U.S. Navy Veteran Finds Second Career Through Blinn College Truck Driving Program
After spending 24 years in the U.S. Navy working on the flight deck of aircraft carriers, a desk job did not feel natural to Bryan resident Tony Turcic.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck and he found himself laid off, Turcic gravitated back to a career that combined his need to stay active with a sense of purpose. He found that match in the Blinn College District’s Professional Truck Driving Program.
“It just feels right. I come home, I am exhausted, but I have got a smile on my face,” said Turcic, 57. “I needed to find something that gave me a little bit of adrenalin. It forces you to focus and really pay attention to what you are doing, which is the attention to detail that I’m used to.”
Turcic is no novice to truck driving. He initially earned his commercial driver’s license (CDL) through Blinn in 2010 and spent approximately six years driving locally and over-the-road. After letting his CDL medical card expire due to a career shift, he decided to return to Blinn in Fall 2020 to get back into an industry that is more essential than ever and experiencing a worker shortage.
“I realized during the pandemic that the one profession that did not stop working was truck driving,” said Turcic. “I would tell all the other veterans that this is a very well-paying job, depending on how you do it.”
Turcic used funds from the Post-9/11 GI Bill to pay for his 2010 training. He encourages other veterans to explore similar funding options if they are interested in a career in truck driving.
Blinn’s Professional Truck Driving Program includes classroom instruction, simulation, and experience driving on public roads and highways. Other skills include map reading, managing logbooks and cargo documentation, dispatch procedures, emergency responsibilities, and regulations of transportation agencies. At the conclusion of the program, instructors accompany students to the CDL testing facility.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers is approximately $21.76 per hour, or $45,260 per year.
Effective January 2021, the total cost of Blinn’s Professional Truck Driving Program is $5,500 and classes are held at the new Agricultural and Workforce Education Complex at the RELLIS Campus.
“This campus is remarkable,” Turcic said. “What The Texas A&M University System and Blinn have done with the RELLIS Campus in allowing us the space and opportunity to train created a phenomenal classroom,” he said. “The instructor also has a great deal of experience all over the nation and has a really good aptitude for teaching.”
Classes generally feature no more than four students at a time, which allows for focused instruction and one-on-one attention.
The Professional Truck Driving Program is part of Blinn’s Division of Technical and Community Education, which includes courses designed to provide students with the knowledge and ability they need to enter the workforce immediately after completion.
Many of these courses are a good fit for military veterans and Blinn’s Veteran Services Office can assist service members and their families with information about available benefits to help pay for these trainings.
Blinn also offers students access to scholarships through the Blinn College Foundation, private grants, and Workforce Solutions.
To learn more about upcoming classes, visit www.blinn.edu/workforce or call 979-209-7205.
For more information about Blinn’s Veteran Services Office, visit www.blinn.edu/veteran-services.