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Working As A Truck Operator

  • 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

  • $33,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Truck Operator 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 Truck Operator

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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Truck Operator Career Paths

Truck Operator
Driver Foreman Superintendent
Project Superintendent
10 Yearsyrs
Driver Foreman Supervisor
Warehouse Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Driver Foreman Manager
Plant Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Delivery Driver Technician Maintenance Supervisor
Maintenance Director
11 Yearsyrs
Delivery Driver Coordinator Logistics Coordinator
Logistics Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Delivery Driver Field Service Technician Supervisor
Site Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Heavy Equipment Operator Technician Maintenance Supervisor
Facilities Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Heavy Equipment Operator Technician Operation Supervisor
Terminal Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Heavy Equipment Operator Electrician Owner/Operator
Construction Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Electrician Owner
Construction Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Electrician Owner/Operator
Operator And Truck Driver
5 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Field Service Technician Owner/Operator
General Contractor
5 Yearsyrs
Welder Field Service Technician Maintenance Supervisor
Facilities Maintenance Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Welder Shop Foreman Owner
General Superintendent
11 Yearsyrs
Welder Specialist Operation Supervisor
Transportation Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Service Technician Specialist Operation Supervisor
Fleet Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Service Technician Shop Foreman Warehouse Manager
Warehouse Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Truck Driver Class A Tank Driver
Lead Driver
5 Yearsyrs
Truck Driver Class A CDL Class A Driver Tank Driver
Professional Truck Driver
7 Yearsyrs
Truck Driver Class A Tank Driver Professional Truck Driver
Flatbed Truck Driver
6 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Truck Operator?

Average Yearly Salary
$33,000
Show Salaries
$23,000
Min 10%
$33,000
Median 50%
$33,000
Median 50%
$33,000
Median 50%
$33,000
Median 50%
$33,000
Median 50%
$33,000
Median 50%
$33,000
Median 50%
$47,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
City of Los Angeles
Highest Paying City
Piscataway, NJ
Highest Paying State
Rhode Island
Avg Experience Level
2.6 years
How much does a Truck Operator make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Truck Operator in the United States is $33,899 per year or $16 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $23,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $48,000.

The largest raises come from changing jobs.

See what's out there.

Real Truck Operator Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Boom Truck Operator Orange County Superior Concrete Dec 20, 2016 $65,125
Power-Truck Operator Jaime Trucking, Inc. Jun 02, 2008 $41,740 -
$52,175
Industrial Truck Operator GDB International, Inc. Dec 08, 2009 $36,105
Portable Restroom Truck Operator Obras LLC DBA Clear Creek Disposal Jun 16, 2010 $35,479
Agricultural Truck Operators Alma Plantation, LLC Aug 15, 2016 $22,310
Agricultural Truck Operators Alma Plantation, LLC Aug 15, 2015 $21,246
Agricultural Truck Operators Raceland Raw Sugar, L.L.C. Sep 15, 2015 $21,246

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Top Skills for A Truck Operator

  1. Safety Procedures
  2. Delivery Instructions
  3. Vehicle Inspections
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Follow safety procedures while operating various heavy machinery as related to each project.
  • Collect, and verify with precise attention to detail on all delivery instructions and special requirements.
  • Completed daily vehicle inspections, logged and reported all mileages and also cleaned and performed simple routine maintenance on the truck.
  • Operated Caterpillar 777 lowboy, 785, 789, and 793 Haul Trucks to safely and efficiently haul gold ore.
  • Maintained a spotless driving record while providing superior delivery and customer service skills

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Top 10 Best States for Truck Operators

  1. Pennsylvania
  2. Rhode Island
  3. Ohio
  4. Illinois
  5. Massachusetts
  6. Connecticut
  7. Delaware
  8. New Jersey
  9. Wisconsin
  10. New Hampshire
  • (5,102 jobs)
  • (90 jobs)
  • (5,586 jobs)
  • (8,366 jobs)
  • (520 jobs)
  • (291 jobs)
  • (264 jobs)
  • (1,291 jobs)
  • (2,347 jobs)
  • (61 jobs)

Truck Operator Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 6,825 Truck Operator 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.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Truck Operator Resume

View Resume Examples

Truck Operator Demographics

Gender

Male

87.4%

Female

8.7%

Unknown

3.9%
Ethnicity

White

63.1%

Hispanic or Latino

16.7%

Black or African American

11.4%

Asian

5.6%

Unknown

3.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

60.3%

French

7.4%

Carrier

7.4%

German

2.9%

Dakota

2.9%

Dutch

2.9%

Arabic

2.9%

Portuguese

1.5%

Filipino

1.5%

Chinese

1.5%

Samoan

1.5%

Navajo

1.5%

Mandarin

1.5%

Cantonese

1.5%

Korean

1.5%

Italian

1.5%
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Truck Operator Education

Schools

Eastern Arizona College

9.4%

Universal Technical Institute

7.5%

Houston Community College

6.6%

Joliet Junior College

5.7%

Strayer University

4.7%

University of New Orleans

4.7%

Pennsylvania College of Technology

4.7%

Angelo State University

4.7%

College of DuPage

4.7%

Savannah Technical College

4.7%

A-Technical College

4.7%

Portland Community College

4.7%

Southern New Hampshire University

4.7%

Albany Technical College

4.7%

Casper College

4.7%

Butler County Community College

3.8%

Lansing Community College

3.8%

Arizona Automotive Institute

3.8%

Del Mar College

3.8%

El Paso Community College

3.8%
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Majors

Business

20.0%

Automotive Technology

10.0%

General Studies

9.9%

Criminal Justice

8.4%

Precision Metal Working

6.2%

Electrical Engineering Technology

4.4%

Electrical Engineering

4.0%

Communication

4.0%

Computer Science

3.8%

Accounting

3.3%

Education

3.1%

Graphic Design

3.1%

Information Technology

2.9%

Industrial Technology

2.6%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.5%

Heavy/Industrial Equipment Maintenance Technologies

2.5%

Kinesiology

2.4%

Management

2.4%

Computer Networking

2.4%

Psychology

2.1%
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Degrees

High School Diploma

51.9%

Associate

14.0%

Certificate

10.6%

Diploma

10.4%

Bachelors

10.3%

Masters

1.6%

License

1.1%

Doctorate

0.1%
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Updated May 18, 2020