What do Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers Do
If you enjoy long hours on the road, you may want to consider driving a tractor-trailer. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers drive trucks that possess a body weight of 26,000 pounds or more. The majority of workers in this field spend most of their time trafficking goods, and drivers are sometimes required to help unload the contents of the truck. It is not uncommon for drivers to have routes that span multiple states or vast distances. Most drivers plan their own routes, but usually employ satellite technology to help them find the quickest way to their destination. Drivers are legally required to rest during their route, and it is up to the individual driver to know which roads allow tractor-trailers and which ones don’t.
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers Skills and Abilities
Drivers should possess a valid driver’s license (a special license is required for this line of work) and know how to handle vehicles carrying large amounts of cargo. In-depth knowledge of local and state transportation laws is also needed to avoid legal issues. Clear vision and fast response times are necessary for workers in this field, and drivers must be able to see details at both close and long distances. Some roads do not allow these particular vehicles, and drivers should be able to figure out the quickest routes without guidance. Many drivers will be transporting cargo such as chemicals, vehicles, and liquids, and the driver should be aware of the rules regarding its transportation.
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers Duties
The top priority for a tractor-trailer driver is to transport goods and materials from one location to another in a timely and safe manner. Before leaving, many drivers are required to inspect their vehicle to ensure that it is in working condition. Drivers must also be willing to follow appropriate safety measures when transporting hazardous materials. They often inspect cargo to make sure it is properly attached to the vehicle, and do so by using chains, ropes, and other restraints. Drivers will also be expected to stop at weight stations along the way and comply with state regulations. Tractor-trailer drivers may also:
- Check the condition of cargo to ensure that no damage has occurred
- Read and interpret maps
- Maintain logs of vehicle and working hours
- Perform basic vehicle maintenance tasks
- Collect fares or payments from customers
- Report vehicle malfunctions to proper authorities
- Load belongings, shipments, and materials.
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers Tools and Technology
Drivers in this field employ a variety of technological devices in order to perform their job. Electronic communications devices, such as phones and radios, are used to communicate with trucking headquarters and clients. Supplies such as air compressors, lifts, and hitches are used to keep the truck and cargo in excellent condition. Computer programs that track inventory and help with route navigation are commonplace.
Education and Training for Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers
Although this career does not require a college degree, professional certifications must be earned before a driver begins his or her first route. Courses teaching proper driving technique, transportation laws, and basic trucker information are typically required. Roughly 49% of truckers had a high-school diploma only, while 19% had no diploma or degree at all. 22.3% of truckers had at least some postsecondary education.
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers Salary
The mean annual wage for a tractor-trailer driver is $41,980, with the top 10% earning approximately $61,150 a year. Over the last year, there was a small 0.3% increase in trucker wages. Drivers employed by the electrical manufacturing industry reported the highest earnings. Those employed by the support activities industry reported the lowest earnings.
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers Jobs by Geography
Texas, California, and Pennsylvania employed the largest number workers in this industry. Alaska paid the highest driver salaries in the nation, followed by North Dakota. There was a 0.6% increase in employment levels across the country; so the industry is growing at a slow, but steady pace. Over 1.6 million Americans are currently employed as tractor-trailer drivers.