A tow truck driver is responsible for towing a vehicle that got in an accident, experienced a mechanical failure, or was ticketed by the police. They assist in fixing minor issues such as changing a tire and are responsible for loading and unloading the vehicle to be towed. They must ensure that the towed vehicle does not get damaged during transportation and that all the necessary paperwork per trip is completed. When applying for a tow truck driver position, you must include certain elements in your resume to get the job. In the following sections, we’ll walk you through everything you need to write a resume that’ll get you the interview.
Let’s start with understanding the basics of the three resume formats:
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Job Duties of a Tow Truck Driver
Tow truck drivers must drive to the requested location and transport the damaged or impounded vehicle to its destination, often a mechanic or impound lot. Apart from this, they perform several roadside assistance operations such as fixing minor issues, loading and unloading, and maintaining service vehicles. The following is an overview of the daily duties of a tow truck driver. As a tow truck driver, you will be:
Responding promptly to the request call from the dispatcher, garages, automotive companies, or the police through phone or radio
Driving the tow truck following safety rules like using indicators, wearing seatbelts, and obeying traffic signs, and reaching the location on time
Assisting the customer by fixing minor issues like changing flat tires, delivering them gas, unlocking their car, and jump-starting their car battery. Loading and unloading the damaged or illegally parked vehicles on a flat-bed tow truck by connecting the damaged or ticketed vehicle to the tow truck using a wheel-lift, hooks, or chains
Transporting the vehicle to the required location such as the wrecking yard, mechanic, or impound lot
Dismantling heavily damaged vehicle parts if necessary
Inspecting the tow truck for any mechanical issues and fixing them using tools like wrenches, hammers, screwdrivers, and jacks
Cleaning and maintaining the tow truck regularly and checking the truck conditions like fuel levels, tire pressure, brakes, and lights before the trip
Managing records of the towed vehicles and reporting to the supervisor about the distance traveled and vehicles towed
Constantly interacting with and helping customers with their concerns
Tow Truck Driver Median Salaries
According to Payscale, a leading compensation software that provides data on employee wages, the median salary of a tow truck driver in the United States is $40,139 annually as of July 2021. Compensation varies depending on the performance and experience of the tow truck driver.
Top Skills for Tow Truck Drivers
To become a tow truck driver, you must be an excellent driver and follow all the road safety rules. Also, you must handle the towed vehicle with care and help the customers with minor mechanical issues.
Below are the primary skills required for a tow truck driver:
Great driving and route planningSince tow truck drivers maneuver a large vehicle with another vehicle as cargo, their driving skills must be exceptional. Because of the immense responsibility tow truck drivers carry, they usually must have prior experience driving tow trucks or other large vehicles in varying conditions, such as heavy traffic or extreme weather conditions, and apply defensive driving techniques to avoid accidents. Also, tow truck drivers must plan the route immediately after receiving a request call. They must use the truck’s GPS or apps like Google Maps, Waze, and Trucker Path. Finally, they must identify cost-effective driving techniques to conserve fuel, reduce the distance traveled, and complete the assignment on time.
Hydraulics expertiseTow trucks are primarily used to carry damaged or seized vehicles, and this involves different hydraulic equipment for connection and transportation. Hence, the tow truck driver must be knowledgeable in the following truck types:
- Flat-bed or rollback tow truck, in which the vehicle can be driven onto the flatbed and then raised off the ground
- Wheel lift tow truck, in which either the front or rear set of wheels are connected to the metal yoke of the tow truck and dragged in an inclined position
- Hook and chain tow truck, in which the front or rear set of wheels are tied with a chain and hooked to the tow truck. This type of truck tends to be used for junker cars since it poses a high risk of damaging the towed vehicle.
- Boom tow truck, having crane-like equipment to lift the vehicles out of difficult to reach places, such as a ditch.
- Integrated tow truck, which is a combination of a wheel lift and boom type which usually tows heavier vehicles
Savvy in mechanical repairsTow truck drivers are expected to have remarkable mechanical skills to assist customers in minor issues with their cars or trucks, such as flat tires and dead batteries. They must use mechanical tools accurately to fix vehicles. Also, they might be called to resolve lockout situations. Some companies train in roadside assistance, so that could be a good starting place to develop your mechanical skills.
