9 Different Types of Truck Driving Jobs (Plus FAQs)
Updated September 27, 2023
As long as companies and individuals continuously ship and receive goods, there's likely to be a continued demand for truck driving jobs. If you're interested in hauling freight long distances and you desire a career with a higher degree of independence, a job in the truck driving industry may be ideal for you. Learning about the variety of opportunities in the trucking industry may help you determine which type of driving job to pursue.
In this article, we share some reasons for pursuing a truck driving job, with nine different types of truck driving jobs and some frequently asked questions about working in trucking.
Benefits of pursuing a truck driving job
Truck driving jobs may appeal to many people interested in a career that allows them to work independently and enjoy more flexible hours. Some primary benefits of a career in trucking include:
Early career development
Truck driving jobs don't typically require extensive education, meaning you can begin training for your career immediately. Employers typically require a high school diploma and a commercial driver's license (CDL), which you can earn within seven to eight weeks.
Unique work hours
Truck drivers usually work both days and nights when driving on behalf of their companies. If you pursue a truck driving job, you may be able to work more unique hours that match your lifestyle better than standard working hours, including nights or weekends.
Some truck drivers may have local routes they perform regularly, while others might travel long distances. If you perform longer hauls as a truck driver, you might be able to stop in a variety of unique locations and travel to new places.
Good job outlook
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the demand for new truck driving jobs to increase by 4% through 2031, with an average of 259,900 new openings occurring each year. This positive outlook means there are numerous opportunities for you to develop your career in the industry.
9 different types of truck driving jobs
Here are nine different types of truck driving jobs you might want to pursue:
For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, visit indeed.com/salaries.
1. Freight hauler
National average salary: $41,536 per year
Primary duties: Freight haulers can transport any type of goods either locally or long distance. They may haul specialty freight, like liquids, hazardous materials or large-scale production materials. They typically haul larger goods and equipment rather than small packages, and they're also responsible for securing loads.
Requirements: Freight haulers usually work for delivery companies, retailers or manufacturers that load and unload goods for delivery. These employers typically require them to have an active CDL, along with some experience. For certain loads, they may need additional credentials, such as a hazardous material handling certification.
2. Dry van hauler
National average salary: $44,556 per year
Primary duties: Dry van trucking is a traditional type of trucking where haulers operate a large truck with an attached trailer to make deliveries. These deliveries can be local and long-distance and often involve transporting a full trailer of goods. They secure each load and follow their assigned route to make the delivery. They may also repair their trailer as needed.
Requirements: While dry van haulers may not load and unload their trucks themselves, they're still responsible for managing inventory and collecting signatures to verify delivery, which requires good organizational skills. Employers often require dry van haulers to have previous experience operating a truck with a trailer. They might also need safety assurance certifications and a tanker endorsement, depending on their specialty.
3. Flatbed driver
National average salary: $60,049 per year
Primary duties: Flatbed drivers carry cars or other machinery, equipment and vehicles on their trucks. They secure larger cargo that wouldn't otherwise fit in a trailer on the bed of the truck. They typically travel longer distances to deliver this larger cargo.
Requirements: It's important that flatbed drivers know how to secure goods appropriately to ensure safe delivery. As they may work with flatbeds of differing sizes, they also need special handling knowledge. Employers typically require that they have some previous loading and driving experience. Physical fitness and strength can also be necessary for this role.
4. Local truck driver
National average salary: $60,482 per year
Primary duties: Local truck drivers transport cargo of varying sizes along local routes, typically within the same state or locality. They regularly collect and deliver multiple loads within the same day. They ensure that the goods they transport are in excellent condition and coordinate with the trucking company to manage new loads and transport them in a timely manner.
Requirements: Local truck drivers usually need extensive knowledge of the geographical area where they operate, including its many routes. In addition to having an active CDL, they need a few years of driving experience. Some employers might also require them to pass a skills test.
5. Less-than-truckload driver
National average salary: $61,613 per year
Primary duties: Less-than-truckload (LTL) drivers handle smaller loads or shipments. This often involves delivering goods with several packages to different locations. Drivers pick up or deliver goods to terminals where they transfer packages to other trucks and deliver loads along designated routes.
