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Become An Equipment Operator-Driver

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Working As An Equipment Operator-Driver

  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Getting Information
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Controlling Machines and Processes
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Stressful

  • $28,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Equipment Operator-Driver Do

Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers transport goods from one location to another. Most tractor-trailer drivers are long-haul drivers and operate trucks with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) capacity of more than 26,000 pounds. These drivers deliver goods over intercity routes, sometimes spanning several states.

Duties

Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers typically do the following:

  • Drive long distances
  • Report to a dispatcher any incidents encountered on the road
  • Follow all applicable traffic laws
  • Inspect their trailers before and after the trip, and record any defects they find
  • Maintain a log of their working hours, following all federal and state regulations
  • Report serious mechanical problems to the appropriate personnel
  • Keep their trucks and associated equipment clean and in good working order

Most heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers’ routes are assigned by a dispatcher, but some independent drivers still plan their own routes. They may use satellite tracking to help them plan.

A driver must know which roads allow trucks and which do not. Drivers also must plan legally required rest periods into their trip. Some drivers have one or two routes that they drive regularly, and others drivers take many different routes throughout the country. Also, some drivers have routes that include Mexico or Canada.

Companies sometimes use two drivers, known as teams, on long runs in order to minimize downtime. On these team runs, one driver sleeps in a berth behind the cab while the other drives.

Certain cargo requires drivers to adhere to additional safety regulations. Some heavy truck drivers who transport hazardous materials, such as chemical waste, must take special precautions when driving, and may carry specialized safety equipment in case of an accident. Other drivers, such as those carrying liquids, oversized loads, or cars, must follow rules that apply specifically to them.

Some long-haul truck drivers, called owner–operators, buy or lease trucks and go into business for themselves. In addition to their driving tasks, owner-operators also have business tasks, including finding and keeping clients and doing administrative work, such as accounting.

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How To Become An Equipment Operator-Driver

Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers usually have a high school diploma and attend a professional truckdriving school. They must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

Education

Most companies require their truck drivers to have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Many companies require drivers to attend professional truckdriving schools, where they take training courses to learn how to maneuver large vehicles on highways or through crowded streets. During these classes, drivers also learn the federal laws and regulations governing interstate truck driving. Students attend either a private truckdriving school or a program at a community college that lasts between 3 and 6 months.

Upon finishing their classes, drivers receive a certificate of completion.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is considering a requirement that mandates all newly hired interstate truck drivers to take a truckdriving course.

The Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) certifies a small percentage of driver-training courses at truckdriver training schools that meet both the industry standards and the U.S. Department of Transportation guidelines for training tractor-trailer drivers.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All long-haul truck drivers must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Qualifications for obtaining a CDL vary by state but generally include passing both a knowledge test and a driving test. States have the right to refuse to issue a CDL to anyone who has had a CDL suspended by another state.

Drivers can get endorsements to their CDL that show their ability to drive a specialized type of vehicle. Truck drivers transporting hazardous materials (HAZMAT) must have a hazardous materials endorsement (H). Getting this endorsement requires passing an additional knowledge test and a background check.

Federal regulations require random testing of on-duty truck drivers for drug or alcohol abuse. In addition, truck drivers can have their CDL suspended if they are convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or are convicted of a felony involving the use of a motor vehicle.

Other actions can result in a suspension after multiple violations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website has a list of these violations. Additionally, some companies have stricter standards than what federal regulations require.

Training

After completing truckdriving school and being hired by a company, drivers normally receive between 1 and 3 months of on-the-job training. During this time, they drive a truck with a more experienced mentor–driver in the passenger seat. This period of on-the-job training is given so that the new drivers will learn more about the specific type of truck they will drive and material they will transport.

Important Qualities

Hand-eye coordination. Drivers of heavy trucks and tractor-trailers must be able to coordinate their legs, hands, and eyes simultaneously so that they will react appropriately to the situation around them and drive the vehicle safely.

Hearing ability. Truck drivers need good hearing. Federal regulations require that a driver be able to hear a forced whisper in one ear at 5 feet (with or without the use of a hearing aid).

Physical health. Federal regulations do not allow people to become truck drivers if they have a medical condition, such as high blood pressure or epilepsy, which may interfere with their ability to operate a truck. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website has a full list of medical conditions that disqualify someone from driving a long-haul truck.

Visual ability. Truck drivers must be able to pass vision tests. Federal regulations require a driver to have at least 20/40 vision with a 70-degree field of vision in each eye and the ability to distinguish the colors on a traffic light.

