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Become A Heavy Truck Driver

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Working As A Heavy Truck 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

  • $51,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Heavy Truck 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 A Heavy Truck 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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Average Length of Employment
Heavy Truck Driver 4.0 years
Truck Driver 3.9 years
Trailer Driver 3.9 years
Driver 3.1 years
CDL Driver 3.0 years
Log Truck Driver 2.9 years
Fuel Truck Driver 2.6 years
Haul Truck Driver 2.6 years
Local Truck Driver 2.5 years
Dump Truck Driver 2.3 years
Water Truck Driver 1.5 years
Top Careers Before Heavy Truck Driver
Truck Driver 24.8%
Driver 13.3%
Supervisor 3.3%
Foreman 3.0%
Bus Driver 3.0%
Owner 2.1%
Mechanic 2.1%
Top Careers After Heavy Truck Driver
Truck Driver 22.8%
Driver 15.8%
Foreman 4.3%
Bus Driver 3.7%
Mechanic 2.1%

Do you work as a Heavy Truck Driver?

Average Yearly Salary
$51,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$27,000
Min 10%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$94,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Halliburton
Highest Paying City
Newport News, VA
Highest Paying State
District of Columbia
Avg Experience Level
4.0 years
How much does a Heavy Truck Driver make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Heavy Truck Driver in the United States is $51,084 per year or $25 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $27,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $94,000.

Real Heavy Truck Driver Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Truck Drivers, Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Center Coal ND Oct 01, 2015 $54,095
Truck Drivers, Heavy Triple Crown Mafucci Storage Corp. North Amityville, NY Jun 22, 2010 $52,175
Truck Drivers, Heavy Kings Ready Mix, Inc. New York, NY Jan 03, 2008 $49,420
Truck Drivers, Heavy B.S.C. Construction LLC NJ Oct 07, 2010 $48,485
Truck Driver, Heavy Dunmak Inc. GA Mar 01, 2012 $48,084
Truck Drivers, Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Center Coal ND Oct 01, 2014 $46,811
Truck Driver, Heavy Northern Improvement Company ND May 01, 2011 $46,331
Truck Driver, Heavy Duran Freight Corporation CA Mar 01, 2012 $46,311
Truck Drivers, Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Triple Crown Mafucci Storage Corp. North Amityville, NY Oct 29, 2012 $46,000
Truck Driver, Heavy Somerset Hills Towing Inc. Bedminster, NJ Jan 10, 2008 $45,914
Truck Drivers, Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Connecticut Mulch Distributors, Inc. Enfield, CT Feb 08, 2010 $45,622
Heavy Truck Driver Cargo Taxi Corporation Princeton, NJ Apr 08, 2015 $44,928
Heavy Truck Driver Cargo Taxi Corporation Princeton, NJ Mar 11, 2015 $44,928
Truck Driver, Heavy JEH & Sons Transportation TX Jan 01, 2012 $44,057
Truck Drivers, Heavy Falcon UHP, Inc. Warrenton, VA Oct 12, 2007 $41,573
Truck Driver, Heavy HWS LLC Sterling, VA Sep 28, 2009 $41,573
Heavy Truck Driver A. Dahl Trucking IA Apr 15, 2015 $41,281
Truck Driver, Heavy Vince Renner Trucking LLC MT Mar 09, 2012 $39,090
Heavy Truck Trailer Driver Beacon Transport Smyrna, TN Jun 05, 2012 $38,244
Truck Drivers, Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Positive Trucking, Inc. Indiantown, FL Jul 16, 2013 $37,336
Truck Driver Heavy Positive Trucking. Inc. Indiantown, FL Feb 22, 2012 $37,336
Truck Drivers, Heavy and Tractor-Trailer J & K Transport, Inc. New York, NY Mar 08, 2010 $37,253
Heavy Truck Driver Global Service LLC Hallandale Beach, FL Apr 01, 2016 $36,898
Heavy Truck Driver Global Service LLS Hallandale Beach, FL Oct 31, 2016 $36,898
Heavy Truck Driver Global Service LLC Hallandale Beach, FL Feb 15, 2016 $36,898
Truck Drivers, Heavy and Trailer Manuel Huerta Trucking Inc. Rio Rico, AZ Nov 08, 2007 $36,000
Truck Driivers, Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Manuel Huerta Trucking Inc. Rio Rico, AZ Oct 17, 2007 $36,000 -
$48,000
Truck Drivers Heavy and Trailer Manuel Huerta Trucking Inc. Rio Rico, AZ Mar 07, 2008 $36,000 -
$54,000
Track Drivers, Heavy and Trailer Manuel Huerta Trucking Inc. Rio Rico, AZ Nov 08, 2007 $36,000
Truck Drivers, Heavy and Trailer Manuel Huerta Trucking Inc. Rio Rico, AZ Apr 04, 2008 $36,000

