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This TikTok trucker wants to get more women driving big rigs

Woman trucker making waves on TikTok
Woman trucker making waves on TikTok 05:03

One truck driver is working to solve the trucking industry's labor shortage — by inspiring more women to get behind the wheel.

From the cab of her 18-wheeler, which she's named Sparkle, Clarissa Rankin dispenses advice on family life, fuel costs and life on the road.

The Charlotte, North Carolina, mother of two has amassed more than 1.5 million followers on TikTok, making her one of the most popular truckers on the platform.

She got into the field as a matter of necessity, after a bachelor's degree in criminal justice put her more than $50,000 in debt, Rankin told CBS News' Errol Barnett. 

In her first year trucking, after obtaining her Commercial Driver's Licence (CDL), Rankin pulled in $50,000. She now makes well over $150,000 from driving — not counting the social-media endorsements, which can add another $12,000 every month. 

"I love the road. And it's a break away from life, cause the only thing you've got to worry about is driving the truck," Rankin told Barnett.

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Clarissa Rankin outside her home in North Carolina. CBS News

Rankin's husband, Joey Rankin, inspired her to take the leap into trucking. He now acts as her dispatcher, arranging her schedule so the family of four can spend as much time together as possible.

Rankin's mission is to get more women into the industry. Currently fewer than 1 in 10 truck drivers are female, according to the Women in Trucking Association. Rankin herself was turned down for the first six jobs she applied to, she told Barnett. One would-be employer told her he wouldn't hire her as a commercial driver — but would hire her as his assistant.

"A woman actually was the one who gave me my first CDL job," she told Barnett.

Michelle Locke is one of the many drivers who credit Rankin's inspirational videos for getting them into the industry. Seeing a TikTok of Rankin counting dollar bills convinced her to take the plunge into trucking.

"If she can do it, I can do it," Locke told Barnett.

"I can retire from this," she said.

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