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Truck Driver Jobs

Big cities usually provide a lot of opportunities for truck drivers.

Truck drivers generally spend a lot of time away from home. [©Jupiter Images, 2010]
©Jupiter Images, 2010
Truck drivers generally spend a lot of time away from home.

Truck Driver Jobs

Truck driver jobs may consist of driving regionally for a company or cross-country for a freight or national corporation. Most products, whether gasoline or grocery store merchandise, are transported on trucks. There are truck drivers who drive tractor-trailers, and those who drive much smaller delivery trucks.

According to the 2008-2009 Occupational Outlook Handbook by the Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR), many of the self-employed, long-distance drivers spend a lot of time away from home, maybe even most of the year. This fact should be understood when considering this type of work.

The driver-in-training may need to drive paired with a second driver or alone, may have to load and unload parcels, or may just have to collect signatures and receipts of delivery from merchants and package recipients. Typically, both tractor-trailer and light-delivery truck drivers need to be at least 18-21 years of age.

Types of Training For Truck Drivers

If one desires experience driving larger trucks (26,000 pounds or larger), a commercial drivers license (CDL) is a requirement. It is also required for anyone driving vehicles with hazardous materials. Otherwise, one only needs a regular drivers license to operate smaller delivery vehicles. There is training involved in obtaining any license.

According to the Bureau of Labor Relations Handbook, there are schools in the United States, which offer training programs where drivers can learn to safely drive the largest trucks on crowded city streets and in freeway traffic. They also are taught compliance issues. In fact, many states mandate these courses as a prerequisite to obtaining a commercial drivers license. Therefore, it is essential that one look into the Department of Transportation and Department of Motor Vehicles rules and regulations to see what is required.

Some community colleges offer the truck driving courses described above, so one should check on the costs and time frames of these course offerings, too. One might want to check the credentials of a particular program. As the BLR states, the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) is a nonprofit company that was established by the trucking industry and manufacturers to certify potential drivers in industry standard rules and regulations. More about the PTDI programs may be found on the PTDI website.

Additionally, some products like cars and hazardous materials require the driver to be certified and/or trained to unload the cargo. These requirements can be found out by the hiring company or from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

All drivers, regardless of truck size or cargo, are required to not only follow driving rules and regulations, but also are required to inspect their loads and secure them safely. This training occurs both during training for the CDL, but also from the company one drives for.

The company's training may consist of riding along with experienced truck-driver colleagues, and, perhaps, a few days learning about the company's products (for marketing and customer service needs), discussion of safety, record keeping and company rules. To start, new employees may be limited to driving only the smaller vehicles in a company's fleet until they gain more experience on the road.

Types of Jobs For Truck Drivers

Some truck drivers know right away what types of rigs and what types of cargo they desire to haul, but not all do. This is why it is so important to go through a reputable truck-training program, to see if a person is truly willing and able to commit to the required workload and demands of the job, and to see what types of opportunities exist in the truck driving industry.

Within the larger trucks, there are different sized cabs and trailers; one could even be driving with more than one trailer attached. Likewise, there are trucks with higher trailers, as well as the lower ones used to move construction equipment. There are wide-load, oversized trucks as well. Additionally, there are larger trucks for hazardous load and ones for refrigerated goods. Driving these larger trucks can be a short-term, daily endeavor or a multiple-day trek, and requires different skill sets to drive than smaller trucks.

Likewise, employment opportunities vary for those seeking jobs involving smaller trucks. While most of these jobs are on daily routes, they may vary. One could be driving a traditional two-door truck or small van, or even something more akin to a moving van. A particular job could involve dropping off packages or restocking shelves and seeing how inventory is selling at a particular store in addition to driving the truck.

Where to Find Jobs

The BLR indicates that truck driving professionals held down about 3 million jobs in 2006. Of these workers, about 500,000 were driver/sales workers and the rest, a majority at 2.9 million, were truck drivers.

The BLR also states that the truck transportation industry employed 26 percent of all truck drivers and driver/sales workers in the United States. Another 25 percent worked for companies engaged in wholesale or retail trade. The remaining truck drivers and driver/sales workers were distributed across many industries, including construction and manufacturing.

Therefore, the best locations to look for truck driver jobs and employment as a truck driver are in large cities or areas where there is a high need for delivery of material. It could be hazardous material, food from bakeries, newspapers, construction materials or packages. It all depends on whether an individual wants to be driving tractor-trailers or doing short delivery runs with a company truck.

Many companies post their vacancies directly when they need a truck driver. One place to check for these direct listings is in a local newspaper's classified section. Additionally, a truck driver may be able to find employment by looking at job posting boards at area community colleges and other public establishments (restaurants, libraries, temp agencies) or checking with employment agencies and local trucking companies.

If one is having difficulty finding work, or desires employment in a different region of the country, there are national and international job databases like Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com that can be helpful. Additionally, there are search engines exclusively for truck drivers. One such job bank is available at Everytruckjob.com. This is where a potential employee could complete an online resume form and select the company or companies that he or she is interested in being employed by and in what capacity. The system then forwards the prospective employee's information along.

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