By Jennifer Patrick, JOBS CORRESPONDENT | February 25, 2013

Hundreds of truck-driver job openings can be found posted in The Houston Chronicle each Sunday, offering candidates the chance to work behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler instead of at a desk. Some jobs are local or regional, requiring drivers to make deliveries within the city or state. But long-haul driving positions require many more hours on the road.

"Long haul usually means a person drives 48 states and Canada and is out on the road two or more weeks at a time," said Martin Garsee, MPA, program director of Transportation at Houston Community College.

A lucrative career with opportunities for employment in Houston, HCC offers a 286-hour training program that takes 12 weeks to complete if taken part-time or seven weeks if enrolled full-time.

Truck drivers must have a commercial driver license to operate any vehicle that is rated at 26,001 pounds or more, pulls a trailer rated at more than 10,000 pounds, drives a vehicle capable of hauling 16 people or more, and any vehicle that is required to display placards when hauling hazardous materials. Hauling passengers or students, hauling hazardous materials, pulling twin trailers and pulling a tank all require individual endorsements on the CDL.

"The program at HCC costs $3,375, and students can attend part-time days, nights and weekends," Martin said. "The course fee includes the required Department of Transportation drug test and physical, the cost of books, resource material, and the Class A permit and license," he said. HCC trains approximately 750 trucking students per year.

Houston is home base to many trucking companies (some of which are exclusively long-haul) looking for qualified employees ready to hit the road; more than a dozen come to HCC every month to recruit students.