FAQ: How Much Do Hazmat Drivers Make?
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When working as a professional truck driver, earning a position as a hazmat driver may be an appealing career opportunity. Delivering hazardous materials can be an excellent career path for a truck driver, but it has unique characteristics to consider. Learning about the responsibilities and requirements of professional hazmat drivers may help you determine if it's an appealing career choice for you.
In this article, we discuss what a hazmat driver is and what they do, their work environment and how much a hazmat driver can expect to make, plus ways to potentially increase compensation.
What is a hazmat driver?
A hazmat driver is a commercial truck driver who transports hazardous materials. Because of the increased danger hazardous materials can pose, hazmat drivers face increased restrictions, both in their licensing and in their driving behaviors when transporting a load. This provides protection both for the driver and for others on the road, minimizing the risk of exposure or other damage from the hazardous substances contained within their truck.
What does a hazmat driver do?
A hazardous materials driver has many responsibilities while they work to ensure they maintain the safety of themselves and others. Some responsibilities a hazmat driver completes may include tasks such as:
Loading and unloading hazardous materials into a truck following safety regulations
Inspecting cargo containers for leaks, damage or other potential hazards
Securing hazardous cargo in the truck to provide safe transport
Displaying all relevant hazard warning icons during transport
Retrieving authorized maps outlining shipping routes and allowed stop locations
Documenting transfer of hazardous materials into and out of their possession
What is the work environment of a hazmat driver?
As a trucking professional, a hazmat driver spends most of their work time in their truck. This includes both the times spent behind the wheel driving on their route and break times, which a hazmat driver may take in the back of their truck cabin. Because of the need to protect themselves and others, hazmat drivers also operate under restricted routes with defined points where they may stop to take breaks in their trucks.
How much do hazmat drivers make?
The average annual salary of truck drivers is $71,189 per year. A hazmat driver may earn a higher salary than a truck driver with comparable experience who doesn't transport hazardous materials.
This represents the increased risk and responsibilities presented by transporting hazardous materials. It also reflects the added value of the "H" endorsement a hazmat driver possesses on their commercial driver's license.
For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link(s) provided.
What factors affect the earning potential of hazmat drivers?
Several factors can determine the salary a hazmat driver earns. Key considerations when determining salaries available as a hazmat driver may include:
The experience you have as a trucker
The experience you have working with hazardous materials
The size of loads you transport
The length of your transport routes
The hazard levels of the materials loaded in your truck
The size and resources of your employer or client
What employee benefits can a hazmat driver earn?
Besides salary earnings, a hazmat driver may earn additional compensation in several forms. Common types of additional benefits you may qualify for as a hazmat driver which raise your overall compensation level can include:
Health care benefits
Paid time off
How can hazmat drivers make more money?
When working as a hazmat driver, you may seek opportunities to increase your compensation, both as an assessment of total income and your compensation for each route. Common methods of raising income as a hazmat driver may include:
Taking more lucrative routes: Professional truck drivers may work independently, have their own vehicle and bid on available routes to fill their schedule. Hazmat drivers looking to increase their compensation as hazmat drivers may choose to focus on job opportunities that offer larger payouts, such as those with more valuable loads or longer routes.
Planning connected routes: Another method independent truck drivers may choose to increase their compensation from hazmat driving is to plan connected routes in their schedule. For example, a driver may choose to schedule a series of routes that involve beginning a new route nearby or where they delivered a previous order, allowing them to minimize the number of miles and the time committed to non-route driving.
Enhancing endorsement levels: Earning additional endorsements on your commercial driver's license may correspond to an increase in compensation from your hazmat driving routes. When seeking employment as a hazmat driver, endorsements may make you a more appealing candidate and allow you to negotiate for better rates and bid on better jobs, which may allow you to further optimize your selections and potentially increase your compensation.
Working holiday shipments: When a company seeks to schedule a shipping route on a day with reduced driver availability, such as a holiday, they may raise the rates on the route to make it more appealing to drivers. Choosing routes on holidays may allow you to benefit from increased compensation on the jobs you take, raising your average pay per hour or mile.
Seeking priority route opportunities: A company seeking special accommodations on a route, such as rush delivery or additional handling restrictions, may offer a higher rate to make the opportunity more appealing. By choosing priority jobs, you may raise your per-mile or per-day compensation.
What is the career outlook for hazmat drivers?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects positions for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers to grow by 4% from 2021 to 2031. This represents average growth projections, showing that hazmat driving is a stable industry, which may be appealing when deciding whether to pursue it as a career opportunity.
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