Career Development

What Does a Truck Driver Do?

Find out what a truck driver does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a truck driver.

Truck drivers are responsible for the safe transportation of goods and materials. They spend their days on the road driving trucks that are specially designed to carry large or heavy cargo.

Truck drivers must adhere to strict safety regulations when they’re on the job. They also have to deal with unpredictable weather conditions, traffic congestion, and other obstacles that can affect the flow of their deliveries.

Truck Driver Job Duties

Truck drivers have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Driving large trucks along established routes, often requiring overnight stays in hotels or motels
  • Performing pre-trip inspections of vehicle and cargo to ensure safety and compliance with federal regulations
  • Evaluating traffic conditions to determine the best route for deliveries based on time constraints, hazards, and other considerations
  • Reporting mechanical problems, accidents, or other issues that could affect the safety of your cargo or other drivers on the road
  • Observing federal regulations regarding the transportation of hazardous materials
  • Driving tractor trailers over long distances, often away from home for days at a time
  • Maintaining accurate records of cargo deliveries, including any accidents or delays that occurred during transport
  • Communicating with dispatchers regarding any delays or problems that occur during transport
  • Following federal regulations regarding hours behind the wheel, including mandated breaks and maximum time spent on duty

Truck Driver Salary & Outlook

Truck drivers’ salaries vary depending on their level of experience, the type of truck they drive, and the company for which they work.

  • Median Annual Salary: $66,500 ($31.97/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $112,000 ($53.85/hour)

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

Truck drivers will be needed to continue to deliver goods across the country as the economy grows and e-commerce continues to increase the volume of goods shipped. However, automation may limit the need for some truck drivers.

Trucks are increasingly being outfitted with technology that allows them to drive themselves. As a result, demand for truck drivers who can operate these large vehicles is expected to decline.

Related: In-Depth Truck Driver Salary Guide

Truck Driver Job Requirements

Truck drivers typically need to have the following qualifications:

Education: Most employers require truck drivers to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Some employers may require a post-secondary certificate or an associate’s degree.

Training & Experience: Most training for a truck driver happens on the job. Training for this position may last for a few weeks to a month. Training often includes learning the company’s policies and procedures, how to use the company’s fleet management system and how to operate the vehicles. Training may also include how to load and unload cargo and how to handle hazardous materials.

Certifications & Licenses: After getting your CDL, you can get some certifications to increase the range of vehicles you can drive and show driving competence.

Truck Driver Skills

Truck drivers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Time management: Truck drivers must be able to manage their time effectively to ensure they complete all of their duties on time. This includes knowing how long it takes to drive from one location to another, how long it takes to unload or load a truck and how long it takes to complete paperwork. Knowing how long each task takes can help a truck driver plan their day and prioritize their tasks.

Attention to detail: Truck drivers must be able to follow directions and complete tasks with attention to detail. This is important for ensuring the safety of the cargo and the driver. Truck drivers must also be able to follow directions from dispatchers and read maps accurately.

Driving skills: Truck drivers need to have excellent driving skills to maneuver large trucks through traffic and on highways. They need to be able to drive defensively and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Truck drivers need to be able to drive in all types of weather conditions and on all types of road surfaces.

Communication: Communication is the ability to convey information to others in a clear and understandable way. Truck drivers use communication skills to interact with their passengers, other drivers and their supervisors. They also use communication skills to send and receive messages through their radios.

Problem-solving: Truck drivers use their problem-solving skills to navigate through traffic, find the quickest route to their destination and avoid accidents. They also use problem-solving skills to identify mechanical issues with their truck and find solutions to repair them.

Truck Driver Work Environment

Truck drivers typically work long hours, often driving for 10 or more hours at a time. They may be away from home for days or weeks at a time, and they often have to deal with traffic congestion, bad weather, and other hazards. Truck drivers must be able to stay alert and focused during their long hours on the road. They also need to be able to deal with the stress of being away from home and family for long periods of time.

Truck Driver Trends

Here are three trends influencing how truck drivers work. Truck drivers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Driver Shortage Will Continue to Impact the Trucking Industry

The truck driver shortage is a trend that is set to continue to impact the trucking industry in the years to come. This is due to the fact that there are not enough people interested in becoming truck drivers, which has led to a lack of qualified candidates.

As the truck driver shortage continues to grow, trucking companies will need to find new ways to attract and retain drivers. This may include offering better pay and benefits, as well as providing more opportunities for career growth.

Driverless Trucks Are Coming

Driverless trucks are coming, and they are going to have a major impact on the trucking industry. As this technology becomes more popular, truck drivers will be put out of work and forced to find new jobs.

Truck drivers who want to stay ahead of the curve should consider learning how to operate driverless trucks. This will give them an edge over other drivers and make them more attractive to potential employers.

More Driver Training Is Needed

The trucking industry is facing a driver shortage, which means that there is a greater demand for qualified drivers. This is leading to increased demand for driver training, as businesses look for ways to ensure that their drivers are prepared for the challenges that they will face on the road.

Truck drivers who are able to demonstrate that they have received proper training will be more attractive to potential employers, as they will be able to show that they have the skills necessary to safely and efficiently transport goods.

How to Become a Truck Driver

There are many different ways to become a truck driver. You can start by getting your commercial driver’s license (CDL), which requires you to pass a written test and a driving test. You can also get certified in specialized areas, such as tankers or doubles.

Once you have your CDL, you can find work with a trucking company. Many companies offer training programs that will help you learn the skills you need to be a successful truck driver. They may also provide additional training on specific types of trucks.

Related: How to Write a Truck Driver Resume

Advancement Prospects

Truck drivers typically start out as entry-level drivers, driving smaller vehicles with less responsibility. As they gain experience, they may move up to larger vehicles, such as tractor-trailers, and may be given more responsibility, such as hauling hazardous materials. Some truck drivers eventually become independent owner-operators of their own trucks.

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