Delivery Contractor: Job Duties, Outlook and Requirements

Delivery contractors require little formal education, but there is vocational school to obtain the proper licenses. Learn about the training, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Delivery contractors drive their own vehicles to deliver and pick up cargo, and they require a valid driver's license and must be at least 18 years of age. If they are making deliveries across state borders, a delivery contractor has to be at least 21 years old. Training requirements vary, depending on the type of job desired.

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Essential Information

Delivery contractors, such as truck drivers or couriers, are responsible for picking up and delivering a variety of items. They must provide their own vehicles and may need a commercial driver's license, depending on the vehicle's size. Many schools offer commercial driver's license training programs that combine lectures with hands-on driving instruction.

Required Education Vocational or technical school
Other Requirements Driver's license, CDL, at least 18 years old or 21 if crossing state borders
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers ,5% increase; light truck and delivery truck drivers, 3% increase
Median Salary (2015)* Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, $40,260; delivery truck drivers, $29,850; couriers, $27,280

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Delivery Contractor Job Duties

Truck drivers pick up and deliver cargo. They need to inspect their vehicles and keep them in good condition. Their duties may include loading and unloading freight, obeying traffic laws, checking inventory, presenting bills, collecting payments and maintaining records. Long-haul drivers, who generally travel long distances through several states, typically plan their own routes.

Couriers and messengers are responsible for delivering documents or packages, which may require collecting payments and signatures. They generally receive and sort items, load and unload their vehicles, record delivery information, and follow proper procedures for hazardous materials. Other duties may include route planning and maintaining contact with the home office while making deliveries.

Job Outlook for Delivery Contractors

Drivers of heavy trucks and semis were expected to see an 5% increase in job opportunities from 2014-2024. They earned a median salary of $40,260 in 2015. Light and delivery truck drivers were projected to see a 3% increase with a median salary of $29,850. Most job opportunities were expected to be available in large metropolitan areas. Couriers and messengers earned a median salary of $27,280 in 2015.

Job Requirements for Delivery Contractors

Drivers of trucks with a gross vehicle weight of over 26,000 pounds are required to have a commercial driver's license (CDL). The type of vehicle determines the class of CDL that is needed. Delivery contractors who haul hazardous materials or oversized loads are typically required to obtain an endorsement along with a CDL. Additionally, a regular driver's license is required for all delivery contractors. Truck drivers who cross state borders must be at least 21 years old.

Delivery contractors also need to own or lease a vehicle in order to provide their delivery services. They may also need to supply their own communications equipment and purchase their own fuel. Contractors may need to acquire a business license.

Education Requirements for Delivery Contractors

According to the BLS, aspiring truck drivers need to be trained through a vocational or technical school to prepare for CDL testing. These programs typically run for 3-8 weeks. Prior to enrollment, students need to acquire a CDL learner's permit, pass a drug test, demonstrate proficiency in English and complete a physical. The curriculum covers a variety of topics, including vehicle controls and systems, inspections, backing, docking, speed control, emergency maneuvers, night driving, cargo handling and hazardous materials transport. Students usually receive many hours of hands-on driving instruction during the program.

Couriers and messengers are typically only required to have a high school diploma and most are trained on the job. However, the BLS stated that those who deliver items such as donated organs or medical samples may be required to complete specialized training in these types of deliveries. Truck drivers who work as contractors may benefit from coursework in business, accounting and truck mechanics.

In addition to supplying their own vehicle, a delivery contractor may also be responsible for loading and unloading cargo, checking inventory, planning driving routes, and collecting payments from customers. Aspiring drivers of heavy trucks usually go through a vocational training program to qualify for a commercial driver's license, while on-the-job training may be sufficient for other driving jobs.

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