Truck Driver: Employment Info & Career Requirements

Learn what it takes to become a truck driver. For instance, no college degree is required to become a truck driver, but proper training and necessary driver license designations and endorsements apply. Read about what truck drivers could earn and what career paths are similar.

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Career Definition for a Truck Driver

A truck driver primarily hauls freight from one location to another. They operate and perform general maintenance on trucks, maintain logs of driving times, and deliver and pick up shipments. A truck driver may or may not load freight onto trucks, depending on their job description and union regulations. They may transport materials to destinations within a state or deliver goods between states. A truck driver must comply with federal rules and regulations as established by the U.S. Department of Transportation (www.dot.gov) as well as individual state laws. These professionals may be employed by manufacturing companies to deliver their products to stores or warehouses or by freight companies contracted to carry freight for clients. Alternately, they may be self-employed as business owner/operators and work on a contractual basis.

Education Commercial driver's license, completion of a driving skills and safety course, special license endorsements, and preferably possession of a high school diploma
Job Skills Good communication, customer service, judgment skills, excellent hearing and vision, ability to sit for long periods of time
Mean Salary (May 2015)* $42,500 (heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 5% (heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers)

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Required Education

No formal education is needed to become a truck driver, though a high school diploma is often preferred. Completion of a training course at an accredited truck driving school is helpful. A truck driver must obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL). Some states require completion of a truck driving skills and safety course before issuing a CDL. In some cases, special license endorsements are needed, such as air brakes endorsement or hazardous material (HAZMAT) endorsement. Employer training programs may also need to be completed.

Job Skills

A truck driver should possess good communication, customer service, and judgment skills. A truck driver must have excellent hearing and vision and be in good physical condition, especially if their job requires loading and unloading freight. They must have the ability to sit for long periods of time and adapt to changes in driving conditions.

Career and Economic Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for truck drivers is expected to be 5% from 2014 through 2024. With truck transportation of goods remaining the most popular method of delivery, demand for truck drivers should remain above average, though harder economical times might impact opportunities as manufacturers choose to produce and ship fewer products. The average pay for a truck driver varies depending on miles traveled, experience and type of truck operated; the mean annual wage for truck drivers was reported as $42,500 in May 2015 by the BLS. Self-employed truck drivers may earn higher wages.

Alternative Career Options

Individuals interested in operating large motor vehicles on a more local level may be interested in the following careers:

Delivery Truck Driver

A high school diploma is the minimum education to become a delivery truck driver. For the 2014-2024 reporting period, the BLS predicted a 3% rise in jobs for these workers. Light truck and delivery services drivers had a mean salary of $34,080 in 2015.

Bus Driver

Along with a commercial driver's license and a high school diploma, bus drivers usually complete a short training program and must meet vision and hearing standards. An average employment rise of 6% was reported for bus drivers in general between 2014 and 2024, based on BLS information. Those working as school or special client bus drivers, or transit and intercity bus drivers specifically will also see a 6% increase. BLS data from 2015 showed that on average, school bus drivers earned an annual income of $30,580, and transit bus drivers made an average salary of $40,160.

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