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Career profile Heavy Truck Driver

Also known as Driver, Line Haul Driver, Log Truck Driver, Over the Road Driver (OTR Driver), Production Truck Driver, Road Driver, Semi Truck Driver, Tractor Trailer Operator, Truck Driver

Heavy Truck Driver

Also known as Driver, Line Haul Driver, Log Truck Driver

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
  • Investigative
Pay Range
$30,660 - $69,480 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Operation and Control
  • Operations Monitoring
  • Time Management
Knowledge Areas
  • Transportation
  • Public Safety and Security
  • Customer and Personal Service
Core tasks
  • Check vehicles to ensure that mechanical, safety, and emergency equipment is in good working order.
  • Follow appropriate safety procedures for transporting dangerous goods.
  • Maintain logs of working hours or of vehicle service or repair status, following applicable state and federal regulations.
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What does a Heavy Truck Driver do?

Heavy Truck Drivers drive a tractor-trailer combination or a truck with a capacity of at least 26,001 pounds Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW).

In addition, Heavy Truck Drivers

  • may be required to unload truck,
  • requires commercial drivers' license,
  • includes tow truck drivers.

What kind of tasks does a Heavy Truck Driver perform regularly?

Heavy Truck Drivers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Check vehicles to ensure that mechanical, safety, and emergency equipment is in good working order.
  • Follow appropriate safety procedures for transporting dangerous goods.
  • Maintain logs of working hours or of vehicle service or repair status, following applicable state and federal regulations.
  • Inspect loads to ensure that cargo is secure.
  • Secure cargo for transport, using ropes, blocks, chain, binders, or covers.
  • Maneuver trucks into loading or unloading positions, following signals from loading crew and checking that vehicle and loading equipment are properly positioned.
  • Report vehicle defects, accidents, traffic violations, or damage to the vehicles.
  • Obtain receipts or signatures for delivered goods and collect payment for services when required.
  • Check all load-related documentation for completeness and accuracy.
  • Drive trucks with capacities greater than 3 tons, including tractor-trailer combinations, to transport and deliver products, livestock, or other materials.
  • Read bills of lading to determine assignment details.
  • Drive trucks to weigh stations before and after loading and along routes in compliance with state regulations.
  • Collect delivery instructions from appropriate sources, verifying instructions and routes.
  • Couple or uncouple trailers by changing trailer jack positions, connecting or disconnecting air or electrical lines, or manipulating fifth-wheel locks.
  • Check conditions of trailers after contents have been unloaded to ensure that there has been no damage.
  • Perform basic vehicle maintenance tasks, such as adding oil, fuel, or radiator fluid or performing minor repairs.
  • Read and interpret maps to determine vehicle routes.
  • Crank trailer landing gear up or down to safely secure vehicles.
  • Operate equipment, such as truck cab computers, CB radios, phones, or global positioning systems (GPS) equipment to exchange necessary information with bases, supervisors, or other drivers.
  • Plan or adjust routes based on changing conditions, using computer equipment, global positioning systems (GPS) equipment, or other navigation devices, to minimize fuel consumption and carbon emissions.
  • Load or unload trucks or help others with loading or unloading, using special loading-related equipment or other equipment as necessary.
  • Remove debris from loaded trailers.

The above responsibilities are specific to Heavy Truck Drivers. More generally, Heavy Truck Drivers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or watercraft.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Controlling Machines and Processes
Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).

What is a Heavy Truck Driver salary?

The median salary for a Heavy Truck Driver is $47,130, and the average salary is $48,710. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Heavy Truck Driver salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Heavy Truck Drivers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Heavy Truck Drivers earn less than $30,660 per year, 25% earn less than $37,850, 75% earn less than $58,010, and 90% earn less than $69,480.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Heavy Truck Drivers is expected to change by 6.3%, and there should be roughly 231,100 open positions for Heavy Truck Drivers every year.

Median annual salary
$47,130
Typical salary range
$30,660 - $69,480
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
6.3%

What personality traits are common among Heavy Truck Drivers?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Heavy Truck Driver are usually higher in their Realistic and Conventional interests.

Heavy Truck Drivers typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Also, Heavy Truck Drivers typically have moderate Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Heavy Truck Driver tend to value Support, Independence, and Working Conditions.

Most importantly, Heavy Truck Drivers moderately value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Heavy Truck Drivers moderately value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Heavy Truck Drivers moderately value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Heavy Truck Drivers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as dependability, self-control, and attention to detail.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Heavy Truck Drivers, ranked by importance:

Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Self-Control
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.

What education and training do Heavy Truck Drivers need?

Working as a Heavy Truck Driver usually requires a high school diploma.

Heavy Truck Drivers need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Heavy Truck Drivers

  • 15.6% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 47.4% completed high school or secondary school
  • 23.1% completed some college coursework
  • 6.6% earned a Associate's degree
  • 6.1% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 1.0% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.2% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Heavy Truck Drivers

Heavy Truck Drivers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as transportation, public safety and security, or customer and personal service knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Heavy Truck Drivers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Transportation
Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Mechanical
Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Geography
Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.

Important Abilities needed by Heavy Truck Drivers

Heavy Truck Drivers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Heavy Truck Drivers need abilities such as far vision, control precision, and multilimb coordination in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Heavy Truck Drivers, ranked by their relative importance.

Far Vision
The ability to see details at a distance.
Control Precision
The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
Multilimb Coordination
The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Reaction Time
The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.

Critical Skills needed by Heavy Truck Drivers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Heavy Truck Drivers frequently use skills like operation and control, operations monitoring, and time management to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Heavy Truck Drivers, ranked by their relative importance.

Operation and Control
Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Operations Monitoring
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Time Management
Managing one's own time and the time of others.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Troubleshooting
Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.