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Truck Driver Careers

Remember when you were a little kid and you would move your arm in a pulling down motion every time you passed a large semi-truck? You know that excitement when the drive actually honked? That's actually one of the responsibilites of being a truck driver.

While we're totally kidding, honking at kids (and let's face it, some adults) does make the long road trips a little more fun. After you take a professional truck driving school and obtain your commercial driver's license, then you'll be able to see the country. Imagine all of the cities and towns you'll get to drive through.

What Does a 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.

How To Become a 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 Salary
$51,066
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
5%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
204,039
Job Openings

Truck Driver Career Paths

Top Careers Before Truck Driver

Driver
19.1 %

Top Careers After Truck Driver

Driver
24.7 %

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Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the rights job to get there.

Average Salary for a Truck Driver

Truck Drivers in America make an average salary of $51,066 per year or $25 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $78,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $33,000 per year.
Average Salary
$51,066

Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Boston, MA
Salary Range55k - 87k$69k$69,256
Newark, NJ
Salary Range53k - 87k$68k$68,221
Washington, DC
Salary Range52k - 87k$67k$67,432
Wilmington, DE
Salary Range52k - 86k$67k$67,068
Allentown, PA
Salary Range51k - 84k$66k$66,008
Portland, ME
Salary Range51k - 81k$65k$65,137
$43k
$87k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
CDL Truck Driver-Home Daily-Start at-5K
CDL Truck Driver-Home Daily-Start at-5K
Us Foods-Omaha, Ne
Us Foods-Omaha, Ne
03/31/2021
03/31/2021
$54,70003/31/2021
$54,700
CDL A Truck Driver
CDL A Truck Driver
P&S Transportation
P&S Transportation
03/31/2021
03/31/2021
$78,26303/31/2021
$78,263
Comtran Inc.
Regional Company Truck Driver
Regional Company Truck Driver
Comtran Inc.
Comtran Inc.
03/31/2021
03/31/2021
$83,00003/31/2021
$83,000
Waste Management
CDL Truck Driver-Residential Route
CDL Truck Driver-Residential Route
Waste Management
Waste Management
03/31/2021
03/31/2021
$44,24403/31/2021
$44,244
Carrier Logistics
Truck Driver Jobs-Start at .52 CPM
Truck Driver Jobs-Start at .52 CPM
Carrier Logistics
Carrier Logistics
03/31/2021
03/31/2021
$83,48003/31/2021
$83,480
See More Recent Salaries

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Truck Driver Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Truck Driver. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Truck Driver Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Truck Driver resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

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Truck Driver Demographics

Gender

male

88.3 %

female

9.1 %

unknown

2.5 %

Ethnicity

White

65.5 %

Hispanic or Latino

15.0 %

Black or African American

13.0 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

71.7 %

Carrier

5.4 %

French

4.9 %
See More Demographics

Truck Driver Education

Majors

Business
21.6 %

Degrees

Certificate

39.0 %

High School Diploma

31.5 %

Associate

10.5 %
See More Education Info
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Full Time
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Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For a Truck Driver

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 47.9% of truck drivers listed cdl on their resume, but soft skills such as hand-eye coordination and hearing ability are important as well.

Best States For a Truck Driver

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a truck driver. The best states for people in this position are Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. Truck drivers make the most in Rhode Island with an average salary of $69,391. Whereas in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, they would average $69,220 and $69,132, respectively. While truck drivers would only make an average of $68,211 in Connecticut, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Kentucky

Total Truck Driver Jobs:
6,466
Highest 10% Earn:
$103,000
Location Quotient:
2.03
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Pennsylvania

Total Truck Driver Jobs:
14,369
Highest 10% Earn:
$104,000
Location Quotient:
1.43
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Delaware

Total Truck Driver Jobs:
1,484
Highest 10% Earn:
$106,000
Location Quotient:
1.37
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Truck Driver Employers

1. Werner Enterprises
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$64,036
Truck Drivers Hired: 
2,298+
2. Schneider National
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$64,510
Truck Drivers Hired: 
2,087+
3. C.R. England
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$60,801
Truck Drivers Hired: 
1,940+
4. J.B. Hunt Transport Services
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$52,393
Truck Drivers Hired: 
1,678+
5. United States Army
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$61,543
Truck Drivers Hired: 
1,677+
6. U.S. Xpress
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$62,899
Truck Drivers Hired: 
1,041+

Truck Driver Videos

Updated October 2, 2020