On Campus: Donated Tanker Will Boost Harper Students' Marketability

Harper College this week added a donated tanker trailer to its truck driving training program's ranks, with an eye on further boosting students' marketability in the job-rich industry.

It took Brian Fields one month to complete Harper College’s truck driving training program.

In the year since, he has secured a top-paying specialty – he can now drive tanker trucks – and a game plan for someday owning his own line.

He’s getting closer to that goal every day.

“I have a system. I work it like a business,” says Fields, who earned his A+ computer certification at Harper before tackling the trucking program. “If you’re good at what you’re doing, you can make this pay well.”

This week, he joined Harper instructors and College officials at a dedication ceremony for the program’s newest addition: a donated tanker trailer that will further bolster students’ marketability in an industry that already suffers from a shortage of qualified drivers.

The tanker, a donation from Oak Brook-based Superior Bulk Logistics, Inc., is a rarity among programs nationwide, and will give students immediate access to a specialty with earning power.

“There are jobs – a lot of jobs – in this industry. Sometimes our students are hired when they’re still enrolled in our program; others are hired on the spot afterward,” says Norma Nerstrom, the College’s Continuing Education Career Training manager. “This tanker will offer our students even more of an edge by preparing them more thoroughly for the road and for career success.”

Tankers drive differently than the trucks students often train in, Fields and others explained, since they’re filled with a liquid that can fluidly shift as the truck moves and brakes.

Instructors will be specially trained to teach tanker driving.

Harper’s four-week truck driving training program includes classroom, yard and on-the-road experience. Those who finish the training are able to immediately take the state licensure exam at the College as part of the program.

The class is offered nearly every month.

“These trucks represent a lot of livelihoods,” said Harper President Dr. Kenneth Ender, who climbed into the tanker’s cab for a look around after formally accepting the donation, “and a lot of futures.”

For Fields, who has a background in the military and law enforcement and was on the hunt for a new career, truck driving presented a perfect option at an opportune time.

Driving tankers pays well, he says – but he also just loves the feeling of being on the road on his own, managing his own time and making his own decisions.

“It really teaches you a lot about life,” he says. “It’s an ever-evolving business, and it requires a lot of you, but you could have a job the next week" after training.

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