Driving a tanker truck requires experience and skills above the normal freight truck driver experience. While opportunities in the tanker truck driving field ebb and flow with economic indexes that affect oil and other materials transported by tankers, companies are always looking to fill tanker driving jobs with experienced candidates.
All tanker drivers need to have a Commercial Drivers' License (CDL), which can be obtained through local drivers' license bureaus. The comprehensive driving tests associated with a CDL require a certain amount of training in the classroom and on the road. The CDL is a requirement of Congress issued in the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986. Drivers must pass a series of exams and prove on-the-road experience in order to qualify for a CDL that allows them to drive tankers, specifically the Tank Vehicle examination.
Most community colleges and truck driving schools provide certifications in advanced training to prepare drivers for work. Look for truck driving schools that have new trucks so that you can learn about the latest technology and mechanical options you'll find on jobs. Many schools have driving simulators that can put the student in a variety of situations with different trucks. The Professional Truck Driving Institute recommends at least 44 hours of on-the-road experience for qualified training programs. Driving programs should include curriculum on night driving, handling cargo, emergency manoeuvres and preventive truck maintenance.
Many companies that provide long tanker carrier services hire and train their own drivers. Firms such as Prime, Inc., hire drivers with no previous experience and put them through a rigorous training that begins with basic truck driving courses. Experience is gathered with a mentor, and the student moves up into driving a tanker after time on the road as an apprentice is completed. The best way to get that important tanker experience is through an entry-level driving position with a company that also runs tankers. Partner with a tanker driver and look for opportunities within the company to advance as you gain experience.
Find jobs through numerous websites that feature trucking opportunities. Sites such as Every Truck Job and CDL Jobs provide many job opportunities and list the amount of tanker experience required by the employer. Many schools may offer guaranteed placement upon completion of their programs, but this is not always truthful. Most schools, however, do have placement agreements with trucking companies and can supply good job leads.
The average pay for tanker truck drivers varies from region to region. Most truck drivers working a 40-hour week can expect to earn about £27,300 a year. Independent drivers who own their truck can earn much more. Independents can choose the types of jobs they will take. Successful drivers can choose only those jobs that pay the most and can earn £65,000 per year or more. They must, however, pay for all the maintenance and upkeep on their rigs.
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