Truck Driver

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Truck Driver


As children, most of us saw the big transport trucks going by and squealed excitedly as the truckdriver honked the loud horn. Truckdrivers play an essential role in the transportation of goods and materials across the country. They operate heavy trucks to transport goods and materials over urban, interurban, state and international routes. Grocery stores, retail outlets, hospitals and schools are just a few examples of the institutions and businesses that depend on goods delivered, many times by truck.

Truckdrivers' workloads and schedules vary, depending on the goods being transported and the distances traveled. Local truckdrivers start out in the morning with a loaded truck and make deliveries all day, returning to the warehouse or plant at the end of the day. Long distance truckdrivers move goods between cities and across the continent. They often work long hours and travel at night sometimes they may be away for a week or longer. Drivers on short runs may transport loaded trailers to nearby cities, pick up different loads for the return trip, and return to their starting point the same day.

Most times drivers work alone however, for long hauls they sometimes work in pairs. One driver sleeps in a berth behind the truck cab while the other drives. On these runs, the truck keeps moving day and night except for stops to refuel and to eat. Some truck drivers do runs with their spouses who also work as drivers, or take them as passengers when working for companies that allow a passenger in the cab.

Truckdrivers must be able to drive in all kinds of weather, traffic and road conditions. These workers must be physically fit and able to load and unload or do heavy lifting (over 60 pounds) as required. They must also have good eyesight and a clean driving record.
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
Median Salary:
Highest 10% of Earners:

  Interests and Skills  
These workers are interested in driving and hauling freight for a living. They are skilled drivers and able to use computerized positioning systems common in the industry to document their route and location. Truckdrivers have a high level of concentration and the ability to react in emergency situations. They are also mechanically inclined and able to make minor repairs as needed. Although there is a lot of sitting in this job, drivers must be physically fit and able to lift products up to 60 pounds and over.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Operate and drive trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds with three or more axles to transport goods and material to destinations
  • Inspect brakes, tires, lights, horns, and cooling and refrigeration equipment before leaving the warehouse or terminal
  • Oversee all functions of vehicles, such as condition of equipment, loading and unloading, and safety and security of cargo
  • Conduct security checks and inspections en route
  • Obtain special permits and other documents required to transport cargo on international routes
  • Record cargo information, distance travelled, fuel consumption and other information in log book or on on-board computer
  • Receive and relay information to central dispatcher
  • May drive as part of a team or convoy
  • May transport hazardous products or dangerous goods
  • May drive lighter, special purpose trucks
  • Besides driving ability truckdrivers also need to know how to operate the on-board computer devices commonly used in the transportation industry. They must have good concentration skills and the ability to react quickly to emergency situations. Truckdrivers must be able to work well alone, (for long hauls) and be able to work well with another person sharing a truck cab on long haul two-person runs. They must also be able to sit for long periods of time

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Truckdrivers work in many different capacities. They are employed by transportation companies, manufacturing and distribution companies, moving companies or they may be self-employed.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Truckdrivers may move into related areas such as operations (freight handling, dock supervision, dispatching) or communications (tracking the movement of shipments and trucks). Self employment is also an option. Drivers who have business knowledge and skills may choose to purchase their own trucks or fleet of trucks.

  Educational Paths  
To become a truckdriver some secondary school is required. Grade 10 is acceptable, grade 12 is preferred. They must acquire a driver's license appropriate to the class of vehicle they will be driving. Air brake endorsement is required for drivers who operate vehicles equipped with air brakes and drivers who transport hazardous products or dangerous goods must be certified by employers. Training for these positions is done on the job and through driving courses or classes as required.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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