Trailer Driver Job Description
Trailer drivers transport a range of materials, merchandise, or equipment using heavy-duty vehicles. They often drive for long periods, carrying out long-distance deliveries, adjusting to driving conditions appropriately and safely. Trailer drivers perform tasks such as loading and unloading materials or merchandise, preparing delivery papers, and keeping records of their daily tasks. Most trailer drivers work full-time; federal regulations limit the number of hours they can work in one period to 14 hours, with a maximum of 11 hours driving, before requiring at least a 10-hour break. People who are able to follow safety regulations, enjoy working independently, and love driving long distances are suited to this work.
Trailer Driver Duties and Responsibilities
Trailer drivers’ tasks can vary depending on the type of company they work for. Based on job listings we analyzed, trailer drivers’ core duties typically involve:
Driving Long Distances
Trailer drivers transport different types of goods, from materials and equipment to livestock. They drive long distances, maneuvering the truck into unloading and loading positions along the way. They follow applicable traffic and driving laws, staying aware of and reporting any incidents on the road.
Trailer drivers need to ensure that any cargo they’re transporting is fully secured to the trailer, using blocks, chains, covers, or ropes. They need to ensure that transportation meets safety compliance and regulations.
Maintaining a Record of Hours
Trailer drivers carry out various deliveries throughout the course of the day, maintaining a record of each of these, along with their working hours be cross-referenced if issues arise in the future, as well as for compliance with federal and state regulations.
Trailer drivers report mechanical issues or problems with a delivery to their line manager, ensuring a thorough log of the problem is kept for future records.
Keeping Trailer Equipment in Working Order
Trailer drivers keep their trucks and the equipment they work with in good working order and tidy. They inspect the trailer after each trip and record defects they find.
Trailer Driver Skills and Qualifications
Typically, employers require a high school diploma, a clean and valid driver’s license, and a CDL qualification, as well as the following abilities:
- Safety compliance – to comply with health and safety regulations, trailer drivers monitor safety requirements, ensuring that procedures are followed so as not to endanger themselves and others through careless driving
- Physical health – federal regulations demand that drivers be physically fit without medical conditions that could affect their ability to drive, such as epilepsy or high blood pressure
- Hand-eye coordination – to respond quickly to situations in case of an accident or incident on the road
- Hearing and visual abilities – to meet regulation requirements, trailer drivers have to pass hearing and vision tests to ensure that it’s safe for them to be driving long distances
- Time management – to manage their time effectively, prioritize tasks, and plan routes to stay on schedule
Trailer Driver Education and Training
The minimum requirement to become a trailer driver is a high school diploma, along with a valid driver’s license. Employers also require drivers to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The qualifications for obtaining a CDL vary by state, but the test usually includes passing a knowledge test and a driving test. Trailer drivers can attend truck driving school to gain the skills they need for this job. Typically, trailer drivers receive on-the-job-training that can last up to several months.
Trailer Driver Salary and Outlook
The median annual salary for trailer drivers is $41,000. Trailer drivers in the 10th percentile earn around $27,000 annually, while the highest-paid earn just over $63,000 a year. Bonus structures and profit sharing opportunities can reach up to $4,000 and $8,000 respectively, and commissions can reach as high as $30,000 for this job. A majority of companies offer health benefits as part of the salary package for this job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth rate for this sector is expected to grow by six percent through 2026.
We’ve collected some of the best resources to help you explore a career as a trailer driver:
Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver Training – For students wanting to learn about truck driving, this resource guide covers all the relevant information needed to excel in their careers. Covering both customer and industry feedback to capture the learning needs of the industry, this book has been updated with information on the latest technologies and ‘day in the life’ stories.
TruckingInfo – From webinars to blogs and safety advice, this site is a great resource for anyone in the industry. Articles cover a range of topics, including regular news updates and maintenance tips.
Bumper to Bumper: The Complete Guide to Tractor-Trailer Operations – The ultimate in CDL preparation, this book equips readers with the knowledge and confidence to drive safely and build a successful career. It features current information, cargo securement, onboard technology, and much more.
Roadmaster – The Roadmaster Driving School is a great resource for this career, in particular, its blog has a brilliant selection of posts and articles on driving-related topics, from industry news to salary information and driver career profiles.
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