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Equipment Operator-Driver Career Paths

Equipment Operator-Driver
Driver Foreman Superintendent
Project Superintendent
10 Yearsyrs
Driver Technician Field Service Technician
Service Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Driver Foreman Supervisor
Warehouse Manager
5 Yearsyrs
CDL Driver Technician Maintenance Supervisor
Maintenance Director
11 Yearsyrs
CDL Driver Technician Foreman
Construction Manager
9 Yearsyrs
CDL Driver Truck Driver Class A Electrician
General Contractor
5 Yearsyrs
Operator Specialist Shift Supervisor
Plant Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Operator Electrician Supervisor
Site Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Operator Electrician Owner
Construction Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
Transportation Driver Emergency Medical Technician Operation Supervisor
Logistics Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Transportation Driver Mail Clerk Logistics Coordinator
Transportation Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Transportation Driver Specialist Operation Supervisor
Terminal Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Crane Operator Maintenance Technician Shop Foreman
Fleet Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Crane Operator Millwright Owner
General Superintendent
11 Yearsyrs
Crane Operator Millwright Owner/Operator
Operator And Truck Driver
5 Yearsyrs
CDL Class A Driver Emergency Medical Technician Safety Officer
Quality Control Manager
7 Yearsyrs
CDL Class A Driver Field Service Technician Warehouse Manager
Warehouse Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Dump Truck Driver Tractor-Trailer Driver Tank Driver
Lead Driver
5 Yearsyrs
Truck Driver Class A Mail Clerk Logistics Coordinator
Driver Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Dump Truck Driver Tank Driver Professional Truck Driver
Flatbed Truck Driver
6 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Truck Driver 3.9 years
Equipment Operator 3.7 years
Driver 3.1 years
CDL Driver 3.0 years
Loader Operator 2.9 years
Operator 2.9 years
Equipment Driver 2.8 years
Labour Operator 2.7 years
Truck Operator 2.6 years
Haul Truck Driver 2.6 years
Tractor Driver 2.6 years
Dump Truck Driver 2.3 years
Top Careers Before Equipment Operator-Driver
Driver 22.5%
Foreman 2.8%
Operator 2.6%
Owner 2.4%
Welder 2.4%
CDL Driver 2.2%
Mechanic 2.0%
Carpenter 2.0%
Top Careers After Equipment Operator-Driver
Driver 29.8%
Operator 2.9%
CDL Driver 2.6%
Foreman 1.8%
Supervisor 1.7%

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Top Skills for An Equipment Operator-Driver

  1. Heavy Equipment
  2. Safety Meetings
  3. Dump Truck
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Installed a variety of irrigation systems, landscaping for residential and commercial properties and maintained and operated heavy equipment.
  • Conducted safety meetings and production meetings.
  • JOB DUTIES: Delivered Products to Customers, Operated Wheel Loader, Drove Dump Truck, Loaded Trucks
  • Load and deliver equipment safely and to deliver materials to and from job sites, help the plumbers when needed.
  • Operated pneumatic tankers hauling sand, cement, and fly ash for oil fracturing well sites.

Equipment Operator-Driver Demographics

Gender

Male

86.2%

Unknown

9.5%

Female

4.3%
Ethnicity

White

63.9%

Hispanic or Latino

17.2%

Black or African American

10.9%

Asian

4.8%

Unknown

3.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

75.0%

Dakota

12.5%

Russian

6.3%

Carrier

6.3%
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Equipment Operator-Driver Education

Schools

The Academy

15.7%

University of Phoenix

10.8%

Community College of the Air Force

6.0%

A-Technical College

6.0%

Tyler Junior College

4.8%

El Paso Community College

4.8%

Weber State University

4.8%

Diesel Driving Academy

3.6%

New Castle School of Trades

3.6%

New England Tractor Trailer Training School

3.6%

Del Mar College

3.6%

York Technical College

3.6%

Universal Technical Institute

3.6%

Tarrant County College District

3.6%

Rose State College

3.6%

Eastern New Mexico University

3.6%

Northern Oklahoma College

3.6%

Salt Lake Community College

3.6%

San Diego State University

3.6%

Monroe Community College

3.6%
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Majors

Business

19.8%

Automotive Technology

10.0%

General Studies

9.5%

Criminal Justice

6.8%

Precision Metal Working

6.4%

General Education, Specific Areas

5.4%

Electrical Engineering Technology

4.4%

Heavy/Industrial Equipment Maintenance Technologies

4.2%

Industrial Technology

3.7%

Education

3.7%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

3.2%

Graphic Design

3.2%

Engineering

2.9%

Computer Science

2.7%

Accounting

2.7%

Fire Science And Protection

2.4%

Management

2.4%

Construction Management

2.4%

Communication

2.2%

Electrical Engineering

2.0%
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Degrees

Other

53.5%

Associate

16.8%

Bachelors

11.7%

Certificate

11.2%

Diploma

3.6%

License

1.6%

Masters

1.4%

Doctorate

0.1%
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Top Equipment Operator-Driver Employers

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