A truck driver is a person who drives and operates heavy-duty trucks meant for the transport of goods on the road. They are experts in handling vehicles with 4 to 18 wheels used for various commercial purposes, including delivering merchandise, towing vehicles, construction activities, garbage collection, fire service, and clearing up snow. If you’re proud of your driving skills and love being on the road, being a truck driver might be a good job for you. Let’s look at some tips on creating a resume that’ll get you one!
First, let’s explore the three main resume formats and which one would best show your qualifications.
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Job Duties of a Truck Driver
A truck driver’s central role is to drive the vehicle with absolute confidence and safety, follow all traffic rules, and reach a destination on time with cargo in optimal shape. The driver cannot have any underlying mental or physical health conditions that would cause them difficulty operating large vehicles. However, the responsibility of a truck driver does not end with driving to a destination. Managing and planning the complete transport process while handling any issues in between is also crucial.
More specifically, a truck driver does the following:
Operating heavy vehicles appropriately and following DOT regulations.
Staying vigilant to avoid accidents.
Following all road safety regulations, including wearing a seatbelt, driving on the right lane, using the turn signal, and abiding by all traffic signs. This includes knowledge of all city, county, state, and federal traffic regulations since these can vary.
Maintaining the truck in optimal condition by inspecting all fluid levels, the wear of tires, the battery life, and other vital parts.
Planning delivery routes based on current and expected weather and traffic conditions.
Loading and unloading goods safely and on time.
Transporting hazardous or delicate merchandise with the utmost care.
Identifying mechanical failures and resolving them yourself or arranging for fixes by a mechanic. This requires truck drivers to carry and know how to use machining tools like socket sets, wrenches, screwdrivers, hammers, and punches.
Managing difficult weather conditions such as working during severe winters or droughts to deliver essential items to clients and individuals.
Truck Driver Median Salaries
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a truck driver’s median yearly salary in the United States is $47,130 as of May 2020. However, compensation varies according to the driver’s experience, skill set, and certifications. Also, the base salary for truck drivers is rising due to increasing demands for drivers.
Top Skills for Truck Drivers
A truck driver should have technical and soft skills encompassing everything from communicating with clients and operating the heavy-duty vehicle to planning routes and making split-second decisions.
To be successful at their job, truck drivers must have the following skills:
Impeccable driving skillsDriving requires immense alertness, patience, and split-second decision-making. A truck driver must drive heavy-duty vehicles without creating a hazard to other cars on the road and simultaneously follow all traffic rules. Depending on the company and job requirements, route planning with applications like Google Maps and Smart Truck Route is also a critical skill for a truck driver to avoid traffic and roadblocks, which can cause delivery delays.
Mastery in the truck specific to their industryThere are many different types of trucks with various types of attachments and operational requirements.
- In construction work, the driver should operate the dumper, excavator, loaders, and boring equipment.
- A garbage truck driver must efficiently handle the automated front, side, and rear loaders.
- Most beginner truckers start with a dry van truck carrying non-perishable dry goods.
- LTL (Less than truckload) truckers carry smaller shipments and usually go smaller distances.
- Transporting perishable goods like food, meat, and medical products requires Refrigerated Freight trucks. For this type of truck, the driver must maintain the appropriate temperature in the cargo area.
So, it’s essential to know what type of truck you want to be operating and get the appropriate training and certifications to make you qualified to handle the vehicle.
A knack for mechanicsEvery machine tends to break down at some point, and a truck driver must identify any fault in the truck to prevent significant issues from developing. They should repair any minor problems such as tire blowouts, brake failure, and overheating of the engine. It is essential to periodically check and lubricate the parts of the truck for optimal performance.
Knowledge of merchandise protection practicesTruck drivers connect manufacturers to retailers, so it is their responsibility to arrive with undamaged goods on time. For example, if they have to do their loading and unloading of goods, truck drivers should know how to operate forklifts, automated conveyors, hand trucks and pallet jacks. They must also prevent the contamination or damage of goods due to friction or humidity by correctly using tools such as straps, dunnage and wooden pallets. Truck drivers must even safeguard their interests from being stolen by correctly securing the cargo locks, parking in secure places, and using tracking devices.
Good interpersonal communicationSince truck drivers deal with many customers for varying reasons, they must have good social skills. The driver should communicate with clarity to their supervisors while reporting information on the delays in delivery or replacing truck parts. They must avoid any unnecessary dispute with fellow drivers on the road if any accidents or damage are caused to the truck and goods. Finally, they must collaborate effectively with the logistics officials to verify the packaging, weight, and count of merchandise.
PatienceAn essential aspect of truck drivers is to be calm and composed during mechanical failures, accidents, and heavy traffic. Aggressive driving leads to fatal accidents.
