Career Development

What Does a Flatbed Truck Driver Do?

Find out what a Flatbed Truck Driver does, how to get this job, salary information, and what it takes to succeed as a Flatbed Truck Driver.

The role of a Flatbed Truck Driver encompasses the responsibility of transporting goods, often of a wide variety or oversized nature, that require the unique capabilities of a flatbed trailer. This position demands a keen attention to detail and adherence to safety protocols, as the cargo can include anything from construction materials to heavy machinery, making securement and transport a specialized skill. Beyond the physical aspects of loading and unloading, drivers must navigate routes efficiently, maintain logs and compliance with regulations, and ensure timely delivery while upholding the highest standards of customer service. The essence of this job lies in its contribution to keeping supply chains moving smoothly, directly impacting various sectors by delivering essential goods where they are needed most.

Flatbed Truck Driver Job Duties

  • Safely operate a flatbed truck to transport goods and materials to and from specified destinations, adhering to all traffic laws.
  • Secure cargo for transport, using ropes, blocks, chains, or covers to ensure no load shifting or damage occurs during transit.
  • Inspect the flatbed truck before and after trips, checking for mechanical issues, tire pressure, and fluid levels to ensure vehicle safety and reliability.
  • Plan routes using GPS and maps, considering factors like traffic, weather conditions, and legal load limits to ensure timely deliveries.
  • Load and unload cargo, using forklifts, cranes, or by hand, coordinating with clients or site managers to ensure proper handling of materials.
  • Maintain accurate records of deliveries, including times, mileage, and fuel consumption, to comply with company policies and regulatory requirements.
  • Communicate effectively with dispatchers, clients, and other drivers to exchange information regarding routes, delays, or cargo specifics.
  • Perform emergency roadside repairs, such as changing tires or installing light bulbs, to minimize delays and ensure the safety of the cargo and vehicle.

Flatbed Truck Driver Salary & Outlook

Factors influencing a Flatbed Truck Driver’s salary include experience, the type of goods transported, company size, and individual performance. Hazardous material transport typically commands higher pay. Additionally, long-haul versus short-haul assignments and the ability to operate specialized equipment, like oversized loads, also significantly impact earnings.

  • Median Annual Salary: $65,625 ($31.55/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $112,000 ($53.85/hour)

The employment of flatbed truck drivers is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

This growth is driven by the increasing demand for the transportation of large, heavy, and oversized goods, such as construction materials and machinery, which cannot be accommodated by standard trucks, making flatbed truck drivers essential for sectors like construction, manufacturing, and energy.

Flatbed Truck Driver Job Requirements

Education: A Flatbed Truck Driver typically holds a High School Diploma, with many also possessing a Post-Secondary Certificate. Educationally, courses in logistics, transportation technology, and basic mechanics are advantageous. Majoring in transportation or logistics provides a solid foundation, emphasizing skills in navigation, safety protocols, and vehicle maintenance. This background equips candidates with the necessary knowledge to efficiently manage the unique challenges of flatbed trucking, including cargo securing and route planning.

Experience: Flatbed truck drivers typically possess a range of hands-on experience, from beginners with a few months to those with several years under their belts. Essential experience includes safe driving practices, load securing, and navigation skills. Many have gained expertise through on-the-job training, enhancing their abilities in cargo handling, vehicle maintenance, and route planning. Training programs, often provided by employers, further develop these skills, focusing on safety protocols, efficient loading techniques, and customer service. This blend of practical experience and formal training prepares drivers for the diverse challenges of flatbed trucking.

Certifications & Licenses: Flatbed truck drivers must possess a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), typically requiring a Class A endorsement for operating vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds. Endorsements such as the T (Double/Triple Trailers) endorsement may be beneficial depending on the job’s specific requirements. No other specific certifications are typically required for this role.

Flatbed Truck Driver Skills

Load Securing: Flatbed truck drivers meticulously employ straps, chains, and binders to ensure cargo remains firmly in place throughout transit. Their keen eye for detail and thorough knowledge of federal and state regulations governing cargo securement are critical to prevent load shifts that could lead to accidents or damage.

Oversize Load Transport: Handling large and heavy loads that exceed standard dimensions requires precise planning and execution. Drivers must secure permits, plan routes, and ensure load stability during transport. Their ability to adapt to unexpected road conditions or obstacles is paramount for the safety of the cargo and other road users.

Route Planning for Height and Weight Restrictions: Selecting optimal routes that accommodate the unique dimensions and loads of their cargo, drivers navigate through roads while adhering to height and weight restrictions. Their meticulous attention to detail and proactive planning ensure timely deliveries without compromising safety or incurring legal penalties.

Weather Adaptation Driving: Drivers must adapt to sudden weather changes to ensure the safety of oversized loads and maintain strict delivery schedules. Their acute awareness of road conditions and quick decision-making abilities are essential to mitigate risks associated with adverse weather.

Equipment Inspection: Conducting regular examinations of the flatbed, securing mechanisms, and the cargo itself is crucial for safe and efficient transport. This attention to detail helps prevent accidents, cargo damage, and potential roadside violations, directly impacting job performance and reliability.

Hazardous Materials Handling: The safe transport of materials that could pose a risk to health, safety, and the environment necessitates a deep knowledge of regulations and secure loading, unloading, and management of the cargo during transit. Drivers specializing in hazardous materials must stay updated on safety protocols and handling techniques to ensure their safety and that of the public.

Flatbed Truck Driver Work Environment

Flatbed truck driving involves a unique work environment where the physical setting is predominantly outdoors, navigating through diverse terrains and weather conditions. Drivers spend considerable time in their trucks, which serve as both a workspace equipped with navigation and communication tools, and a temporary living space during long hauls.

The work hours can be irregular, with early starts or late finishes, depending on delivery schedules and routes. This job requires a practical dress code focused on safety and comfort, including protective gear when securing loads.

The culture within this field is one of independence, yet it requires a high level of coordination with dispatchers, loaders, and receivers, making communication skills vital. Safety is paramount, with strict adherence to regulations to minimize risks associated with heavy equipment and cargo.

Despite the solitary nature of driving, there’s a strong sense of community among drivers, sharing tips and advice. Opportunities for professional growth are available, with experience leading to more lucrative routes or specialized cargo assignments. Technology plays a crucial role in efficient route planning and staying connected with employers and clients. Balancing work and life is challenging but essential, with companies increasingly recognizing the importance of rest for their drivers.

Advancement Prospects

Flatbed truck drivers have a unique set of advancement prospects within the transportation industry. One career path includes transitioning to an owner-operator, where drivers own their trucks and take on contracts directly, increasing earning potential. This requires a deep understanding of business operations and market dynamics.

Another option is moving into specialized transport, handling oversized loads or hazardous materials. Specialization often commands higher pay due to the additional skills and endorsements required.

Drivers may also advance into managerial roles, such as dispatch or fleet management. These positions leverage a driver’s on-the-road experience to optimize operations, manage routes, and ensure compliance with safety regulations.

Achieving these advancements typically involves gaining extensive driving experience, a strong safety record, and a willingness to undertake additional responsibilities or training specific to the new role.


What Does a Newspaper Carrier Do?

Back to Career Development

What Does a Director Of Community Engagement Do?