COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL)— More than 100 future CDL drivers have joined the waitlist for Columbus Technical College’s new Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) program. Ground broke on the project in May of this year, training is set to begin by the end of November.
The program takes anywhere from two to four weeks to complete and can cost as little as $32 for students that are eligible for the Georgia HOPE Scholarship.
“We knew that there was a great need for commercially licensed truck drivers here in the area,” CTC President, Martha Ann Todd told WRBL. “Over the years, as the port traffic has grown from the Savannah port and the Brunswick port through Georgia to the inland ports, it’s become more and more evident that the drivers are needed locally as well as throughout the state and elsewhere.”
Once the Department of Driver Services approves the driving range, training will begin. Those interested in applying can find more information on CTC’s website.
“It’s a great opportunity for people because there are so many CDL jobs available. You can do everything from driving a dump truck or garbage truck to a long-haul semi,” David Kupier, Vice President of Academic Affairs said. “And several companies are starting people in six figure salaries, fresh off of a four-week training program.”
“Some will make six figures, but all will make good salaries. The starting salary, depending on the company, may start around $60-$65,000. Some do actually go up to six figures, but the students will certainly be able to get a job,” President Todd said. “There are also many opportunities to drive, to live at home, drive during the day and come back home at night. Or if you prefer, to drive over the road and be gone for a few days at a time. There are many of those opportunities as well.”
Location for the driving range is strategic. Sitting outside the gates of Fort Moore, CTC hopes to attract some of the 2,500 exiting military members plus the surrounding neighborhood in south Columbus.
“Many of them will be looking for opportunities for their career after they leave the military. And this will be a great opportunity for them to have access easily to training that is short-term with very long-term benefits,” President Todd said. “But we also want to make sure that it’s available to military spouses. There are quite a few military spouses that would be very interested in this training while their families are stationed here as well.”
The adjacent neighborhood is a Qualified Opportunity Zone with poverty levels above 35%.
“That neighborhood has a lot of opportunities for students. A lot of them may be lacking transportation currently,” Kupier shared. “And being able to train in south Columbus is going to open up possibilities for them to get amazing careers in a very short time.”
Right now, finishing touches are being made to the tractors, trailers, and driving range. All students who have expressed their interest in the program will receive an e-mail from the technical college before training begins.
Within 30 days of starting the program, students must get their learner’s permit and a Department of Transportation physical. Newly licensed drivers expected to hit the roadways by early 2024.
The new program was made possible by Governor Brian Kemp’s GEER Grant. The rest of the land for the driving range donated by the Pezold Family Foundation.