Compliance with safety protocolsA tow truck driver must abide by road safety rules such as maintaining a considerable stopping distance, staying within speed limits, driving on the right lane, and wearing seat belts to prevent accidents. Tow truck drivers should also stay within their permitted hours of service, up to 14 hours per day or 60-70 hours for 7-8 days with intermittent breaks. This is important to keep their physical and mental fitness on par with DOT regulations.
Prompt and patient customer serviceHandling emergencies requires tow truck drivers to promptly respond to request calls through phone or radio and reach the location on time. They must avoid reckless driving and be patient, friendly and helpful with customers. Since it’s common for a tow truck driver to be the “rescuer” of the customer, it is essential to maintain effective communication throughout offering them service.
Efficient maintenanceCleaning and maintenance are an integral part of any driver’s job. The driver must make sure equipment is clean and lubricated to avoid damage due to friction with other towed vehicles. Also, performing daily inspections and periodic maintenance of engines, tires, brakes, coolants, hooks, chains, and other towing equipment is important.
IndependentThe tow truck driver must manage the entire assignment from receiving the request call to dropping off the vehicle in the expected location. They must take charge of loading and unloading the vehicles and maintain records of the fuel consumption, distance covered, and the paperwork due per trip.
Educational Requirements for Tow Truck Drivers
DegreeTow truck drivers are expected to have a minimum qualification of a High School Diploma or GED. However, since truck driving is all about practical expertise, it’s unnecessary to have a college degree to land this job.
Apart from the above educational qualifications, it is important to have at least one year of experience in tow truck driving.
LicensureTo become a truck driver of any kind, it is mandatory to attain the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) standards. While a few companies don’t require you to hold a CDL license, many do. Since requirements to get licensed vary by state, you must check your local DMV for information on test requirements and the procedures you must take to get licensed.
In general, to get licensed, you must pass three tests, including assessments on general knowledge, a physical exam, and a practical skills test. Any candidate above 18 years of age can apply for the CDL to drive within the state and get registered as a licensed truck driver after undergoing the testing process. However, to be a tow truck driver, you must be over 21 years old and have at least one year of truck driving experience. It’s also important to note that while some companies require you to be at least 25 years old and have a few years of tow truck driving experience as minimum qualifications, others will take you on with no experience and train you on the job.
There are three categories with available licensing. Each is based on the Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of the vehicle or combination of cars driven by the truck driver.
CDL licenses classification include:
- Class A: For vehicles with GCWR of 26,001 pounds or more with towed vehicles having GCWR of more than 10,000 pounds. The most commonly obtained license, Class A, is sought after by employers. Both Class A and B licenses should be acquired with one to three endorsements for a competitive edge.
- Class B: For vehicles with GCWR of 26,001 pounds or more with towed vehicles having GCWR of fewer than 10,000 pounds. Class B is the second most commonly obtained license. This is usually the minimum class a tow truck driver should have.
- Class C: For single or combination trucks carrying passengers or goods that do not fall under the weight range of other classes. It is not common for companies seeking tow truck drivers to ask for this class of license.
When you get your CDL license, you can and should get endorsed to drive various specialized trucks. Different endorsements will allow you to work with different types of specialized vehicles. You can learn more about endorsements from your local DMV or by checking out the overview on the CDL website. It’s important to research which endorsements you need before taking the test since you need to select them while holding your Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP).
On top of the CDL tests, an aspiring CDL license-holder must pass the required medical screening to get licensed.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) physical exam assesses the driver’s physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing to ensure that they are physically capable of operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV). The resulting medical card you obtain after passing the physical exam should be kept up-to-date for anyone interested in working as a truck driver. The specific requirements for this examination also vary by state. You should contact your local DMV to learn more about the specifics of this medical examination in your state. For an overview of what to expect, you can also check the CDL website.
CertificationsA certification required to be able to get your CDL license is the DOT certification. You need to get a DOT number for this certification, pass the DOT physical exam, and pass the certification exam. Renewal of this certification is every two years and is necessary to keep working as a driver.
