Plenty of jobs and high wages on offer in Permian Basin for qualified drivers.

Few regions are as aware of the tight demand for qualified truck drivers as the oil and natural gas-rich Permian Basin in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico.

The American Trucking Association (ATA) says that the estimated 50,000-driver shortfall that it anticipated by the end of 2017 could more than triple to 174,000 by 2026.

Plenty of employers affiliated with the Permian oil and gas sector are ready to pay handsomely for drivers with the expertise to haul drill pipe, equipment, frac sand and other shipments.

Louis Gonzales, associate dean of Odessa College’s Continuing Education and Workforce Training unit, confirmed that trucking opportunities abound in the region.

“CDL drivers in the Permian Basin are in high demand at this time,” said Gonzales, whose division oversees the college’s four-week CDL Truck Driving Academy. “You will see ‘Hiring CDL Drivers’ signs all around,” he told industry publication Rigzone.

Gonzales said the keen demand for CDL drivers translates into career opportunities for students of various ages and backgrounds.

“Any qualified applicant has a great opportunity for employment,” Gonzales noted, adding that more experienced drivers can also land positions with larger companies that offer attractive incentive and benefit packages.

Gonzales said large companies like Halliburton, Pioneer Natural Resources and Key Energy are actively seeking drivers.

In addition, CDL drivers who add tanker, hazardous material (hazmat) and other endorsements significantly boost their marketability in the Permian.

Although being a CDL driver can be a rewarding career, the work is not for everyone, with Gonzales describing it as a fast-paced, high-demand environment that often required drivers to sacrifice time at home.

An increased demand for CDL drivers from the broader business community in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico is making an already tough recruiting situation even more challenging.

Heavy competition for qualified staff creates demands to be creative in employment offerings, including many companies offering relocation and sign-on bonuses.