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CDL Drivers in High Demand

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CLARKSBURG -

In an economy where jobs are hard to come by, thousands of Americans are sitting on unemployment or accepting low-paying jobs just to get by.

But truck drivers are cashing in more than ever.

"I was a delivery pop driver. I drove to Fairmont everyday. Was making good money, it was good money. But this came about. Ended up in the oil field, making a lot more money and closer to home," said Nick Fetty, a truck driver for an oil and gas company.

The money is so good, his wife no longer needs to work.

He said that his CDL license is worth just as much, if not more, than a college degree.

"To me, in my opinion, having a CDL is like having a college degree in your back pocket," Fetty said.

Drivers like Fetty are in high demand. So much so, that companies like Ryan Environmental in Bridgeport are having a hard time getting and keeping truck drivers.

"Trying to attract drivers has become a very challenging event. Especially for smaller companies. Especially with the oil and gas boom, demand has increased. Wages have increased. Supply has decreased," said Clayton Rice, president of Ryan Environmental.

Ten years ago he could find a good driver for about $12 an hour. That same driver is now costing him anywhere from $18 to $24 an hour, to start.

He said overtime wages are bringing some drivers up to salaries in the six-figure range. He said there's no sign of it tapering off anytime soon.

"Companies are growing everyday. If you go and get your CDL you can probably go and work at some companies right off of the bat. There's always companies needing a CDL driver," Fetty said.

While it's hard to compete with wages the big companies are offering, Rice said some drivers are giving up that paycheck for the comforts of home.

"They realize the long days and the large geographic areas aren't as attractive as they once thought they were," Rice said.