DALLAS, Texas — This week, the American Trucking Associations said that the U.S. needs up to 80,000 more truckers as the nation wrestles with a growing supply chain problem that's fueling inflation, delayed shipping times and store shelves missing certain products.
In Dallas, the Vision CDL Truck Driving School is trying to plug more drivers into the shipping pipeline.
Since images of millions of stranded shipping containers on the West Coast surfaced, the school that's been around since 2009 has seen its class sizes grow.
Interest is also expanding, according to Daryl Monmouth, an instructor who helps get potential drivers their learning permits.
"People are looking for a way to increase their income and support for their family," Monmouth said. "This is a multi-billion dollar industry now."
Freight operators are doing everything they can to attract new blood. Many are handing out higher wages and incentives.
In August, Eric Fuller, the CEO of U.S. Xpress, told 'Yahoo! Finance' that his company has doled out 30% to 35% in total pay increases over the last 12 months.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median pay for a truck driver in America is $47,130 per year.
But there is money to be made in this shortage; some truckers have told news outlets that they've roughly increased their pay to $70,000 a year.
"I don't know anywhere where you can get a job without a college education and make $70,000 a year or more," Nathan Collier, Vision's lead CDL examiner, said.
Not only that, Monmouth said that freight operators are reaching out to Vision to scoop up grads after they get certified to drive.
"We have companies calling us and wanting to come and interview our students," Monmouth said. "And they're coming a lot."
The shipping pipeline may get a younger workforce, too.
This week, trucking associations asked Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to lower the minimum age requirement to cross state lines with a truck from 21 to 18.
Some in the industry wonder if a teenager is ready for the responsibility of an 18-wheeler.
At Vision, Collier said he supports lowering the minimum age requirement.
"If you can go and die for your country at 18, you should be able to drive a truck," Collier said.