NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- During tough economic times with high unemployment, Americans should be jumping at any chance to work, but trucking companies are struggling to hire drivers.
There are as many as 200,000 job openings nationwide for long haul truckers, according to David Heller, director of safety and policy for the Truckload Carriers Association.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also sees the demand for truckers increasing, up from the 1.5 million drivers on the road now. It expects trucking to add 330,100 jobs between 2010 and 2020, an increase of 20%.
But these positions are difficult to fill, and even harder to keep filled.
"Nobody wants to drive a truck," said Heller.
The pay isn't bad: Truckers earn a median annual wage of $37,930, which is $4,000 more than the median wage for all jobs, according to the BLS. The top 10% of truck drivers make more than $58,000 per year.
So why do so many long-haul trucking jobs remain unfilled?
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First, it's difficult to get certified. The biggest hurdle for the unemployed is probably getting a commercial driver's license, which requires a training course that's up to eight weeks long and costs about $6,000.
"Drivers are put under intense scrutiny before they get into the industry, and for good reason,"
said Brett Aquila, trucker and creator of the blog TruckingTruth. "It's incredibly risky putting someone behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound truck with your company's name on it."
And when drivers do get on the road, they find the long-haul lifestyle isn't easy, living for weeks at a time in the cramped confines of the back of the truck.
"You have a gigantic culture shock when someone is suddenly living on the road in a space the size of a walk-in closet," said Aquila. "Then you have the pressure, the erratic sleep patterns, and the time away from home, family, and friends."
For these reasons, job turnover is high for truckers. At the same time, as the economy stages a gradual recovery, more new positions are becoming available.