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Become A Truck Operator

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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

  • $40,260

    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 jobs

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Truck Operator Career Paths

Truck Operator
Maintenance Technician Service Manager General Manager
Area Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Heavy Equipment Operator Technician Engineer
Chief Engineer
10 Yearsyrs
Service Technician Maintenance Supervisor Facilities Manager
Director Of Facilities
11 Yearsyrs
Technician Production Supervisor Warehouse Manager
Distribution Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Foreman Operations Manager
Division Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Technician Field Engineer Estimator
Estimator Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Foreman Service Technician Maintenance Supervisor
Facilities Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Crane Operator Truck Driver Dispatcher
Fleet Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Mechanic Forklift Operator Carpenter
General Contractor
6 Yearsyrs
Mechanic Operator Foreman
General Superintendent
11 Yearsyrs
Service Technician Driver Operation Supervisor
Logistics Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Truck Driver Delivery Driver Maintenance Technician
Maintenance Director
11 Yearsyrs
Truck Driver Driver Dispatcher
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Welder Technician Operations Manager
Plant Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Welder Maintenance Technician Production Supervisor
Production Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Heavy Equipment Operator Maintenance Technician Project Manager
Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Crane Operator Material Handler Quality Control Inspector
Quality Control Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Operator And Truck Driver Forklift Operator Shipping Clerk
Shipping Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Maintenance Manager Operations Manager
Terminal Manager
9 Yearsyrs
CDL Driver Tractor-Trailer Driver Driver
Transportation Manager
8 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Truck Driver 3.6 years
Tow Truck Operator 3.0 years
Operator 2.8 years
Forklift Operator 2.6 years
Haul Truck Driver 2.5 years
Junior Operator 2.1 years
Truck Operator 2.0 years
Water Truck Driver 1.4 years
Operator Trainee 1.4 years
Top Employers Before
Truck Driver 14.8%
Driver 10.8%
Operator 5.9%
Supervisor 3.3%
Owner 2.8%
Welder 2.8%
Foreman 2.6%
Mechanic 2.6%
Top Employers After
Truck Driver 16.0%
Driver 11.5%
Operator 6.0%
Welder 3.2%
Owner 3.2%
CDL Driver 3.1%
Technician 2.8%
Supervisor 2.7%
Foreman 2.6%
Mechanic 2.5%

Truck Operator Demographics

Gender

Male

90.5%

Female

8.3%

Unknown

1.3%
Ethnicity

White

81.3%

Hispanic or Latino

11.4%

Asian

5.7%

Unknown

1.3%

Black or African American

0.4%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

58.2%

Carrier

9.1%

French

5.5%

German

3.6%

Dutch

3.6%

Arabic

3.6%

Filipino

1.8%

Chinese

1.8%

Samoan

1.8%

Dakota

1.8%

Navajo

1.8%

Mandarin

1.8%

Cantonese

1.8%

Korean

1.8%

Italian

1.8%
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Truck Operator Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

16.5%

Universal Technical Institute

7.9%

Vincennes University

5.8%

Eastern Arizona College

5.8%

Del Mar College

5.0%

Ashford University

5.0%

The Academy

4.3%

South Plains College

4.3%

South Texas College

4.3%

New Mexico Junior College

4.3%

Colorado State University

4.3%

Lansing Community College

3.6%

Strayer University

3.6%

Fox Valley Technical College

3.6%

Midland College

3.6%

Bristol Community College

3.6%

West Virginia University

3.6%

Butte College

3.6%

Idaho State University

3.6%

Oklahoma State University

3.6%
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Majors

Business

21.6%

General Studies

9.2%

Criminal Justice

8.7%

Automotive Technology

8.2%

Precision Metal Working

5.8%

Computer Science

5.4%

Electrical Engineering Technology

4.5%

Communication

4.3%

Education

4.1%

Electrical Engineering

3.9%

Information Technology

3.0%

Industrial Technology

2.8%

Graphic Design

2.8%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.6%

Accounting

2.6%

Management

2.5%

Heavy/Industrial Equipment Maintenance Technologies

2.4%

Computer Networking

2.1%

Kinesiology

1.8%

Liberal Arts

1.8%
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Degrees

Other

49.7%

Bachelors

18.4%

Associate

16.1%

Certificate

9.3%

Masters

2.9%

Diploma

2.2%

License

1.1%

Doctorate

0.2%
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Job type you want
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Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Truck Operator Salaries

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

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Top Skills for A Truck Operator

SafetyProceduresDeliveryCompanyVehicleHaulTruckBoomTruckFracTanksCustomerServiceHeavyEquipmentJobSitesCDLBucketTruckVACTruckClampTruckWaterTruckDumpTruckRemovalPumpTruckWinchTruckEmergencyPreventativeMaintenance

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Top Truck Operator Skills

  1. Safety Procedures
  2. Delivery
  3. Company Vehicle
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Followed appropriate safety procedures for transporting dangerous goods.
  • Participated in strategic team communications with manufacturing plant's shipping and receiving functions for efficient coordination of product delivery.
  • Operated company vehicle while managing moving crew effectively.
  • Operate Large Haul Truck 777 in a safe professional manner in the mine area
  • Transport and set precast concrete materials with boom truck and crane to customer specifications.

Top Truck Operator Employers

Truck Operator Videos

Owner Operator Pay: How Much Does An Owner Operator Earn?

Confessions of a Tow Truck Operator

Should I Become an Owner Operator?

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