Two people stand next to a semi truck

Northeast Tech Revs Up New Truck Driver Training Program in Time of Need

With all the challenges 2020 has brought, the need for truck drivers has grown exponentially. To combat this challenge, Northeast Tech has partnered with Central Tech to start a Truck Driver Training Program in Afton, Okla. 

Tyrone Thiede, Truck Driver Training program instructor, said the need for truck drivers in Oklahoma is excessively high.

“It’s getting to the point where the age group who is driving now, is starting to retire,” Thiede said. “We need to start refilling those positions. Plus, if we really start getting manufacturers going in the United States, we’ll need more and more product transported.”

The first Truck Driver Training class at Afton started in August. Students start with a CDL prep course. Then, they train at the course located in Big Cabin, Okla. At the end of this, students take their CDL test.

“We don’t just teach them to pass the test,” Thiede said. “We teach them how to safely operate the vehicle. There’s a quite a difference between passing the test and operating one of these trucks.”

During their time behind the windshield, students learn a 90-degree back, parallel parking in a truck, and an off-set. Joshua Callaway, a current student in the program, said the best experience in the program so far was getting out on the road to drive for the first time.

“This is a great program,” Callaway said. “It’s all about safety out here, and they treat you right.”

This training is for first-timers as well as those wanting to get back on the road. Darla Raney, a current student in the program, is a former truck driver of 32 years. After more than 20 years, she returns to this career with a job already lined up after she finishes the program.

“Right now, if you get certified to drive a truck there are a lot of jobs out there,” said Mike Reece, Adult Education Director at the Afton Campus. 

Though this is the first year for the Truck Driver Training program at Northeast Tech, it has been very successful the last 30 years at Central Tech. Over 95% of students who have graduated the program went on to get a truck driving job.

“Obviously, we aren’t meeting the demand for truck drivers in Northeast Oklahoma,” Reece said. “This is us trying to get enough training in this area to prepare and match people who need jobs with some of those companies who need drivers.”

The next Truck Driver Training class will take place in Spring 2021. To enroll, please contact Mike Reece at (918) 257-8324.

About Northeast Tech

Northeast Tech’s campuses are located in Afton, Kansas, Pryor and Claremore. Through its full-time daytime classes, short-term evening classes, and its business and industry services and training, Northeast Tech serves well over 34,000 patrons per year. For more information on any of the classes or training programs available, visit Northeast Tech’s website at or call (918) 825-7040.

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