Adherence to rules and regulationsA truck driver must strictly abide by the road safety rules, including following traffic signs, wearing seatbelts, and ensuring proper stopping distance to prevent accidents. They should also ensure that their service hours do not exceed 14 hours per day or 60-70 hours for 7-8 days with intermittent breaks to preserve physical and mental well-being as established by the DOT regulations.
Truck Drivers Education and Certifications
DegreeSince truck driving is all about practical expertise, it’s unnecessary to have a college degree to land this job. However, a high school diploma or GED is recommended since most companies ask for this minimum qualification. However, you can find jobs that do not have any educational requirements if you look for them.
If you have a few years of experience as a truck driver under your belt and would like to move up into a managerial position, a bachelor’s degree such as the Transportation and Logistics Management program offered by American Public University is a plus.
LicensureTo become a truck driver, 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 be licensed, they give priority to candidates who have attained the CDL license or are capable of obtaining one. Since requirements to get licensed vary by state, you must check your local DMV for specific information on requirements for the test and the procedure you must undertake 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.
The following is notable, too: It is illegal to get licensed in more than one state, so make sure you choose the state you want to work in before getting licensed. Also, this license will not allow for interstate deliveries for drivers younger than 21 years. Most companies require you to be over 21-years old to work. If you are under 21, you might want to consider starting as a delivery driver.
There are three categories with available licensing. Each license 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 since many companies are looking for specialized vehicles in driving specialized vehicles.
- 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. Many companies are looking for candidates who specialize in driving specialized vehicles.
- Class C: For single or combination trucks carrying passengers or goods and do not fall under the weight range of other classes.
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 vehicles that fall under different pay grades. Endorsements vary by state, but some of the most common ones sought after by employers are for air brakes, HAZMAT, and tankers. 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 give the certification exam. Renewal of this certification every two years is necessary to keep working as a driver.
Also, as of Feb. 7, 2023, 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.
Specific truck certifications:
To drive a tanker truck, you must acquire the HAZMAT certification for transporting hazardous substances and a Tanker Endorsement certificate.
To carry passengers in buses, you need a Passenger Endorsement, and for school transport services, you must own a Student Transportation/School Bus Endorsement.
If you drive doubles/triples by towing two or more vehicles, you must have the Doubles/Triples endorsement.
These distinct certifications are available in the state-specific Department of Motor Vehicles and must be picked up alongside skills for the general CDL tests.
Truck Driver Resume-Writing Tips
If you’re passionate about driving and confident about your skill at handling large vehicles, being a truck driver might just be your ideal career path. With the rise of online shopping during the pandemic, truck driver’ jobs and their salary are rising rapidly. Due to the country’s increasing amount of opportunities, you’re sure to find one that fits your needs and interests. When you’re ready to apply to the ones you want, make sure you include the following information in your resume to let the recruiters know that you are who they are looking for:
- Include all your driving and mechanics-related skills. Recollect and highlight every skill you excel at related to driving, mechanics, route planning, and safe transportation of goods. List your skills in a numbered or bulleted list. Be as specific and thorough as you can.
- Feature your driving experience. Your achievements in driving and managing trucks from previous work experiences or school should be front and center. Many companies ask for a minimum of six months to one year of experience to qualify for their position, so including any occasion, you might have should be the first thing recruiters see. If you don’t have experience, check the FAQ below for tips on how to highlight skills instead.
- Include any customer service skills and experience. Truck driving isn’t limited to driving a CMV from point A to point B, but it usually entails interactions with customers, employers, and fellow drivers. For this reason, many employers are looking for candidates with good interpersonal and customer care skills. Make sure you include any previous experience where you can demonstrate your practical communication skills.
- Showcase your adherence to safety standards. Gain the hiring companies’ attention by mentioning your track record of following safety rules. Write in examples of how other companies have trusted you with their vehicles and the safety of their goods.
- Highlight your decision-making skills. Any cost and time-saving decisions you’ve made while planning routes and transferring goods will make your profile stand out. Also, include how you adjust to unexpected events and challenges you’ve faced while on the road.
- Mention your licenses, endorsements, and certifications. Since most 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.
What is the minimum age required to be a truck driver in the U.S.?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a person must be 18 years of age to drive within the state and be 21 years of age to cross state lines. Since many companies are looking for drivers that can move from one state to another, the most common age is 21 years. For younger drivers, starting your career as a delivery driver might be an excellent option to gain experience.
What types of truck driver opportunities are there?
Truck drivers in the U.S. work in the following positions:
- Driving a variety of trucks used in the construction industry
- Driving and operating garbage trucks
- Driving fire trucks equipped with firefighting materials like ladders and hoses
- Driving tankers to transfer hazardous materials such as gasoline and flammable fluids
- Driving tow-trucks to tow other vehicles from one place to another
How can I get a job if I don’t have any experience in the industry?
Highlight your skills instead of your experience by writing a functional format resume. See how to write one here, and check out an example in the first section of this article.