Requirements: LTL drivers typically work for delivery and transport companies that specialize in smaller freight shipments. Since LTL drivers handle multiple shipments, they usually drive along regional or local routes as opposed to national ones. LTL jobs usually require a few years of experience in a delivery position.
6. Refrigerated driver
National average salary: $61,879 per year
Primary duties: Refrigerated freight drivers, or reefer drivers, transport goods that require a specific temperature. In addition to their standard driving duties, they may stop to verify that their trailer is at the proper temperature and that the cargo is safe. They perform maintenance to fix any refrigeration issues and keep records of their shipments.
Requirements: Refrigerated drivers typically work in the food manufacturing industry and deliver food products to grocery and restaurant locations. To perform their duties effectively, they need previous truck driving experience. A specialized refrigeration repair certification might also be necessary.
7. Over-the-road truck driver
National average salary: $78,113 per year
Primary duties: Over-the-road (OTR) truck drivers deliver larger amounts of goods in bigger trucks, including tractor-trailers. OTR drivers often have unique routes they regularly travel as they transport goods long distances, and they're responsible for driving along interstates and highways. These drivers may travel across the country frequently and have one or more destinations to deliver goods to, as opposed to local or regional drivers who have many deliveries.
Requirements: OTR drivers usually work for large transportation and distribution companies. These companies may require them to pass a driving or skills test before they can begin transporting goods. They may also require them to have had their CDL for a certain amount of time before they can begin driving.
8. Tanker driver
National average salary: $88,918 per year
Primary duties: Tanker drivers transport gases or liquids between locations. They might drive both large and small trucks, either long or short distances, depending on the materials they transport and the properties of those materials. They're responsible for inspecting their truck before driving it and adhering to strict safety guidelines to prevent leakages.
Requirements: To work in this role, a driver usually needs specialized training so they can learn how to handle this type of cargo and manage emergencies like chemical spills. They might also need occupational safety and health certifications. Many tanker driver employers require candidates to pass a written and practical exam before they can begin driving and receive a tanker endorsement, which is an additional certification that verifies their ability to transport liquids and gas bulk loads.
Related: How To Become a Tanker Truck Driver
9. Team driver
National average salary: $105,789 per year
Primary duties: Team drivers work with another driver to complete national or even cross-border hauls. One driver may complete a portion of the journey, allowing the other driver to rest before they complete the second portion. Both team drivers are responsible for picking up and delivering the load to its intended destination.
Requirements: Team drivers typically work for large transportation companies. These companies may require them to have a traditional CDL, along with other license endorsements, depending on the truck they operate. Since they're driving with another person, they also need excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
Frequently asked questions
What are the qualifications for truck drivers?
Each truck driving role can require unique qualifications related to education, licensure and experience. Typically, truck driving jobs require a high-school diploma or equivalent, though you might pursue an advanced degree if you hope to pursue supervisory roles. Many jobs also require a CDL to operate vehicles, and there are a few options for different truck types. For example, a Class A CDL is necessary to operate larger trucks like tractor-trailers, while a Class B CDL is required to operate box trucks, straight trucks and large vehicles like buses.
How do I get experience as a truck driver?
To work in a truck-driving role, you can explore entry-level positions with delivery companies. Some companies allow you to qualify for their program and gain experience and training before allowing you to apply for their positions. You can begin in a smaller role as a delivery driver to gain experience and show employers you understand the logistics of transporting goods and are familiar with the process for loading and unloading vehicles, verifying deliveries and troubleshooting customer issues.
What's the process for applying for truck driving roles?
While the specific requirements vary by employer, many transportation and trucking companies require you to submit a cover letter and an application that lists your relevant licenses, skills and previous experience. Some jobs may require additional documents, like a negative drug test, a criminal background check and proof of insurance, to show you're able to perform the necessary duties. In addition, many employers require you to pass a driving test to further prove your ability to handle a truck independently.
Related: How To Become a Truck Driver
What's the work environment of truck driving jobs like?
Many truck driving jobs involve spending significant amounts of time driving a truck, either individually or with another driver. Many drivers also work outdoors to load and unload cargo. It may be necessary for drivers who transport hazardous materials or chemicals to wear a mask or protective gear to avoid breathing in fumes and reduce their exposure to contaminants while driving.
Note that figures from Glassdoor and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) helped supplement data from Indeed.
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