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Top Skills for A Heavy Truck Driver

  1. Customer Vehicles
  2. Safety Rules
  3. Delivery Instructions
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Checked the vehicle regularly for any potential breakdowns, changed oil and preserved safety rules.
  • Maintained telephone or radio contact with supervisor to receive delivery instructions.
  • Loaded and transported heavy equipment and machinery.
  • Operated tractor-trailer combinations within local area transporting expired food products from storage facilities to landfills.
  • Drive trucks with capacities greater than 3 tons, to transport and deliver products, livestock, or other materials.

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Top 10 Best States for Heavy Truck Drivers

  1. Wyoming
  2. North Dakota
  3. Illinois
  4. Alaska
  5. Pennsylvania
  6. Nevada
  7. Indiana
  8. Kentucky
  9. Wisconsin
  10. Rhode Island
  • (448 jobs)
  • (443 jobs)
  • (12,664 jobs)
  • (92 jobs)
  • (10,261 jobs)
  • (571 jobs)
  • (5,667 jobs)
  • (3,318 jobs)
  • (5,511 jobs)
  • (343 jobs)

Heavy Truck Driver Demographics

Gender

Male

85.3%

Unknown

8.8%

Female

5.9%
Ethnicity

White

60.8%

Hispanic or Latino

17.5%

Black or African American

11.9%

Asian

6.5%

Unknown

3.3%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

37.0%

German

11.1%

Arabic

11.1%

Carrier

7.4%

Hindi

7.4%

Portuguese

3.7%

Nepali

3.7%

French

3.7%

Cherokee

3.7%

Dari

3.7%

Malayalam

3.7%

Italian

3.7%
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Heavy Truck Driver Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

15.2%

The Academy

13.1%

Central Texas College

13.1%

Columbia Southern University

5.1%

Houston Community College

5.1%

A-Technical College

4.0%

Columbia Basin College

4.0%

Texas Southern University

4.0%

Texas State Technical College - Waco

3.0%

Lansing Community College

3.0%

Brookdale Community College

3.0%

Universal Technical Institute

3.0%

El Paso Community College

3.0%

Northeastern Technical College

3.0%

Boise State University

3.0%

Dixie State university

3.0%

Fayetteville Technical Community College

3.0%

Bates Technical College

3.0%

Northwestern State University of Louisiana

3.0%

Shasta College

3.0%
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Majors

Business

22.8%

Automotive Technology

10.1%

General Studies

9.5%

Criminal Justice

9.0%

Computer Science

5.0%

Heavy/Industrial Equipment Maintenance Technologies

4.8%

General Education, Specific Areas

4.5%

Education

4.0%

Electrical Engineering

3.7%

Precision Metal Working

2.9%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

2.9%

Management

2.6%

Supply Chain Management

2.6%

Electrical Engineering Technology

2.4%

Liberal Arts

2.4%

Communication

2.4%

Accounting

2.4%

Health Care Administration

2.1%

Heating And Air Conditioning

2.1%

Drafting And Design

1.9%
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Degrees

Other

50.1%

Associate

16.5%

Bachelors

14.6%

Certificate

10.5%

Masters

3.7%

Diploma

3.3%

License

1.0%

Doctorate

0.3%
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