The main thing to know about North Dakota is … it’s COLD. As a matter of fact, North Dakota is the coldest state in the contiguous United States. Only Alaska is colder. What this means to truck drivers is there can be treacherous roadways especially in the winter which is probably 6 months out of the year.
North Dakota is fairly unpopulated with only 11 people per square mile. It must be the cold that keeps them away. Three other cold states border North Dakota: Minnesota, Montana, and South Dakota.
Bismarck is the capital of North Dakota although Fargo is the most populated city:
- Fargo: 105,549
- Bismarck: 61,272
- Grand Forks: 52,838
- Minot: 40,888
- West Fargo: 25,830
While never a direct correlation between highest populated cities and more available jobs, it is always something to note (especially if you are relocating).
North Dakota Trucking Salary Information
Some of the most popular and high paying jobs for truckers are driving oil rigs aka tanker trucks for oil companies. However, it appears that lower oil and gas prices mean fewer jobs in this arena. Seasonal jobs are available but if you’re looking for local employment in oil and gas there’s a better chance of getting a job in this field.
Beginners beware, you’ll need at least a couple years’ experience driving before you can get a gig like this. These companies want experience. Projected trucking jobs in North Dakota from 2104 to 2024 are estimated to fall 18% whereas in the U.S. as a whole these jobs should increase about 6%.
Don’t let this discourage you because the availability of trucking jobs in North Dakota is still plentiful. Here are a few different types:
- Local – some w/signing bonus
- Dedicated – for example Wal-Mart
- Heavy haul
- Frac sand
- Water hauler (fracking uses a lot of water)
Healthy salaries make this state a great place to work. The average yearly salary for a truck driver is $53,720 and the average hourly wage is $25.83. If you look at the median salary for the state $50,510 is almost $10,000 more than the U.S. average. Breaking it down by city looks like this:
- Bismarck: $51,290
- Grand Forks: $44,790
- Fargo: $44,290
Understanding and knowing how much average salaries can differentiate between cities in North Dakota can help guide you to higher paying areas. Just understand that a higher cost per living often accompanies that approach.
CDL Requirements in North Dakota
To obtain a CDL in North Dakota you need to be:
- At least 21 years old to drive across state lines
- 18-20 years old to drive intra-state
- 16 years old to test for a CDL restricted to custom harvesting operations
- Able to read, write, and speak English
You need to meet all Federal Medical Requirements in 49 CFR 391. There are some medical conditions that can disqualify an individual:
- Heart condition
- Hearing impairment
- Worse than 20/40 visual acuity in either eye – even with corrective lenses
- Loss of a limb or loss of the use of a limb
- Diabetes controlled with insulin
- Seizure disorder requiring anti-seizure medication
Apply in person at any North Dakota Driver’s License location. Prior to testing, you need to present your current driver’s license, proof of legal presence, proof of residence (your address), fill in an application, and pass an eye exam.
Different Types of Licenses and Medical Requirements
Next you must pass the required written knowledge test(s) for the CDL Class you’ll be driving. Then you can purchase a Commercial Learners Permit (CLP). You can schedule a road test once you’ve had your valid CLP for at least 14 days. Take the road skills test to demonstrate your ability to operate the commercial vehicle you’ll be driving.
Seasonal CDL License or Agri-Business License
You can pick up an application for a North Dakota Seasonal License at any North Dakota Driver’s License site. Fill in all areas on the application including applicant signature, employer signature and notary signature/stamp.
Applicant must be 18 or older and have a valid North Dakota driver’s license for the duration of the 90 or 180-Day Seasonal License. If the applicant’s license will expire during that time he/she will need to renew the license before the 90 or 180-Day Seasonal License can be processed.
They must be currently licensed in North Dakota for one or more years and:
- Have a current status of D or DM. It’s okay for the applicant to have a CDL permit
- Have a clean driving record for the past 24 months
- Not be suspended, revoked or cancelled in any other state
- Not have had multiple licenses
- Not have been convicted of any serious traffic violations or any disqualifying offenses
- Not have been convicted for any accident related traffic law violations and no record of at-fault accidents
Medical requirements are the same as for a regular CDL. You must meet all Federal Medical Requirements in 49 CFR 391 and can be disqualified for the same conditions listed above.
Applicant must meet full Commercial Visual Requirements which are:
- Must be able to distinguish the colors red, green, and amber
- Visual Acuity must be corrected to 20/40 or better in each eye and both eyes together
- Field of Vision must be at least 70 degrees Temporal in each eye
Driver may operate Class B or C vehicle groups within 150 miles from place of business or farm and may transport farm agricultural products, farm machinery, and supplies. You are limited to transporting the following placarded hazardous materials (SOURCE):
- Diesel fuel of 1,000 gallons or less
- Solid fertilizers that are not mixed with any organic substance
- Liquid fertilizer in vehicles with a total capacity of 3,000 gallons or less
Only one 180-day or two 90-day licenses will be issued in a 12-month period.
North Dakota Trucking Related News
Melissa Dixon has a drive for the trucking industry, both through her work as president of an insurance company as well as her recent appointment as the first female president of the North Dakota Motor Carriers Association in late May of 2017. The group has been around since 1934 and its chief goal is support the trucking industry.
Dixon’s ascent in the typically male-dominated trucking industry is a notable achievement. But she got there because of her background and hard work, not her gender. “I’ve always been blessed with a strong desire and ability to move myself forward, so I think that it is important to many people that this is the situation,” she said.
Dixon doesn’t have a commercial driver’s license, though she has driven a truck and several large motorhomes in the past.
After spending nine years in Alaska, Dixon was asked by her father to help start a sister organization to his Dixon Insurance that would handle licensing and registration. She agreed and Interstate Truck Licensing was founded.
Dixon became an Interstate Commerce Commission practitioner and simultaneously became interested in the rapid changes in the trucking industry as a result of deregulation and multi-state compacts. “I came to love the industry,” she said.
Dixon is passionate about educating truckers and the general public. “She really is a big promoter of the trucking industry and the transportation industry,” said Mark Wolter, immediate past president of the Motor Carriers Association.
Dixon’s primary objective is to get the association’s message out so the general public can understand the importance of the industry to our economy—and the need to be safe around trucks. More than 70 percent of truck accidents are caused by a car or non-semi, but many of these drivers don’t realize the large blind spots truck drivers must operate around on crowded highways and city streets.