BANGOR, Maine — Instructors from Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle made their way south to Bangor to train the next wave of truck drivers.
These instructors brought their free commercial driver's license course to Eastern Maine Community College for the summer.
The course, an eight-week program that prepares students to earn a Class A driving license, involves the first few weeks being spent in the classroom. Dennis Dyer is the administrator for the program at NMCC.
"The last five weeks we're on the range doing parallel parking, alley docking, all that kind of stuff and on the road also, [to] help them get ready for their testing," Dyer said.
The first session started Monday, and the next two sessions will start as soon as the previous one ends. This program is expected to conclude at EMCC in September.
The course is able to be offered for free thanks to the Harold Alfond Advancement for Maine's Workforce Grant.
"I think probably the average cost is at least like $7,000-8,000 if not more, so the fact that we can offer this for free helps a lot of people," Dyer said.
Orrington resident Darnell Flowers is one of the students in the course. Flowers said he already has his Class B license but was looking into training programs to get his Class A license when he came across this opportunity.
"Having this program and taking advantage of this right here that's being presented, it's going to catapult me and take me where I'm looking to go," Flowers said.
Avram Burg of Van Buren decided to pursue this course after recently being laid off from a logging company during mud season.
"Working in the woods, I saw the log trucks and saw what they do. And I always thought, 'You know, that's kind of a cool thing to do,'" Burg said.
There's a wide range of starting salaries depending on which commercial truck driving path one might pursue.
"It ranged anywhere from, I've seen up to $100,000 a year down to $60,000. The lowest I've seen is $45,000," Burg said.
According to ziprecruiter.com, the average yearly CDL truck driver salary in 2022 in Maine is $44,245. Companies like Walmart, however, are trying to combat their shortage of drivers by offering double median salaries, up to $110,000 per year, according to NBC News.
Liz Russell, vice president of EMCC's academic affairs and soon to be president of the college, said this is all part of their effort to prepare students for a number of Maine's workforces that are in need of workers.
"We have a number of other free programs that are available to individuals who wish to enter new fields such as medical assisting, surgical technology, phlebotomy, electricians, and those sorts of things," Russell said.
"In order for me to go to the next chapter, this right here is the beginning of my chapter," Flowers said.
For more information about the workforce programs offered at EMCC, click here.
To register for the next CDL course at EMCC and to learn more, click here.