Truck drivers transport goods over long distances from one location to another. They drive trucks with capacities ranging from a few tons to more than 40 tons. Many drivers specialize in hauling certain types of cargo, such as lumber, over long distances. Others drive shorter distances to deliver goods locally.
Truck drivers often work long hours, weekends, holidays, and night shifts. They may need to work in all kinds of weather. They spend a lot of time on the road and away from home. Truck drivers often have to load and unload their own trucks, which can be physically demanding.
The role of the truck driver is crucial to the smooth function of the U.S. economy. It is a challenging job, but also a very rewarding and fulfilling one.
Truck Driver Job Duties
Truck drivers are responsible for a wide range of duties:
- Planning routes and choosing appropriate modes of transportation.
- Maintaining the truck, including checking fluids, changing tires, and keeping it clean.
- Loading and unloading cargo.
- Driving to destinations, including parking in designated areas.
- Reporting any accidents or incidents to management.
- Keeping records of fuel usage and other relevant information.
- Communicating with dispatchers regarding any delays or problems with deliveries.
- Scheduling regular maintenance for the truck as needed.
Truck Driver Salary & Outlook
The median annual wage for truck drivers was $47,130 in May 2020. This is approximately $24.00 per hour. The highest 10% of workers make more than $69,480.
The job outlook for truck drivers is expected to be relatively steady over the next decade. Truck drivers will be needed to transport goods across the country. As the economy grows, more goods will be transported, so more truck drivers will be needed.
Truck Driver Job Requirements
The requirements for truck drivers are as follows:
Education: Many employers prefer candidates with a high school diploma or equivalent. Truck driving is one of the few jobs that does not require formal education beyond high school.
Training: Some companies offer training programs in areas such as loading and unloading trucks, safety, and vehicle maintenance. Companies also often provide additional on-the-job training for new employees. This may be informal training, where supervisors observe and coach the employee, or it may be formal training, which takes place at a central location.
Certification: A CDL license is required to drive any commercial vehicle, including a truck. To obtain your CDL, you must pass a written test that covers topics like driving safely, obeying traffic laws, responding to emergencies and reporting crashes. You must also pass a vision test and a medical exam. You will need to renew your CDL based on the standards set by the federal government.
Truck Driver Skills
The truck driver profession requires a wide range of skills, including:
Interpersonal skills: Drivers must be able to work well with others.
Professionalism: Drivers must be professional in their interactions with other drivers, law enforcement officers, and the general public.
Driving skills: The ability to drive large vehicles safely is crucial for this job.
Mechanical knowledge: A basic understanding of vehicle mechanics is necessary for success in this field.
Resourcefulness: Truck drivers must be able to solve problems on the fly and use their creativity to get out of sticky situations.
Good judgment: Drivers must possess good judgment in order to avoid accidents and drive safely at all times.
Stamina: Truck driving can be physically demanding work that requires long hours behind the wheel.
Truck Driver Work Environment
A truck driver’s work is both physically and mentally demanding. Truck drivers spend most of their working day on the road and much of the time alone. This means they must be self-reliant, able to make quick decisions, and comfortable with solitude.
They also need to be in good physical condition. The job requires the ability to drive for extended periods of time without getting tired. Truck drivers must also be mentally alert, as being on the road for long periods of time can cause mental fatigue.
Truck Driver Career Advancement
If you are looking to advance within trucking, it is important to be aware of the many opportunities available. Some drivers go on to become fleet managers, while others opt for operations manager positions. Regardless of your ultimate goal, there are numerous routes that can lead you there. The best way to make progress in this field is to remain engaged with your professional community. Join industry groups, attend conferences, and network with other professionals whenever possible. This will keep you informed about new opportunities as they appear.
How to Become a Truck Driver
1. Planning Your Career Path
If you want to become a truck driver, there are several options for getting started. As you research your potential career path, be sure to find out what training and experience you need to get your foot in the door and be successful in the field.
Some truck drivers begin as owner-operators and use their own truck to deliver freight, while others find work as part of a trucking company and drive a truck provided by their employer. The position can be lucrative, but the tradeoff is that the work can be strenuous and requires long hours.
2. Writing a Resume
For truck driver positions, the most effective resumes highlight your knowledge of the industry and the experience you have driving large vehicles. Be sure to include any relevant certifications or licenses that may be applicable for this position. You may also want to describe any special skills you have such as loading and unloading heavy cargo or driving in difficult weather conditions.
3. Applying for Jobs
When applying for truck driving jobs, look for companies that have an excellent reputation. Talk to friends and family who are truck drivers and ask them about their experiences. You can also use online resources to find the best trucking companies to work for. The trucking industry is booming, so it’s a great time to be looking for a job.
4. Ace the Interview
To prepare for an interview as a truck driver candidate, it is important to think about the specific type of driving you will be doing. If you have any questions about what kind of license you will need, make sure to ask the employer ahead of time so that you can show up prepared.
When it comes time for the interview itself, make sure that your attire matches that of your potential co-workers. Dress appropriately and be on time; this demonstrates professionalism and respect for other people’s time. In addition, if possible, bring a copy of your resume with references — this shows initiative and responsibility.