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Become A Trailer Truck Driver

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Working As A Trailer 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

  • $74,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Trailer 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 Trailer 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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Trailer Truck Driver Demographics

Gender

Male

84.2%

Unknown

10.2%

Female

5.6%
Ethnicity

White

62.2%

Hispanic or Latino

15.5%

Black or African American

13.5%

Asian

5.8%

Unknown

3.0%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

52.8%

French

8.3%

Portuguese

5.6%

German

5.6%

Italian

5.6%

Bosnian

2.8%

Lithuanian

2.8%

Japanese

2.8%

Norwegian

2.8%

Carrier

2.8%

Tagalog

2.8%

Russian

2.8%

Arabic

2.8%
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Trailer Truck Driver Education

Schools

The Academy

10.0%

All-State Career School

8.3%

Strayer University

6.7%

College of Lake County

5.0%

Gadsden State Community College

5.0%

Cuyahoga Community College

5.0%

University of Louisiana at Monroe

5.0%

Norfolk State University

5.0%

Universal Technical Institute

5.0%

University of Phoenix

5.0%

Albany Technical College

5.0%

Greenville Technical College

5.0%

Fayetteville Technical Community College

5.0%

National Tractor Trailer School Inc

5.0%

University of Southern Maine

3.3%

Piedmont College

3.3%

University of Akron

3.3%

Clark College

3.3%

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

3.3%

Bates Technical College

3.3%
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Majors

Business

22.8%

General Education, Specific Areas

12.0%

General Studies

8.0%

Automotive Technology

6.8%

Criminal Justice

6.8%

Electrical Engineering

5.2%

Computer Science

4.8%

Graphic Design

4.0%

Precision Metal Working

3.6%

Communication

3.2%

Electrical Engineering Technology

2.8%

Law Enforcement

2.8%

Psychology

2.4%

Medical Assisting Services

2.4%

Information Technology

2.4%

Industrial Technology

2.0%

Education

2.0%

Political Science

2.0%

Supply Chain Management

2.0%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

2.0%
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Degrees

Other

51.5%

Associate

15.1%

Certificate

13.7%

Bachelors

12.3%

Diploma

3.5%

Masters

1.9%

License

1.9%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$74,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$34,000
Min 10%
$74,000
Median 50%
$74,000
Median 50%
$74,000
Median 50%
$74,000
Median 50%
$74,000
Median 50%
$74,000
Median 50%
$74,000
Median 50%
$159,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Alliance Healthcare Services
Highest Paying City
Billings, MT
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
3.5 years
How much does a Trailer Truck Driver make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Trailer Truck Driver in the United States is $74,331 per year or $36 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $34,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $159,000.

Real Trailer Truck Driver Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers Kings Ready Mix Inc. New York, NY Dec 20, 2012 $53,186
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers Tri Union Express Inc. Griffith, IN Jun 03, 2014 $52,978
Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver Aulick Leasing Corporation Billings, MT Sep 01, 2016 $49,483
Tractor Trailer Truck Driver An Transport, Inc. Salt Lake City, UT Sep 30, 2008 $48,158
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers Easy Fuel, Inc. San Jose, CA Feb 12, 2013 $47,861
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers Easy Fuel, Inc. San Jose, CA Feb 07, 2013 $47,861
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers Easy Fuel, Inc. San Jose, CA May 17, 2013 $47,861
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers Easy Fuel, Inc. San Jose, CA Apr 10, 2013 $47,861
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver Cal-MEX International Broker, Inc. CA Mar 01, 2013 $47,584
Tractor Trailer Truck Driver National Carriers, Inc. Dallas, TX Feb 11, 2011 $47,050
Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver Tatran Express, Inc. Charlotte, NC Jan 16, 2008 $44,138
Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver Aulick Leasing Corporation Billings, MT Oct 01, 2015 $44,098
Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver Kah Transportes LLC PA Mar 05, 2015 $43,597
Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver Aulick Leasing Corporation MT Sep 01, 2014 $43,013
Tractor Trailer Truck Driver Chicago NPC Test Logan, UT Feb 02, 2009 $43,000 -
$46,500
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers Gene's Towing, Inc. Lakewood, WA Mar 19, 2014 $41,740
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers Espina Paving, Inc. Woodbridge, VA Jul 06, 2012 $41,385
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers Espina Paving, Inc. Woodbridge, VA Oct 28, 2013 $41,385
Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver Aulick Leasing Corporation Fort Morgan, CO Oct 01, 2015 $37,963
Tractor Trailer Truck Driver CD Transport, LLC TX Sep 10, 2011 $37,503
Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver Aulick Leasing Corporation CO Sep 01, 2014 $37,483
Tractor Trailer Truck Driver Ava Pork Products, Inc. Hicksville, NY Apr 09, 2009 $37,086
Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver Edwin & Sandra Rodriguez Katy, TX Oct 15, 2015 $37,024
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver OEP Holdings, LLC TX Jan 05, 2015 $36,752
Truck Driver Tractor-Trailer A. Paragano Group Mendham, NJ Nov 26, 2010 $36,585
Tractor-Trailor Truck Driver Western Express, Inc. Nashville, TN Sep 30, 2008 $36,564

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Top Skills for A Trailer Truck Driver

  1. Tractor-Trailer Combinations
  2. Delivery Instructions
  3. Appropriate Safety Procedures
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Drive trucks with capacities greater than three tons, including tractor-trailer combinations, to transport and deliver products.
  • Collect delivery instructions from appropriate sources, verifying instructions and routes.
  • Followed appropriate safety procedures for transporting general freight.
  • Submitted report indicating truck condition.
  • Drive trucks to weigh stations before and after loading and along routes to document weights and to comply with state regulations.

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Top 10 Best States for Trailer Truck Drivers

  1. Wyoming
  2. North Dakota
  3. Illinois
  4. Pennsylvania
  5. Alaska
  6. Nevada
  7. Kentucky
  8. Indiana
  9. Kansas
  10. Ohio
  • (372 jobs)
  • (340 jobs)
  • (13,164 jobs)
  • (12,937 jobs)
  • (64 jobs)
  • (441 jobs)
  • (3,697 jobs)
  • (4,926 jobs)
  • (3,088 jobs)
  • (10,005 jobs)

Top Trailer Truck Driver Employers

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