Truck Drivers usually work for transportation companies specialized in carrying goods instead of people. They do as their title suggests, they operate heavy trucks in order to transport goods from one location to another. The type of goods transported can vary greatly from one customer to the other. Some of the most common goods they work with are food, materials (e.g. wood, coal, cement, or waste), and sometimes even livestock. Due to the risk it represents to drive a vehicle of such dimensions, Truck Drivers must also keep in touch with their supervisor at all times.
There are two basic types of trucks, light and heavy load. Cargo weighting less than 26,000 pounds is considered light or medium. On the other hand, should it exceed that weight, it is then considered a heavy load. Trucks carrying heavy loads require special qualities to ensure the safety of the cargo, the driver, and the other vehicles on the road.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Truck Drivers are required to complete.
- Performing mechanical checks to ensure the vehicle is in proper working conditions:
- Inspecting all parts and functions of the vehicle;
- filling a report based on inspection results; and
- reporting malfunctioning vehicles and mechanical failures to the supervisors.
- Adhering to the applicable traffic laws for the type of vehicle they operate:
- Following safety procedures and protocols;
- being aware of any particular condition on the road;
- driving only through designated roads and lanes; and
- adhering to driving time restrictions.
- Inspecting the cargo to ensure it is safe:
- Making sure all cargo is safely loaded;
- checking cargo documentation to ensure completeness and accuracy;
- ensuring that all cargo is properly fastened; and
- making sure special needs for cargo are met, if any (e.g. refrigerating food, special fastening for fragile cargo, and proper loading of livestock).
- Driving trucks with special accommodations for the type of goods they’re transporting:
- Operating light or heavy loads trucks;
- driving the vehicle to specialized weighting facilities before and after loading cargo; and
- minding the special requirements (e.g. refrigeration for frozen foods, special fastening for fragile items, and air, water, and food for livestock) of each type of vehicle.
- Setting the vehicle into loading and unloading positions at the designated areas:
- Following instructions of loading and unloading crews; and
- operating loading and unloading machines when needed.
- Performing basic and routine vehicle maintenance tasks (e.g. changing or adding motor oil, fuel, radiator cooling liquid, or making minor repairs).
- Maintaining records of working hours, goods transported, and vehicle repair status:
- Keeping an activity log; and
- completing status reports and documentation and filing them with their employer.
- Keeping records of infractions, traffic violations, or damages caused by accidents:
- Reporting all infractions, fines, and other violations to the employer; and
- notifying the employer about accidents, crashes, or other hazards (e.g. flat tires, malfunctioning motor, or overheating).
- Obtaining signed receipts of delivery for transported goods:
- Collecting transport fees when necessary; and
- delivering acknowledgement of receipt back to the employer’s headquarters.
- Operating light or heavy load transport trucks.
- Inventorying and securing loaded cargo.
- Adhering to the applicable traffic laws for the type of vehicle they operate.
- Loading and unloading cargo using special equipment.
- Obtaining signed receipts after delivery of goods.
- Inspecting vehicles to check for malfunctions.
- Performing minor repairs and maintenance tasks to the vehicle.
- Keeping records of activities and transported goods.
The average Truck Driver salary in USA is $52,175 per year or $27 per hour. This is around 1.8 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $37,000 while most experienced workers make up to $73,000. These results are based on 414,265 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Exceptional mechanical and driving skills:
- Displaying outstanding levels of alertness so as to be aware of their surroundings, as well as to be able to identify and prevent risks and avoid accidents;
- staying alert and awake during long hours of driving;
- being able to operate light or heavy cargo trucks;
- monitoring the status of the truck and the cargo and conducting regular check-ups on the vehicle; and
- being able to perform minor mechanical maintenance or repair tasks, as needed.
- High levels of self-reliance and resourcefulness:
- Accepting being away from home most of the time;
- working alone for long periods of time; and
- being capable of solving minor problems without help.
- Excellent physical condition and stamina:
- Being able to endure long journeys;
- enduring different types of climate and weather conditions;
- having the necessary physical strength to operate a truck, as well as to load and unload cargo; and
- having good eyesight, especially when working at night.
- Great stress and time management skills:
- Working according to schedules;
- delivering cargo in a timely manner; and
- being able to assess situations and emergencies independently.
- Good interpersonal and communication skills:
- Interacting with loading and unloading crews; and
- liaising with employers and customers.
- High levels of honesty, integrity, and reliability.
Truck Drivers are required a certain list of qualifications to be able to apply for a job. The applicant needs to be an American citizen, or a foreigner who has all their legal documents updated. Furthermore, in most cases, transport companies require their employees to have completed at least secondary education, be at least 21 years old, and have a perfect driving record. Most Truck Drivers positions require a minimum of 3 months to 3 years of work experience.
Additionally, it is necessary to have attended a truck driving school. The most important qualification is having the proper and valid Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to operate light or heavy cargo transport trucks. In order to get a CDL, Drivers need to pass a driving and a written test, whose evaluated content will vary depending on the state. Furthermore, in order to transport hazardous materials, applicants will be required to pass the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). All aspirants will also need to pass the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) exam, which consists on a written test about laws and traffic regulations and a physical test that includes visual and hearing examinations.