Once you earn your CDL, if you don’t already have a job lined up, following are several examples of truck driving jobs that you can investigate. Be sure to ask about benefits. Many trucking companies work to keep their good employees by providing perks such as affordable healthcare, paid vacations, and time at home with family.
Type 1: Dry Van Drivers
Most new drivers start out in this job because it’s one of the most common. The pay is good, about $42,000 per year depending on where you live, and you don’t need endorsements on your license because most often you’ll be hauling a 53-foot trailer with dry or non-perishable goods.
These jobs are the easiest to get because they require the least experience and are some of the lowest paying. However, once a driver gets enough experience under his/her belt they often move along to higher paying jobs. If you’re just beginning your trucking career, be sure to look for these types of job openings and if you have endorsements on your license you may be able to find higher paying jobs with more responsibility. If you’re a brand new driver, you’ll probably be hired to haul regular freight over the road. It’s a great starting place.
Type 2: Flat Bed Drivers
Flat bed drivers pull a long flat trailer with large and sometimes oddly shaped cargo like I-beams, metal pipes, scaffolding, oversized machinery and more. When compared to other trucking jobs, flat bed trucking is one of the most dangerous – along with tanker trucks containing flammable liquids.
One reason is that drivers sometimes have to climb on top of their loads in inclement weather to tarp the product. Once the load is tarped the driver cannot see where holes or dips in the load exist. He or she could trip over the rope used to secure the tarp or slip on a wet tarp. There are numerous possibilities for injury if there is no fall prevention in place. Drivers that fall from a height of only four feet off the ground can sustain serious injury.
Improperly securing a load is another concern. Heavy loads can be hazardous when unloading or removing chains and straps because the load may have shifted during transport and can become unstable causing them to fall and possibly kill or injure anyone who’s in the way.
Because there’s more physical labor to this job, there is also more pay. It’s hard work but it can be rewarding. Some advantages of flat bed trucking include a higher paycheck about $46,150, and for those of you who like variety, problem-solving, and physical exercise in your day, flat bed trucking includes daily exercise, along with a wide range of freight.
There are different types of tarps for covering different types of product. Coil tarps, lumber tarps, steel tarps, and smoke tarps. Some tarps can weigh up to 80 pounds and they weigh more when wet or covered in ice, so you really need to know what you are doing.
In addition to worrying about your own safety around a load, if you do not properly secure a load you could have product shift forward and pierce the cab of the truck. Poorly secured freight can also fall on the highway causing injury or death to others.
Type 3: Tanker Drivers
While most tanker drivers haul dry bulk and liquids, some haul chemicals and gases that are highly explosive. These drivers must have special training and need the H endorsement on their CDL. The H endorsement stands for Hazardous Materials and requires a written knowledge test as well as a TSA background check. It’s easy to flip when hauling liquid because the center of gravity changes with truck movement.
One thing most people don’t know is that tankers can also be used for dry bulk products like grains, sugar, and cement. The average salary for a tanker driver is $49,000.
Driving a tanker truck can be stressful, especially because of the other drivers out on the roads. But a definite perk to the job is that deliveries tend to be on a more regular schedule as opposed to other types of delivery. Most tanker deliveries are local so they’re not considered Over the Road (OTR). Sometimes a workweek can have more than 40 hours and a tanker driver needs to be in good physical shape to be able to load and unload the tanker.
All the extra hours pay off in the end though, because a tanker driver’s annual salary ranges somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000. Depending on the company, overtime is usually well compensated and larger companies may even offer a sign-on bonus.
Type 4: Refrigerated Freight Drivers
The name is pretty self-explanatory. Refrigerated freight drivers have an air conditioner at the front of their trailer and the freight inside has to be kept cold, frozen and sometimes even sub-frozen. Being able to add this extra level of responsibility to your truck-driving repertoire means a larger salary, which is always good.
Refrigerated truck drivers should know basic vehicle maintenance and keep their truck looking clean. Also they may be called on to help load and unload product, as well as keep up with records of shipments. Oh, the dreaded paperwork!
Daily duties may include:
- Safe driving
- On time deliveries
- Monitor temperatures to ensure product doesn’t spoil
- Loading and unloading freight if needed
- Logging time and miles traveled
- Gas consumption
- Comply with weight restrictions on the roadways
Knowing and understanding the differences between each type of driver’s responsibilities can help you pivot from each type..
Type 5: LTL Freight Drivers
Most often a local driving job, LTL drivers carry Less than a Truck Load, meaning they have multiple stops to deliver a few pieces of product. As you can imagine, this is a waste of space and gas plus drivers often have to unload the freight themselves. Just like every job the LTL freight driver is home every evening with his family.
What’s The Job Outlook For The Trucking Business?
Excellent! Since the U.S. needs truck drivers for everything – even online stores need delivery so the future looks bright for most truck drivers regardless of industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects 2016 – 2026 job growth to reach 6% and of course this percentage can be influenced up or down by future economic growth. The best opportunities appear to be OTR positions plus oil and gas industry jobs. The BLS also mentions that grocery stores offer the a secure employment opportunity for drivers.