resilience. After several months of success, Zehrt loves her job and hopes to see positive changes in the industry’s future. “It’s empowering to drive a big truck, and sometimes better than the boys,” she said.

The next STLCC CDL-A Professional Truck Driving program begins in January, with another in February. Students must be 21 years old with a valid Missouri or Illinois driver’s license. For more information, visit stlcc.edu/TruckDriving. Please contact Bahi Talundzic, Career Pathway coach, at 314-644-9786 or italundzic@stlcc.edu with any questions.

About Laura Davis

Laura Davis is a Marketing Communications Coordinator at St. Louis Community College’s Workforce Solution Group, which delivers non-credit continuing education opportunities, corporate training and community services to the St. Louis region.

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