Also, as of Feb. 7, 2022, anyone seeking a CDL license will have to get formal training to get certified before taking the skills test required for the license. If you do not obtain the certification offered by an approved training provider, you won’t be able to sit for the exam, and thus, you won’t get licensed.
Some member associations like the Commercial Vehicles Training Association (CVTA) offer truck driving certification programs.
A few educational institutions that offer the CDL test are Richland Community college and HDS Truck Driving Institute. However, you must make sure the program that certifies you is approved by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). An excellent place to start is by taking a look at the Checklist for Quality Courses offered by the Professional Truck Driver’s Institute (PTDI), as well as their list of PTDI certified schools.
Also, the Towing and Recovery Association of America (TRAA) offers a valuable certification program called the National Driver’s Certificate Program (NDCP) for towing and recovery of light-duty, medium-duty, or heavy-duty vehicles.
Tow Truck Driver Resume-Writing Tips
To get hired as a tow truck driver, you first need to write a resume that’ll grab the employer’s attention and get you in for interviews.
Follow the writing tips below to write an outstanding resume:
Highlight your driving skills and credentials.To be a tow truck driver, you need to have above-average driving skills that allow you to operate the tow trucks safely. You need to spotlight any notable achievements you’ve had in previous roles or while training for the CDL license. How have you avoided accidents or handled yourself in emergencies? Do you have a track record of keeping the towed vehicle safe? This needs to be front and center in your resume, so make sure to add it to the professional summary that goes at the top of your resume.
Include any related driving experience you have.Since some companies require you to be at least 25 years old and have a few years of tow truck driving experience to be considered for the position, you must detail any previous experience you have in the field. If you have no prior experience, use a functional format resume to focus on your skills instead.
Detail your interpersonal skills.Being a tow truck driver is more than just towing vehicles; you have to interact with the customers you are aiding in a courteous, friendly and professional manner. So, make sure to detail any skills you’ve successfully applied to diffuse tough situations or calm upset customers in previous work experiences. You should also mention any positive feedback from customers and employers on your helpfulness and overall attitude toward them.
Mention your mechanical skills.Another common responsibility of a tow truck driver is to inspect the vehicle before and after each trip. This includes making any minor repairs the vehicle may need if you find faulty parts during one of your inspections or if something breaks mid-trip. At the very least, you should be able to report any mechanical failures and make sure the vehicle undergoes proper and timely maintenance. So, including any experience you’ve had fixing or diagnosing mechanical issues should be in the resume.
Showcase your adherence to safety standards.An integral requirement to gaining the hiring companies’ attention is by mentioning your excellent track record of following safety rules. Write in examples of how other companies have trusted you with their vehicles and their customers. Also, include how you adjust to unexpected events and challenges you’ve faced while on the road. This includes times when you could prevent accidents because of your quick thinking and fast response time.
Mention your licenses, endorsements, and certifications.Since most tow truck-driving jobs require you to be licensed, you must include your CDL license class, endorsements, and any additional certifications you might have obtained throughout your career.
Be clear and concise.It is essential to keep sentences or phrases in your resume short and clear. Employers spend only a few seconds scanning through each resume. So don’t repeat any skills or responsibilities and keep it simple. To enhance the visibility of your skills and work experience, use numbered lists or bullet points instead of paragraphs. Also, feature your best skills or achievements by including those first. Finally, make sure to proofread your resume. It’s against best practices to submit a resume with grammatical errors, repeated information, and typos. Go over it once or twice, or even better, have friends and family take a look at it too.
Which format of resume should I choose if I have less experience?
The functional format is the best type of resume for candidates with little or no experience. You can highlight skills you gained from training and on-the-road practice. This format gives more weight to the skills you’ve gained over that of your work experience.
Is a college degree mandatory for a tow truck driver?
No. Employers do not expect a college degree. However, most organizations require a high school diploma and one year of experience in tow truck driving.
Can we include our experience in taxi, truck, or bus driving?
Yes. You can include taxi, truck or bus driving if that is a part of your previous work experience. But make sure to give priority and visibility to your tow truck driving expertise.