If you’re not happy with your job, have you ever considered getting behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler?

There is a shortage of truck drivers across the country, including right here in New Jersey.

“We have a very aging population of drivers, and so it’s just getting worse,” said Gail Toth, the executive director New Jersey Motor Truck Association.

She pointed out, “You have to have a qualified driver, someone with a CDL, someone with a good record that’s insurable, so you can’t get like an 18-year-old, you know.”

“When you don’t have the experience, it’s very expensive to insure a driver."

Toth said there’s been a big push lately to hire veterans, “but we still need more help.”

She noted as the truck driver population has aged, “the economy is heating up and we just don’t have enough drivers to go along with what’s needed out there.”

Toth explained the shortage used to only be with the long-distance drivers who wouldn’t come home for weeks at a time, but the problem is now spreading to all sectors of the industry.

“We’re not seeing even your, what we call P&D — pickup and delivery drivers. There’s a shortage, so that’s kind of frightening.”

She said to help attract more drivers, there’s been increasing talk about an apprenticeship program and perhaps combining truck driving with a college associate degree program. And if Millennials aren’t happy working in an office environment, they should consider trucking as an option.

“These days all the trucks are very high-tech, lots of bells and whistles and computers.”

She noted the pay scale for truckers has been moving up, with the average driver starting in the $45,000 a year range. But some experienced long distance drivers can make twice that amount.

“You know a lot of people like the adventure of it, or out being your own boss, so to speak.”

She added you don’t have to be a man to drive a truck.

“More and more women are getting into trucking and I think it’s something worthwhile looking at if they’re not happy with where they are and they want to do something different.”

Toth said in some areas, the truck driver shortage could soon start having an effect on prices.

“If trucking companies have to increase the pay significantly just to get people in the seat, then expenses go up and ultimately, yes, it does have an impact. You’re going to have to pay more for the transportation costs.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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