Twenty years ago, the prospects for someone looking to get into the trucking and transportation industry was bleak. Like most professions around the turn of the century, there was an over-abundance of qualified personnel filling any and every open position, so much so, the value of one trucker over any other didn't exist. Pay was low, hours were long, the work was hard because if one didn't want to do the job, four more were lined up ready and waiting. Those times have changed as more people are seeking higher education now rather than the trades.

Now rolling through the 20-20's, even the youngest Baby Boomers are turning to retirement. As it was that generation of American's that made the trucking industry as big as it is today, as they retire, there aren't enough qualified and licensed individuals to fill the void. This has created a desperate need for drivers, and as Gen-X, Millennials, and older Gen-Z'ers have been pushed towards white-collar higher educational jobs, the trucking boom is just getting started, and the pay is riding high.

Depending on which website you look at, there are some 15,000 trucking companies currently listing open positions in need of some 170,000 truckers. Oklahoma is no different with almost 1500 Class A CDL long haul and OTR listings alone. The better news is, the supply and demand that lowered pay for truckers twenty years ago has flip-flopped. An A-class licensed operator with one year of experience is now garnering a base pay of almost $100,000 each year, with bonuses and additional pay offered for longevity and staying with the company.

Is it hard work? Well, it has to be taxing to the body and mind to see endless highway and to live and work out of the same tractor... but if you enjoy traveling, while you won't have much sight-seeing time, you'll certainly have the opportunity to see the most beautiful parts of the US Interstate System.

There are also a ton of short-haul jobs available too. The type that have you back at home nearly every night, usually with a set route you drive each and every week. Those are paying about $2,000 a week right out of the gate plus sign-on and retention bonuses.

America is currently at a crossroads. A college degree isn't worth what it used to be. As more and more people are graduating with degrees in record numbers, the supply of qualified individuals is higher than the job market currently demands. On the other hand, the trades are flip-flopped and those who learn them are banking money hand over fist. If you were looking to make a change in your life, this might be the jumping point to start looking at for a trade school to solidify your future retirement.

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LOOK: See how much gasoline cost the year you started driving

To find out more about how has the price of gas changed throughout the years, Stacker ran the numbers on the cost of a gallon of gasoline for each of the last 84 years. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (released in April 2020), we analyzed the average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline from 1976 to 2020 along with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for unleaded regular gasoline from 1937 to 1976, including the absolute and inflation-adjusted prices for each year.

Read on to explore the cost of gas over time and rediscover just how much a gallon was when you first started driving.

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