Local Truck Driver

views updated

Local Truck Driver

Education and Training License

Salary Median—$11.80 per hour

Employment Outlook Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Local truck drivers transport goods over short distances, usually in light trucks or vans. Most drivers work for businesses that deliver their own products, such as department stores and meat packers, or for trucking companies. Some are employed by the federal government, the U.S. Postal Service, and states and municipalities. However, many local truck drivers are self-employed. Drivers who own one or two trucks account for a sizable number of the local for-hire trucking businesses.

Drivers' workdays begin at the terminal or warehouse, where they get their assignments and delivery forms. They may load their trucks themselves or have helpers. The goods are carefully arranged, often in the order of delivery. Heavy items are moved with hoists.

When they unload the goods, drivers have customers sign receipts and freight bills. They may also receive payment directly from customers.

Education and Training Requirements

Requirements vary, but companies generally prefer drivers who are at least twenty-one years old; are able to lift heavy objects; and have had some high school education. Courses in auto mechanics or driver education can be helpful. Operators usually need commercial driver's licenses, which require both written and driving tests. Good driving records are essential.

Job training is minimal—some companies offer one- or two-day courses. Usually new drivers ride with experienced operators until they get a sense of the job. Drivers of special trucks get extra help from workers who know the trucks well.

Getting the Job

Job seekers can apply directly to the personnel offices of trucking companies. State employment services, private agencies, newspaper classified ads, and Internet job sites often list openings.

At some companies new drivers are put on an "extra list"; they are called to work when regular drivers are sick or on vacation. Extra drivers get regular routes fairly quickly.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

After several years of driving, operators may become dispatchers or supervisors. Others move on to long-distance trucking or start their own companies.

Employment of local truckers is expected to grow as fast as the average for all occupations through 2014. Demand should increase as the amount of freight expands. However, many people are attracted to this field, so applicants may face stiff competition.

Working Conditions

Local truck drivers usually work forty-hour weeks, with shifts determined by the products they deliver. Those who transport food products for bakeries and grocery stores, for example, may work early in the morning or late at night. Some drive forty-eight hours over six days; they are paid extra for overtime. Most drive the same route each day, in all kinds of weather and during rush hours, so the job can be stressful. Many local drivers belong to unions.

Earnings and Benefits

Pay varies by the kind of truck driven and the location of the company. In 2004 the median wage for all local truck drivers was $11.80 per hour.

Where to Go for More Information

American Trucking Associations
2200 Mill Rd.
Alexandria, VA 22314-4677
(703) 838-1700

International Brotherhood of Teamsters, AFL-CIO
25 Louisiana Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20001-2198
(202) 624-6800

Truckload Carriers Association
2200 Mill Rd.
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 838-1950

Benefits may include paid vacation and holidays, health and life insurance, and retirement plans.