BY EDITOR BRITTNEY BENNETT Giduwa Cherokee News
TULSA – Keetoowahs looking to start a career in the trucking industry have a discounted opportunity to obtain their commercial driver’s license thanks to a new partnership between the UKB Education Department and the Arbuckle Truck Driving School in Tulsa.
In just four weeks, students can complete the necessary training and test for their Class A CDL certification at a discounted, all-inclusive rate of $5,900.
The rate will save students more than $600 off normal course costs and comes after Education Director Dr. Leslie Hannah reached out to Arbuckle about a possible partnership.
“I saw there was a driver shortage on the news, so I made a cold call to see if there was a way we could partner together,” Hannah said. “I took a campus tour and it really is a great opportunity for anyone, especially those that know college is not for them. There’s nothing wrong with that. This is for somebody who wants to get into a respectable career quickly.”
Arbuckle Truck Driving School Director Amber Ennis said she was “thrilled” to take Hannah’s call.
“We were thrilled to have the opportunity to tell Dr. Hannah about what we can offer because there is such a driver shortage right now,” she said. “Most carriers used to require one to two years of experience before you could drive, but now they’re hiring right out of school.”
The CDL certification course starts a new session each Monday in Tulsa and runs Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. for four weeks.
Students will complete all the necessary paperwork and must also pass a physical and a drug screening in week one. Weeks two and three will teach students how to pre-trip a truck and practice basic driving skills on a driving pad. By week four, students will be driving in the Tulsa area with an instructor to prepare for the final exam.
The final exam is both written and practical. It is completed on site using an Arbuckle truck and is scored by a certified Department of Public Safety official.
The course is limited to five students at a time and does not require any previous experience.
“I don't know of anything else, any place else, where if you don’t know one end of the truck from the other, just four weeks later you’re able to be out on the road driving as a career,” said Hannah. “If you successfully complete the course, you're going to have a career behind the wheel of something. Some of the starting salaries are like $60,000 and if students want to continue their education and get different levels of driving endorsements, they can do that.”
Ennis also noted students are coming to her school from a variety of different backgrounds since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“There are those that have trucking in their blood, but many students have just heard of the opportunities trucking offers. We have seen a number of people who have been in a job profession for five years or even decades and they’re being laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so they come to get their certification to start a brand new career,” she said.
Students in the course will immediately have the opportunity to explore career options with several prominent trucking companies while earning their certification.
“We have recruiters coming to us looking for drivers. A lot of the top-rated carriers including Melton Truck Lines Inc., TMC Trucking, Werner Enterprises and PAM Transport come in during our lunch hour to tell students about opportunities,” said Ennis. “There's something for everybody whether it’s over the road, small businesses, local driving. We provide a number of resources so when students are ready, they have the knowledge to make the best decision for themselves.”
Ennis also hopes the course is personally fulfilling for students.
“We want students to feel a sense of purpose. For some, this is the first certificate they've ever held,” she said. “It can be really rewarding for them and it's equally rewarding for us. It's also huge for their family. The fact that they can come in and do it in four weeks, and potentially be out on the road making $60,000 to $80,000 a year, you've changed your life for your family. It's just exciting.”
Keetoowahs interested in the course can get more information by visiting www.atds-cei.com or by reaching out to the UKB Education Department.
Applications can also be obtained at the Education building located at 4547 S. Whitmore Lane in Tahlequah or by calling 918-871-2796. Exclusive Keetoowahs can also apply for a scholarship directly from Education to help with the cost of the course.