Hardy, an ex-marine, was working as a carpenter and said, “I was looking for a new adventure. I attended Utah State University Eastern, Blanding Campus in 2012 to start a new career in Trucking and Heavy Equipment operation (HETR).
“At USU I was taught by an excellent instructor by the name of Justin Bergeman a.k.a. The Million Miler. Bergeman’s expertise, combined with our text books, class room instruction and hands-on training, proved extremely useful to the students.
“I would encourage those who are interested in a new challenge to take a serious look at USU Eastern, Blanding HETR.”
The Blanding Campus has a comprehensive trucking and heavy equipment program. Hardy didn’t waste any time getting his applications for employment out and immediately found employment with Werner Enterprises. He now earns a steady pay check driving in the lower 48 states.
“It took some getting used to, driving in big cities and all that, but now that I’m doing it, it’s good,” Hardy said.
Hardy hopes to get some over-the-road-time under his belt that will eventually lead to a local job driving a truck or running equipment.
Bergeman, the Career and Technical Education Director/ Instructor, says, “Our course, including homework, state exams and coursework, takes a student about 600 hours to complete. I think it’s important to have a solid foundation before they go to work for a company.
“We have experienced instructors who can see trouble areas and stay ahead of the game. It makes things easier for students to learn when trainers like Loran St.Clair, Brad Stevens or myself, are on the watch. The Heavy Equipment program has students complete many field exercises and projects. With an emphasis on safety, students train on dozer, front end wheel loader, grader, forklift, backhoe and track hoe.
Hardy said the program prepared him well for his current job.
“The course taught me the real life environment of trucking,” Hardy said. “Like think ahead, know your equipment and always have a plan- these are things that come into play in the real world. The instructor constantly nagged about looking in the mirrors, blind spots, and especially on turns.”
Truck driving is not what it used to be! Today there are unprecedented demands with laws and regulations. Despite the challenges, truck driving is a stable occupation with a secure future.
The heavy tractor and trailer truck drivers (CDL class A) job outlook by 2020 is growing at a 21 percent demand rate, which is faster than average and an estimated 1,934,900 trucking jobs by 2020.
The job outlook for heavy equipment construction operators is up 23 percent, with an estimated 499,700 construction equipment operator jobs by 2020. This excludes many other areas of industry that require equipment operators and truck drivers (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Director/Instructor Justin Bergeman says, “Salaries in heavy and tractor trailer truck driver (CDL A), as well as heavy equipment occupations, fluctuates based on many local and national economic conditions. Current wages often begin around $37,000, entry level. Depending on location and experience, you may earn well over $70,000 driving or operating equipment. Many employers prefer graduates with CDL and Heavy Equipment credentials.”
USU Eastern Blanding’s heavy equipment and trucking program offers a 15 week course for heavy equipment and also a 15 week course in trucking with a potential for a one year certificate in heavy equipment and trucking.
Tuition and fees can have different rates than regular college classes due to higher costs associated with the equipment and other truck driving expenses.
Students may check with local agencies that assist with vocational training tuition and fees. Vocational Rehabilitation and/or Workforce agencies have assisted qualified students in the past.